Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 2:01 pm
By Marcelo Gleiser
I was once invited to give a live interview on a radio station in Brasília, the capital of Brazil. The interview took place at rush hour in the city's very busy bus terminal, where poor workers come in from rural areas to perform all sorts of jobs in town, from cleaning the streets to working in factories and private homes.
The experience would mark me for the rest of my life and set a new professional goal that I had not anticipated early in my career: to bring science to the largest number of people possible.
Climate change is not the only place scientists and politicians get in trouble with each other. Energy policy, endangered species, stem cells, heck, even defining what constitutes a healthy diet can cause tension between the domains of policy and the domains of research.
Scientists say they just want to stick to the data and politicians say the world isn't that simple. So, who is right and who is really being simplistic about the way the world works?
Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 4:49 pm
By Alva Noë
The word for milk in German is "Milch." In French it is "lait." Two quite different words — Milch, lait — for one thing. This is the basic observation that supports the linguistic principle that the relation between words and their meanings is arbitrary. You can't read the meaning off the word. And what a word means doesn't determine or shape the word itself. The bottom line: you need to learn words.
The deadly typhoon that swept through the Philippines was one of the strongest ever recorded. But storms nearly this powerful are actually common in the eastern Pacific. Typhoon Haiyan's devastation can be chalked up to a series of bad coincidences.
More than a ton of advanced electronics, including an ion engine and sensors that help detect variations in gravity, crashed into Earth's atmosphere Sunday night, when the European GOCE satellite ended its four-year mission. Most of the 2,425-pound craft disintegrated when it re-entered the atmosphere over the South Atlantic Ocean; about 25 percent did not.
Ronald Heifetz has been a professor of public leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School for three decades, teaching classes that have included aspiring business leaders and budding heads of state. Each year, he says, the students start his course thinking they'll learn the answer to one question:
As leaders, how can they get others to follow them?
With a Swiss forensics investigation pointing to polonium-210 as a possible cause of Yasser Arafat's death, the radioactive element is back in the news.
Confirming whether the Palestinian leader died from an assassination attempt will be difficult, given polonium's short half-life and the fact that Arafat has been dead nine years, science writer Deborah Blum says.
Whatever happened to Arafat, polonium does have a deadly history.