Minimalist Posters Honor Scientists And Their Great Discoveries

NewtonWe’ve seen a lot of “minimalist poster” art over the years, images designed to evoke the essence of a thing with as simple an image as possible. Usually they’re referencing popular movies or TV shows, but a graphic designer who goes by “Hydrogene” has taken the minimalist concept and applied it to some folks far more deserving of remembrance than, say, the makers of the Transformers films: scientists and mathematicians whose work has helped steer us into our modern age.

Working within the minimalist framework, Hydrogene has created many different subsets, ranging from scientists as well known as Isaac Newton (up top) to more obscure folks such as Leonhard Euler (I admit, I had to Google him).


Fox News Affiliate In Oklahoma City Censors Cosmos Reference To Evolution

CosmosIf you didn’t watch last week’s premiere of Cosmos, you’re missing out. I was nervous about whether the show could pull off its ambitious agenda, especially following in the footsteps of Carl Sagan. So far, the reboot is everything I wished for, despite lower-than-projected ratings, which may have more to do with its time slot and/or its airing on Fox. Or it may have to do with the lack of interest in science that host Neil deGrasse Tyson has made a career of fighting. Then again, maybe the anti-creationist and anti-religious insinuations of the show pissed people off. Some groups were put off by Tyson’s mention of evolution, even though it was brief. In fact, viewers who tuned into to Oklahoma City’s KOKH-TV didn’t see the 15 or so seconds addressing evolution at all, as it was cut completely and replaced by a promo for the nightly news.


Science Crowdfunding Site Gets New Name And New Life

experiment homepage

It’s no secret that funding for science projects and research is paltry these days, and what little funding exists is subject to the fickle vacillations and stubbornness of the federal government. So the mission-driven for-profit organization Experiment (formerly Microryza) has launched a platform for scientists and researchers around the globe to solicit funding, much in the style of Kickstarter.

Experiment notes that “our system for funding science is broken,” and that fewer than 15% of all proposals get backed, so they’re looking to democratize the process by launching a platform that supports “scientists for the people, by the people.” The process is pretty simple: researchers post projects in need of funding, and then spread the word, garnering financial support from anyone with a credit card and a yen to promote scientific discoveries. The project either reaches its goal or does—as with Kickstarter, the project must receive at least 100% of the funding goal (if it doesn’t, prospective backers aren’t charged). In return for successfully funding a project, backers get insights into the science and research, and updates about where exactly their money went. Unlike with Kickstarter, there are no tangible rewards for backers—the idea is that they’re financially supporting projects they want to see funded, and the scientists’ ability to perform the research is reward enough.


The Most Amazing Science Stories Of 2013


Writing a round-up of best science stories of the year is a tall order—it’s kind of like writing a piece about the best and brightest stars in the sky. There are countless stories to choose from, and so many that are inarguably awesome. That in itself says something—if my biggest dilemma as a science writer is sifting through the innovations to find the biggest nuggets of gold, then that’s a pretty great problem.

I’m going to cheat a little. I’m allowed, right? I’ve narrowed it down to categories, with a few stories in each.


Arthur C. Clarke: A Birthday Retrospective

Arthur ClarkeScience fiction great Arthur C. Clarke would have been 96 yesterday. Clarke lives on through his work and the revolutionary ideas he developed and championed with respect to science, particularly space. I wanted to take a minute to show Clarke some love. There’s never been anyone like him, and there never will be again — unless, that is, his spacebound DNA produces some interesting results.

Clarke was born in Britain in 1917, but no amount of pub food or soccer could keep him there. The man had wanderlust that makes mine seem like more of an itch. Space called to Clarke, much as it did to Ray Bradbury, and he joined the British Interplanetary Society when he was only 17. Later he became chair of the group — twice. At a young age he distinguished himself from other scientists with his writing, and he distinguished himself from other writers with his knowledge of science. The two blended together in his work. Many of the concepts Clarke wrote about, such as the space elevator he described in his 1979 novel The Fountains of Paradise, and his thoughts about replicators, have provided food for thought, if not specific goals, for space engineers. In 1945, Clarke wrote a paper advocating putting satellites in geostationary orbit. That’s right — you have Clarke to thank for your GPS systems and satellite TV. Eighteen years later, after America’s launch of the Syncom 2 satellite, Clarke won the Stuart Ballantine Medal, a science and engineering award, for the idea. Now most satellites hang out in an area called, appropriately, the Clarke Belt. In a nutshell, dude knew what was up, literally.


Genomic Editing Therapies Under Development

genome_editingI love that I live in a hotbed of technology. Boston’s crammed with hospitals, robotics companies, 3-D printing companies, and a thriving bio-tech industry. I’m frequently inspired by what the science and tech folks around here are up to, and I hope that I glean some of that magic by osmosis. Sometimes, though, I read about a plan or device that gives me pause and makes me think I may not want to be so nearby. Editas Medicine’s recent press release detailing their plans to embark on a new phase of genome-editing treatments is one such announcement.

Editas is a Cambridge-based biotech firm that is attempting to design new genetic treatments for diseases. While that’s a goal I certainly support, my reservations stem from how they intend to do this. Gene therapy has been around for a little while, but Editas wants to revolutionize it — they believe they’ve come up with a new method for editing genomes that involves changing the genome’s DNA sequence. According to Editas, the new genome-editing system will allow them to treat diseases for which we have no current treatments.

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