World's Fair

Vince LiCata

While driving to the Astrobiology 2010 Conference last week, I and a graduate student from my lab briefly discussed Stephen Hawking’s recent declaration that humans should try to avoid contact with what would surely be hostile aliens. It seemed odd to be attending a conference where a primary aim is finding extraterrestrial life while the…

Astrobiology is an amazingly interesting, highly interdisciplinary, and relative new field of science. Basically, it’s both the search for life elsewhere in the universe, and it’s the study of how to sustain human life in space and on other planets (and how to protect other planets from Earth life). Our lab works on several different…

The National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences each are spearheading programs designed to get more accurate science into the movies, and they have two somewhat different approaches to this same “problem”. Each presented its plan during a couple of sessions at this year’s AAAS National Meeting. The National Academy of Sciences had…

Too much listening to Tea Baggers (their most appropriate name?), and the 100% Republican opposition to the Health Care Bill that just passed the House (hooray!!!), and fear of violence in the streets of Haiti as justification for the slow US response there, and the many bizarre responses to what I thought was a really…

Well, here’s my son and my entry for the Scienceblogs + Serious Eats Pi Day Contest: (Warning: this entry may be frightening to children or people who know how to make pies.) Tony and Vince’s “Chocolate Pudding Meringue Pi Pi Pie (not quite)”. It was designed to have the following dimensions: Circumference = height =…

In the Feb 26 issue of Science, the Chief Patent Counsel for GlaxoSmithKline has written a “Policy Forum” article outlining the reasons that the pharmaceutical industry needs longer and stronger patent protection on its new drugs (to fend off those nasty generics). I was kind of shocked to see such a propaganda piece in Science,…

I gave two “public science” talks, back to back this past week to two groups of 200 9th graders at Walker High School, which is about 20 miles east of Baton Rouge. (Two because their auditorium only holds 200 students at a time). I give public science lectures in a program run by the Louisiana…

A Few Random Questions

Does it bother you when people say: “Wow, it’s been so cold this winter, so much for global warming.”? And you have to remind them that global warming means that the average temperature of the earth is increasing, and that, in fact, the average temperature of North America is predicted to get colder, by maybe…

AAAS Meeting – Science in the Theatre

I was just in San Diego for the 2010 AAAS National Meeting – that’s the American Association for the Advancement of Science – the parent organization that publishes the journal Science. This year’s theme was “Bridging Science and Society”. As part of this, I organized and chaired a session called “Science in the Theatre” (although…

Between the Saints and Mardi Gras time: Louisiana is in full celebration right now. Some of the “cultural” elements on view during the Super Bowl reminded me of parallels in the culture of science: 1. The Super Bowl champions are always called the “World Champions” – even though this is a solely US sporting event.…