During the last IMPRS interdisciplinary symposium New Frontiers in Science the topic of “Science and Society” was clearly exemplified by two prominent researchers and science communicators. While Prof. Ernst-Peter Fischer from Germany talked about “The public misunderstanding of science”; the Mexican Prof. Ana Maria Cetto addressed “The scientists’ misunderstanding of the public”. But who are these scientists and who are the public?
Fifty three years ago, on 31 January 1958, the first satellite for the observation of Earth was launched. Explorer 1 was the first satellite sent into orbit by the United States of America. In October 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 into space thus beginning the Cold War space race.
“The single most effective way to tackle these [greenhouse] gases is to capture them and store them safely underground” – Shell Website
Science holds a powerful position within our society. The phrase “scientific research has shown” carries unprecedented weight. What research? How big are the error bars? Which are the anomalies? What do other scientists in this field believe? And is this research being communicated fairly in the particular article you’re reading?
Michael Conway discusses the UK’s drastic shake up to University funding and student fees.
About ten years ago the regional director of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) asked to meet with National Association for Interpretation (NAI) executive staff to discuss the application of interpretive services to his organization. He explained that the Republican Contract for America removed USGS funding from the United States budget in 1994 because many in Congress and the American public did not understand that this agency of scientists were responsible for much more than making maps. Fortunately, the funding was restored. USGS monitors vital resources all over the U.S. The USGS regional director expressed concern that being skilled scientists was not enough. They needed to become more skilled at helping Congress and citizens understand their diverse scientific roles and findings.
The scientific community have mobilised to save the threatened Pavlovks Experimental Station, which hosts a gene bank in the outskirts of St Petersburg. The facility holds genetic plant material – 90% of their plant seeds can not be found anywhere else in the world.
Across the European Union and the wider Europe, governments are engaged in cutting public expenditure and we are entering an unprecedented period of austerity. Thus, public support for research is now at risk in a manner not seen before and just at the time when Europe faces new challenges from the rising new economies, especially in Asia, and when threats to our quality of life from climate change, demographic change and energy, food and resource availability and sustainability are becoming evermore threatening and urgent. This undermines the EU Lisbon process, to create a leading knowledge-based economy which must remain as the aim of governments and societies across Europe.
Just a couple of weeks ago Marc Hauser was in the news, again. He is known as one of the world’s leading evolutionary biologists and teaches at the Psychology Department at Harvard University. His work focused on primate behaviour and animal cognition. Hauser has been awarded science medals from the US and France and he has published about 200 articles in research journals. However, the latest news coverage is based on accusations against Hauser as the Harvard faculty suspend him while investigations are carried out for “scientific misdemeanour”.
Doctoral Training Centres, or DTCs, are a new trend in UK doctoral training and are an alternative option to the traditional PhDs. Simon Hutchinson investigates.
During Pope Benedict’s recent visit to Britain, relations between science and religion have been brought into focus.
The EuroScience Open Forum will be held in Dublin in 2012. Martin McKenna gives us a science themed tour of Dublin to start exciting us about ESOF 2012.