Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New science videos

I've just heard about the the Pulse Project - which "offers a wide range of freely accessible audio and video lectures for both general and specialised audiences, and delivered by eminent academics."

There are already lots of really interesting videos on the site - and it's great that so many people are distributing talks and science-related videos these days bringing one-off events to a much wider audience.

The Pulse Project in particular "hopes to reflect and inform debates amongst academics, students, and the wider public alike, and to thereby engage with the formative scientific questions of our time."

Saturday, November 08, 2008

What does Obama's victory mean for science?

There was loads of talk during the US presidential race about the negative impact the McCain-Palin team might have had on science if they made it into the White House.

But now that Obama is President-elect, I've been trying to find out what impact the Obama-Biden combination will have. And will it really be positive for science?

Initial indications are good with the creation of so-called "green collar" jobs in the envirotech sector high on the agenda. That's something that the Irish Green Party has been pushing for on this side of the Atlantic too. But the credit crisis is making banks less likely to support start ups which is causing problems for entrepreneurs creating green innovations.

One good source for an overview of the US science policy scene that I've come across is Reality Base which is described as "a blog about the interplay between science and politics."

Written by Melissa Lafsky, it's part of the DISCOVER magazine site and it gives a great overview of thought provoking science-related topics - from health care to wartime science.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Environment on TV & New Media

I'm heading over to London early next week to be on the jury for the EuroPAWS Environment in TV and New Media Festival 2008.

It's running at the Institute of Physics, 76 Portland Place on Monday, 3 November and Tuesday, 4 November. There are going to be a lot of really interesting screenings from all over Europe - and if you're going to be there too do say hi to me!

Friday, October 24, 2008

McCain on Ireland

Senator John McCain's views on Irish taxation and the US approach to Ireland's "agile" innovation policy were just some of the topics discussed at the international Atlantic Corridor conference on science education this week.

I'm just back from the event and it really struck me that it was an excellent forum for people from different backgrounds and organisations with an interest in science education to share their views. (I should of course declare my link to the event in that I produced the video message from An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen TD that was shown at the event).

Chaired by Leo Enright and with the keynote address from Robert Winston, the variety of presentations helped provoke some passionate discussions and there was a real sense of the need to do be active in this area given the current global financial crisis.

The presentations will be available on-line soon and in the meantime the PDF programme of speakers can be downloaded.

Were you at the event? What do you think needs to happen with science education? What role does the media have to play? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at diarmaid.mac@agtel.ie or commenting on this post.

Friday, October 03, 2008

New web address

It turns out that some organisations in Ireland are bizarrely blocking access to sites that have the word "blog" in their address - so to make sure everyone who wants to can read this blog I've just set up a new web address for it. And I've imaginatively called it (drum roll, please): sciencecommunicationreview.com

The old address (sciencecommunication.blogspot.com) will still work but feel free to use the new one too and to spread the word...

And this new address is so long that it might even win a prize for worldslongestdomainname!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Amazing science videos

A great collection of Top 10 Amazing Physics Videos has been put together by Wired.

My favourite only scrapes in at Number 10 - it's an incredible "musical Tesla coil" which has to be seen and heard to be believed. Have a look at it here:


Some of the others are interesting but not great - and I don't think everyone would agree that the Number 1 should go to the CERN rappers. It's a quirky little video and fun to watch if you're into your physics but I think the Tesla coil is better!

At least the Wired team welcomes people submitting their own favourite videos - and you can let me know if you've come across any good ones yourself by commenting on this post...

By the way, I first heard about this Wired special in the Science@Culture Bulletin - which is Mary Mulvihill's always fascinating "eclectic and personal guide to popular science and related events." It's recently evolved into blog format which will hopefully bring it to an even wider audience.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Updated Science Journalism training guide

I've just heard that the European Commission has issued an updated "European Guide to Science Journalism Training".

It's great the European Commission are promoting this topic - and when Patrick Vittet-Philippe spoke at the AlphaGalileo & IRCSET event in Dublin it was very clear that there is a real high-level commitment to this area.

The updated Guide is available on the Europa website and contains...
... an inventory of the training courses in science journalism across the 27 Member States of the European Union, as well as exchange programmes, scholarships and other initiatives supporting science journalism.
Several interesting trends have been indentified by the authors:
  • Science Communication courses at university level are widespread.
  • There is a clear recognition of the need to increase the accessibility of scientific information (for example via projects like the “Danish Science Cafés”)
  • Programmes explicitly dedicated to providing formal qualifications for Science Journalism are quite rare in EU 27.
  • In Eastern Europe, there are fewer formal support structures for those wishing to become a Science Journalist.
  • From the information gathered, Germany and the United Kingdom seem to be among the few Member States with comprehensive approaches to science journalism training.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

iPhone shakes up science

One of the best things about Apple's iPhone is the App Store where you can download a lot extra software for your phone (and some of it's even free).

It's been great to see that there are plenty of science-related applications available already - and they really could change the way people interact with science.

My favourite is Molecules which shows 3D molecular models that you can spin around by touching the screen - it's featured in this web video review...


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Google Maps for Science Communication

Here's a great demonstration of the potential of Google Maps for communicating science that I've just spotted on Mooch.info - in this case it's been adapted by the people at Global Warming Art to show the effect of climate change and rising sea levels on your house.

They've set themselves an ambitious goal:
"that the public and educators should have easy access to the same data and results that have framed the scientific discussion of global warming and climate change."
But of course as anyone who's read the thought provoking book "The Black Swan" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb will appreciate, any attempt at long term prediction like this is bound to be speculative and omit the potential of unexpected events.

To their credit the creators of these sea level maps say this right up front saying that people should "view these maps as rough estimations of how sea level rise may affect coastal areas and not rely on them too heavily". Still though, maybe we're not far off the point where people check maps like these before they buy property...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

New NASA videos for schools

NASA has just released a whole set of new videos aimed at schools - my favourite is this historical one but I don't think they meant it come across as spooky as it does!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Getting ready for Irish Astronomy events in 2009

Thanks to Miruna Popescu for bringing this Irish website called astronomy2009.ie to my attention, it's acting as a focus point for all the activities happening in Ireland in 2009 as part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009.

Judging from the number of organisations involved there'll be lots going on!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gravity uncovered on BBC

I enjoyed watching Brian Cox's rough guide to gravity on the BBC last night. And it was great to see a science show get a good billing in the Irish Times in advance too!

Called "What On Earth Is Wrong With Gravity?" the show was broadcast on BBC 2 as part of the Horizon strand (at 9pm, 29 January 2008).

The BBC press release captures the gist of the show very well:

Hollywood physicist Dr Brian Cox is on a journey to answer a simple question that has baffled the world's greatest scientists for over 400 years – just what is gravity?

Cox takes a road trip around the USA in his quest for an answer, in the third programme of the flagship science documentary strand. He fires a laser at the moon in Texas, bends time to operate his sat nav in Denver, and tries to capture gravity itself in the swamps of Louisiana, all in a bid to find a solution to this cosmic conundrum.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Celebrating 2009 already - the International Year of Astronomy

This year might have only just started for most of us, but already the American Astronomical Society is bringing people together to help organise plans for the 2009 "International Year of Astronomy". Hopefully there'll be lots of events happening in Ireland too...

In 2008, the annual meeting of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific will be held from May 31 - June 4 in St. Louis, Missouri, as part of the summer meeting of the American Astronomical Society -- in the form of a symposium with associated workshops.

At this meeting, education and outreach professionals will gather to discuss international, regional, and local programs for the International Year of Astronomy in 2009, which celebrates the 400th anniversary of the astronomical telescope.

If you are interested in planning activities in 2009, this meeting is an excellent chance to learn more about what various institutions and organizations are proposing to do, and to coordinate your ideas with colleagues around the country and the world. There will also be model workshops to demonstrate and develop techniques for reaching a wide range of audiences.

About the International Year of Astronomy (IYA): In 1609, Galileo first turned his telescope to the heavens, and revolutionized humanity's understanding of its place in the universe. Over the last 400 years, new telescopes have allowed us to expand Galileo's work and learn more about the universe, its geography and its evolution.