Marching for Science #4

Well, we’ve had the long-awaited Science March. It was, as expected, very much an anti-Trump event. Topics on people’s minds included threatened budget cuts, climate change, pesticides, intersectionality, immigration policy, defence policy, and the claim that climate change science had been removed from the EPA web site (it hadn’t).


March for Science, Washington, DC (photo: Becker1999)

Trump’s response to the march was “My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks. … As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.” I’m not sure if the marchers expected any outcome other than that.


March for Science, Washington, DC (photo: Becker1999)

There was the usual set of signs suggesting that peer-reviewed science is “true.” Which is odd, because cold fusion claims passed peer review, along with much other dubious work. Indeed, peer review has known problems. Perhaps, in public debate, we scientists should put more emphasis on replication.


Solar Car Fundraising

These solar cars from Solar Team Twente (The Netherlands), Antakari Solar Team (Chile), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA), and Solar Team GB (UK) do not yet exist, but you can help fund their construction – and the construction of dozens of other cars. See the gold coin icons in this list for donation websites. All the teams plan to race in the World Solar Challenge in Australia this October.


Another Shrimp in the Wall

The Pink Floyd pistol shrimp, Synalpheus pinkfloydi (above, photo by Arthur Anker) is a recently described alpheid shrimp. As with other shrimp in this family, the snapping sound produced by the large claw is loud enough to kill small fish. The shrimp is described in a Zootaxa paper, which contains this wonderful line:

Distribution. Presently known only from the type locality on the Pacific side of Panama; likely more widespread in the tropical eastern Pacific, but unlikely to occur on the Dark Side of the Moon due to lack of suitable habitat.”

And it keeps getting better. The Oxford University Museum of Natural History has also celebrated the discovery with the beautiful artwork below (Another Shrimp in the Wall, by artist and scientist Kate Pocklington).


Marching for Science #3

The March for Science continues to be controversial. Some scientists will attend the march, and others will sit it out. Above is the wordcloud for the march website, as at April 18. The top six words are “science,” “march,” “community,” “scientific,” “policy,” and “diversity.” Combining those results with recent news, I think this indicates that the focus of the march has finally stabilised, and that intersectionality and diversity within science is now the key topic. I wonder how the audience of the march will react?


World Solar Challenge update for April

The infographic above (fourth in the series) shows solar car teams that are likely to be entering in the World Solar Challenge this October, with my estimate of reported current progress (on a red–amber–green scale), taking into account recent social media updates. The team list has also been updated, and has a simpler traffic-light version ( RED AMBER GREEN ) of these estimates. For teams with ongoing campaigns on GoFundMe, KickStarter, and the like (see Coin links in the list), between 2% and 33% of desired funds have been raised.

Several teams have new visible signs of construction, ANU has signed up a major sponsor, and Twente has released a cool video of their new car, Red Shift. Beijing has been very quiet, but they always are. Slovakia has become quiet, and I’m beginning to wonder if they’re actually building a car. Best of luck to all the teams, however!


Marching for Science #2

The March for Science is coming up soon. Above is a recent wordcloud for the @ScienceMarchDC Twitter feed. The focus of the march does not yet seem to have stabilised, and controversies continue to rage.

Some scientists have pulled out of the event and, as far as I can tell, there has been a shift to criticism of science itself, particularly with regard to intersectionality and diversity issues (“inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility are central to the mission and principles of the March for Science”). However, climate change is also a topic of concern, as are genetic engineering, and Donald Trump’s immigration policies. The march will be held on Lenin’s birthday.


Solar Car Racing Team Sizes


Solar Team Eindhoven

I’ve been hearing some curiosity about the sizes of solar car teams, and so I checked out the online team lists for Punch, Bochum, Twente, Eindhoven, Nuon, Lodz, Michigan, MIT, PrISUm, and Sunswift. The histogram below summarises what I found. The superb Bochum team is the largest, with 77 members. Champions Nuon have the smallest team, with 16. Apparently it’s not just size that is important.

See also my list of WSC solar car teams.