Sunday, July 30, 2006

Stem Cells - The Hope and the Hype

It's not often leaflets about scientific research make it into church porches in Ireland but that's exactly what happening in the case of stem cell research. This area is currently one of the most publicly debated aspects of science with plenty of confusion about what benefits it will bring and the ethical issues surrounding it.

Promoting rational and balanced debate about these issues is what good science communication should be doing - and TIME Magazine seems to be doing it with their recent cover story. Also, there's a good summary of their article on CNN's site. Here's an extract:

Stems-cell research has joined global warming and evolution science as fields in which the very facts are put to a vote, a public spectacle in which data wrestle dogma.

Opponents of embryonic stem cell research -- starting with President Bush -- argue that you can't destroy life in order to save it; supporters argue that an eight-cell embryo doesn't count as a human life in the first place -- not when compared with the life it could help save.

Opponents say the promise of embryo research has been oversold; supporters retort that adult stem cells are still of limited use, and to fully realize their potential we would need to know more about how they operate -- which we can learn only from studying leftover fertility-clinic embryos that would otherwise be thrown away.

Back and forth it goes, the politics driving the science, the science pushing back.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Web video shows its potential with CERN tour

The potential of web video for use as a tool in science communication is being tried out by the people at Here's what they say about their video:

"In Seed's first exclusive short film, science communicator Alom
Shaha travels underground and behind the scenes to probe the cavernous Large Hadron Collider at CERN."

What makes a good science blog?

There are some interesting thoughts on what makes a good science blog on the ScienceWoman blog.

As well as some notes on science communication, the blog also offers an insight into the trials and tribulations of being a graduate student - particularly for women because "Statistically, the chances are low for even the guys to succeed in R1 academia...maybe you've heard of publish or perish? Well, those statistics are even more dismal if you are a woman."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Hollywood physics

The July issue of Physics World magazine has an interesting article on how physics and physicists are portrayed in films. Authored by Sidney Perkowitz who is currently writing Hollywood Science (due out in 2007) and is also author of Empire of Light, Universal Foam and Digital People, the article is available for free on

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Is the gap between art and science artificial?

SEED is a Dublin-based group devoted to developing creative projects connecting art and science. They organise a broad range of activities including informal salons, exhibitions, workshops and performances. Among recent guest speakers was Professor Sir Harold W. Kroto, co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the discovery of Buckminsterfullerene, one of the founding figures in the field of nanotechnology and one of the world’s best-known science communicators. He gave a talk at the July SEED salon on the theme of ‘Science and Art Can Be One and the Same, Sometimes’, and also gave an interview to RTÉ radio about the links between art and science. For more information and to hear the interview visit the SEED blog.