Countdown to Re-entry

David Pugliese of Postmedia News broke the story on Monday January 3rd that the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) want to make the development of a Canadian rocket a high priority.1  The justification follows the normal rationales: Canada currently relies on other countries (bad for sovereignty), native capabilities exist and should be fostered (good for Canadian labs and industries), and a niche market might develop that Canada could fill (excellent for the economy). In other words, there are several proponents of rocketry and they are trying to drum up popular support through the Conservative-friendly media outlet. The plan will probably collapse before any rockets are ever launched, but in the immediate future we can at least expect the usual suspects to study the idea and issue several position papers in favour of the plan.

What control should the state have over its science?

What role should politics play in science? In North America many scientists are employed by the state as researchers. These scientists have competing obligations to the state, their fellow citizens and the scientific community because of their roles as public servants, citizens and scientists. Over the past month there has been an increasing dialogue about these competing obligations of Canadian scientists employed by the federal government.

The story begins in February 2010 when Nature accepted a May 2009 submission that was authored by Julian Morton, Mark Bateman, Scott Dallimore, James Teller and Zhirong Yang. The paper fills a gap in the previous research surrounding the flooding from Lake Agassiz to the Arctic Ocean and the sudden onset of the Younger Dryas (an abrupt climate change that temporarily returned an ice age in the midst of glacial melt). Teller’s inclusion on the author list appears to be because of his role kick-starting this line of research, but if it weren’t for the inclusion of Scott Dallimore there might not be a story to tell.1

The Big Thaw: Canadian Arctic Politics

A hamlet on the Northwest Passage has been chosen as the home for Canada’s High Arctic Research Station, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Tuesday [August 24th].

The western Nunavut community of Cambridge Bay has been chosen over Resolute Bay and Pond Inlet to the east. All three sites were shortlisted in 2009 as possible locations.

“This will be a world class centre for science,” Harper told reporters on Tuesday. “It will be a tangible expression of this government’s determination to develop and protect all of our true North.” via

The Canadian Arctic is a place where myths are often confronted by reality.  Canadians like to believe that Americans blindly accept that we live in a land of constant ice and snow, and that we all live in igloos.  By extension we also like to believe that all ice and snow in North America (except for Alaska) is our sovereign domain.…