November 28, 2011

I don't understand this...

Ok, so one of the things climate change deniers do is to claim that the scientists are only in it for the money. (First mention in the third paragraph) This doesn't make any sense. Has anyone ever seen a scientist on MTV Cribs? No, and it's not just because science isn't seen as cool enough or whatever. It's because scientists, by and large, are not rich. Those few who are did not make their money from grants, either. They wrote best selling books after and during a successful career in science.

The mad scientist is one character type freque...
Image via Wikipedia

Lets say we give a scientist a million dollars. We tell them to do whatever they want with it. Sure, they'll buy tools for their shop, maybe something nice for the spouse, but they won't go nuts. You give a scientist a bunch of money and they are more likely to by an electron microscope than a Ferrari. A scientist is interested in research, experimentation, learning about the world and being enthralled by its beauty. About the only reason your average scientist has to buy a big screen TV is so that they can properly render their high speed, data collecting footage.  So I'm not sure where these deniers are coming from, thinking scientists are money grubbing bastards. But whatever, they are allowed their opinion (despite the fact that they get their talking points from oil company billionaires)

But that's not the oddest thing. I could see how someone might be cautious about signing over a massive amount of cash to someone, with no idea what they are going to do with it. But the money the deniers are talking about is grant money. It's not a personal check. It's a highly sought after, discrete amount of money that is only for a specific purpose - Grant money goes to the school they do their research at more than the scientists themselves. What does go to the scientist is their salary. Unless you don't think people shouldn't get paid for the work they do, there isn't much of a problem with this. And of course, that salary comes from more than just grants. Things like tuition and stuff also goes into their salary. Because research scientists at universities are also (gasp!) teachers.

I just don't understand the money angle. Scientists aren't in it for the money. If they were it would be obvious. They'd drive better cars, have bigger apartments, not waste their time teaching people, things like that. If you want to be rich, strike oil. If you want to learn about the world, be a scientist. Money is not a motivation for a scientist to undermine science.

While it was hard to find any sources that actually said where they got their figures from, I did find that most were in a similar range, and matched well with those from either: Reputable sources; or sources which detailed their data collecting technique. Here are a few, just to show that most scientists don't make much money.

Sorry for the quick and dirty linkage, but I don't feel like cleaning them up right now. I used CNN, Simply Hired, and for my sources.
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November 27, 2011

Linkage: Language, Politics, and other miscellany

Ok, so here's my final installment of links. This one was harder because I have a lot of stuff I just never visit, so I had to visit them before I posted them. Which took awhile. And was slightly annoying, as I realized most of the links I have are utter crap. But these ones aren't!

Language & Writing

Dialect Blog - great posts about all the different dialects of English.  always worth a look.

Visual Thesaurus - Awesomness in words.

The Open Notebook - Great resource for writing tips

Paperrater - A good final check for essays. Grades, word counts, all that, all in one place. And free!

Etomyonline - Online etymological dictionary

Politics & Society

Factcheck - Both these websites are all about fact checking political statements. This is a very handy resource.

Global Debates - Online debates regarding global issues

Fora - A lot of cool stuff in here. Mostly conservative. Lots of videos.

TED - Like Fora, but more liberal.

Free Knowledge

Justice - The Harvard class

MIT Open Course - Online classes, to varying degrees of depth.

 Academic Earth - like the above, but pulls from all universities.

Miss Elaine Eeus

Forkes Report - My uncles blog.

The Internet Archive - Home of the wayback machine!

Library at Alexandria - Not the one burned down, but a modern equivalent. Which is neat.

There you go, a shit ton of links for your viewing pleasure. I have some more stuff to write for school, and those will be posted soon. Also anything else I feel like writing, but I know for sure I'll write the stuff for school. I paid good money for the classes, so failure is not an option. If I do fail, Gene Kranz will kick my ass. Probably not, but you never know. Cheers!


November 26, 2011

MSL Launch II

Curiosity is officially on its way to Mars! All engines expended, all stages separated, now all we have to do is wait! For 9 months. They say patience is a virtue, but it doesn't feel like it when you're actually waiting for something.

MSL Launch

Mars Science Laboratory has just launched and reached a stable orbit! We are in a 19 minute coasting orbit, after which the main engines will ignite one last time to send it on to Mars. Go baby go!

November 23, 2011

Russia Preparing For Next Move

Ok, so remember when I said I wouldn't have the time nor inclination to write about much for the next little while? I was wrong. Dang. But on the upside, I now get to tell you about this article. According to the reporter, Ilya Arkhipov, Roskosmos is looking towards an international partnership, now that Phobos-Grunt is all but gone. Russia is also looking towards China for a partnership in space. I hope Russia succeeds. It sucks to lose something like a major mission to Mars. Who knows, maybe 'piggy backing' missions will turn out to be an excellent way to get more science done.

November 22, 2011

Linkage: Science & stuff

Ok, so yesterday I posted a bunch of links. They all had to do with space. This time I've done the same, but with only three links about space! The rest is interesting too.


November 21, 2011

Linkage: Space

So with the holidays coming on and stuff I don't know how much time I will have to spend writing stuff other than essays and answers to algebra and stuff*. But I don't want you to be left bereft of blogger wisdom (variable definition of 'wisdom' in use here) so I'll just post a bunch of links that I use. These people are usually smarter than me anyhow.


November 18, 2011

There's an awesome article in Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine all about SpaceX. Go, read, enjoy!

November 17, 2011

Totally and Utterly Redundant

And I thought ATM machine was bad, but this takes the cake!

Long Road

I like Bad Astronomy. It's a great site, with tons of great stuff on it. Phil Plait kept mentioning Jennifer Oullette and her blog, Cocktail Party Physics. So I decided to check it out. It's also a great read, full of interesting stuff. It turns out that Jennifer was the editor of this years Open Laboratory anthology series this year. These collections, hosted by Scientific American's The Network Central blog, are a compilation of all the years best science writing on the internet. Which is itself pretty neat. You should definitely read some of the essays, articles, and blog posts they have listed. But that's not why I'm writing. I clicked over to TNC blog to see what other sorts of stuff they do, which is basically compile a list of current SciAm blogs for the week. On one of those posts I ran across Anna Kuchment's blog, Budding Scientist, and her post "Ask Bryan Greene Anything".

This is actually a short post, with only ten questions. But they're good ones! I especially enjoyed Greene's responses to questions five and six. He makes a good point about how our teaching methods fail to give the big picture of science, and how this effects people perceptions of what is usually portrayed as a bunch of esoteric factoids. Definitely worth a read!
This is the final slide to Phil's presentation...
Phil Plait's last slide at TAM 6. Image via Wikipedia
PS I hope Discover doesn't get pissed at Phil for keying people into Scientific American's blog ring. I for one think both magazines are great. I read both, I enjoy both, and I'm glad that both exist. So no conflict of interest, as I'm interested in both. 
PPS Full Disclosure: Actually, deep down, I kinda hope they do get pissed, and use this post as an example, because then I might get to meet Phil, which would be freaking awesome. I don't think he'd agree.
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November 07, 2011


My first thought? Subsidence.


November 06, 2011


It strikes me that it is exactly this type of oversight and micromanagement that private corporations are supposed to alleviate NASA from. SpaceX  and Boeing certainly don't like it. Of course, this issue will come down to the nitty gritty details of the CCIDC. Depending on what NASA actually has planned, this may make some sense. Flying cargo up on an independent vehicle is one thing, sending people up is something else entirely. More intricate requirements, which already seem taken care of (SpaceX launch abort), and keeping a closer eye on the development of human rated vehicles may simply be prudent.
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