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Doing Good Science

Doing Good Science

Building knowledge, training new scientists, sharing a world.

  • I’m so glad we’ve had this time together.

    By Janet D. Stemwedel | December 15, 2014 |

    Today the editors of the Scientific American Blog Network are announcing a new vision for the network, one with increased editorial oversight and more editorial curation of the subjects covered by network bloggers. Part of that shift involves a pruning of blogs from the existing network, including this one. […]

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  • Pennywise and pound-foolish: misidentified cells and competitive pressures in scientific knowledge-building.

    By Janet D. Stemwedel | December 13, 2014 |

    The overarching project of science is building reliable knowledge about the world, but the way this knowledge-building happens in our world is in the context of competition. For example, scientists compete with each other to be the first to make a new discovery, and they compete with each other for finite pools of grant money with which to conduct more research and make further discoveries. […]

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  • Twenty-five years later.

    By Janet D. Stemwedel | December 6, 2014 |

    Twenty-five years ago today, on December 6, 1989, in Montreal , fourteen women were murdered for being women in what their murderer perceived to be a space that rightly belonged to men: Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
 Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student 
Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
 Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
 Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
 Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
 Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department
 Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student 
Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
 Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
 Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
 Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student 
Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student
 Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student They were murdered because their killer was disgruntled that he been denied admission to the École Polytechnique, the site of the massacre, and because he blamed women occupying positions that were traditionally occupied by men for this disappointment, among others. […]

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  • James Watson’s sense of entitlement, and misunderstandings of science that need to be countered.

    By Janet D. Stemwedel | December 1, 2014 |

    James Watson, who shared a Nobel Prize in 1962 for discovering the double helix structure of DNA, is in the news, offering his Nobel Prize medal at auction. As reported by the Telegraph : Mr Watson, who shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for uncovering the double helix structure of DNA, sparked an outcry in 2007 when he suggested that people of African descent were inherently less intelligent than white people. […]

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  • Giving thanks.

    By Janet D. Stemwedel | November 30, 2014 |

    This being the season, I'd like to take the opportunity to pause and give thanks. I'm thankful for parents who encouraged my curiosity and never labeled science as something it was inappropriate for me to explore or pursue. I'm thankful for teachers who didn't present science as if it were confined within the box of textbooks and homework assignments and tests, but instead offered it as a window through which I could understand ordinary features of my world in a whole new way. […]

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  • Kitchen science: evaluating methods of self-defense against onions.

    By Janet D. Stemwedel | November 26, 2014 |

    Background I hate chopping onions. They make me cry within seconds, and those tears both hurt and obscure my view of onions, knife, and fingertips (which can lead to additional injuries). The chemical mechanism by which onions cause this agony is well known . […]

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  • A guide for science guys trying to understand the fuss about that shirt.

    By Janet D. Stemwedel | November 17, 2014 |

    This is a companion to the last post , focused more specifically on the the question of how men in science who don't really get what the fuss over Rosetta mission Project Scientist Matt Taylor's shirt was about could get a better understanding of the objections -- and of why they might care. […]

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  • The Rosetta Mission #Shirtstorm Was Never Just About the Shirt

    By Janet D. Stemwedel | November 17, 2014 |

    Last week, the European Space Agency's Spacecraft Rosetta put a washing machine-sized lander named Philae on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Landing anything on a comet is a pretty amazing feat, so plenty of scientists and science-fans were glued to their computers watching for reports of the Rosetta mission's progress. […]

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  • Mentoring new scientists in the space between how things are and how things ought to be.

    By Janet D. Stemwedel | October 31, 2014 |

    Scientists mentoring trainees often work very hard to help their trainees grasp what they need to know not only to build new knowledge, but also to succeed in the context of a career landscape where score is kept and scarce resources are distributed on the basis of scorekeeping. […]

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  • Ebola, abundant caution, and sharing a world.

    By Janet D. Stemwedel | October 31, 2014 |

    Today a judge in Maine ruled that quarantining nurse Kaci Hickox is not necessary to protect the public from Ebola . Hickox, who had been in Sierra Leone for a month helping to treat people infected with Ebola, had earlier been subject to a mandatory quarantine in New Jersey upon her return to the U.S., despite being free of Ebola symptoms (and so, given what scientists know about Ebola, unable to transmit the virus). […]

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