Seed and Honeywell are sponsoring a great opportunity for aspiring science writers: the Seed 2007 Science Writing Contest. All you have to do is write a 1200 word essay that answers these questions:

What does it mean to be scientifically literate in the 21st century?

How do we measure the scientific literacy of a society? How do we boost it? What is the value of this literacy? Who is responsible for fostering it?

A mere 1200 words? ‘Tis nothing. That’s the length of my usual column in Seed magazine. You can crank that out in an evening’s work, send it in, and get a shot at winning $2500 (first prize!) or $1000 (second prize!) or the eternal love and affection of scientists everywhere (third, fourth, fifth, etc., prize, and by far the most valuable!).

Best news of all: I’m not eligible! I’m sure otherwise I’d just clean up in the contest, and none of you would stand a chance…but since I’m out, I’ll double-dog-dare you all to show all of us sciencebloggers what real science writing is like. You’ve got until 1 July to teach us all the meaning of real scientific literacy, so get cracking.

The latest word from the Home Office on why this contest is restricted to only Americans: it has to do with the legal regulation and taxation of winnings. It’s not because they dislike you weird non-Americans — a surprising number of the people behind Seed are actually Canadian. Really. Hard to believe, I know, without a Tim Horton’s in sight anywhere in New York.

Anyway, blame the IRS, not Seed.