Weekly Roundup

Amid the hopes and horrors in Libya, a controversy over Saif Gaddafi plagiarizing his PhD from the London School of Economics (apparently supervised by Nancy Cartwright) has been brewing.

Brian Leiter asks whether philosophy departments are being specially targeted for cuts.

Why is the science media so focused on the Fukushima nuclear saga rather than other aspects of Japan’s earthquake?

What’s a bigger threat: nuclear power or coal production?

Michael Ruse compares the New Atheists to the Tea Party.

Students and professors at Imperial College, London will be meeting in April to discuss how to use Wikipedia.

Ashley Brosius at Age of Engagement argues that there needs to be more focus on adaptation to climate change rather than just on prevention.

House Republicans voted against amendments to a bill stating that Congress acknowledges “basic” facts about climate change.…

Weekly Roundup

Images of the future from history.

Evolutionary psychologists on the adaptiveness of homophobia: what could possibly go wrong?

Documentary film maker Errol Morris has a series of blog posts this week on his interactions with and thoughts about Thomas Kuhn.

Science journalists Jamie Hansen and Julia James experiment with “real -time science reporting“.

Science communication in Kenya: is there too little science to communicate?…

Weekly Roundup

McGill Office for Science and Society, developed and run by some of the most engaging chemistry professors, hosts a collection of news bulletins and informative content on the value of chemical knowledge in everyday life.

A Toronto statistician has cracked some kinds of Ontario scratch lottery tickets — statistics wins again.

Matthew Nisbet at Age of Engagement discusses embedding climate change education in TV programs. You know, like how every kids show would have an anti-smoking episode? Wow.

NASA’s Kepler observatory has been discovering new planets at a furious rate. Can we stop worrying about the environment yet Curtis?

No, then how about if we terraform Mars?…

The Bubble Chamber – a place for thinking about science and society

Bubble chamber at Fermilab
Bubble chamber at Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory ©Bruce Marlin

In the 1950s and 60s, bubble chambers were cutting-edge scientific apparatuses for physical researchers in North America.  One of the first large-scale devices created to observe the interaction of charged particles, bubble chambers were novel and highly-intricate feats of engineering.  Their realization required hundreds of different kinds of specialists to apply their knowledge in new, integrated ways.  The various specialized bits of knowledge possessed by these specialists, along with their attendant crafts and technologies, all took on new applications and orientations in their common endeavour to construct bubble chambers, a task ultimately aimed at providing an experimental basis for modern particle physics.

Because bubble chambers were constructed by the mutually reinforcing intellectual collaboration of a variety of different specialists, bubble chambers serve as a nice metaphor for what we hope to achieve with this blog.  The Bubble Chamber is run by a group of historians and philosophers of science whose interests and specializations vary widely, giving us all an opportunity to learn from each other and integrate our knowledge in new and fruitful ways.  Our main hope for the blog, however, is that it will find readers from outside our academic disciplines.  The idea is that we, as historians and philosophers of science, can create new applications for our specialized knowledge by bringing it to bear on social, political, and policy issues of general interest in ways that engage with a variety of people, from the general public to business people to working scientists.  We hope to find such applications because we believe our society as a whole could do with a better, more nuanced understanding of science and its place in our modern world.  To develop such an understanding, we all need to find new, integrated ways of bringing our specialized knowledge and experience together.  This blog will be a forum for such intellectual cross-pollination and collaboration, where a wide variety of people can be exposed to the socially relevant work of historians and philosophers of science, and vice versa.…