Science at the Oscars! #IfScientistsWereLikeStars

YAY Oscars! Last night’s Academy Awards ceremony did not disappoint- political commentary mixed with some humor, beautiful dresses (and people), some maaajor drama, and even some science! Pretty sure there was more mention of science during the Oscar’s than there has been during any of Trumps speeches ever (someone fact check me on that). Here are the highlights:

Hidden Figures nominated for several Oscars: While it didn’t take home any awards, Hidden Figures was nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer), and Best Writing Adapted Screenplay.This film is the story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program. This is a major shoutout to both women and minorities in science, and it’s always great when a science film makes it to the awards show. Not to mention, our favorite scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson was live tweeting about the film throughout the Oscars.

GE wins “Best Commercial” with it’s ad geared towards hiring more women scientists: YAAAS. This was one of the best commercials I’ve ever seen. Huge kudos to GE for dedicating efforts to hiring more women in STEM and advertising this initiative in a well-done commercial. It’s beautiful.

Shoutout to Science and Tech awards: While they unfortunately have their own separate event, it’s nice that the Oscars took the time to highlight some of the innovation made from the science and technology sectors and their contribution to film making. Some of these awards went to facial-performance-capture technology, animation technology, and improvements in digital camera systems.

 

Ongoing CRISPR battle

CRISPR, in addition to being the hottest new gene editing technique, has also been at the heart of a vicious patent battle between the Broad Institute and Berkeley. In a recent update, the US Patent Office has deemed that the patents issued to the Broad Institute (Feng Zhang) valid, which is a major blow to Berkeley (Jennifer Doudna).

Ahhh, science drama.

NPR and Science do a good job summarizing the verdict.

Jon Cohen for Science has written a fantastic article going into the background of how CRISPR technology was discovered and developed, and what has led to the current patent battle.

Mark your calendars: Science March Apr 22nd

MARK YOUR CALENDARS. On April 22, we will walk out of our labs and into the streets.

https://www.marchforscience.com/

We are scientists and science enthusiasts. We come from all races, all religions, all gender identities, all sexual orientations, all abilities, all socioeconomic backgrounds, all political perspectives, and all nationalities. Our diversity is our greatest strength: a wealth of opinions, perspectives, and ideas is critical for the scientific process. What unites us is a love of science, and an insatiable curiosity. We all recognize that science is everywhere and affects everyone.

Science is often an arduous process, but it is also thrilling. A universal human curiosity and dogged persistence is the greatest hope for the future. This movement cannot and will not end with a march. Our plans for policy change and community outreach will start with marches worldwide and a teach-in at the National Mall, but it is imperative that we continue to celebrate and defend science at all levels – from local schools to federal agencies – throughout the world.

Is Science is making a comeback?!

We’ve posted frequently about the decline in public support for science over the past several years. One reason for this decline is that the general public just doesn’t understand science or finds it boring (let’s be real, we’ve all have that dreadful chemistry/physics/biology/etc professor). Another reason is due to the current trend of dismissing facts and evidence-based decision making.

The scientific community has been trying to combat this by working to improve science communication in many ways. And seems like some of this hard work has paid off? Is Science (slowly beginning to) making a comeback with the general public?! Here are THREE examples why I think science is on the up and up:

Bill Nye is BACK! Bill Nye, our favorite science guy (tied with Neil deGrasse Tyson), is coming back with a Netflix series called Bill Nye Saves the World. I CANNOT WAIT. This series will feature celebrities and highlight some important topics in science today (climate change, health, etc). From what I can tell, it seems like “Bill Nye the Science Guy” but made for adults. This type of public-oriented science show is EXACTLY what science needs. A way to inspire and demonstrate cool science while also informing about the principles of how research is done and how scientists draw conclusions.

Magic School Bus is ALSO back! And thankgawd. The new series “The Magic School Bus: Rides Again” will debut on Netflix later this year. This was absolutely my favorite show as a little kid, and it’s incredibly important that the future generation receives a strong foundation in science. As a plus, our favorite SNL star Kate McKinnon will voice Mrs. Frizzle.

Dan Rather and the Science Communication Lab. I love it when non-scientists in positions of fame advocate for science. Dan Rather is doing just that. He is collaborating with iBiology to bring science to the general public. In his statement:

I have a deep curiosity about the mysteries of life, and an unwavering respect for the women and men expanding the horizons of knowledge, and I am collaborating with a nonprofit science communication group called IBiology to extend their mission from the professional science community to you, the general public. We’re calling this effort the Science Communication Lab.

We will be announcing future projects soon, including a feature-length documentary on which we have just begun production. For all the importance of politics these days, we would do well to remember that there is a larger world that can fill us with wonder and awe.

I am really looking forward to all three of these efforts to expand science to the general public!