Registration Now Open for 2013 Sackler Colloquium: The Science of Science Communication

Fri, 07/12/2013 - 10:04am -- ajohnson

Climate change… evolution…the obesity crisis…nanotechnology: These are but a few of the scientific topics dominating the world stage today. Yet discourse surrounding these and other science-based issues is often overwhelmed by controversy and conflicting perceptions, hampering understanding and action.
On September 23-25, 2013, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) will host the Arthur M. Sackler colloquium on “The Science of Science Communication” to advance a national dialogue about the continuing challenges facing scientists, professional communicators, and the interested public as they seek to exchange information about science. Interested parties can register here to attend.
Presentations will explore such issues as the role of social networks in how information is disseminated and received; the formation of beliefs and attitudes leading to decisions and behaviors; and strategies for communicating science in a highly-charged, politicized environment. University of Pennsylvania Professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson will deliver a keynote address entitled “Responding to the Attack on the Best Available Evidence.”

Improving Health Literacy around the World

Fri, 07/12/2013 - 10:03am -- ajohnson

A new workshop summary from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) addresses opportunities for international research collaboration in the effort to improve health education in countries around the globe.
The report, “Health Literacy: Improving Health, Health Systems, and Health Policy Around the World - Workshop Summary,” summarizes presentations and discussions about health literacy interventions and other topics related to international health literacy. The term health literacy involves both the need for people to understand information that helps them maintain good health and the need for health systems to reduce their complexity.

July 11 is World Population Day

Wed, 07/10/2013 - 10:30am -- ajohnson

The global population ballooned from about 2.5 billion in 1950 to more than 7 billion in 2011. This growth has brought significant challenges for sustainability, agriculture, urbanization, sanitation, access to health care, and many other facets of modern life.
In 1989, the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme named July 11 as World Population Day—a day to focus attention on “the urgency and importance of population issues in the context of overall development plans and programmes and the need to find solutions for these issues.”
This year’s focus is on adolescent pregnancy. According to the UN, about 16 million girls under age 18 give birth each year. The UN sums up the goal of this year’s program this way: “On 2013 World Population Day, we raise awareness of the issue of adolescent pregnancy in the hopes of delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.”
Explore the visual footprint of the world’s growing populations and increasing urbanization through the Koshland Science Museum’s Lights At Night online exhibit. Or, consider the impact population growth has on climate change and our responses to it in our Earth Lab.

July 11: NAS Lecture on Ethics & Autonomous Combat Robots

Tue, 07/09/2013 - 8:43am -- ajohnson

Could an autonomous robot capable of lethal force ultimately be more humane in the battlefield than human soldiers? Ronald C. Arkin, Ph.D. will explore the consequences of weaponized robotic systems in a Distinctive Voices Lecture at the Jonsson Center in Woods Hole, MA on Thursday, July 11 at 7:00 p.m. 
The talk, titled People Behaving Badly, Robots Behaving Better? Embedding Ethics in Autonomous Combat Robots, will outline the philosophical basis, motivation, theory, and design recommendations for the implementation of an ethical control and reasoning system potentially suitable for constraining lethal actions in an autonomous robotic system so that they fall within the bounds prescribed by the Laws of War and Rules of Engagement. Ronald C. Arkin is Regents' Professor & Director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory at Georgia Institute of Technology.
Tickets are free but limited, and online reservations are required.

July 8: CPNAS Presents Doctor Faustus

Fri, 07/05/2013 - 8:25am -- ajohnson

Join Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences (CPNAS) and the Shakespeare Theatre Company for a free staged reading of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus on Monday, July 8 at 6:30 p.m.. The play, written in 1592, is based on the story of Faust, an alchemist who strikes up a deal with the devil in exchange for knowledge and power. Featuring Andrew Long as Faustus, Eric Hissom as Mephistopheles, Rick Foucheux as the Pope, and Tom Story as Robin.
This event is free and open to the public. Registration and photo ID are required.
Register here.

July 6: Celebrate Summer at the Koshland Science Museum

Wed, 07/03/2013 - 9:58am -- ajohnson

Celebrate summer with special hands-on science activities on Saturday, July 6th, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., at the Koshland Science Museum.

  • Heading to the beach? Find out how the ocean is changing. Using a plastic cup and mollusk shells, see how our actions impact the ocean.
  • Making new summer memories? Learn a series of visual techniques that will help you translate this summer’s get-togethers and events into memories that last a lifetime.
  • Planning a picnic? Think about portion size. Use everyday objects to determine whether you are eating proper portion sizes. Get tips for planning healthy meals and snacks, even when on the go. 

These activities are included at no cost with regular admission. Tour the exhibits to find out how small changes can make a difference for your health and our environment.


NAE Welcomes New President Dan Mote

Mon, 07/01/2013 - 1:34pm -- ajohnson

C.D. (Dan) Mote, Jr. became President of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) on July 1, 2013.
Dr. Mote has been an active member of the NAE and made valuable contributions to a number of National Research Council committees, including the NRC committee that authored the Rising Above the Gathering Storm reports of 2005 and 2010. Dr. Mote is also Regents Professor, on leave, at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he served as President from 1998 until 2010.
Dr. Mote will serve a six-year term as NAE President. The mission of the NAE is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology.

Report Calls for National Sustainability Policy

Fri, 06/28/2013 - 1:40pm -- ajohnson

How can the government best deal with the complex, long-term nature of sustainability challenges? According to a new National Research Council report, the United States should establish a National Sustainability Policy and take additional steps to encourage federal agencies to collaborate on sustainability challenges that demand the expertise of many agencies, such as improving disaster resilience and managing ecosystems.
The report finds that current statutes and government culture encourage agencies to focus on a single area -- energy, water, or health, for example -- with little attention to how areas affect one another.  This “stovepipe” or “silo” effect makes it difficult to address issues that cut across agency boundaries.  
The report recommends steps the government can take to build linkages among agencies and stakeholders outside government to address these challenges.  A National Sustainability Policy, developed with input from agencies, NGOs, and the private sector, could help surmount obstructions and enable initiatives that cut across agency jurisdictions. 
One of four priority areas the report identifies is strengthening the resilience of communities to catastrophic events. Starting in Fall 2013, the Koshland Science Museum will hold a series of public events exploring this theme.

IOM Discussion Paper Offers Consumers Insights on Health Insurance

Fri, 06/28/2013 - 1:38pm -- ajohnson

Authors of a new discussion paper published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) offer consumers a guide to answering four critical questions about health insurance: What are my choices for health insurance? How do I get it? How do I use it? How much will it cost me?  
In 2012, more than 45 million Americans lacked health insurance, a status that is associated with receiving less medical care and less timely care, having worse health outcomes, and facing greater fiscal burdens. The Affordable Care Act contains provisions designed to increase the number of insured in the United States, yet most Americans do not understand how the ACA will affect them and their options for health insurance.
The paper offers tools consumers and health care providers can use to begin a conversation about choosing and using a health insurance plan. These include:

Read the full discussion paper.

Report Calls on Engineers to Improve Image

Wed, 06/26/2013 - 9:01am -- ajohnson

A new report from the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) finds efforts by the engineering community to communicate to the public about the field have made progress, but much more can and should be done to improve the image of engineering.
Messaging for Engineering: From Research to Action looks at efforts by the engineering community to communicate more effectively about the profession and those who practice it. It builds on the 2008 NAE publication, Changing the Conversation: Messages for Improving Public Understanding of Engineering, which cast engineering as inherently creative and concerned with human welfare, as well as an emotionally satisfying calling.
The new report summarizes progress in communicating positive messages about engineering, but also recognizes the potential to galvanize additional action in the engineering community.
Engineering has allowed humans to achieve incredible feats. Explore groundbreaking drinking water treatment systems that have given billions of people access to clean drinking water in the Koshland Science Museum’s online exhibit, Safe Drinking Water is Essential.


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