Biocomputing with Martyn Amos

Posted on January 31, 2007  Comments (0)

The Jan 30th This Week in Science Podcast covers various topics including:

Today’s interview with Biocomputing expert, Martyn Amos, was a fascinating journey into the future of technology. What we consider computers today won’t be the computers of tomorrow, and computers will likely be integrated into all aspects of life using the miniaturization potential of DNA. While we are still far away from the realization of many aspects of biocomputing, it has come a long way from its humble beginnings.

Related: science podcast postsdirectory of science and engineering podcasts

NSF’s K-12 Math and Science Partnerships

Posted on January 31, 2007  Comments (0)

NSF’s Math and Science Partnerships Demonstrate Continued Increases in Student Proficiency:

NSF’s MSP program supports partnerships among higher education, local K-12 school systems, and supporting stakeholders, such as businesses or informal science-education organizations. At a minimum, each partnership must contain one institution of higher education and one K-12 school system. The program’s portfolio includes 52 partnerships and more than 30 other projects engaged in the development of tools, research and capacity building for evaluation to support the work of the partnerships.

An analysis of 123 schools participating in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program shows improvements in student proficiency in mathematics and science at the elementary, middle- and high-school levels over a 3-year period.

Related: posts on k-12 science, technology, engineering and math

Cancer Cure – Not so Fast

Posted on January 31, 2007  Comments (0)

Follow up on Cheap, Safe Cancer Drug?: In which my words will be misinterpreted as “proof” that I am a “pharma shill”:

This drug has only been tested in cell culture and rats. Yes, the results were promising there, but that does not–I repeat, does not– mean the results will translate to humans. In fact, most likely, they will not. Those of us who’ve been in the cancer field a while know that all too common are drugs that kill tumors in the Petrie dish and in mice or rats but fail to be nearly as impressive when tested in humans.

Perhaps the blog post I quote above just resonates with me (see: confirmation bias). To me,it supports my contention in my “Cheap, Safe Cancer Drug?” post, though much more effectively and with supporting evidence. But this is my blog so I get to quote whoever I want, and it isn’t surprising I find those that share my thoughts to be the most compelling 🙂 Anyway the post I quote is definitely worth reading.

Related: Cancer Deaths – Declining Trend?Cancer-Killing VirusCancer cell ‘executioner’ found
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‘Hobbit’ human is a new species

Posted on January 30, 2007  Comments (1)

‘Hobbit’ human ‘is a new species’:

Archaeologists had found sophisticated tools and evidence of a fire near the remains of the 1m-tall adult female. “People refused to believe that someone with that small of a brain could make the tools,” said Professor Falk. She said the Hobbit brain was nothing like that of a microcephalic and was advanced in a way that is different from living humans.

A previous study of LB1’s endocast revealed that large parts of the frontal lobe and other anatomical features were consistent with higher cognitive processes. “LB1 has a highly evolved brain,” said Professor Falk. “It didn’t get bigger, it got rewired and reorganised, and that’s very interesting.”

Related: On My Fossil Wish List: Homo sulawensiensisSurvival of the biggest: hobbits wiped out by man“Hobbit” Was Own Species, Not Diseased Human, Brain Study SaysScientists: Flores island ‘Hobbit’ is new species

Nanoscale Universe Experience

Posted on January 30, 2007  Comments (0)

Riding Snowflakes is a production exploring the nanoscale universe projected on digital-domes (planetariums) funded by NSF and created by RPI. A teacher’s guide provides experiments and activity-based lessons for to introduce, reinforce and expand upon key concepts presented in the show.

Generating the molecular worlds described in the screenplay entailed a wide range of challenges in statistical mechanics, molecular modeling, and simulation. To create a truly immersive portal into the nanoscale universe required simulations of a massive scale and complexity – an entirely unusual request for the chemical and biological engineers and scientists involved in the project. The creation of a believable and cinematic molecular landscape to visualize the plot twists and dramatic tension of the story posed a host of new creative challenges for the collaborating scientists. Their involvement in this work has brought about insights that will hopefully spark a breakthrough in the very real worlds of energy, environment, and health.

Related: MoleculariumNanoscale Science and Engineering EducationNanotechnology EducationNanotech and other science webcasts

Scientists and Engineers Without Borders

Posted on January 30, 2007  Comments (2)

Building on the Doctors without Borders organization are two organizations: Science without Borders and Engineers without Borders.

Science Without Borders:

Scientists may not provide emergency relief in times of disaster, but the discipline has a major role to play in meeting the chronic needs of our planet: health, agriculture, environment, energy, and many more. By creating Scientists Without Borders, the Academy aims to facilitate synergies among institutions already committed to the UN Millennium Development Goals as well as to unleash the energy of thousands of scientists in academia and industry. With the benefit of the best and most current information, they can apply their efforts to training health workers and researchers in developing countries or devote part of their research efforts to address underserved global challenges.

Engineers Without Borders (USA):

The activities of EWB-USA range from the construction of sustainable systems that developing communities can own and operate without external assistance, to empowering such communities by enhancing local, technical, managerial, and entrepreneurial skills. These projects are initiated by, and completed with, contributions from the host community working with our project teams.

Related: Engineers without Borders – InternationalClean Water Filter

Educating the Engineer of 2020: NAE Report

Posted on January 29, 2007  Comments (5)

Educating the Engineer of 2020:

The BS degree should be considered as a pre-engineering or “engineer in training” degree.

I am not convinced of this idea. It seems to me a BS degrees in engineering should be a full degree not some “pre” degree like pre-law. Obviously no engineering degree is an invitation to stop learning; life long learning is a requirement whether the engineering degree is earned in 4, 6, 8… years. Improving the life long learning methods is where effort should be focused in my opinion not in making the original degree take longer to earn.

The engineering education establishment should participate in efforts to improve public understanding of engineering and the technology literacy of the public and efforts to improve math, science and engineering education at the K-12 level.
NSF should collect or assist collection of data on program approach and student outcomes for engineering departments/schools so prospective freshman can

These seem like good ideas to me.

Related: Educating Engineers for 2020 and Beyond (speech)Global Engineering Education StudyEducating Scientists and EngineersApplied Engineering EducationMIT Engineering Education Changes

Other than trying to get people to buy the content that they provide for free I can’t understand why they present the material so poorly online. Once again basic web usability principles are lacking on their site.
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Robots for Space Exploration

Posted on January 29, 2007  Comments (0)

Robot Subs in Space James Vlahos:

But now, after spending nearly three decades on the margins of the space industry, Stone is closer than he’s ever been to proving that caves are the best earthly training ground for exploring space. Backed by a $5-million grant from NASA, he is developing a robot called DepthX that may turn out to be the most advanced autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) ever. Like its inventor, DepthX is a caver, capable of navigating constrained, obstacle-filled environments. Its theoretical mission, though, is bold even by Stone’s standards: a hunt for extraterrestrial life on the Jovian moon of Europa.

A ‘Chunnel’ for Spain and Morocco

Posted on January 29, 2007  Comments (1)

A ‘Chunnel’ for Spain and Morocco

From the bustling waterfront of this African port city, Europe appears tantalizingly close: The coast of Spain shows on the horizon just nine miles away. Despite decades of dreaming, no one has been able to bridge the physical divide that opened between the two continents more than 5 million years ago, forming the geological bottleneck to the Mediterranean Sea.

In recent months, however, the governments of Morocco and Spain have taken significant steps to move forward with plans to bore a railroad under the muddy bottom of the Strait of Gibraltar. If built, the project would rank among the world’s most ambitious and complex civil engineering feats, alongside the Panama Canal and the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France.

Related: Extreme EngineeringInternet Underwater Fiber

Anger at Anti-Open Access PR

Posted on January 28, 2007  Comments (2)

Blog posts angry at the anti open access moves by science journals are exploding. Which is a good thing; hopefully the momentum will keep up and some real changes will take place.

Those with money to lose will fight against freedom of information by Bora Zivkovic, is pretty representative:

While the world is moving towards an Open Science model of exchange of scientific information, there are, as expected, forces that are trying to oppose it. Whenever there is a movement to change any kind of system, those most likely to lose will make a last-ditch and nasty effort to temporarily derail the progress.

More: My advice to the American Chemical SocietyBig Content’s ‘pitbull’ and the AAAScience Journals Hire “PR Pit Bull”Traditional science publishers hire PR firms to scuttle open accessThe Open Access “Debate”A quick bit on the future of Open Access Publishing, Anthropology, and Public RelationsMore on the AAP PR campaignAnti-Open Access Propaganda: An Institution Under SiegeScience publishers get stupid

Good. Go blogosphere, Go Open Access and Go Badgers, too.

Related: more posts from our open access categoryThe Future of Scholarly PublicationOpen Access LegislationThe Future of the Scholarly Journal
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Germany’s Science Chancellor

Posted on January 28, 2007  Comments (1)

The Science Chancellor:

Angela Merkel, a physical chemist-turned-G8 leader, is putting science on the European and global agenda

Merkel touted a new €6 billion fund for innovative “beacon projects,” plus an increase in R&D funding to 3 percent of Germany’s $2.5 billion GDP through 2010. She’s also made an impact on the German science community. “They’re all impressed that a scientist, a real scientist who really did scientific work and didn’t just get a degree and move on, finally made it to the top of the political ladder,”

Related: China’s Economic Science ExperimentJuly 2006 editorialScience and Engineering in Global Economics