My dad was horrified when, at age 12, I struck out on my own and started reading comic books. He hated them. He'd raised me on a steady diet of "real" literature, from Treasure Island to Sherlock Holmes. Flimsy comics full of lurid drawings did not measure up.
Some things you just count on. Like if we ever meet a space alien, it should have eyes (and maybe a head). Like somewhere out there, there are planets like ours. Like we have an ordinary solar system — "ordinary" because you know what it looks like ...
It's got a sun in the middle, little planets on the inside, bigger ones farther out. That's what most of them should look like, no?
Legend has it that the rainforest of Mosquitia hid La Ciudad Blanca, the White City. For centuries, explorers tried to find the fabled city in the jungle of Nicaragua and Honduras. Protected by white water, coral snakes, stinging plants and brutal topography, the White City remained an archeologist dream. But with a new application of recent technology, a documentary filmmaker, not an archeologist, found the White City.
Last month, psychologist Jamil Zaki from Stanford University launched The People's Science (TPS), a forum dedicated to bridging the gap between scientists and the public.
"I've been a big proponent of science communication for a long time," Zaki told me in an email. He was motivated to start the site in part because there's no "middle ground" between doing a lot of science communication (like a science writer) and doing none at all (like most scientists). Zaki explained:
A cruise run by the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif., sounds like a picturesque summer outing. But the Urban Ocean boat cruise highlights the juxtaposition of a powerful port with a fragile ecosystem: You're just as likely to see trash as you are to see marine life.
In front of the aquarium, school kids are running around, eager to go inside and pet the sharks and see the penguins. There's also a marina, where a small passenger boat called the Cristina shoves off from sunny Shoreline Aquatic Park.
Credit Courtesy of SRI International Network and Resources Center
It's a captivating story: A global rice-growing revolution that started with a Jesuit priest in Madagascar, far from any recognized center of agricultural innovation. Every so often, it surfaces in the popular media — most recently in The Guardian, which earlier this year described farmers in one corner of India hauling in gigantic rice harvests without resorting to pesticides or genetic modification.
In fall 2011, Sebastian Thrun, a research professor at Stanford, and Peter Norvig, the top scientist at Google, teamed up to develop and teach a free, online course on artificial intelligence. Their aim, as Norvig said in an impassioned and compelling TED talk, was to develop a course at least as good as, if not better than, the course they teach together at Stanford. They'd put the result online and make it available to everyone, for free.