Stories tagged scientists

Oct
04
2011

What role do scientists should have in the political process. Do they have a responsibility to advocate and champion their research to the public by becoming involved in the political process? What impact would this have on their research being viewed as impartial and objective?

The Theater of Public Policy seeks to explore these issues with an in-depth interview with representatives from Broad Impacts, a U of M Science Policy group. After discussing these ideas, an improvisational comedy team will breathe life into these ideas; bringing to life the ideas, concepts and memes from the conversation. Through thought provoking conversation and inspired humor, the policy issue will be illuminated.

The show takes place at 6:30pm on Thursday, Oct. 6th at Huge Theater, 3037 South Lyndale Avenue, Minneapolis and costs $5. The Theater of Public Policy is supported by InCommons and the Citizens League.

www.incommons.org/t2p2

At the beginning of the school year, we ask kids in our after-school programs to draw pictures of scientists. Most of the time, their drawings bear a strong resemblance to Albert Einstein. After a year of science programming, we ask the kids to draw pictures of scientists again. See how different their pictures look like the second time around:

The online issue of The Scientist is featuring profiles of two prestigious scientists who are also highly effective mentors for the students working in their labs. Their tips and techniques are useful for anyone, in any field, who has an opportunity to mentor. Check it out.

Mar
27
2008

Science marches on: Members of B.U.G., the Beer Users Group, meet to discuss important issues of the day.
Science marches on: Members of B.U.G., the Beer Users Group, meet to discuss important issues of the day.Courtesy mrlerone

Does drinking beer impede scientific progress? Say it ain’t so! But a study published in a Czech journal indicates that the more beer a scientist drinks, the fewer papers they will publish, and the lower quality those papers will be. Given that most scientific discoveries – heck, most human endeavor in any field – is fueled by fermented barley and hops, this came as quite a surprise, and threatened to shake the scientific community to its very foundation.

Fortunately, Chris Mack, a chemical engineer in Austin, Texas, read the paper and found several flaws. First, he reminds us that correlation is not causation – just because two phenomena appear together does not prove that one caused the other. Second, he feels that the sample size in the study is small. But most of all, he notes that the weak correlation between beer drinking and poor publication comes almost entirely from a handful of scientists at the bottom of the scale. Eliminate them from the study, and the rest of the sample shows almost no correlation. As Mack states,

“[T]he entire study came down to only one conclusion: the five worst ornithologists in the Czech Republic drank a lot of beer.”

Our faith in the scientific method restored, we can all sleep easier tonight.