Measuring the value of science

UPDATE: Please see the end of this piece, where I give examples of possible ‘good’ metrics The subject of innovation/science/tech/R&D, and its contribution to a country’s economy and society, appears to be top of mind for policymakers, funding bodies and scientific bodies all over the world. In New Zealand alone, MSI has set a target […]

No, actually, everyone is NOT entitled to their opinion

The question of opinion is becoming an increasingly vexed issue all over the world, and in all kinds of disciplines. While no one (well, no one in their right minds) would say that one isn’t entitled to the opinion that purple is a waaaaaay prettier colour than, say, orange, the same is not true when […]

Lots of land still up for grabs on largest LEGO set

In around June this year, LEGO and Google Australia (who do the maps) released Build, a WebGL LEGO simulator. Touting itself as the world’s largest LEGO set, it allows you to build, using Lego bricks, anything you want on a Google map.The map’s been divided up into small squares, and plots are a 32×32 grid. […]

More fraud behind paper retractions than you might have thought

A subject that’s come up in discussion with my friend a couple of times recently has been the increase in retractions of scientific papers from journals. I’ve always staunchly defended allegations this might be due to naughty scientists. I am  now having to make my own retraction about that. According to research (as yet unretracted) […]

New books in Science, Technology and Society

As we all know, there’s something of a profusion out there of books about science, technology and society in its myriad forms. Sorting through this heap can be something of a difficult task, and so it’s with some delight that I’ve just heard about the New Books in Science, Technology and Society initiative. It ‘aims […]

Cute animal pictures are good for your work!

Workers! Throw off your shackles!  Be not afraid to be seen by your boss cooing over Cute Overload! Hiroshi Nittono and colleagues, of Hiroshima University in Japan, have shown something most intriguing: that looking at ‘kawaii’ or cute images of baby animals improves focus and careful behaviour. It is, perhaps, not surprising that the research […]

UnderSkin, the Tube and schematic mapping

A beautiful piece of medical art has cropped up and being doing the rounds again the last few days. Titled ‘UnderSkin’, and made in 2010 by illustrator/designer Sam Loman, UnderSkin shows the human anatomy in the style of the very famous London Underground map.     I must say, it’s a beautiful piece of work, […]

Wash ALL the things!

We all know that fresh water is going to become more and more of an issue over the coming decades.  Climate change and an ever-growing population will be placing ever more stress upon this most essential of resources, and so anything that helps to save water is, at least in my books, a Bloody Good […]

The IgNobel Prize winners 2012: speech jamming, dead salmon brain activity, green hair and more

And, ladies and gentlemen, it’s official!  The winner’s of this year’s IgNobel prizes have been announced and the webcast of the ceremony showed it to be as good-natured and cheerful an event as ever.     Physics: Keller, Goldstein, Warren and Ball for research into the forces that control the shape and movement of a […]