Monday, September 29, 2008

Open Letter to the American People

Text of Open Letter to the American People (PDF), published on September 25, 2008.
This year's presidential election is among the most significant in our nation's history. The country urgently needs a visionary leader who can ensure the future of our traditional strengths in science and technology and who can harness those strengths to address many of our greatest problems: energy, disease, climate change,
security, and economic competitiveness.

We are convinced that Senator Barack Obama is such a leader, and we urge you to join us in supporting him.

During the administration of George W. Bush, vital parts of our country's scientific enterprise have been
damaged by stagnant or declining federal support. The government's scientific advisory process has been distorted by political considerations. As a result, our once dominant position in the scientific world has been shaken and our prosperity has been placed at risk. We have lost time critical for the development of new
ways to provide energy, treat disease, reverse climate change, strengthen our security, and improve our economy.

We have watched Senator Obama's approach to these issues with admiration. We especially applaud his emphasis during the campaign on the power of science and technology to enhance our nation's competitiveness. In particular, we support the measures he plans to take – through new initiatives in education and training, expanded research funding, an unbiased process for obtaining scientific advice, and an appropriate balance of basic and applied research – to meet the nation's and the world's most urgent needs.

Senator Obama understands that Presidential leadership and federal investments in science and technology are crucial elements in successful governance of the world's leading country. We hope you will join us as we work together to ensure his election in November.
The letter is signed by 61 Nobel Prize recipients.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Scientific explanation for Red States

The Voice of Bad Science, an article by Ben Rothke, says what I've believed all along -- that Americans are dumber than a sack of hair.
... Americans are woefully uneducated in the rudiments of basic science. This ignorance makes these types of consumers prey for supplement companies. The fact that tens of millions of American’s believe in government conspiracies, Bigfoot and Roswell are dubious signs. Lawrence Krauss writes in “Stop the Flying Saucer, I Want to Get Off” that “mountains of statistics suggest that the public is far more susceptible to scientific nonsense than political nonsense. More than half of Americans are unaware that the earth orbits the sun and takes a year to do it”.
Although the article is ostensibly about radio advertising, I can't help but draw parallels to why there are so many John McCain supporters or why there are so many dittoheads.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Virtual telescope yields virtual image

A scientific consortium has managed to zoom in on the super-massive black hole, Sagittarius A* , which is at the center of our galaxy.
The astronomers linked together radio dishes in Hawaii, Arizona and California to create a virtual telescope more than 2,800 miles across that is capable of seeing details more than 1,000 times finer than the Hubble Space Telescope.

According to the article in e! Science News, the 2,800-mile angular resolution has the ability to actually see the event horizon of the black hole -- the point where nothing, even light, can escape.

I was somewhat disappointed that there weren't any pictures of the event horizon, so I've posted my own close-up image.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

One Candidate on Science and Technology

Back on January 10, I had mentioned Sciencedebate 2008, which hoped to get the presidential candidate to weigh in on science and technology issues.

So far, only Barack Obama has stepped up to the plate. John McCain, however, is said that he intends to respond.

Scientists and Engineers for America has more on this issue.