Weekly Round-Up – From Science Shutdowns To Accuracy In Gravity – Rewind For 5th October

It’s the end of the first week in the month – what has caught our attention? Firstly, this new venture by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an American astrophysicist and science communicator:

An epic @NYTmag exploration of an important question: Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science? 

But what could still be keeping women out of the STEM fields (“STEM” being the current shorthand for “science, technology, engineering and mathematics”), which offer so much in the way of job prospects, prestige, intellectual stimulation and income?

In a similar vein, on the other side of the pond, The Telegraph features Women in TV science: time to shift out of Top Gear, something that is also voiced as a concern by Professor Brian Cox in Of Stars and Scientific Phenomena – Interview With Professor Brian Cox on the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website:

The more scientists, and, indeed, just academics in general, the more of them that are interested and learn how to play in that sphere the better it is. You just raise the level of conversation. As I said before, you introduce ideas into popular culture, which is where they should be.

Plus! Marvel And Natalie Portman Announce Mentoring Program For Young Women Interested In Science - nicely done all round!

In addition, pro-science advocate comedian and musician Tim Minchin mentions his support for the intersection of arts and science in his occasional address at the University of Western Australia, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate:

You don’t need to be superstitious to be a poet. You don’t need to hate GM technology to care about the beauty of the planet. You don’t have to claim a soul to promote compassion. Science is not a body of knowledge nor a system of belief; it is just a term which describes humankind’s incremental acquisition of understanding through observation. Science is awesome.

Naturally, the events in the USA regarding government shutdowns has an impact on science and science ventures that concerns us all – but what’s going on? Check out NPR’s audio investigation with With Government Shut Down, Science Idles:

As the budgetary stalemate in Washington continues, many federally funded science projects are now on hold. Matthew Hourihan of the American Association for the Advancement of Science describes some of the effects of the funding impasse on research programs, from the CDC to NASA.

Related stories include Cosmic Tragedy: Shutdown Kills Radio Observatories : Discovery News, also 11 Tech and Science Programs Being Killed by the Government Shutdown over on Gizmondo and 6 Ways the Government Shutdown Will Impact Science and Health over on Scientific American and even some Australian perspectives over on The Conversation website with From government shutdown to stalled Asia pivot, signals of Obama’s Requiem.

Over on The Conversation website, Understanding the brain and mind: science’s final frontier? by Fred Mendelsohn – this is also the week that the book launch of The Conversation’s The Explainer happened over at Embiggen Books in Melbourne.

The Problem With A Crowdfunded Climate Council by Chad Parkhill helped inform an interview conducted for ScienceRewired that will be out tomorrow – check out the concerns they have over on Junkee.

What I am not so keen on is the way “crowdfund it!” seems to have become the default solution to the problems posed when a neoliberal government cuts a necessary service. After all, the logic can only be extended so far: we might be able to save the Climate Council, but will we be able to save the next government service that Abbott and Hockey place on the chopping block? Would you care to chip in to save the National Broadband Network, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Research Council, Medicare, or Centrelink?* At what point will you stop opening your wallet for organisations that should have been funded through taxation revenues?

Why science journalists should be on Twitter? One reason: You can find sources. Serendipity Stories is The Open Notebook’s new series dedicated to the idea that you never know what’s going to hit you on the head. Speaking of getting to know your sources, check out Lake That Turns Animals to Stone? Not Quite. The real science behind the “stone birds” lake over on Live Science.

What will you do after you’re gone? Considerations over on The only after-life I believe is donating my body to science – Aeon Magazine. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) has put out a call for entry for the Stand Up for Science video competition. And just How Much a Planet Costs: Astronomy, Economics, and the Trouble with Pricing the Priceless over on Brain Pickings.

Director Alfonso Cua­rón’s latest film, Gravity, hit theatres in Australia this week – naturally there’s questions about the accuracy of the science involved that’s addressed in 10 Things to Know About Gravity on Mental Floss. Also, check out ‘Gravity': Science vs. Fiction and even some video on What’s It Like for Astronauts In Peril? over on Discovery.

Links? Suggestions? Hit us up in the comments on what has caught your eye over the past fortnight and join in on the discussion!