Help name 5 craters on Mercury as part of NASA’s @MESSENGER2011 Mission!!


NASA and Messenger scientists (from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the Carnegie Institution for Science) want your help naming 5 craters on Mercury! See the press release here! The entry form is here, open until January 15th!! Check out info on the 5 craters here!


According to the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919, all new craters must be named after an artist, composer, or writer who was famous for more than 50 years and has been dead for more than three years. See the current list of named Mercury craters.

The name should not have any political, religious, or military significance. It is also essential that there be no other features in the Solar System with the same name, she said. For example, Ansel Adams is not eligible because there is a feature on the Moon with the name Adams (even though it was not named for Ansel). Participants can check their ideas against the list of named Solar System features and enter the name in the “Search by Feature Name” box in the upper-right corner.

Canadian report finds that Canadians are #1 when it comes to #science culture!

The Council of Canadian Academies has released a report from the Expert Panel on the State of Canada’s Science Culture entitled Science Culture: Where Canada Stands. The report (In Focus, short version here) looks in-depth at science in Canadian culture. Although the expert panel likely has a slight bias towards Canada, it does not surprise me that Canada ranks so well in so many of the criteria. For example, Canada ranked first among populations with an interest in new scientific discoveries, populations with science literacy, and populations with the lowest reservations towards science. As expected, the United States was quite a bit lower than Canada in many rankings, including reservations towards science (11th, part of the reason CauseScience exists!). However, the United States did rank second for public support for government funding of scientific research (higher than 80% of the population)! I highly recommend taking a look at the In Focus or full version of the report for graphs of the rankings and lots of information about what a science culture is and how they looked at it. Many, many cool ideas here about science, culture, education, and society. It is a great resource! For a quick summary, news article here from TechVibes, and key findings below.

Key Findings

  • Canadians have positive attitudes towards science and technology and low levels of reservations about science compared with citizens of other countries.

  • Canadians exhibit a high level of engagement with science and technology relative to citizens of other countries.

  • Canadians’ level of science knowledge is on a par with or above citizens of other countries for which data are available.

  • Canada’s performance on indicators of science and technology skills development is variable compared with other OECD countries.


How competitive should science be?

We’ve posted frequently on the negative effects (ie fraud) resulting from the current hyper-competitive nature of the American science enterprise.  From the ASCB COMPASS blog, another thoughtful perspective on how hyper-competition may be influencing science.

“Is the pressure created by 9% paylines and a scarcity of stable jobs stimulating academic science, or squelching the creativity necessary for innovation?”

Vote in the Absurd Creature of the Week Competition @wiredscience



Matt Simon at is taking the Absurd Creature of the Week to a new competitive level by having viewers vote between different absurd creatures. Check out this weeks competition between animals for the title of ‘Most Horrifying Mouth’ and ‘Most Badass Weaponry.’

We’re coming up on one whole year of Absurd Creature of the Week! So to celebrate, we’ve used a super-secret, super-complex algorithm to choose the most absurd of the absurd—to pit them against each other in mortal combat. For the next week and a half, we’ll present you with matchups. The first round is split into categories like Battle of the Freaky Sex and Battle of the Mind-Controllers, but after that, it’s every creature for itself.

FASEB BioArt competition is on! Submit images and videos until August 30th! #Science


FASEB BioArt competition entries due August 30, 2014!

Through the BioArt competition, FASEB aims to share the beauty and excitement of biological research with the public.  FASEB encourages the submission of captivating, high-resolution images and videos representing cutting edge, 21st Century biomedical and life science research. These laboratory-based images must be original photographs, illustrations, or videos submitted by current or former US federally-funded investigators, contractors, or trainees and/or members of FASEB constituent societies. Each submission must also include a nontechnical, 100-word caption that describes the image or video and articulates the broader relevance of the science represented. When viewed in conjunction with the caption, submissions should be both visually arresting and clearly communicate a cutting edge bioscience concept.

FASEB BioArt Poster announcement here. Check it out or share it!

Dance your PhD and you could win $1000 in the 7th annual AAAS and Science Magazine Contest #science

The 7th annual AAAS and Science sponsored ‘Dance Your PhD Contest’ is underway!

The dreaded question. “So, what’s your Ph.D. research about?” You take a deep breath and launch     into the explanation. People’s eyes begin to glaze over …

At times like these, don’t you wish you could just turn to the nearest computer and show people a video of your Ph.D. thesis interpreted in dance form?

Now you can! And while you’re at it, you can win $1000 and a free trip to California, achieve immortal geek fame on the Internet, and be recognized by Science for your effort.

Time to start choreographing, recruiting dancers, and finding someone to videotape! Entries are due September 29, 2014. Instructions for entering are here.

Here is and example from Cedric Tan (University of Oxford, thesis about sperm competition):