Fukushima: science miscommunication by omission

Two years on from the disaster that struck Japan on 11th March 2011, there is much silence related to the scientific reality on the ground in Fukushima. One specific example of deliberate omission of scientific data is found in a multimedia site published by the French CNRS and intended for the general public, that does not reflect all currently available scientific data related to nuclear energy.

The GM debate in Europe: stalled for good?

This article peers into the history of technology that brought genetically modified organisms before looking into current European attitudes towards GMO food products. It looks at the various stakeholders responses over the years, which have led to the current status quo over approval of new GMO varieties in Europe. And now, the debate appears to be stalled, as the GM products currently in the pipeline are progressing through the system at a snail’s pace .

Cloudy thinking on light therapy

The winter blues are commonplace (allegedly). Most of us in Northern climes have dull days when we’d like to float a little longer in the dreamy cloud of a warm duvet rather than tackle the cold, hard-edges of cloud computing and the day job. Limited exposure to sunlight and the feelings of lethargy it brings have even been medicalized in the form of Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD, a rather too convenient acronym, to my mind. However, there are studies that show that the so-called “winter blues” are actually more common in summer or moreover, that there is no seasonal pattern to misery and depression at all. That hasn’t stopped a whole industry emerging from this “illness” selling light as a therapy.

Hazardous chemicals crossing borders

Anyone who has stood in line to have their bags, boots and body checked before getting on an aeroplane will know that international borders are well protected. After all, that young mother with her squealing baby could so easily be carrying more than the requisite quantity of fluid in a plastic bottle in her hand luggage. The old gentleman with the walking frame? Who’s to say he hasn’t packed it with old-school sticks of dynamite ready to hijack an autumnal tourist flight packed with mini-breakers. That surly teenager’s personal music player with its incessant “tss, tss, tss” and fragile glass touch screen? It could so easily be converted into a lethal weapon with a sharp blow to the arm of the aircraft seat releasing a shard of sharp glass with which to threaten the crew while they point to the exits and mime putting on an oxygen mask in case of the aircraft losing cabin pressure…

Marie Curie: Inspiring millions, advancing European science

She received two Nobel Prizes, has served as an inspirational figure to countless women (and men) in science, and has a Continent-wide fellowship program named after her to promote the brightest scientific minds and innovations. The Marie Curie Fellowships, administered by the EU, are so prestigious that recipients regularly gush about its virtue as a career game-changer. Only 8% of applicants receive fellowships each year, but this low rate of acceptance does not deter scholars; on the contrary, says Jordi Curell Gotor, who oversees the Marie Curie Fellowships as Director Lifelong learning, higher education and international affairs, DG Education and Culture, European Commission. The number of applications continues to rise annually. So far, 50,000 researchers from 120 nations have received these prestigious grants since the program’s inception in 1996.