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September 24, 2006

Things to read while the simulator runs; part 2

In my frenetic drive to get a paper revised and resubmitted to a journal, and a parallel project writing a lengthy solo-paper on complex systems methodolodogy, I now have a backlog of interesting tid-bits to share. So, rather than blog about each individually, I'm collecting them together in the second of our multi-part series of things to read while you wait for the simulator to finish.

The Dwight H. Terry Lectures (at Yale) on Science and Religion. These are a series of six videos of lectures by prominent thinkers on the subject. Notables include Dr. Lawrence M. Krauss and Dr. Kenneth R. Miller. Well worth the time, with Ken Miller's talk being highly enjoyable. (tip to Carl Zimmer)

As if this topic is on many people's minds of late, Cosma blogs about Ginsparg's excellent perspective piece in The Journal of Neuroscience entitled As We May Read (which is a riff on Vannevar Bush's 1945 piece in The Atlantic entitled As We May Think, about the obligation of post-war scientists to make more accessible the store of human knowledge). Ginsparg, the creator of the arxiv and a recipient of a MacArthur award in 2002, has a lot to say about the future of academic publishing and the role that journals have in disseminating information. On a related point, hunch.net has some perspective on the development of collaborative research, and, for instance, the impact of Wikipedia on Vannevar Bush's dream.

Bernard Chazelle, professor of Computer Science at Princeton (who has graced this blog before), has penned a new version of his perspective piece on computers, and the significance of the algorithm to modern science. (tip to Suresh)

Many of you may recall Larry H. Summer, former president of Harvard, commenting on the reason that women make up less than a parity of scientists in this country. The National Academy of Sciences has finally weighed in on the subject with a comprehensive report in which they completely dismantle the Summer's claim, showing that women are under-represented because of systemic biases in the institutions of the academy. Corneila Dean writes on this for the New York Times. Bitch Ph.D. writes "I, personally, am expecting the apologies from Larry Summer's apologists to start pouring in any day now." Hear, hear. (tip to Cosmic Variance)

Liberal arts colleges have a special place in the constellation of academic training, although most Americans would be hard-pressed to name any of them. Writing in a 1999 special issue of Daedalus on liberal arts colleges, Thomas R. Cech (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1989; current President of the HHMI; graduated from Grinell College in 1970) writes on the disproportionately large number of liberal arts graduates who make up the nation's top scientists, why liberal arts colleges can give a better science education than large universities, and the importance of protecting the contributions these institutions make to science.

posted September 24, 2006 02:24 PM in Things to Read | permalink