What did you do last week?

In my case, there was a the usual – I ordered DNA primers, sequenced some DNA, went through that sequence and assembled it into my model… I cooked some dinner, slept some. But last week was punctuated with something a little different.

Monday morning, the first new episode of my old radio show The Inoculated Mind Radio and Mindcast, aired on the local Madison student station, WSUM.  The show was pre-recorded the week before, because I was not going to be in Madison to do it live.

The same day, I was visiting the San Francisco Bay Area with Anastasia, zooming around the City, meeting up with PZ Myers, and oh yeah – having dinner with Michael Pollan at Chez Panisse! My review is up, as well as Anastasia’s.

As for the show, I used to host the Mindcast here on this blog, however, I have built a completely new site called Inoculated Media dedicated to hosting the show. Continue reading What did you do last week?

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.

Doubtbreak

Swine Flu versus Media woo:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Doubt Break ’09
www.thedailyshow.com
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:252494
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

In other news, Bill Maher finally expressed his true opinions of vaccines while interviewing Bill Frist. After being told he was crazy by a doctor, he followed up with being told he was crazy by three non-doctors the following week. Antiscience comes in many strains and Maher’s got a bad case of the Doubtbreak.

Ladies and gentlemen, don’t wait, inoculate!

P.S. I love how Jon Stewart worked in a joke about being a “Pasteurized Milk Drinker!” Take that, Raw Milkers!

Local Community Radio Act on fast track to approval

I just got this in my inbox today. I keep tabs on my ol’ Davis station, KDRT, and I’ve been hearing about legislation designed to help Low Power FM stations get on the air and stay on the air. They’ve been treated as second-class citizens in the radio world, which hit home when a commercial station, KMJE, tried to wipe KDRT off the air by moving closer to Davis a little more than 2 years ago. Technically, KDRT would be encroaching under the old rules… not for much longer, it seems! (It still gets me that NPR was an opponent of LPFM. Glad to see that the laws of physics have changed for NPR.) Here is the press release from Prometheus Radio:

Energy and Commerce Committee Unanimously Supports
Local Community Radio Act:

Bill Moving Swiftly Toward Full House Vote

With a unanimous voice vote, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Local Community Radio Act this morning. By repealing restrictions that drastically limit channels available to low power FM (LPFM) stations, the Act will allow hundreds of community groups nationwide to access the public airwaves.

The popular, bipartisan legislation is on the fast track to becoming law. Shortly after all five FCC Commissioners reaffirmed the FCC’s longstanding support, the bill passed out of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet by a voice vote. After today’s passage out of committee, the Local Community Radio Act heads for a floor vote in the House. Continue reading Local Community Radio Act on fast track to approval

Michael Pollan in Madison

The Big Event that everyone has been waiting for is here: Michael Pollan is going to be in Madison, Wisconsin, speaking about food and diet and word has it he will be bringing his rose-colored glasses!

There are several events where Pollan will be the big cheese:

Thursday at 7 pm at the Kohl Center, he will be giving a talk to what will likely be a packed auditorium. His talk is called The Omnivore’s Solution. I’ve been dying to find out what Omnivores can be dissolved in.

His talk is part of a campus-wide project called Go Big Read. I know, the name is lame. But they put thousands of copies of Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, in the hands of students in many disciplines. From sociology to nutrition and political science, the idea is to get students in many different fields talking about the same thing from different angles.

There is a blog on the Go Big Read site, and they were taking question submissions for Pollan, a handful of which will be selected. I submitted a question, along with Ariela. Continue reading Michael Pollan in Madison

Matt Nisbet in Madison tonight

I’ve been so busy the last few days, I forgot to put up this post. Matt Nisbet, who blogs at Framing Science, is a professor of communication at American University. He will be giving a free talk tonight in Madison on science communication.

His talk is titled What’s Next for Science Communication? Promising Directions and Lingering Distractions. It will be in 1100 Grainger Hall, from 7-9 pm TONIGHT June 25, 2009.

The description:

Despite recent innovations in science communication such as deliberative forums, the application of framing research, and partnerships with the arts and humanities, these approaches are still all too commonly defined as simply novel ways to persuade the public to view scientific debates as scientists and their allies do. Instead, the question should not be how to “sell” the public on science and emerging technologies; but rather how to use communication research and its applications to empower greater public participation in the governance of these issues.

Elaborating on much-discussed articles published at Science, Environment, The Scientist, Nature Biotechnology, and other leading outlets, Nisbet argues that the sophistication of these emerging communication strategies needs to be complemented by an equally sophisticated view of public engagement. In particular, in areas such as biotechnology, evolution, and climate change, Nisbet emphasizes the need to use framing, partnerships with the arts, and new forms of digital journalism to generate “participatory conversations” with diverse publics and stakeholders that result in meaningful input on policy choices and decisions.

This lecture is part of a series on science communication hosted by the Life Sciences Communication department.

I’ll be there taking notes, pictures, mugshots, etc. If you are in town and can’t make it, I hear that it will be videotaped for both online viewing and rebroadcasted by Wisconsin Public Television. Hopefully, Matt will be available during his trip to “one of [his] favorite cities” to do a little interview…

Controls are Sweet!

In science you always.

Always.

Always use controls.

That is the very basis of science, for without a control running next to your experiment, you have no isolated variables, no conclusions that can be drawn from it, and no theories that it can support.

So when I was reading the Ethicurean, as I regularly do, I was simply flabbergasted at this post: Mercury in HFCS. Apparently, a research paper came out proclaiming that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)-containing products had detectable levels of mercury. The explanation given was that HFCS is made using alkali soda, from plants that use mercury in the process of synthesizing it. (Except this has been for the most part phased out)

I took a look at the paper, and the first thing that I noticed was Continue reading Controls are Sweet!

We won! We won!

I just received notice that one of the videos that I worked on as part of my plant breeding video project has won an award in the 2008 MCAI WAVE Awards competition. We entered the video a couple months ago, and the award ceremony was last week. (I couldn’t go for a number of reasons) The video, recently uploaded to YouTube on the Wisconsin Plant Breeding channel is the UW-Madison Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics recruiting video.

Here are the 2008 WAVE Award winners.

And now for the “award winning” video:

*grins*

The Biofortified Blog

I mentioned before that something seemed to be different about the science blogging world. Several genetic-engineering-centric blogs have cropped up, bringing some in-depth discussion of this field to the internet. In a discussion with someone else online, they suggested – wouldn’t it be great if there was a group of scientists who could respond to news about GE crops? I’ve had similar thoughts as well.

Well after a month or two of work, I’ve built a home for such a group, and invited some blogging scientists to contribute. Behold: The Biofortified Blog!

The scientists we have so far are Continue reading The Biofortified Blog