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This Week in Science 2018–03–04


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/03/04

“While parts of the world have all but banished measles, Europe is still getting hit with large outbreaks where some people don’t get vaccinated.

Measles is still a bigger problem across parts of Africa and Asia, where outbreaks can be particularly devastating in malnourished children or those with other illnesses like tuberculosis or AIDS. Most of the 89,000 measles deaths in the world each year are in developing countries.

In Europe, there were more than 21,000 cases of measles and 35 deaths last year, a fourfold increase in cases compared to the previous year. With more than 5,000 cases each, Romania and Italy had the biggest epidemics — and the drive to vaccinate children against measles has even become a leading issue in Italy’s general election on Sunday.”


“Last week, I profiled the rapper Dessa ahead of the release of her new album, ChimeChime, I wrote, is inspired by science but not music “about” science; there are no songs explaining electrodes or brain waves.

So, where is all the music about science that uses science data or teaches some facts? Fear not, there are plenty of examples (in no particular order).

Every song on They Might Be Giants’ Here Comes Science
Okay, so the album is technically for children, but it’s groovy enough that you might not have guessed it if I hadn’t just told you.”


“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a proud science fiction fan, but his government’s third budget is much more focused on uncovering new scientific facts.

The 2018 fiscal blueprint sets aside $3.2 billion over five years to fund everything from the beakers to the brains behind scientific research as part of a Liberal effort to fire up new engines of economic growth.

The money supports the spirit of innovation to help build the new industries and jobs Canada will rely on in future years, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said.

“Budget 2018 represents the single largest investment in investigator-led fundamental research in Canadian history,” Morneau said Tuesday in his budget speech in the House of Commons.”


“The whys and wherefores of SciSci

The science of science (SciSci) is based on a transdisciplinary approach that uses large data sets to study the mechanisms underlying the doing of science — from the choice of a research problem to career trajectories and progress within a field. In a Review, Fortunato et al. explain that the underlying rationale is that with a deeper understanding of the precursors of impactful science, it will be possible to develop systems and policies that improve each scientist’s ability to succeed and enhance the prospects of science as a whole.”


“It promises to be another hair-raising, fire-balling week of science in Fort St. John next week.

Science World returns to town March 5 to 10 with its bag of science experiments and experiences in hand for students and the public to marvel at, and learn more about how the world around us works.

“We are thrilled to be participating in the Community Science Celebration in Fort St. John,” said Jo-Ann Coggan, director of community outreach for Science World, said in an announcement.

“It is a showcase of the community for the community and will profile local businesses, organizations and innovators. Science World will provide fun, dynamic science experiences for the whole family as part of this event.””


“The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is unapologetic in its decision to deny Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne a seat at the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat meeting on Atlantic salmon.

This follows Byrne’s public condemnation of the decision earlier this week.

In an emailed response to questions, a communications adviser from DFO told The Telegram the science advisory meeting is specifically meant to bring together technical experts and finalize scientifically based advice on a particular stock.”


“The National Science Foundation (NSF) hopes that its new policy on sexual harassment will spur universities to deal more aggressively with the pervasive problem. But the additional reporting requirements, which will be officially published Monday in the Federal Register, are far from a definitive statement about how NSF plans to deal with this complex and sensitive subject.

The carefully worded notice, for example, doesn’t address whether a scientist found guilty of sexual harassment should automatically be removed from a grant. And it would not require universities to tell NSF when they launch an investigation into allegations of harassment.

The 8-page Federal Register notice is designed to flesh out, and seek public comment on, an “important notice” that NSF issued on 8 February. It proposes adding two new components to the “terms and conditions” that universities and other institutions agree to follow when they accept an NSF award. (Grants are awarded to institutions, not individuals, although scientists invariably refer to “my grant.”)”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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