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.
September 12, 2012 |
Are Republicans waging a war on science? That has been a foregone conclusion of liberal commentators since the beginnings of the George W. Bush administration, whose positions on climate change, stem-cell research and other issues seemed less informed by textbooks than by the Bible -- or Exxon Mobil's balance sheet. Yet referring to these political strategies as a "war on science" is little different from the GOP's hyperbolic claims about Democrats' "war on religion. " Except when it comes to climate change -- an issue on which nearly the entire Republican Party has chosen to ignore or shout down the conclusions of the scientific community -- most GOP candidates seem about as knowledgeable as their Democratic counterparts on scientific issues, even if those on the religious right often prefer nonscientific explanations for such phenomena as the origins of human beings.
October 28, 2013 |
After reading my weekend column about the crisis in life science research, Hajime Hoji of USC's linguistics department reminded me of the late Richard Feynman's brilliant deconstruction of the flaws and pitfalls of science as it's done in the modern age. "Cargo Cult Science" was adapted from Feynman's 1974 commencement speech at Caltech, where his spirit reigns as one of that institution's two certified saints. (The other is Robert A. Millikan, Caltech's first president.)