Happy Birthday Carl Sagan

Tip of the pipette to Phil Plait for reminding me.

Today, Carl Sagan would have been 75 years old if he had not died in 1996. As a scientist, communicator, and humanist he knew the value of science and the importance of helping people understand its full implications. The notion that we need an army of Sagans to fix the problems with public understanding and acceptance of science is often criticized by communication experts as naive – we need more approaches than just his.

But you know what, it wouldn’t hurt to have a few more Carl Sagans running around. There’s room for some more scientist-communicators like Sagan on this pale blue dot.

Wisconsin Citizens for Science meets today

A day long waited for – Wisconsin Citizens for Science is having its kickoff meeting today at 2 pm at the Monona Library. From the site:

That’s right folks, our first meeting has been scheduled for Saturday, April 18th at 2PM. Andrew Petto, WCfS interim president, will be speaking on the state of science education in Wisconsin, and there’ll be cookies and stuff. Scientifically speaking, “Yum, yum!” The meeting is at…

Monona Public Library
1000 Nichols Rd
Monona, WI 53716

I’ll be there to learn about the current state of science education in this state – and to eat cookies. That is, after a long, hard day selling beeswax candles and stuff at the Farmer’s Market. You could make a trip into town at noon to go to the first market of the season, (pick up a fabulous candle…) and then get involved in strengthening science education!

Wisconsin Citizens for Science!

PZ Myers just alerted me to a new organization taking up the mantle of watching over science education in the great state of Wisconsin: Behold Wisconsin Citizens for Science. I’ve already signed up, and if you’re in WI, especially Madison – its home base – I recommend adding yourself to its roster! There is little information up on the site yet, nor any indication of agenda items to watch, but in time I’m sure there will be plenty of that. But they have just announced today that their membership is now up to 72 – pretty good for just starting out!

In the same thread, I also learned of the Madison Skeptics society. No familiar faces in the pictures there yet, but Madison is a big place. Yet also quite small.

Now PZ is suggesting that Wisconsin is behind the times: just now organizing to help with science education in the schools – and that his home state of Minnesota is way ahead. Heck, even the Dakotas get higher marks from him. Now I don’t know about you but I think he’s got his numbers backwards. Kansas was the state that started it all – with Kansas Citizens for Science. Kansas was arguably the worst state when it comes to evolution in science education – and it trickled down to states with fewer problems. So doesn’t that suggest that by coming in last, that there isn’t as much of a problem here as in other states, like our puddly neighbor to the West? 🙂

I’ll try to help spread the word about the first meeting, when it comes.

Corn Breeding

The next in my Award-Winning series of plant breeding videos is up at the UW-Madison Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics program website. This is the first in a series of videos interviewing plant breeders about what they do and what they like about it. The first breeder up for public scrutiny is professor Bill Tracy, here at UW-Madison, who is also the other PI on the project besides my adviser Shawn. Continue reading Corn Breeding