Wednesday, January 17, 2007

New "Nature Education" publication aims to create leading edge, digitally-based science learning solutions

One of the perks of being involved with science and the media is that I get preview access to some of the stories from the Nature journal... Usually these stories are locked away under strict passwords and embargoes but here's one they want everyone to know about now...

(see Nature Publishing Group announces the launch of Nature Education [PDF Document, 22.72 KB] for the full press release)

Nature Publishing Group (NPG), publisher of the world's most influential science journals, today announced the launch of Nature Education, a new venture to develop innovative educational resources and tools for science students and their professors. Building upon NPG's strong reputation with educators and their students as a source of timely, relevant and high quality information - some of which is already used to supplement traditional teaching resources - Nature Education will take a non-traditional approach to the rapidly-evolving college education market, focusing primarily on creating leading edge, digitally-based, learning solutions in biology, chemistry and physics.


“Now is the right time to redefine undergraduate classroom education worldwide,” said Vikram Savkar [Publishing Director]. “Instructors and students are thirsty for learning environments that move beyond traditional textbooks and even course management systems to provide a highly interactive and personalized experience that simultaneously builds understanding, inspires career and research aspirations, and connects the student to a worldwide community of likeminded thinkers. With its excellent content, brand, global reach, and community of practicing scientists, NPG and Macmillan are superbly positioned to catalyze and capitalize on a radical shift in education.”

Monday, January 15, 2007

Eye-catching New Science Centre

I find that the website is a wonderful place to explore some of the most creative new design concepts around - it often has stories that give fresh insight into the broad themes of the art-science-technology-human interface...

I came across a description just recently on that site of the new Science Centre in Hamburg which is architecturally very impressive (as pictured above). For more photos and details have a look at: Eikongraphia » Blog Archive » Amethyst, by OMA which says:
The new Science Center in Hamburg designed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA looks just like an amethyst. [...]

The Science Center measures 14.000 square meters and features an aquarium, an academic theater, and probably also a planetarium.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Talking physics in the social Web

I think Physics World magazine has got to be one of the best science publications out there - even if it is limited to members of the Institute of Physics who (luckily for them) get a copy in the post every month. Non-members are teased by the extracts that appear on physicsweb...

The January 2007 edition has a great selection of articles looking at modern science communication including some insightful analysis on how the so-called Web 2.0 is shaking things up. Blogs feature prominently with an article by Sean Carroll, co-contributor to reputedly the world's most popular physics blog, as well as an indepth analysis by Martin Griffiths called "Talking physics in the social Web" which makes the following points which I found very interesting:
While some may see them as vanity projects, physics blogs are starting to have a real impact on the way researchers communicate. For instance, several papers have already been published on that cite blog entries, demonstrating that blogs are becoming a bona fide channel for scientific communication.

Meanwhile, a debate about string theory that began in the blogosphere has recently been thrust into the spotlight, being widely reported in science magazines and picked up by national newspapers. The most outspoken critic of string theory, Columbia University mathematician Peter Woit, has used his blog Not Even Wrong to point out that string theory does not make predictions that can be tested by experiment, and that the status granted to the theory as the most promising approach to reconciling quantum physics with gravity diverts resources away from other alternatives.

His blog has sparked a fierce, and sometimes unexpectedly personal, debate, both in the comments posted on Not Even Wrong and on string theorists' blogs such as Luboš Motl's Reference Frame and Clifford Johnson's Asymptotia. Such slanging matches may not be typical of the level of discussion in physics departments, and cause one to wonder how much of the debate depends on the easy anonymity that such online forums offer. But, for better or worse, blogs have opened up a new form of discourse in physics that can – as it is carried out in such a public fashion – be propelled into a broader context in a way that a discussion at a conference, say, would not have been.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

What Europeans really think (and know) about science and technology

The latest edition of Science in School magazine has recently been published (story via It includes a number of interesting articles on science education in (and outside) the classroom and also a report on a recent Eurobarometer survey in an article about "What Europeans really think (and know) about science and technology" which includes the surprising revelation that "On the whole, there is a noticeable drop in the number of people who claimed to be “very interested” in scientific themes between 1992 and

Science press releases with attitude

Few science press releases can beat NASA's good writing and their latest news feature on moon dust is no exception:

NASA - True Fakes: Scientists make simulated lunar soil
  • "Life is tough for a humble grain of dirt on the surface of the Moon. It's peppered with cosmic rays, exposed to solar flares, and battered by micrometeorites--shattered, vaporized and re-condensed countless times over the billions of years. Adding insult to injury, Earthlings want to strip it down to oxygen and other elements for "in situ resource utilization," or ISRU, the process of living off the land when NASA returns to the Moon in the not-so-distant future."