The Christmas meal in Britain usually centers on turkey, in Denmark roast pork. The French penchant is for goose, while Germans may opt for suckling pig. Regardless of the fleshy focus, a feast of culinary chemistry is at play when you prepare and cook the big meal. However, if you don’t get the chemistry right there’s more to worry about than dry meat and vegetables when the microbiology is dished up.
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?
The Census of Marine Life (CoML) programme addresses three major questions: What lived in the oceans? What lives in the oceans now? What will live in the oceans? This 10-year programme (2000–2010) is a unique global effort to develop the first comprehensive assessment of life in the oceans, from bacteria to large animals, from coastal and shallow waters to the poorly known habitats in the deep sea, through more than 500 expeditions. It has resulted in partnerships and an international network of over 2700 scientists from 80 countries. Through 14 field studies in distinct ocean realms, ranging from analysing historical documents to modeling future ecosystems, the Census enables scientists to describe the diversity, distribution, and abundance of life in the oceans, to compare what once lived in the oceans to what lives there now, and to postulate what will live there in the future.
The lonely scientist, covered by his papers alone in his room, talking to no one, is extinct. Science happens world wide in connection with partners around the globe, frequent travels are part of the daily life. Like for anybody else, delays are quite an annoying concomitant, especially if you travel by plane to reach your destination faster. Very often in Europe the cause for a late arrival is Air Traffic Control (ATC) related.
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.
So you’ve got a theoretical PhD… but what next? There are some career possibilities which combine the advantages of university and industry.
When I decided to start my PhD, I knew that I’d be required to read and digest academic papers and that my research of these papers would build up into a literal library of knowledge. It is important to organise such a web of information, and I was concerned with how I might find a sufficient way to do so. Mendeley is the way that I found best to index my library.
European waters were once brimming with big fish. Huge changes have taken place, and today’s fish are much smaller than only two or three generations ago.
Fusion power is one step closer to becoming a reality now that a new phase of construction has begun at the site of ITER, the world’s largest experimental fusion reactor. Twenty five years after the first talks of an international fusion energy project, the new works at the site in the south of France mark the beginning of preparations for the tokamak, the core part of the reactor. Sabina Griffith at ITER told the Euroscientist that after waiting for a year for this construction to start, it has had a great effect on the staff on site. “We can finally see ITER taking shape,” she said
Despite a largely negative response from EU agriculture ministers to proposals to allow individual countries make their own decisions on the cultivation of GM crops, it seems certain that the battle over GM will be won or lost in the hearts and minds of EU citizens. It is their opinions on GM which influence local and national policy, which in turn, feeds into the European debate.
In Paris this week the images of 1000 of France’s top researchers are being projected onto one of the city’s most famous buildings.
The Scientist’s web survey of the Best Places to Work in Academia this year must certainly have added another feather to the cap of European science. Of the International Institutions making the top ten, five were European.