Our thoughts are with Japan today after an 8.9 magnitude earthquake–the seventh largest in history–struck the Pacific Ocean near Northeastern Japan, triggering a tsunami. Google has created an information page on the earthquake with tools to help find missing persons. UN Dispatch has also posted a list of Twitter accounts reporting on the disaster.
It wasn’t for nothing that I asked these questions yesterday (and some of the responses were very helpful). Over at the Science Progress blog, I’ve now done a full piece about what happened in science in 2009, which includes observations like these:
It was a year of complete U-turns in science policy. President Barack Obama reversed George W. Bush’s dramatic restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, and the first 13 new stem cell lines were approved for federally funded research since 2001. Meanwhile, the Obama Environmental Protection Agency moved to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, finding that they do indeed endanger the public.
It was also the year of the first-ever passage, by a 219-212 margin in the U.S. House of Representatives, of a cap-and-trade bill that would cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions—but not the year for any parallel action in the U.S. Senate.
It was the year that everyone seemed to own an iPhone and use the word “app” in regular conversation. It was the year Twitter went from being a mere annoyance to the epitome of web-based communication.
It was a year that saw the very first Nobel laureate scientist assume a cabinet position, in the figure of U.S. Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu.
It was the year of….many, many, many other things, some funny, some outrageous, some profound. Read here for the whole list, and leave comments about anything you think may have been left out!
Recently CollegeHumor put out the funniest video I’ve seen on the internet in a long time… The dancing are singing are great and lyrics are both clever and hilarious!
Best line: ‘Pandora! I just found a site called Pandora… And suddenly equipped like I’m hanging out at hipster bars!‘
I would rather be tied up to stakes in the Kalahari Desert, have honey poured over me and red ants eat out my eyes than open a Twitter account.
Read her entire terrific interview with the inventors of Twitter here…
Chris and I have spent a lot of time discussing Twitter over the past few days, both online and off. Along with Physioprof and James, we have a pact to resist joining the dark side. And the movement is growing…
Still, it’s been a big week for Twitter. In a twist of irony, the same day we posted on the phenom, Discover launched its official Twitter feed. And right now, a top headline on CNN’s frontpage reports that Ashton Kutcher has reached 1 million Twitter followers in his battle with the station. In other words, more folks are following ‘That 70′s Show’s Michael Kelso than than the actual news…and that itself has become the news. I’m not sure whether we can glean any large scale significant clues here about the evolution of American culture, but it strikes me odd nonetheless.
Chris noted this week’s scientific finding that rapid-fire media may confuse our moral compass and just yesterday, another story on CNN reported moms are at risk for internet addiction. Addiction? While I’m thankfully not (yet) among users who ‘don’t bathe and abuse drugs to help them stay “up” for more online time‘, I often get the feeling that Chris and I are on our laptops more than we should be. Scaling out, it’s clear that many of us are spending a good deal of time interacting with others in privacy. While the world grows smaller by way of globalization and the worldwide web, we’re becoming increasingly accustomed to social interaction amid social isolation.
I haven’t decided how I feel about all of this, but the week’s proceedings have me seriously thinking about how people are inherently changing. And what about the aforementioned risk? Are we really capable of becoming addicted to the web? As ever more of us become virtually wired much of the time, could we be approaching The Matrix? That question is mainly in jest of course, but just for the sake of discussion…
If it’s happening, would anyone notice before it’s too late?