Is Public Engagement A Duty for Scientists?

Do scientists have a responsibility to make their work accessible to the public? "Public Engagement", broadly speaking, means scientists communicating about science to non-scientists. Blogs are a form of public engagement, as are (non-academic) books. Holding public talks or giving interviews would also count as such. Recently, it has become fashionable to say that it is important for scientists to engage the public, and that this engagement should be encouraged. I agree completely

Is Public Engagement A Duty for Scientists?

Do scientists have a responsibility to make their work accessible to the public? "Public Engagement", broadly speaking, means scientists communicating about science to non-scientists. Blogs are a form of public engagement, as are (non-academic) books. Holding public talks or giving interviews would also count as such. Recently, it has become fashionable to say that it is important for scientists to engage the public, and that this engagement should be encouraged. I agree completely

Psychology, Neuroscience: Lacking in Individuality?

In research on people, scientists are typically interested in the group data - the mean, median, and variance of a sample of people. But according to a provocative new paper out in PNAS, the statistics of a group can obscure the variability within individuals, over time. The paper, from Aaron J. Fisher, John D. Medaglia, and Bertus F. Jeronimus, isn't really making a new point. The pitfalls of generalizing from the group to the individual level have long been known - but these issues

Just How Big is the Kīlauea Eruption?

The eruption that started in Leilani Estates on the lower East Rift Zone of Kīlauea is rapidly approaching the end of its second month, and right now, there are no signs the eruption will be ending soon. For many of us, this eruption seems unprecedented: how often do volcanoes erupt lava like this for months at a time? It turns out that it isn't that uncommon, although in terms of the recent history of Kīlauea, this is a big event for the Hawaiian shield volcano. So, just how big? I'v

Flashback Friday: Parrot “laughter” is contagious.

Image: Flickr/Tony Hisgett Instead of parroting the author’s own words (below), we will leave you with a video showing the contagious laughter-like vocalization of Kea parrots. We hope it doesn’t ruffle any feathers. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/embed/N37rN29nUIc[/embed] Positive emotional contagion in a New Zealand parrot. “Positive emotional contagions are outwardly emotive actions that spread from one individual to another, such as glee in preschool children or laughter in hum

New Species of Gibbon Unearthed in Chinese Tomb

In what may be the tomb of the grandmother of the first emperor of China, scientists unexpectedly discovered the bones of an extinct and hitherto unknown species of gibbon, a new study reveals. These findings suggest there was a higher level of ape diversity after the last ice age than previously thought, and that the number of primate extinctions due to humans has likely been underestimated. In 2004, researchers excavated a tomb in the city of Xi'an in China, once the ancient capital Chang'a

What Over 1 Million Genomes Tell Us About Psychiatric Disorders

The brain is an enormously complex thing. Trying to suss out the genetic overlap of the disorders that strike it is perhaps even more complicated. Still, the Brainstorm Consortium, a collaboration of researchers from Harvard, Stanford and MIT, is aiming to do just that. A new study put out by the group shows there are distinctions in how psychiatric and neurological disorders relate to each other; some personality traits may even be at play. The study, led by Verneri Anttila, a brain

China’s Done Recycling Our Plastics. Where Do We Put 250 Billion Pounds Of Waste?

The world is truly awful at recycling. Less than 10 percent of all plastic ever produced has been recycled — the rest goes to landfills and litter. And of that sliver of plastic that we do recycle, about half of it is shipped from wealthy nations to developing ones — especially China. Together with Hong Kong, China has imported nearly three-quarters of all global plastic waste in recent decades. And that’s how we ended up in this current mess. End Of Recycling Last year, China’s “Nati

Einstein Proven Right Even In Other Galaxies

Albert Einstein’s name is synonymous with intelligence, but he’s more than earned his rep. The man revolutionized physics when he was in his 20s and 30s. He came up with a whole new way of understanding reality, not as a fixed grid against which events occur, but as fundamentally intertwined with time and perception. Trying to prove Einstein wrong, somehow, is a perennial goal of budding and experienced physicists alike. Well, they’ll have to keep trying. A new study in Science today show

This Video Game Lets You Explore Mars’ Actual Surface

Alan Chan grew up thinking humans would be living in space and exploring Mars by now. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Instead, he decided to explore space on his own by creating a video game that allows people to drive around the Red Planet’s actual terrain in a souped-up rover. “Red Rover,” a new video game, recreates Mars' surface using satellite and terrain data from NASA’s HiRISE Mars orbiter. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) has a lens that’s photographed M

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