Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land is from the days when Disney was cool. They even made math cool. When I saw this, it changed my life. I got math. Now if I just keep watching it over and over and over… I’ll remember math.
A newly-discovered spider has been named after rock star David Bowie, in an effort to raise awareness about the number of arachnid species threatened with extinction.
Bowie was apparently selected for the honour because of his musical contribution to arachnid world – the 1972 concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
Buridan just sent me this link. I’m really interested in the role of informal learning about science. I’m not so interested in Informal Science Education, however. One, IMHO, leads to engagement and internal motivation, and the other is a more temporary and passive external motivational experience. But that’s just my opinion, and I look forward to being proven wrong. Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE)
What can informal science education contribute to efforts to engage publics with science-related issues? That’s the main focus of a report now available on the CAISE website, Many Experts, Many Audiences: Public Engagement with Science and Informal Science Education (PDF, 3MB). The report sums up work over the last year by a CAISE Inquiry Group led by Larry Bell of the Museum of Science, Boston, and Tiffany Lohwater of AAAS. Also contributing were Jane Lehr of TWIST (Theatre Workshop in Science, Technology, & Society, California Polytechnic), Bruce Lewenstein of Cornell University, Cynthia Needham of ICAN Productions, and Ben Wiehe of WGBH, as well as CAISE Co-PI John Falk and CAISE’s former director, Ellen McCallie (now of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh).
The group offers this report as food for thought and discussion. To that end, they will be leading a one-week online discussion starting March 23 in ASTC Connect, the online learning center, cohosted by ASTC and the New York Hall of Science’s TryScience project. The asynchronous discussion will take place in the forum called “Working with Scientists and Volunteers.” To enroll, set up an account on ASTC Connect, at connect.astc.org, and use the keycode “volts” to enroll yourself.
The move came a day after Sunoco, the gas and chemical company, sent word to investors that it is now refusing to sell bisphenol A, known as BPA, to companies for use in food and water containers for children younger than 3. The company told investors that it cannot be certain of the chemical compound’s safety. Last week, six baby-bottle manufacturers, including Playtex and Gerber, announced that they will stop using BPA in bottles.
Tests have found toxic levels of the chemical in products, including those marked as “microwave safe.”
The amounts detected were at levels that have caused neurological and developmental damage in laboratory animals. The problems include genital defects, behavioral changes and abnormal development of mammary glands.
The changes to the mammary glands were identical to those observed in women at higher risk for breast cancer.
Studies have shown that the chemical can cause breast cancer, testicular cancer, diabetes, hyperactivity, obesity, low sperm count, miscarriage and a host of other reproductive problems in laboratory animals.
More recent studies using human data have linked BPA to heart disease and diabetes. It has been found to interfere with the effects of chemotherapy in breast cancer patients.
More info on the BBC web site.
And on another related topic… The Mommy Files : High chemical levels in some kids’ shampoos
The CSC tested 48 different name-brand kids’ bath products for 1,4-dioxane; 28 of those items were also tested for formaldehyde. According to the CSC, 61 percent of 28 products tested contained both chemicals. Twenty-three out of 28 contained formaldehyde at levels ranging from 54 to 610 parts per million. In the broader spectrum test of 48 products, 35 contained 1,4-dioxane with levels up to 35 parts per million.
The Environmental Protection Agency classifies 1,4-dioxane as a probable carcinogen, and the European Union bans the chemical from personal care products at any level and has recalled products that contain the chemical. Several samples of American Girl shower products were found to contain the highest levels of 1,4-dioxane.
The EPA considers formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen; the chemical can also trigger adverse skin reactions in children and adults who are sensitive to the chemical. Formaldehyde is banned from personal care products in Japan and Sweden. Baby Magic Baby Lotion, made by Ascendia Brands, contained the highest levels of formaldehyde found in the tests; two samples had formaldehyde at levels that would trigger warning label requirements in Europe (above 500 ppm or .05 percent).
“When products for babies are labeled ‘gentle’ and ‘pure,’ parents expect that they are just that,” says Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.). “To think that cancer-causing chemicals are contaminating baby shampoos and lotions is horrifying. I intend to soon introduce legislation requiring greater oversight of our cosmetics industry. We need to ensure that the chemicals that are used in our everyday products are safe.”
See the full report.
How many people are being arrested for taking pictures in public in Britain? « notes from the ubiquitous surveillance society
I follow David’s blog on surveillance to keep up to date on the issues, particularly when I’m teaching my Children and Technology course, where we focus on digital photography and children and protection of children’s information online. I actually thought that people had rights to take pictures in britain.
I’m seeing more and more local and self-reported stories of ordinary people being harassed and arrested in Britain, for taking photographs in public. Today BoingBoing is reporting on this Manchester man who was arrested because the police thought he might be photographing sewer gratings…. This tends to support the argument that I have been making that several democratic countries, with Britain and Italy at the forefront, are drifting into a kind of ’soft fascism’, a creeping totalitarianism that is presented as reasoned and reasonable. It allows supporters to claim that opponents are being ‘extreme’ and underestimating the ‘real danger’, that all of these measure are ‘for our own good’. Yet we have arrived at a point where even untrained, ill-educated street-level minions of the state can now decide whether wee are allowed to take pictures in public. When people like ex-MI5 chief, Stella Rimington are saying that we are in danger of heading towards a police state, even the cynics, and the ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ crowd, should be taking some notice.
I’ve just created a new video blog called Podcasty Bits, full of bits of pod casting that I hope to do this winter for my course. I really hate videos of myself, and don’t like how I look or sound on camera, so I figure that this is a good way to get over that once and for all.
At present there are a few interesting bits, one of me singing “I’m a little tea pot” with Mr Pants, and a video one of my students did last term.
Think Americans haven’t gotten smarter? Think again. Between 1979 and 2006, the percentage of scientifically literate adults doubled — to 17%. This year, a survey by a professor of political science at the University of Michigan found that that dismal showing may have improved, but only a little. Currently, 25% of the population of the U.S. — the country that invented the airplane and the light bulb and landed men on the moon, remember — qualify as “civic scientifically literate.” In practical terms says the investigator, that means that only one in four adults can read and understand the stories in the weekly science section of The New York Times. And this comes at a time when the U.S. electorate is being asked to grapple with — and reach informed consensus about — such complex questions as global warming and stem cell research.
And I wonder what the rate is for Canadians.
This new device is both transparent and flexible, while still producing a bright display that can be viewed at almost any angle. Its response time is up to ten times faster than traditional LEDs, making for smooth, smooth video. The engineers of the future could have a field day with this material, creating ultra-light laptops, rollable televisions and digital newspapers.
But why should this product delight an Ecogeek more than any old geek? Most importantly, all LEDs consume less energy and are therefore more efficient. That’s a plus for us on the consumption end. But OLEDs also offer an advantage on the production end – they can be printed onto a wide variety of substrates. Obviously, the environmental friendliness of the OLED ultimately depends on the substrates chosen and the production requirements for that substrate. But it means that manufacturers aren’t working with heavy metals like mercury, which go into many fluorescent lights.