Physics news for Thursday 30 August 2012.
Paralympic ceremony theme welcomed by scientists
The decision to focus the Paralympic opening ceremony on Britain’s tradition of science and innovation has been enthusiastically welcomed by the science community. Lord Coe said the ceremony will focus on “the great intellectual revolution that took place between 1550 and 1720,” featuring “everything from Newton making sense of gravity and motion to Napier with logarithms and Harvey with blood circulation”. The ceremony was also narrated by Prof Stephen Hawking, Britain’s best known living scientist who defied motor neurone disease to become a world leader in theoretical physics.
What matters for science is who runs the country
A chief scientific adviser is no substitute for a ruling elite that is actually engaged with science and engineering, argues Colin Macilwain. The underlying dynamic of London’s ruling elites hasn’t shifted an inch in the last 50 years; the public prestige of science is higher than ever but it remains disturbingly removed from the centres of power, he writes.
Open for business
Breaking down barriers to entry and movement through the EU is crucial to allow the continent to compete globally for talent and create, by 2014, the long-awaited European Research Area — whereby scientists can collaborate seamlessly across national boarders. The EU is on the right lines, it just needs to give a little more in return.
Violent opposition to nanotechnology should be countered with public awareness
Nanotechnology advocates should continue to work to make public debate informed and accurate, and do more to monitor and test the possible toxicity of novel products. And they should avoid hype. If they paint a true picture of the state of the science, then the distorted version drawn by the extremists will have a greater chance of being recognized as such.
US colliders jostle for funds
After the closing of The Tevatron at Fermilab to save money, physicists at another US physics facility, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, are trying to avoid a similar end.
Recycled dishes for telescope network
Ageing satellite dishes, once the backbone of Africa’s telecommunications system, are being given a new lease of life as radio telescopes. The thrifty project aims to boost the skills of the continent’s scientists as Africa prepares to host the US$2.1 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA), set to be the world’s most powerful radio telescope when it is completed in the mid-2020s.
Research Intelligence: Cold shoulder for Ireland’s pure science?
Basic researchers in the Republic of Ireland are up in arms over the decision of the country’s main project funder, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), to “administratively withdraw” 18 of about 430 applications to a new funding scheme without sending them out for review. According to an SFI spokesman, this was because the proposals, which were made to its Investigators Programme, were either “outside the programme remit” or “failed to articulate the potential impact of the proposed research”. Impact is defined as “the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy”.