August 19, 2012
Re "Oh, sweet mystery," Opinion, Aug. 16 I had the pleasure of reading evolutionary biologist David P. Barash's Op-Ed article. As a scientist myself, and one who dabbled energetically in the history of science before devoting myself fully to scientific research, it is rare that I find something in the paper regarding policy or the teaching of science with which I agree wholeheartedly. There is another powerful force to draw in students: We can try to impart a sense of the possibility to do good works in the world; not in the sense of personal glory but in the great tradition of service to humankind.
November 21, 2009
High hopes for corn genome map Scientists this week revealed the genome sequence of corn. Agronomists hope the information buried in corn's 32,000 genes and 2.3 billion letters of DNA will help sustain the century-long improvement in yield and hardiness into an era of climate change and, possibly, food shortage. The sequencing, published Thursday in a package of research papers in Science and the Public Library of Science's PLoS Genetics, revealed that an astonishing 85% of the corn genome is made up of "transposable elements" -- short stretches of DNA that show evidence of having moved around in corn's 10 chromosomes at some point in evolution.
April 2, 2012 |
“Conservatives lose faith in science,” trumpeted the headline on a story in last week's Times. “A study … in the American Sociological Review concludes that trust in science among conservatives and frequent churchgoers has declined precipitously since 1974, when a national survey first asked people how much confidence they had in the scientific community. At that time, conservatives had the highest level of trust in scientists.” Though the article ran inside the paper on a weekday, it certainly didn't go unseen by Times letter writers.
August 16, 2012 |
I have been teaching and doing research at the university level for more than 40 years, which means that for more than four decades, I have been participating in a deception - benevolent and well intentioned, to be sure, but a deception nonetheless. As a scientist, I do science, and as a teacher and writer, I communicate it. That's where the deception comes in. When scientists speak to the public or to students, we talk about what we know, what science has discovered. Nothing wrong with this.
November 16, 2011 |
I recently heard the tail end of a radio debate about the fluoridation of water, a perennial American controversy that has spiked once again. One speaker said fluoride guarded against cavities; another said it injured our teeth in the guise of protecting them. Then the calls started coming in. To one outraged listener, the latest attacks on fluoridation reflected a deeply anti-intellectual strain in American public life. "These people just don't believe in science," the caller complained.