Stories tagged History and Nature of Science

Feb
14
2007

Get inspired by the best and brightest scientists, inventors, and educators from the community. Try your hand at incredible experiments with science educators as well as scientists and engineers from 3M, Medtronic, The University of Minnesota, Ecolab, and more.

Come celebrate African Americans in Science
Saturday, February 17, 2007
1-4 PM

Here's a full list of presenters and performers.

All activities are free with the purchase of general museum admission. Call 651-221-9444 for information and special rates for persons with limited income.

Feb
09
2007

Race: Are We So Different?
Race: Are We So Different?
Race impacts a variety of U.S. institutions and policies, often in ways that are hidden or undetected by popular media. "The Search for Our Ancestors," featuring Professor Kim TallBear, is the second of five public forums that will explore an in-depth understanding of race and its impact on our society. (Live coverage by KFAI Radio.)

February 22, 2007
Located in the 3D Cinema
6:30 to 7 p.m.: Performances
7 to 9 p.m.: Speaker, respondents, Q&A

Tickets are $12 per person, and space is limited. To reserve tickets, call 651-221-9444.

Kim TallBear is Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies at Arizona State University and a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate.

Respondents
Atum Azzihir: Executive Director, Powderhorn Phillips Cultural Wellness Center
Cris Stainbrook: President, Indian Land Tenure Foundation

Jan
30
2007

Race: Are We So Different?
Race: Are We So Different?
Race impacts a variety of U.S. institutions and policies, often in ways that are hidden or undetected by popular media. "Race and the Justice System," featuring Judge Pamela G. Alexander, is the first of five public forums that will explore an in-depth understanding of race and its impact on our society. (Live coverage by KFAI Radio.)

February 1, 2007
Located in the 3D Cinema
6:30 to 7 p.m.: Performances
7 to 9 p.m.: Speaker, respondents, Q&A

Tickets are $12 per person, and space is limited. To reserve tickets, call 651-221-9444.

Judge Pamela G. Alexander serves as a district court judge in Hennepin County.

Respondents
Jamice Obianyo: Research and Development Director, Ecolab Research Center
Robin K. Magee: Associate Professor, Hamline University Law School

Dec
27
2006

Raw data: The Food and Drug Administration will soon be deciding if meat from cloned animals will be able to be sold to consumers.
Raw data: The Food and Drug Administration will soon be deciding if meat from cloned animals will be able to be sold to consumers.

Have you ever had that hamburger or steak that you liked so much you just wanted to eat it again and again? Well, you might be able to eat meat produced by the same set of animal genes for years and years if a plan for the sale of cloned meat gets government approval.

The federal government’s Food and Drug Administration will soon be deciding if meat from cloned animals will be able to be sold in your corner grocery store. Last week it received a recommendation from a study group that it okay the public sale of meat and milk from cloned animals.

"All of the studies indicate that the composition of meat and milk from clones is within the compositional ranges of meat and milk consumed in the U.S.," the FDA scientists concluded in a report published in the Jan. 1 issue of the journal Theriogenology, which focuses on animal reproduction.

For several years, the FDA has put the brakes on commercial sales to the few companies that have been researching and developing cloned meat. But over the course of this year, those companies have been presenting a pile of evidence that they think shows cloned meat is safe to eat.

While there can be differences between natural-born and cloned, especially at the genetic and physiological levels, the cloned meat companies contend that there’s no difference between the meats that come from cloned or natural-born animals. But consumer protection groups are leery. And at a minimum, they think cloned meat products should carry special labels to allow people to know when they are buying cloned meat products.

One of the authors of the study supporting cloned meat notes that genetic differences between cloned and natural animals are most pronounced in the embriotic stages of development. By the time a cow, for instance, is mature, those differences are so small that it makes little or no impact on the quality of its meat or milk.
Even if cloned meat does get the FDA’s approval, there likely won’t be a huge jump in the amount of animals cloned for food production purposes. That’s due to the current economics involved with cloning.
Right now is costs about $19,000 to clone a cow. The more you clone, the cheaper the process gets. Six cloned cows would cost about $72,000, or $12,000 a piece. Naturally bred cows are a lot cheaper to reproduce.

But proponents for cloning meat-producing animals could have limited benefits. With certain breeds, cloning could help to promote strong, disease-free genes. Or a farmer might want to clone an unusually productive cow or steer. The cloned-meat industry estimates that only one-percent of herd would be made up of cloned animals. And some ranchers and farmers how have been experimenting with cloned animals admit that some of their cloned animals have already gone into our food chain. There is no process of checking if animals going to a slaughterhouse have been cloned or were naturally born.

Even if cloned meats to get the government’s okay, they might not prove popular with the meat-buying public. A recent national survey of consumers found that 64 percent of Americans are uncomfortable with animal cloning and that 43 percent believe that food from clones is unsafe.

Would you be willing to eat the meat of a cloned animal or drink the milk from a cloned cow? What do you think the FDA should do on this issue?

Dec
26
2006

Race: Are We So Different?  More about the exhibit
Race: Are We So Different? More about the exhibit

The Science Museum of Minnesota will be the world premiere location of an exhibit about race and human variation called RACE: Are We So Different? on January 10th. I just finished watching the Paula Zahn NOW show on CNN tonight on Racism in America that covered many of the same topics that are discussed in the RACE exhibit, such as white privilege and the history and current status of racial preference in housing. It was interesting, and it was good to see race be openly discussed on national television.

One interesting web-based feature the show featured was a test developed by Harvard University researchers that used a series of words and images to highlight the differences between how we believe we act and think about race and how we subconsciously think about race.

Psychologists understand that people may not say what's on their minds either because they are unwilling or because they are unable to do so. For example, if asked "How much do you smoke?" a smoker who smokes 4 packs a day may purposely report smoking only 2 packs a day because they are embarrassed to admit the correct number. Or, the smoker may simply not answer the question, regarding it as a private matter. (These are examples of being unwilling to report a known answer.) But it is also possible that a smoker who smokes 4 packs a day may report smoking only 2 packs because they honestly believe they only smoke about 2 packs a day. (Unknowingly giving an incorrect answer is sometimes called self-deception; this illustrates being unable to give the desired answer).

The unwilling-unable distinction is like the difference between purposely hiding something from others and unconsciously hiding something from yourself. The Implicit Association Test makes it possible to penetrate both of these types of hiding. The IAT measures implicit attitudes and beliefs that people are either unwilling or unable to report.

It’s pretty interesting research, and a pretty interesting method. I recommend checking out the web site and trying a test or two out for yourself. You may be surprised by the result, and you may not agree with it, but I think it is interesting to learn about what our unconscious automatic preferences are. The RACE exhibit at the Science Museum will, I think, do the something similar to what this test does – give us a chance to look closely at ourselves and examine how we see others.

Dec
14
2006

CAFE SCIENTIFIQUE
Professional Guinea Pigs
Tuesday, December 19, 6:30p.m. (Doors at 5:30 p.m.)
Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater, Minneapolis
Admission $5

Dr. Carl Elliott, author and professor at the U of MN's Center for
Bioethics, discusses the use of healthy humans in medical research. As drug companies offer higher payments to test subjects, will people be tempted to undergo frequent and dangerous trials? For those who make most or all of their living as paid research subjects, what protections are in place to safeguard against their exploitation?

Some suggested pre-Cafe reading:
Guinea Pig Zero: A Journal for Human Research Subjects

ABOUT THE BELL MUSEUM'S CAFE SCIENTIFIQUE:
Cafe Scientifique is a happy hour forum for science and culture presented by the University of Minnesota's Bell Museum of Natural History. Each month, experts from a variety of fields present cutting-edge research on diverse scientific topics-- from the politics of genetic testing, to the possibility of a new flu pandemic. Host John Erik Troyer, Ph.D., keeps the discussion moving in unexpected directions and audiences are encouraged to join in. The Bell Museum's Cafe Scientifique puts current science and popular culture on the table and up for debate!

For more information or a list of scheduled Cafe Scientifique programs, visit the Bell Museum's website or call (612) 624-7083.

For directions or to purchase tickets online, visit the Bryant-Lake Bowl's website.

Nov
14
2006

The Bell Museum of Natural History is hosting a CAFE SCIENTIFIQUE tonight (Tuesday, November 14) at 6pm at the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown. (There's a $5 suggested donation, but you can attend for free.)

This month, Cafe Scientifique explores the science and politics of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. What is a GMO? How and why have researchers been modifying the genetic makeup of plants and animals, and what are the possible risks and benefits of this type of research? Speakers from the University of Minnesota will discuss the science as well as the policy concerns of genetically modified organisms.

Guest speakers are:

  • Professor Anne R. Kapuscinski, Ph.D., University of Minnesota Department of Fisheries and Conservation Biology, Sea Grant Extension Specialist in Biotechnology and Aquaculture
  • Jennifer Kuzma, Ph.D., Interim Director and Assistant Professor at the Center for Science, Technology, and Public Policy, Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota.

Dr. Kuzma was featured on Minnesota Public Radio's Midmorning show this morning, discussing the politics of genetically modified foods and potential safety issues.

Do you have questions about genetically modified crops? Do you try to avoid genetically modified foods at the grocery store? What worries you or excites you about the potential of GMOs?

Oct
04
2006

I learned today that scienctists study and experiment women and men brain. The brains turned out to work the same in the science field. In universities men are more hired to be professors in science than women. There are more women applied than men because more women are going to school than men. Women don't usually get hired because they have different point of views, they have to leave soon because of family or bearing. In the future there will be people retiring so women might have to come into the science field because there are less men.

Aug
09
2006

Q: Why do people blink?

A: People blink because the eye needs to be kept clean and moist. Every time you blink your eyelid coats the eye with fluids that keep your eyes moist and that flush away gunk. Blinking also helps prevent gunk from entering your eyes in the first place – lowering the lids and eyelashes forms a barrier that is hard for gunk to penetrate. Interestingly, you bink less when you are concentrating on something (like driving or surfing the internet).

Q: How tall can a willow tree be when they are full grown?

A: That depends on what species of willow tree you are referring to – there are lots. The White Willow can reach heights up to 100 feet, while the Artic Willow grows to less than a foot in height!

Space shuttle bathroom: A typical space shuttle bathroom.  Image courtesy NASA.
Space shuttle bathroom: A typical space shuttle bathroom. Image courtesy NASA.
Q: How do astronauts go to the bathroom in space?

A: Typically, there are toilets similar in function to toilets on Earth, but they use air suction instead of water to make the waste go where they want it to, since there is no gravity. Solid wastes are compressed and stored on-board, and then removed after returning to Earth. Waste water is vented to space, although future systems may be able to recycle it. The NASA web site has a short video on the subject.

Q: Why doesn’t a duck quack echo?

A: This is an urban legend – duck quacks do echo. This site proves it.

Jul
26
2006

Maria McNamara of University College Dublin, and colleagues in the UK, Spain, and US, have recovered bone marrow from 10-million-year-old fossilized bones of frogs and salamanders found in Spain.

The marrow was preserved in 3D, and still has its original texture and color. Scientists think they may be able to extract traces of protein and DNA.

Even more interestingly, the fossils prove that ancient salamanders produced blood cells in their bone marrow. Modern salamanders, on the other hand, produce blood cells in their spleens.

Last year, US scientists recovered some tissue resembling blood vessels from a 65-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex fossil. They also found traces of what appeared to be red blood cells. (More on the T. rex find.)

And now that they're looking, scientists think they may find examples of preserved bone marrow in many fossils, raising the possibility of analyzing the proteins and DNA of lots of long-extinct organisms.