You've been scienced! Tomorrow's Armed With Science takes on Web 2.0 and nontraditional science careers


My friend John Ohab is hosting a new DoD webcast called "Armed With Science." Sure, it has an over-the-top logo reminiscent of the Syfy Channel (I like to intone "ARMED WITH SCIENCE" with the same cadence as "PIGS IN SPACE!"), but the show turns out to be really well-done and interesting. Each episode is a half-hour interview with a researchers in a scientific field relevant to the military: sometimes that means SONAR or geopositioning, but they also take on general science topics like Brain Awareness Week at the National Museum of Health and Medicine. It's a nice mix of topics, and it's great to see the folks at the Pentagon recognizing the centrality of basic science and engineering to their mission.

I wanted to call attention to tomorrow's show in particular, because I thought it might be of interest to many of you. John's guest tomorrow will be National Defense University researcher Mark Drapeau, a biologist who is investigating how wikis, blogs, social networks, and other Web 2.0 technologies are changing the way government agencies share information, collaborate, and engage the public.

Like me, John and Mark both represent a departure from "traditional" science careers. We're all biology PhDs, but in John's words, "we're using our science backgrounds to inform policy and connect intersecting worlds (policy, IT, science, public affairs) that often do not relate that well." This is a good opportunity for those of you who may also be considering nontraditional careers to see how the scientific toolkit can be applied to very different types of challenges, like public policy and communications.

The show begins at 2pm EST on April 1 at BlogTalkRadio. For the very first time, they will be taking live questions by Twitter at, so join me in chiming in with your questions about Web 2.0, science policy, transitioning into nontraditional science careers, etc.

One last note: John has the best tagline evah: "You've Been Scienced." (I might have helped come up with that line. I'm just sayin'.)


Read a review of Armed With Science at Popular Science

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Sounds interesting, though the "PIGS IN SPACE" intonation of "ARMED WITH SCIENCE" makes me think of Arthur C. Clarke's story "Superiority".

When I hear him say, "You've Been Scienced." I imagine him standing over someone who's volcano experiment just exploded in their face. It is a great tagline.

Thanks Dr. Palmer!

One item of clarification: the Armed with Science logo is meant to reflect the fact that every show is produced from space.

Do you mean the bleak, lifeless space between your ears, Dr. Ohab?

(Uh-oh, you're probably going to SCIENCE me now, aren't you? Aaaaahhhhhhhhhh. . . . )

Sure, it has an over-the-top logo reminiscent of the Syfy Channel...

Hey now, it totally got me. And I'm really not a scifi geek - err, really. I mean at least a quarter of the fiction I read and/or watch is not scifi. Well, close to a quarter of it anyways. (although if we throw fantasy in there I might be in trouble (I do hit the occasional historical fiction too and I absolutely adore Numb3rs))

You've Been Scienced.

I may just have to borrow that one occasionally. I really could have used that one in the coffee shop the other day, when I had to explain to someone that my neurological issues are caused by neurotransmitters gone wild, not by Satan.

Sometimes at work explaining our science kits to customers I say science but think 'Science!'. I wonder how they would feel if I told them that with these kits, their kids will be 'Armed with Science!'.

Btw love the 'Pigs in spaaaaaaaaaaaaace' intonation.

Be careful about who you Arm with Science. Sciencing someone is no laughing matter.

With great power, comes great responsibility.

I just made that up. Just now.

This is a good opportunity for those of you who may also be considering nontraditional careers to see how the scientific toolkit can be applied to very different types of challenges, like public policy and communications.

And since this is the DoD, let's not forget the exciting scientific careers available in warmongering and death.

It might be nice to see the Pentagon recognizing scientists and engineers, but I find it sad to see scientists and engineers who are so excited about DoD funding and shiny technical stuff that they forget what the work is ultimately for.

And there are scientists (myself among them) who are entirely aware of what the work is for and support it fully. The world is a dangerous place, and it's foolhardy to pretend that the large list of lunatic dictatorships in the world will stop studying science for the purpose of war just because we do.

Maria, I find it even sadder that you have such an uninformed, knee-jerk reaction to the very mention of the DoD. As I said, it's nice to see the DoD talking about research like SONAR or Web2.0 which is NOT used to kill people. I'm all in favor of research that has peaceable applications and/or reduces the need for more weapons. While I'm sure many of us wish we did not need a military, like Matt said, we live in the real world.

I understand your perspective, but you may be surprised at some of topics that are covered. The shows on precise time and Earth orientation discuss the importance of these services to the functionality of GPS; the show on low impact development explains the Navy's efforts to ensure a higher level of environmental concern when designing shore-based facilities; and the show on hydrography deals with ocean bottom mapping to make navigation at sea safer for everyone. In that last episode it was pointed out that the Navy's fleet survey teams were instrumental in preparing safe passage for rescue ships following Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami at Banda Aceh. Finally, the Navy's recent strategic guidance states that preventing war is just as important as winning war, and science assists in that effort as well.
Best regards, Bob

By Bob Freeman (not verified) on 02 Apr 2009 #permalink

Maria -

I am about as unenthusiastic about warfare, as most anyone. I have been an ardent anti-war protester, since before the war in Iraq began and also voiced my misgivings and discomfort about Afghanistan - though I am not as certain about that one, as I am about Iraq. There are a very few wars or military incursions that the U.S. has been involved in, through our entire history that I am comfortable with - though there have been some.

Not exactly a warmonger am I.

At the same time, I recognize that situations do arise - we live in a very dangerous world. One that is becoming rather less stable as we speak. There are a lot of folks out there who would love to do us harm - some terrorists, some states. We have a very real need to see to our defense and one of the best ways to do that is through science and technology.

I would much rather develop technology that makes it unnecessary for troops to be put in harms way, than sit on our laurels and pretend it's all just a waste. I would much rather show those who would do us harm, that we are capable of defeating them, with less and less risk to our actual troops. I would also very much like to see developments that make it increasingly idiotic for us to feel the need to harbor weapons of mass destruction and play stupid semantic games, such as "tactical" nukes.

And there is absolutely no question that the technology being developed by the pentagon, will have considerably more uses than mere weaponry.