The struggle to realize societal benefit from S&T.

“The American Meteorological Society advances the atmospheric and related sciences, technologies, applications, and services for the benefit of society.” – the AMS Mission (emphasis added)

At one time or another, just about every member of the American Meteorological Society comes across this mission statement, with its emphasis on both the advance of S&T and the harnessing of those advances for societal good. Other science- and professional societies aspire to the same dual ends. The American Physical Society seeks the advancement of physics and the benefit of humanity. The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) is dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. The Geological Society of America seeks to advance geoscience research and discovery, service to society…

You see the pattern.

The reality for many (probably most?) members of these scientific communities is that as individuals we put rather more effort into the advance of our science and technology than into their application.

convection [tect]

convection [tect] . A process of heat transfer involving movement of mass. During convection, warmer, less dense material rises while cooler, denser material sinks. Convection takes place when buoyancy forces exceed the strength of the material, and heat flow is too great to be accommodated by conduction. Convection occurs in the Earth's mantle beneath the lithosphere; it is not clear whether whole-mantle convection occurs, or whether upper-mantle convection is independent of lower-mantle convection. Convective flow may exert shear stress to the base of plates and thus may affect plate velocity, but shear due to convection is probably not the main cause of plate motion. Cf: advection [tect].

Federal Agency Scientific Integrity Survey Results Released

AGU CEO/Executive Director Chris McEntee

Tuesday, results of a 2018 Scientific Integrity Survey of 16 federal agencies administered by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology (CSSM) at Iowa State University were released. Among the agencies surveyed were the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). AGU provided the funding to ensure that USGS would be included.

The survey itself, which asked for responses only from those staff with primarily scientific responsibilities, queried respondents about the effectiveness of scientific integrity policies at each agency as well as the practices and culture that impact scientific integrity.

What is a sprint?

In October we're hosting our first 'code sprint'! What is that?

A code sprint is a type of hackathon, in which efforts are focused around a small number of open source projects. They are related to, but not really the same as, sprints in the Scrum software development framework. They are non-competitive — the only goal is to improve the software in question, whether it's adding functionality, fixing bugs, writing tests, improving documentation, or doing any of the other countless things that good software needs. 

On 13 and 14 October, we'll be hacking on 3 projects:

No science, no sustainability… the implications.

If vigorous advance of science and technology is a necessary condition for sustainability, then getting the social contract between science and society right is vital to humanity’s prospects.

What features of that social contract matter? Today’s post considers one that’s particularly sobering.

First, let’s go over a bit of groundwork:

Think of sustainability as the ability to provide food, water, and energy for the world’s seven billion people (going on nine billion); simultaneously building resilience to hazards, and maintaining ecosystem services and air- and water quality; all the while preserving (or even adding to) the same opportunities and options for future generations. A clearly meritorious, perhaps even defining, societal goal.

Significantly, this goal can never be actually achieved – not in any steady state. It can only be sought, or perhaps neared, through continuous innovation, that is: through steadily maintained scientific and technological advance, accompanied by constant societal uptake.

Travels in Geology: The pyramids of Giza: Wonders of an ancient world

At the edge of Cairo, three massive pyramids rise from the Giza Plateau’s Mokattam Formation, which comprises of layers of middle Eocene limestones and dolomites. These rocks, which display fossil evidence of their origins at the bottom of the Tethys Sea some 50 million years ago, provided the millions of multiton blocks used to construct the pyramids.

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