A golden opportunity

Science communication, when combined with a vault of gold and a self-described “eccentric hairstyle,” takes on a new life. In this instance, you might call that new life Professor Martyn Poliakoff at the University of Nottingham, but you’d only be half right.

In the video below, Professor Poliakoff stands inside the English bank vault holding all of the country’s gold reserve. He shares fascinating facts and observations about the value of the vault’s content. But if you keep your eyes trained on Professor Poliakoff and his fuzzy halo, you’ll miss the man behind the camera, video journalist Brady Haran. Take a look at this fabulous bit of fun, and I’ll reconvene in a couple inches of screen space.

This elemental exploration of gold is one of over 100 short films produced by Brady Haran for The Periodic Table of Videos. He and a group of researchers at The University of Nottingham made a video for every entry on the periodic table of elements. Continue reading

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Denial fueling debate: The social context of climate science

The problem with climate change science is not the science. The methods are not revolutionary and the results are not falsified. The controversy lies in the fact that climate scientists are producing a quantitative assessment of a lifestyle. Ppms and ˚C are the units of critique and modeling results recommend cultural change.

There is scientific consensus on human-induced climate change. A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in 2010 found >97 percent of the 1,372 climate researchers interviewed agreed that we are impacting climate. So why is the public’s concern about global warming decreasing and the percentage of Americans who think it will never happen on the rise?

Nothing makes a culture dig in its heels like a paradigm shift. The thing about paradigm shifts though, is that their acceptance has a pattern. Steven Sherwood, author of Science controversies past and present, shows how society’s reaction, particularly in the U.S., to climate change science mimics its reaction to other major shifts. Continue reading