science

In a miraculous example of not making the perfect the enemy of the good, two women’s lives were saved through ongoing innovation in organ transplant protocols and donation. At a time when every digital health product, new medication or device, biotech firm or health system purports each launch or announcement to be groundbreaking, revolutionary, or disruptive, it is astounding that the account of a heart donor and her recipient, both alive and at last week’s Transplant Games of America, barely made national news or the social media rounds (now or in 2016 when they underwent the rare “domino surgery...

I am a scientist. I even have the credentials to prove it. There is a PhD degree in microbiology hanging on my wall and a few peer-reviewed publications to my name. And yet, though other people publicly acknowledge that I am a scientist, I rarely self-identify as one. Why?

Because I am no longer a practicing scientist. I gave up the laboratory in 2010 for the glamorous life of a science writer. In my mind, I am more of a "former scientist," but nobody on Earth uses that title. I suppose that -- sort of like being a medical doctor -- once a scientist, always a scientist.

What about people who don't have PhD's? Are they scientists, too? In any world in which credentials matter, the answer is no. (I describe a major exception to the rule below.) Just like getting an...

The exhaled breath or “blow” squirted from the Eastern Australian humpback whale is replete with its own viral ecosystem or virome. Until now, understanding the “diversity, evolution and disease associations” of viruses in such natural habitats as an aquatic environment has posed quite the challenge for scientists when such marine wildlife is logistically inaccessible. With the help of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones, researchers were able to capture samples of this elusive whale to study.  

Their recently published findings revealed a number of new viruses from five different viral families. It is likely this was the first study of this kind to use drones for...

Innovation remains a “holy grail” for business where it may unlock new sources of income and in science where it increases our knowledge and promotes the careers and status of the innovators. The work produced in Bell Laboratories in the late 40’s through the 60’s, e.g., the transistor, is legendary for its innovative impact. Business has fruitlessly sought the pathway and circumstances for an environment fostering innovation since those times. Using big data about scientific publications a group of scientists has embarked on their quixotic quest hoping to use their characterization of scientific innovation to foster an environment, once again, more able to innovate.

The authors make use of private and ...

The U.S. Congress is made up mostly of professional politicians and lawyers. This comes as a surprise to precisely no one, but the sheer numbers are rather striking.

According to the Congressional Research Service (PDF, Table 2), the 115th Congress consists of 168 Representatives (out of 435) who are lawyers, and the Senate has 50 lawyers (out of 100). Combined, lawyers make up nearly 41% of Congress.

How many lawyers are in the U.S.? One law firm (with a nifty interactive map!) estimates roughly 1.3 million. Given that the U.S. population is about 323 million, the number of lawyers...

The war on science has at least three fronts.

First, there is the widely reported political war on science, widely and erroneously believed to be waged exclusively by conservatives, when in reality, progressives are just as eager to throw science under the bus when it suits their agenda. (ACSH President Hank Campbell and I wrote an entire book about this topic, called Science Left Behind.) As a general rule, when science and political activists clash, the activists usually win.

Second, there is the legal war on science, in which unscrupulous lawyers use scientific uncertainty against science to score jackpot verdicts and settlements. All a lawyer has...

A potentially heartwarming development has occurred in recent days. A grassroots movement supporting a "Science March" has amassed a gigantic following on social media, which in turn has resulted in substantial mainstream media coverage. The website, which is still in development, says that "anyone who values empirical science" can participate. Good.

Unfortunately, some of the other statements have sent mixed messages. Consider this:

I agree 100% with every sentence. So, what's the problem?

The problem is that this message is aimed at one particular side of the political...

A high-profile paper published in Science earlier this year is in jeopardy because of events that started out as a the simple theft of a laptop, but may end up being a big enough transgression to have it erased from the scientific literature. 

The paper, entitled "Environmentally relevant concentrations of microplastic particles influence larval fish ecology," suggests that larval fish (perch, specifically) prefer to eat microplastic particles (pieces of plastic that are < 5mm in size) over their natural food source. Not only that, but, when fish eat the plastic particles, they exhibit abnormal behavior and...

Mafia boss

Unbeknownst to David Seidemann, a geology professor at Brooklyn College and scientific advisor to ACSH, he was placed on a hit list by the academic PC mafia. In an article for Minding the Campus, Prof. Seidemann recalls a chilling tale in which he was investigated by the administration for alleged misconduct. And as if taken directly from the pages of a dystopian screenplay, the nature of his misconduct and the identity of his accusers -- even the existence of the investigation itself -- were withheld from him.

The drama took yet another Kafkaesque turn. When Prof Seidemann was finally notified that he had been the subject of an...

How should scientists respond to the rising tide of anti-scientific sentiment in the world? The backlash against modern technology is widespread: Protests against genetic engineering, vaccines, "chemicals," modern agriculture, neuroscience, nuclear power (and almost any other form of power), animal research, and embryonic stem cell research threaten to hold back, if not reverse, decades of progress. What can scientists do to address this problem?

The typical response, as elaborated in a report by the National Academy of Sciences, is "public engagement," which can range from education to the alignment of values between scientists and the public....