This blog isn’t just about cutting-edge or peer-reviewed research; I write about whatever I think might be interesting, which also includes older research and simple explanations of things that might be considered “basic science”. My goal is to communicate scientific ideas to non-scientists in a way that is enlightening, engaging or even inspirational. I hope the blog will be more than just my writing, though – discussion and discourse are the heart of learning, so please share your thoughts and questions in the comments.
A better understanding of science is important for everyone. Since most scientific research is publicly funded, scientists need the public to understand the value of their work. A scientifically educated and aware public is more likely to do so and to be willing to extend or expand support for science. For non-scientists, a better understanding of science can help make more informed and effective choices on both a personal and a social level. From GMOs to climate change to stem cell research, we are struggling together to regulate the decisions we make and to understand their effects. While science alone cannot determine our choices, they must be based in a firm understanding of science.
The world around us is richly mysterious, full of dazzling wonders and dizzying complexity. Science is how we try to capture that numinous whole in beautiful, elegant explanations and simple ideas. Each advance is a small wonder in its own right and science communication should reflect that sentiment. At its best, it should do more than just explain. It should impart a sense of majesty and beauty; it should inspire us to keep asking questions and to strive for understanding. I was lucky enough to grow up in just such an atmosphere; I hope that I can pass on some small part of that richness.
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It’s probably not a surprise that humans aren’t the only animals with a sense of numbers. While they’re probably not …Continue reading →
Rugani R, Vallortigara G, Priftis K & Regolin L (2015). Animal cognition. Number-space mapping in the newborn chick resembles humans' mental number line., Science (New York, N.Y.), 347 (6221) 534-6. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25635096