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.)
October 27, 2013 |
In today's world, brimful as it is with opinion and falsehoods masquerading as facts, you'd think the one place you can depend on for verifiable facts is science. You'd be wrong. Many billions of dollars' worth of wrong. A few years ago, scientists at the Thousand Oaks biotech firm Amgen set out to double-check the results of 53 landmark papers in their fields of cancer research and blood biology. The idea was to make sure that research on which Amgen was spending millions of development dollars still held up. They figured that a few of the studies would fail the test - that the original results couldn't be reproduced because the findings were especially novel or described fresh therapeutic approaches.
October 16, 2013 |
An exhibit documenting last year's record-setting 24 mile free-fall by daredevil Felix Baumgartner is on display at the California Science Center. Visitors to the Exposition Park museum can see the equipment used in the mission, including Baumgartner's space suit and the 3,200-pound capsule that took him to 127,852 feet above the New Mexico desert before his famed leap. More than 8 million computers and other digital devices tuned in to YouTube to watch Baumgartner become the first free-falling human to crack the sound barrier.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 12, 2013 |
The space shuttle Endeavour arrived at the California Science Center nearly one year ago, and the Exposition Park museum is throwing its crown jewel quite the anniversary party. Saturday marks the second day of "Endeavour Fest," a three-day event featuring astronaut presentations, film screenings and other displays related to science and engineering. The museum will also have on display the SpaceX Dragon -- the first commercial spacecraft to make a successful delivery to the International Space Station -- and the capsule and pressurized suit Felix Baumgartner used when making his recent record-breaking leap from the stratosphere.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 10, 2013 |
Tens of thousands of spectators crowded sidewalks and rooftops last October as the space shuttle Endeavour crawled across the streets of Los Angeles and Inglewood, an overwhelming welcome home for the retired spacecraft. Two weeks later, when the California Science Center opened the shuttle to public view, attendance at the Exposition Park museum surged. In just a few months, more than 1 million people visited the Science Center, which had averaged roughly 1.6 million visitors per year prior to the shuttle's arrival.
October 8, 2013 |
It's elementary--or is it? Sherlock Holmes and his investigative powers are the subject of an interactive exhibition opening Thursday at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland. Visitors will learn about Holmes and his methods, the world that inspired Holmes' creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the history of forensic science. Expect footprints and splatter patterns too. Museum-goers also will have a chance to develop their detective powers by using a book of clues instead of the museum map while trying to crack a Sherlock Holmes mystery written especially for the show by Conan Doyle biographer Daniel Stashower.
September 28, 2013 |
"Masters of Sex," which premieres Sunday on Showtime, takes as its subject Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the authors of "Human Sexual Response," "Human Sexual Inadequacy" and other medical potboilers of the 20th century. Without making any extraordinary claims for it, it is easy to watch and to recommend, mostly sweet-natured, with a host of well-shaded performances and almost nothing to insult your intelligence. Created by Michelle Ashford ("The Pacific") from Thomas Maier's book of the same name, it is a story of men waking up to women and women waking up to themselves.
September 27, 2013 |
The gig: Richard Plump is chief executive of Plump Engineering Inc., an Anaheim architectural engineering firm with 38 employees. Plump helped oversee the transportation of the space shuttle Endeavour from Los Angeles International Airport to the California Science Center in Exposition Park last year. He made sure the spacecraft did not damage streets or underground pipes as it wound through a 12-mile stretch of Inglewood and Los Angeles. He had previously overseen the movement of the huge rock that's now at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Troubled childhood: Plump, 51, overcame a difficult childhood.
September 27, 2013 |
The cast of AMC's Breaking Bad has always had great chemistry, as the Emmy's have noted, but is the science any good? Organic chemist Donna Nelson of the University of Oklahoma hopes so. She's the one who has made sure the methamphetamine musings penned by screenwriter/producer Vince Gilligan for Brian Cranston's character Walter White, (a.k.a. Heisenberg, the show's anti-hero) are correct. So it's not just Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) shouting "Yeah, science!" in the first season's Episode 7 ( "A No Rough-Stuff-Type Deal" )
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 24, 2013 |
Ruth Patrick, a scientist whose research on freshwater ecosystems led to groundbreaking ways to measure pollution in rivers and streams, has died. She was 105. Patrick, recipient of dozens of the nation's top science awards including the National Medal of Science, died Monday at a retirement community in Lafayette Hill, Pa., according to the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University. The cause was not given. Patrick is credited with creating an approach that assesses the health of a lake, stream or river by evaluating the quantity, diversity and health of its plants, insects, fish and other organisms - not solely examining the chemistry of the water.