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This Week in Science 2018–04–22


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/04/22

“The Sault Ste. Marie Science Festival — the only festival of its kind in the area — kicks off Monday April 23 and will continue through to Saturday, April 28, 2018.

The Sault Ste. Marie Science Festival shines the spotlight on science among children, teens and adults by offering an opportunity to celebrate science in a fun, interactive and welcoming setting for all ages.

The Sault Ste. Marie Science Festival group of partners includes Algoma University, Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, Entomica, Invasive Species Centre, Natural Resources Canada — Canadian Forest Service, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Sault College, Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Science North as the managing partner.”


“Here’s a view of science you might recognise as common, or at least see promoted:

Science is a purely objective pursuit. Words like “fact”, “proof”, “evidence” and “natural law” are the marks of the scientific method. This approach has no place for emotion, or any subjective aspects. Save it for the arts!

Let’s call this the “Mr Spock view” — since it is framed around the idea of a scientist as a dispassionate, hyper-rational observer of nature. (Mr Spock is a Star Trek character who famously prioritised logic above emotion.)

Almost every part of that view is wrong.

Straight off, the Mr Spock view is wildly out of step with the past 30 or so years of research in cognitive neuroscience, which has uncovered a very tight connection between reason and emotion.”


“Firmly entrenched in its utilization phase, the International Space Station is in excellent science shape, providing a stable and beneficial platform for microgravity research in Low Earth Orbit. The Station’s overall status continues to greatly outpace expectations as NASA looks to continue utilizing ISS as a science testbed for its Orion and deep space exploration objectives while continuing to foster the commercial space industry with the CRS2 cargo resupply contracts, wherein all three providers continue to make excellent strides toward the commencement of that contract next year.

Station status:

To say that science activities aboard the International Space Station are thriving would actually be an understatement. In the first three months of 2018, two major milestones were reached: number of nations participating in experiments aboard the Low Earth Orbit laboratory as well as a record amount of hours for scientific experimentation performed within a single week.

As briefed to the NASA Advisory Council by Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate Bill Gerstenmaier, as of March 2018, 101 countries out of the 202 recognized countries by the United Nationshave now participated in research and education aboard the ISS.”


“EPA coordinated with Republicans in U.S. House of Representatives about their plans to restrict the science used in crafting regulations, newly released emails show.

In early January, EPA chief Scott Pruitt met with Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, to discuss one of Smith’s pet projects — overhauling how EPA uses science. Smith hasn’t been able to get legislation to do so through Congress, so he pitched Pruitt to do so internally, according to emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The emails were obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and shared with E&E News.

In March, Pruitt announced that he would follow through. He said EPA plans to require that data and methodology from studies used to craft regulations be made public (Climatewire, March 16). The topic has long been contentious. Smith and others describe the effort as a way to ensure science used to craft regulations can be properly scrutinized. Critics have said it is an effort to limit air pollution research and other studies that have been cited as reasons for regulations.”


“Sixteen years.

That’s how long it will take before the number of women on scientific papers is equal to the number of men.

Luke Holman from the University of Melbourne got that estimate by working out the number of female and male authors on almost 10 million academic papers, published over the last 15 years. With help from Melbourne colleagues Cindy Hauser and Devi Stuart-Fox, he then used the data to estimate the size of the well-documented gender gap in science, and more importantly, how long it might take to close.

At the current rate of change, women will catch up to men in 16 years — but that overall estimate masks a huge amount of variation. For example, out of the 115 disciplines represented in the data, women authors outnumber men in just a handful (including nursing and midwifery) and publish at the same rate in just 23 (including psychology, nutrition, and public health).”


“BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Western New Yorkers are marking Earth Day in a variety of ways. At the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Earth Day celebrations included the debut of an exhibit of creative student art aimed at curbing pollution in our area.

The “I Am the Solution To Plastic Pollution” display features the winning art pieces submitted by students across Erie County, who were invited to create videos, decorative and functional rain barrels, or artwork out of single-use plastic shopping bags.

“I was really excited to do the project because, first of all, we got to talk really about recycling, all the really great things we got to do with it,” said Kara Gurgol, an Iroquois High School junior who’s artwork was chosen for the display.

“And the fact that I won was really cool,” she added.”


“WASHINGTON — Cities and nations are looking at banning plastic straws and stirrers in hopes of addressing the world’s plastic pollution problem. The problem is so large, though, that scientists say that’s not nearly enough.

Australian scientists Denise Hardesty and Chris Wilcox estimate, using trash collected on U.S. coastlines during clean ups over five years, that there are nearly 7.5 million plastic straws lying around America’s shorelines. They figure that means 437 million to 8.3 billion plastic straws are on the entire world’s coastlines.

But that huge number suddenly seems small when you look at all the plastic trash bobbing around oceans. University of Georgia environmental engineering professor Jenna Jambeck calculates that nearly 9 million tons (8 million metric tons) end up in the world’s oceans and coastlines each year, as of 2010, according to her 2015 study in the journal Science.”



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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