Archive for the ‘Science’ Category
Here’s an extraordinary recording of Albert Einstein from the fall of 1941, reading a full-length essay in English: The essay is called “The Common Language of Science.” It was recorded in September of 1941 as a radio address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science. The recording was apparently made in America, as Einstein never returned to Europe after emigrating from Germany in 1933. Einstein begins by sketching a brief outline of the development of language, before exploring the connection between language and thinking. “Is there no thinking without the use of language,” asks Einstein, “namely in concepts and concept-combinations for which words need not necessarily come to mind? Has not every one of us struggled for words although the connection between ‘things’ was already clear?”
Open inquiry is at the heart of the scientific enterprise. Publication of scientific theories – and of the experimental and observational data on which they are based – permits others to identify errors, to support, reject or refine theories and to reuse data for further understanding and knowledge. Science’s powerful capacity for self-correction comes from this openness to scrutiny and challenge.
The changes that are needed go to the heart of the scientific enterprise and are much more than a requirement to publish or disclose more data. Realising the benefits of open data requires effective communication through a more intelligent openness: data must be accessible and readily located; they must be intelligible to those who wish to scrutinise them; data must be assessable so that judgments can be made about their reliability and the competence of those who created them; and they must be usable by others. For data to meet these requirements it must be supported by explanatory metadata (data about data). As a first step towards this intelligent openness, data that underpin a journal article should be made concurrently available in an accessible database. We are now on the brink of an achievable aim: for all science literature to be online, for all of the data to be online and for the two to be interoperable.
Scientists are testing a new teaching concept to rekindle shoolchildren’s interest in science. Retaining schoolchildren’s attention during a science class can be a challenge, even for the very best teachers. Perhaps this is because there’s too much theory and too little hands-on fun for the kids to engage in. Danish scientists are now testing the possibilities of taking hands-on science straight into primary and lower-secondary school classrooms to help solve this challenge. They argue that far more experiments and group work should be included in classroom science teaching in the future. In tomorrow’s science classrooms, schoolchildren will be free to experiment and be creative when presented with scientific tasks. This differs from today’s science teaching, where pupils often follow a study guide in which both the process and the outcome have been painted out for them.
Based on interviews with over three hundred of the world’s top scientists, who are already inventing the future in their labs, Kaku—in a lucid and engaging fashion—presents the revolutionary developments in medicine, computers, quantum physics, and space travel that will forever change our way of life and alter the course of civilization itself. His astonishing revelations include:
- The Internet will be in your contact lens. It will recognize people’s faces, display their biographies, and even translate their words into subtitles.
- You will control computers and appliances via tiny sensors that pick up your brain scans. You will be able to rearrange the shape of objects.
- Sensors in your clothing, bathroom, and appliances will monitor your vitals, and nanobots will scan your DNA and cells for signs of danger, allowing life expectancy to increase dramatically.
- Radically new spaceships, using laser propulsion, may replace the expensive chemical rockets of today. You may be able to take an elevator hundreds of miles into space by simply pushing the “up” button.
Read also: Interview
Promoting a human rights approach to S&T advances will reinforce moves towards inclusive development. But implementation challenges remain. There was a time when debates on the links between science and human rights focused on the plight of individual scientists, and in particular on their rights — both as humans and as intellectuals — to the freedom of expression.
Since then, the terrain of the science and human rights debate has expanded considerably. One direction has been the use of technology to provide evidence of human rights abuses. An equally significant trend, however, has been the growing interest in promoting the idea that enjoying the fruits of scientific knowledge is a basic human right, and in how this right can be implemented in the context of social and economic development.
Science is a clear part of Brazil‘s main TV news agenda. But, as in other developing countries, scientists can do more to engage with the media.
A large proportion of the Brazilian population is interested in science and technology — data from a recent survey suggest that the percentage (65 per cent) is equivalent to the percentage of people interested in sports and culture. Is this demand being met by the coverage of science in national media, particularly television?
Science cafés — where scientists talk to local people at popular meeting places — are gaining popularity in Africa.
“The cafés involved getting a scientist to discuss their work with a lay audience in an informal setting,” says Ruth Wanjala, a communications expert who was a co-founder of the Nairobi science cafés.
The cafés usually began with a short presentation by the scientist. Then non-scientists — including people who had been affected by a certain health condition — were invited to talk about their experiences, giving rise to a lively debate.
Research that is funded by the public should be freely available to all – a move to open access modes of publication is overdue. As a scientist and citizen I want to see the universal adoption of the open access model of academic open-access-publishing, because it will be better for science and better for society.
Open access, where costs are met upfront by the author and papers are free to readers, would improve science by making all published results and ideas easily accessible to researchers across the world and so fuel the engine of discovery. At present, far too much of our research is locked behind paywalls that restrict access and stall progress.
The majority of the world’s scientific research, estimated at around 1.5m new articles each year, is published in journals owned by a small number of large publishing companies including Elsevier, Springer and Wiley. Scientists submit manuscripts to the journals, which are sent out for peer review before publication. The work is then available to other researchers by subscription, usually through their libraries.
One of the world’s largest funders of science is to throw its weight behind a growing campaign to break the stranglehold of academic journals and allow all research papers to be shared online.
Every year for more than a decade, intellectual impresario and Edge editor John Brockman has been asking the era’s greatest thinkers a single annual question, designed to illuminate some important aspect of how we understand the world. In 2010, he asked how the Internet is changing the way we think. In 2011, with the help of psycholinguist Steven Pinker and legendary psychologist Daniel Kahneman, he posed an even grander question: What scientific concept will improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit? The answers, featuring a wealth of influential scientists, authors, and thought-architects, were recently released in This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking – a formidable anthology of short essays by 151 of our time’s biggest thinkers on subjects as diverse as the power of networks, cognitive humility, the paradoxes of daydreaming, information flow, collective intelligence, and a dizzying, mind-expanding range in between. Together, they construct a powerful toolkit of meta-cognition — a new way to think about thinking itself.