Music, science, space, Canada, social media…. what more can I say

May 8, 2013

For his last downlink before returning to Earth, CSA Astronaut Chris Hadfield performed I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing) with hundreds of students at the Ontario Science Centre and nearly a million people, mostly students from coast-to-coast Canada and around the world, performing the song in unison from their location.

I.S.S. is a song co-written by Hadfield and the Barenaked Ladies’ front man Ed Robertson.

Chris Hadfield just seems to represent everything that *can* be right about humanity. The only thing to say is “thank you!”

Here are the lyrics:

And a link to more info:

Science Communication

July 5, 2012

This video addresses a number of things I really believe in: the importance of science communication, kids learning the things they decide are relevant, the use of media to communicate, combining creativity with factual information, education provided in a loving manner……

Watch Alan Alda’s ‘Flame Challenge’ Aims to Communicate Science on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Thank You Alan Alda!

Scientific Freedom

January 22, 2012

Kathryn O’Hara, then president of the Canadian Science Writers’ Association, wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper last year to urge the Canadian government to allow scientists to speak freely with the media. Here’s a quote from today’s Globe and Mail:

Ms. O’Hara wrote “Take off the muzzles and eliminate the script writers and allow scientists – they do have PhDs after all – to speak for themselves.”

The government did not change its policy. The standard operating procedure still requires that all media requests for interviews be vetted through public affairs officials in Ottawa. Sometimes, scientists are cleared to speak – often they are not.

Contrast that with the “scientific integrity policy” adopted last month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States.

NOAA’s new guidelines – which make it clear scientists can speak about their work any time, to anyone – flowed from a memo President Barack Obama sent to the heads of executive departments in 2009. In that missive, he affirmed his support for transparency in government and urged directors to foster a culture of scientific integrity.


In Canada, government scientists who want to talk to the media still have to get permission from public-relations officials, who can silence anyone they want.

Here’s the link to the full article:

If they can’t talk to formal media, I wondered if Canadian scientists are using social media to share their findings and a quick search found this site, where they indeed are doing just that!

Here’s their site:

Rational thinking

February 25, 2011

So… I’ve blogged a bit recently about equity and distribution (of power and of material things).

Now it’s time to point to some ideas about science education and rational thinking:

“students are being cheated out of a sound science education” is a quote from:
— an article that discusses the reluctance of many teachers in the US to teach evolutionary ideas.

It’s a frightening perspective that, as the authors say, could have a negative impact on critical thinking skills and how citizens in the future view policy decisions that could impact health, environment and other important matters.

Fortunately, there are authors presenting ideas that support the notion that it’s NOT okay to abandon the foundations of scientific investigation in order to support concepts of spirituality. For instance,

gives reasons why those who embrace religion don’t have to deny science and says:

“Such wild-eyed radicals as Billy Graham, C.S. Lewis and Pope John Paul II have all convincingly argued that the Bible should not be read as a science textbook and that the scientific truth of evolution can coexist with the spiritual truth of God.
Given this and the overwhelming scientific evidence, the real question is not whether evolution exists or whether it can coexist with religion. It does, and it can.”

And there are many other sources with this point of view. Daniel Goleman and the Dalai Lama, in “Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama – 2003”, have helped millions to see that science and spirituality don’t have to be at odds with each other.

Here is a 2007 video clip showing the Dalai Lama’s open-minded perspective

In 2010 the Dalai Lama said
“While looking for solutions for improving the future, one should give more importance to reality and science rather than adopting anything on the basis of beliefs and prejudice”


March 3 update with a quote from the New York Times article on politics and environmental protection:
“It was like the science didn’t matter”