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!

Happy Paul Nelson Day!

Five years, oh where has the time gone? Five years ago today, a creationist promised the science blogging community that he would explain a fancy new term that he came up with. Supposed to be a measurement of the degree of development of an organism, “Ontogenetic Depth” interested PZ Myers because he himself studies developmental biology. But the creationist never explained what it was, how it was calculated, and why the most developmentally well-characterized metazoan model species, C. elegans, had an OD of ‘somewhere between 7 and 9.’

That creationist’s name is Paul Nelson. Five years ago today he made a promise, Continue reading Happy Paul Nelson Day!

Large Hadron Collider Still Operating!

(Hat tip to Jonathan Eisen) This is big news – the Large Hadron Collider, which supposedly shut down for repairs, has been operating in secret for months now. According to the New York Times:

The giant Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and most expensive scientific experiment, was not shut down for repairs as originally reported (see New Particle Collider to Be Shut for Repairs), scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, in Geneva said today.

The NY Times got a tip in their mailbox, which they followed up on.

However, two weeks ago, the New York Times received an anonymous package that contained video recordings and other evidence that the accelerator was in full operation over the winter. Nobody from CERN would comment on the record about this evidence. However, two leading CERN scientists did confirm on condition of anonymity, that the accelerator was in use.

What have they been working on all this time?

Most striking, leading CERN scientists have been consulting repeatedly with prominent molecular biologists regarding apparent mutagenic properties of particles, presumably a new particle discovered in the accelerator. This has been confirmed by CERN scientists who spoke on condition of anonymity. Multiple sources have said that they believe they have found a particle that not only is highly mutagenic but appears to have an unusual affinity for DNA. The sources also stated that it was the mutagenic potential of the accelerator that led to the secrecy and false claims of a shutdown.

I’m very concerned about what this means for future operations of the LHC – if people get the idea that these scientists will lie to the public – how will people trust them down the road? Read the story for more.

So much science

I’m back in Madison from the 51st Maize Genetics Conference, which was full of wholesome scientific goodness. It was also a great opportunity to finally meet Anastasia Bodnar from Genetic Maize, and discuss everything about communicating plant genetics, from common arguments to the cool nitty gritty scientific details that make this topic something really fun to learn about by itself. Anastasia is great and it was a delight to spend the conference with her – here’s to a long and productive future of cooperative blogging!

We also met another blogger at the conference, James Schnable from James and the Giant Corn. Here are the three of us hanging out near the posters.

Hey who’s that little guy with us? And what cool stuff did we learn and talk about at the meeting? What video interviews, audio conversations, and pictures did we bring back? Keep an eye on Biofortified for details.

Off to Maize Genetics!

Today, I’m driving (or riding in) a van full of fellow graduate students to St. Charles, Illinois, an easy 2.25 hour drive from Madison. Contrast that with the flight to Washington D.C. last year. That’s right, I’m going to the 51st Maize Genetics conference! I’ve got some recording equipment with me and a good digital camera, but I have no plans to do a podcast of the conference like I did last year. I have a couple ideas up my sleeve to be revealed at a later date. I’m looking forward to finally meeting Anastasia at the meeting, too. Check Biofortified for updates.

I want this budget

One of my lab-mates still sings and watches the EP-Motion video I posted before. Well here’s a new one – funny, neat graphics, but nowhere near as catchy and memetic. Behold: Roche’s latest robotic invention:

I wish I had this kind of a budget for my plant breeding videos! I’m in the wrong business. The REAL money is in making the supplies for life sciences…

Kepler launches tonight

I had a pleasant surprise in my morning news reading this morning. The Kepler spacecraft has been cleared for launch this evening!

Kepler, named for the early astronomer (and author of the laws of planetary motion), will search for Earth-sized planets with its camera array made up of 42 CCDs. What’s also unique about this spacecraft is that it will take an orbit that trails the Earth, eliminating gravitational perturbations usually experienced in Earth orbit, and the Earth will also block the sun from view. Continue reading Kepler launches tonight