Friday, January 22, 2010
What's going on? The 2010 Science and Engineering Indicators came out last
week and for the first time this invaluable biennial publication of the
National Science Board contains nothing on evolution in the chapter on
public acceptance of science. Without information on public attitudes
toward evolution the rest of the report is suspect. That this should occur
just as we are winding up the Darwin Year (he will be 101 on February 12)
is doubly disappointing. It is also the week the remarkable film "Creation"
I hope this will be the last time I mention the pilfered e-mails from the
Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. The Nature
editorial "Climate of suspicion" in the January 21 issue should be read by
scientists in every field of research. The most important contribution of
science to the world may be to demonstrate the power of openness in the
advance of knowledge. We cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated by a
small band of deniers into discussing hugely-important issues in private.
We must openly communicate with one another and learn how to bring the
public along on the adventure.
Of course we can; we have a clear proof-of-concept: the Montreal protocol,
signed in 1987, restricts the release of chlorofluorocarbons, man-made
compounds that destroy the naturally existing ozone layer of the
atmosphere. Ozone acts as a shield, blocking harmful ultraviolet radiation
from reaching Earth's surface. The ozone hole has diminished since the
protocol was agreed to.
What's New was late this week due to technical problems. We apologize.
Several subscribers wanted to know why it came from Aaron McQueen. Aaron is
one of the great guys at the Physics Computer Help desk. To avoid delay, he
sent it from his box. People complained that when I mentioned Pat
Robertson's wacky explanation of the earthquake I should also have
mentioned Danny Glover who said it was caused by climate change. One
suggested it demonstrated my bias on global warming. For the record, IĠd
never heard of Danny Glover. I don't think he has a big following in
"The God Patent" by Ransom Stephens, state's I don't read novels. Well, not
anymore; 70 years ago I hid them in my textbook and read them
surreptitiously in class. But then I discovered physics -- I was
into "truth." But after all this time I recently learned I was in a novel
and read it out of curiosity. An aging physics professor at the University
of Maryland, bobpark in the novel is a curmudgeon who writes a weekly
column on science and society. That sounds like me all right, but then
comes the fiction: he rouses the whole physics community into action. I
wish. Beyond that it's a sweet, sad story about people who seem very real,
with a struggle between science and creationism in the background. Surely
Emmy and Ryan will find each other again in a sequel. I read that too.
Meanwhile I find I'm in 2008 Randy White novel, the Black Widow.