Archive for January 26th, 2011

Off to Kansas for the Next "Messenger" Workshop, and a New Blog Competition

By Chris Mooney | January 26, 2011 3:14 pm

You may recall this post and this post, produced by attendees of my breakout sessions at the last NSF Science: Becoming the Messenger workshop at George Washington in November.

The posts were produced in real time as part of a competition to see who among the attendees could compose the more highly trafficked, linked, and commented-on blog post–and this one, by Alice Popejoy, won.

Well, we’re now doing the first road trip for Science: Becoming the Messenger, hitting Lawrence, Kansas for a two day training session. And the blog competition is going to be upgraded–there will be a lot more posts going up, albeit with smaller teams trying to publicize them. This will occur tomorrow afternoon, between roughly 1-5 pm. Stand by…and may the best blogger win!

Guest Post: Review of Amazing Adventures of Ants by Mark Moffet

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | January 26, 2011 12:40 pm

Guest post by Vanessa Woods

It was in Uganda that I encountered one of Africa’s most dangerous predators. I was counting chimpanzees in the Ugandan jungle, when I felt a sharp pain on my forearm. I pushed up my shirtsleeve. Attached to my skin was a giant ant the size of my toenail. Its head was so big I could see the serrations on it pincers that had dug halfway into my skin.

I flicked it with my other hand. It didn’t move. I brushed it, harder. It just wiggled all six legs and bit more deeply. I started to panic. I grabbed the ant between two fingers and pulled as hard as I could. Its body came off in my hands and its head was still firmly embedded in my arm, blood pooling around its knifelike jaws.  As if on cue, a thousand kindred mandibles sunk themselves into my flesh. I looked down. I was covered in them.

And so I learnt one of Africa’s most valuable lessons: ignore ants at your peril. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Books

Can You Have a Purely Economic Sputnik?

By Chris Mooney | January 26, 2011 7:39 am

That’s the question I pose in my latest post at DeSmogBlog:

Essentially, President Obama wants us to recreate the same sense of urgency, and the same national unity, but without the same fear of another competitor country, unless that country is supposed to be China—which, the President noted, recently “became the home to the world’s largest private solar research facility, and the world’s fastest computer.” Okay, that’s something of a spur…but it is not, historically speaking, a Sputnik. (And, making China into the enemy is a very problematic notion.)

Obama wasn’t even speaking in a national security frame last night when he invoked Sputnik. He was speaking in an economic one. The sense of shared threat was displaced from an external other to our own economic problems—joblessness and deficits.

And that’s the real trick: Is the yearning for national unity, in the wake of Tucson, enough to overcome this chief non-parallel in Obama’s Sputnik analogy? Because undoubtedly, investing in more clean energy research, and more research in general, will spur jobs and innovation. But will we remember to forget our differences in the meantime? Is there some glue that will hold us together? Given the way politics now operate in the U.S., it’s hard to be so optimistic.

You can read the full post here.

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