Stories tagged l

Apr
09
2013

Are we too sexy for research?: A controversy over government funding of research about duck genitalia has people asking bigger questions about public funding for scientific purposes.
Are we too sexy for research?: A controversy over government funding of research about duck genitalia has people asking bigger questions about public funding for scientific purposes.Courtesy Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez
They're the favorite punching bags and punchlines for politicians and late night comics: those seemingly odd science research projects. Right now there's a turmoil over a National Science Foundation grant of some $385,000 to study the genitalia of ducks.

The Washington Post today digs deeper into these kinds of projects. Are they frivolous? Do they lead to deeper scientific findings? If the government doesn't provide the funding, would anybody else? Does the government have a obligation to help provide opportunities for such research to happen? Who and how do we decide if a study is worth funding for the greater good of society? They're all interesting questions.

One of the problems of the past, the article notes, is that scientists typically have kept quiet and take their lumps from the critics while their research goes on. The thinking is that the critics don't want to understand science, so why even engage them in an argument. And unknown benefits can emerge from such projects. A researcher looking into why bluebirds are blue is now on the cusp of developing a new way to make paint.

It's a great topic for debate. Read the article and share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.

Recently departed Saint Paul, MN native Deborah Howell has a great article on the perils and paragons of science journalism. It's a smart read for any of us, who are trying decipher the true nature of the hundreds of scientific breakthroughs, findings, and bursts published in our media each day.

Radio Lab
Radio LabCourtesy WNYC

I just stumbled onto a radio show that I bet a lot of folks who read this blog are already aware of, but in case you are not... I caught the WNYC show Radio Lab for the first time on NPR a couple of weeks ago, and it is really interesting. It's a show that seems to be mostly about science (it is funded by NSF) and its interesting. The past few shows have been on race, sperm, choice and diagnosis. The show is available to download or subscribe to from their site or from iTunes. I recommend checking it out.

There was a particular part of an episode that I thought was really great. As part of their "diagnosis" show they had a part called How To Cure What Ails You. Its about 20 minutes long, and you can listen to it from the link. Its crazy interesting, I think.