More details about the event:
More details about the event:
More details about the event:
It seems that US science may get a 50% boost very soon… If it happens, I am pretty sure amazing things will come out of it, given all the cool research I see happening these days.
–formerly COMPETES (House) and USICA (Senate)–https://www.energy.gov/articles/statement-secretary-granholm-congressional-passage-chips-and-science-act
–$300M for BES Science Facilities
Tucked into the $369B for climate in the Democrats' new spending bill:-$133M for DOE lab infrastructure
-$304M for high energy physics
-$280M for fusion
-$217M for nuclear physics
-$164M for supercomputing
-$295M for basic science user facilities
-$158M for isotope R&D pic.twitter.com/erLtDK7SPi— FYI Science Policy (@FYIscipolicy) July 28, 2022
Science magazine: U.S. Senate calls for hefty research spending in 2023
There isn’t much representation of scientists in popular culture, with a only few movies standing out, such as a “A Beautiful Mind” (on John Nash) or “Good Will Hunting.” There’s been a few more in the biopic genre lately, such as the “Imitation Game” on Alan Turing or “The Theory of Everything” on Stephen Hawking, and soon a movie on Robert Oppenheimer by Chris Nolan.But the representation of women in science and technology is even less frequent. Things seem to be changing, and during the pandemic there’s been a few biopics on women scientists, to which I want to bring attention to:
I recently read the amazing book “New Expressions in Origami Art” by Meher McArthur, that I found at the shop Paper Tree in the Japan Town of San Fransisco (it’s one of my favorite shops; they always have stunning origami on display, some for sale, from many origamists featured in the book.)Every page of the book is a delight, where a modern twists (abstraction, wet folding, tessellation) on origami always bring something very fresh.
While reading the book and learning about Goran Konjevod (who seems to be a colleague from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), I stumbled on the work of Amanda Ghassaei, who has created the Origami Simulator and many other cool simulation tools producing mesmerizing results.https://twitter.com/amandaghassaei/status/1352605937077522434 Continue reading
The movie Gattaca is my favorite movie of all times. It is the story of a person born of natural ways that need to live in a society where everyone has been selected based on their genes. I think it is an absolute masterpiece, with an incredible photography, excellent actors and a very clever script, touching on very deep issues.I got a chance to visit the place where the movie was filmed, which happens to be the Marin County Civic Center, in San Rafael, 20 minutes North of San Francisco. The place is absolutely wild.
While it seems to be a dystopian intrigue around genetic discrimination, it is actually subtle parable for systemic racism. The movie as a whole is a discussion around the fuzzy notion of meritocracy: people are still supposedly selected on their abilities, and it is formally illegal to conduct genetic testing (extending the notion of “protected characteristics”), but this eventually is a sham. It is interesting to notice that the movie has only two black characters – the geneticist (Blair Underwood) and the interviewer (Clarence Graham) – both serving as gatekeepers, closing the door to applicants who would try to escape their condition.Continue reading
In times of pandemic, there were no coffee room to distract yourself, exchange ideas with other colleagues or just chat about the state of the world. In a certain sense, Twitter has been the equivalent of a coffee room, and I’ve probably spent more time than I should have on there, but I’ve also learned quite a lot about science – not the natural world in itself, but how it works as an enterprise, some of its limitations (e.g. publishing), some of its problem (e.g., mental health issue, impostor syndrome; systemic discrimination) and also participate to the conversation on how to improve things.The way you use Twitter is personal; some spend a lot of time but stay in the shadow, some like to share everything they see as they would do on Instagram. For me, I use it as a bookmark for tiny ideas (I often use the Twitter advanced search to find a resource I know I shared at some point), and I try to post something every once in a while, to tell the others I’m here. And more and more I use it to boost some messages (propping up students and announcements), which I can do now that I do have some followers with large reach (@Cal, @UCBerkeley, @BerkeleyLab or @SPIEtweets or influential people.)
Sometimes I post a tweet that blows up, and I wander in the Twitter Analytics to look at the aftermath. There, you realize that even with a tiny following, you can reach a lot of people (At the present moment I have 450 followers, and 120,000 impressions.)
The good thing about Twitter is that there’s no filter: anyone can say anything they want, and sometimes you happen to produce something interesting, something that others needed without knowing it was there (that’s the essence of virality.)
The flip side of course is that you have to be mindful of what you say – what people call cancel culture is often the absence of an editor, or simply time to fine tune their message, to tell them they’re going too far. In the extreme, you get incendiary content that get amplified in weird ways by algorithms that are extremely good at hacking your dopamine pathways (here’s an excellent thread on that topic)
On Twitter, you also get to meet people you wouldn’t otherwise – people that are not in your existing network, but are expert and willing to help (you also realize that a lot of people you admire are on Twitter – or is it just the opposite?)Something I didn’t expect is that I would meet in real life people I got to know from Twitter, and some who are now lifelong friends. People with who you share affinity with and a common sense of purpose.I do like Twitter, and even though it has some similarities with drugs (I used to smoke cigarettes, and the urge to check Twitter whenever you’re idle is strangely similar), it is much better than most other social media. Somehow, they managed not to grow it too big, and it is still a very civil space from where I learn a lot.
The problem with Facebook is not *just* the loss of your privacy and the fact that it can be used as a totalitarian panopticon. The more worrying issue, in my opinion, is its use of digital information consumption as a psychological control vector. Time for a thread— François Chollet (@fchollet) March 21, 2018
Over the last month I conducted interviews with people from the Berkeley Lab meditation group that we started three years ago.
The meditation group is quite diverse, from members of the National Academy of science to postdocs to building project managers, and it was a blast to get to talk to them and learn about how they see things and what they enjoy! Continue reading
Liminary note: I am not a social scientist, but I try to educate myself about some issues facing academia, and this is the result of my inquiries. If you think some elements are incorrect or if you have good resources to share, please let me know!
Gender gaps in academia are pretty dire, and while it seems to get acknowledged and addressed, it’s not clear whether the root causes – especially social norms – are fully understood and can be solved. The paper Understanding persistent gender gaps in STEM (Science 368, 6497; June 2020, pdf) offers interesting statistics and insights.
The problem does not seem to be a difference in achievement, but social factors rather.Continue reading
(I owe this piece to a conversation with Laleh Coté – she’s doing an incredible job on STEM mentorship, and even in these difficult times, she documents her observations on how it impacts these efforts.)I’m always happy to mentor students, for it gives you a change to light a candle, but also forces you to explain things in a legible way – and if you can’t perhaps you don’t really understand things yourself.Berkeley Lab has a great program for interns, and it comes with some resources: WD&E Mentor Handbook (pdf)Because of the pandemic, all the summer internships have morphed into virtual internship. While everyone is still trying to figure out how to make it work best, some initial best practices where collected here: Virtual Remote Mentor Guide -DOE-SC-WDTS Programs- May 2020 (pdf)