News: AAAS 2009 Annual Meeting News
Where some might expect him to inhabit a rarefied world of equations and white lab coats, he is down-to-earth, plain-spoken, and self-effacing. Though he knows some of the world's most accomplished scientists and advised President Barack Obama during last fall's campaign, he is eager to talk about the teachers and clergy who were influential as he grew up in small-town Minnesota. And though his biomedical research solved one of the enduring mysteries of how cells work, he got a D in chemistry during his senior year of high school because, he says now, he was preoccupied with skiing and girls.
Such character markers prompted one admiring colleague to call Agre "the people's laureate." And in an interview last month as he prepared to assume the presidency of AAAS, his heartland values were evident as stressed the need for scientists to engage in their communities--in schools, local politics, and other venues--to share and convey the practical benefits that research brings to our lives.
Huang is a senior faculty associate in biology at the California Institute of Technology, where she was previously a senior councilor for external relations. She comes to the AAAS presidency as past president of the American Society for Microbiology and past dean for science at New York University. A member of several scientific advisory boards, Huang has also consulted on science policy for government agencies in Singapore, Taiwan, and China.
Learn more about Alice S. Huang and see a list of others recently elected to AAAS offices.
In an episode of Science Podcast, host Robert Frederick talks with Ekman and other scholars of human and animal emotion who spoke at a symposium during the AAAS Annual Meeting.
A central line of thinking: By studying the complex emotions of apes--their happiness, fear, and even grief--we can see how emotions served as a crucial platform for human evolution. But here's an interesting thing that set humans apart: We can regulate our emotions, and our brain circuitry, by writing about our feelings.
Listen to the full report on Science Podcast.
Reporters and bloggers from U.S. online publications are a growing presence at the AAAS Annual Meeting, which typically attracts hundreds of reporters from all over the globe for its five-day festival of science news. But according to a new story in the influential Columbia Journalism Review, this year's meeting was striking for the number of mainline U.S. newspapers and broadcast outlets that had little or no presence in Chicago.
Author Cristine Russell, who attended the meeting,
noted that the Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence-Press France
there as usual, as was a large contingent of reporters from the U.K.,
Australia, and other international publications. Indeed, Russell noted a
strong sense of optimism about science coverage in Europe and
developing regions overseas.
But, she wrote: "The rapidly failing fortunes of the American print media, and
specialty science reporting in particular, provided an underlying sense
of gloom and doom [among reporters] at the annual science gathering." It's an important story not just for science journalists, but for anyone who cares about the status of science and engineering in American culture.
Alan Boss, a staff scientist with the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a AAAS podcast that, given the billions upon billions of stars in the universe, it's "inevitable that Earth-like planets are out there."
Also inevitable: That story got extensive news media pick-up in the U.S. and overseas.
But at a different symposium, Irene Klotz of the Discovery Channel came away with a counterintuitive take: "No need to leave the planet to look for alien life--perhaps it's here, in peaceful coexistence with or complete isolation from the standard variety that permeates Earth."
UPDATE: Listen to Robert Fredericks' story on nanofoods at Science Podcast.
Caltech economist Colin Cramerer, speaking at the 2009 AAAS Annual Meeting, said his field is embracing the tools of psychology. It is moving away from the classical models that assume people acting in optimal ways and toward models that can explain why people make choices that seem irrational.
Doom and gloom has become such a standard refrain when discussing the state of ocean ecosystems that it's easy to forget that real progress is being made.
Professor Jeremy B. C. Jackson of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, presented research during the 2009 AAAS Annual Meeting that showed Pacific coral reefs protected from fishing and pollution appear to be most resistant to the effects of climate change.
Filing from Chicago, Associated Press correspondent Randolph Schmid wrote that Jackson is encouraged by former President George W. Bush's new marine monument estblishing protected areas in the Pacific, as well as by conservation language from President Barack Obama.
"It's going to take a while, because this is a serious business, but the commitment is there in this administration," Jackson said.
Michael Boor says he needed a fierce work ethic for
sunrise chores on his family's dairy farm in
Last summer, Boor, who is in his second year at
Boor secured his internship though a pioneering AAAS program, ENTRY POINT!, which connects talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students who have disabilities with employers from around the country.
Nanofood for Healthier Living?, a symposium. 9:15-10:45 a.m., Grand Ballroom B.
New Computing Platforms for Data-Intensive Science, a symposium. 9:15-10:45 a.m. Columbus GH.
Casting New Light on Ancient Secrets, a symposium. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Grand Ballroom C North.
Celebrating Darwin at 200: Explaining How Human Morality Evolved, a symposium. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Grand Ballroom A.
Global Sea Level Rise: Observation, Causes, and Prediction, a symposium. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Columbus IJ
Origins and Endings: From the Beginning to the End of the Universe, a symposium. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Columbus KL
The Science of Arms Control, a symposium. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Columbus AB.
Adulteration, Counterfeiting, and Smuggling: How Safe is Our Imported Food?, a symposium, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Grand Ballroom B.
For more events, see the online day planner or check your program book.
One especially interesting note: Most of the Neandertals died before 30. More recent fossil findings, from about 30,000 years ago, suggest a much higher proportion of older adults in the culture. "Older adults can care for and transmit culture to the young," Culotta writes, "and more adults means a larger population, which most researchers agree spurs cultural innovation."
According to researchers at AAAS Annual Meeting, the increased life span may help explain the explosion of artistic creativity in the Upper Paleolithic period.
At the Findings blog, you can also read how climate change may encourage the spread of malaria, about the prospects for U.S. endangered species, and more.
Patricelli, an assistant professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California at Davis, says in a new episode of Science Update that the research is shedding light on why "the male sage grouse need not only a big flashy display, but also the ability to use it appropriately" when courting a female.
After you listen to Bob Hirshon on Science Update, there's another Patricelli podcast after the jump, along with some insights gleaned by others reporters at the Annual Meeting.
But the stories are real, and speakers in a symposium at the 2009 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago said such headlines may become more common if immediate actions are not taken to improve the quality and supply of reliable agriculture in the world's poorest nations.
But the assumption may be wrong, according to research discussed at the AAAS Annual Meeting. The Associated Press cited Edward A. Wasserman, an experimental psychologist at the University of Iowa, and wrote: "Monkeys perform mental math, pigeons can select the picture that doesn't belong. [And] humans may not be the only animals that plan for the future."
It's a story with near-universal appeal--and in one form or another it was picked up from Dublin to Detroit and L.A. In Brazil, the AP story ran on Estadao.com under the headline "Cientistas dizem que alguns animais planejam o futuro." Even American Buddhist Net sampled it.
In an interview with Science Podcast, Rutgers University anthroplogist Helen Fisher explains what she's learned in research that includes putting more than four dozen "madly in love" people through fMRI brain scans. Fisher's conclusion: Homo sapiens has three brain systems for mating and reproduction: the sex drive, the passion of being in love, and attachment.
"Kissing," she says, "evolved as an all-purpose mechanism that could stimulate any one or all of these three."
To get the chemical details, listen to her interview with Robert Frederick, host of Science Podcast.
Christopher Field, a member of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), blames an unexpected surge of greenhouse gas emissions between 2000 and 2007. Field told reporters that future warming "will be beyond anything" predicted earlier, and his briefing at the AAAS Annual Meeting was widely picked up in U.S. and European news reports.
In a story on page 3 of Sunday's Washington Post, Kari Lyderson explained the feedback loops that appear to be driving accelerated change. Quoting Field: "It's a vicious cycle of feedback where warming causes the release of carbon from permafrost, which causes more warming, which causes more release from permafrost."
The story also was picked up by KQED in San Francisco; the Telegraph in London, and Reuters, among others.
UDATED: Watch a video of Susan W. Kieffer's address.
Studying Vertebrate Genomes: Reading Evolution's Notebooks, a symposium. 8:30-10:00 a.m., Hyatt Regency, Regency Ballroom A.
Quest for the Perfect Liquid: Connecting Heavy Ions, String Theory, and Cold Atoms, a symposium. 10:30 a.m.-noon. Hyatt Regency, Regency Ballroom C.
Family Science Days/Meet the Scientists, a free special event open to the public. 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Hyatt Regency, Riverside Center.
Amory B. Lovins, Profitable Solutions to the Oil, Climate, and Proliferation Problems, topical lecture. 12:30-1:15 p.m., Hyatt Regency, Crystal Ballroom B.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The New Battle for Veterans, a symposium. 1:30-3:00 p.m. Hyatt Regency, Columbus CD.
Solutions for Resuscitating Dead Zones: From Chicago to the Gulf of Mexico and Beyond, a symposium. 1:30-4:30 p.m. Hyatt Regency, Columbus IJ.
Svante Pääbo, A Neandertal Perspective on Human Origins, plenary lecture, free and open to the public. 6:30-7:30 p.m. Fairmont Hotel, Imperial Ballroom.
For more details and more events, check the daily online schedule or your program book.
On a special weekend podcast of Science Update, the AAAS radio show, hosts Bob Hirshon and Susanne Bard follow that question wherever it leads. And they also offer a fresh take on other stories emerging from the Annual Meeting in Chicago: How mosquitos woo. How scientists are using robots to study bird courtship. And Charles Darwin's 200th birthday.
Here's one thing you can't do at Family Science Days: get bored.
Among Sunday's highlights: presentations on
peregrine falcons, x-ray vision, the connections between hip-hop and
math, and dancing with a droid. It's free, and open to the public.
Climate change is a prime concern at this year's AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago, but a crew of top Science writers and editors is casting a wide net. Compounds derived from marine sponges that may be able to undermine the toughest bacteria. The prospects for U.S.-North Korea science cooperation. The engineering applications of origami.
Check it out in Findings.
In an impassioned address to an overflow crowd of 3000 at the AAAS Annual Meeting, Gore welcomed the recent political transition in Washington, D.C., and the public's rising concern about climate change. But, he said, the knowledge and wisdom of scientists is needed at every level of the political process to press for a broad shift to renewable energy over the next 10 years.
"We do have the capacity to make this generation one of those generations thatchanges the course of humankind," he said. The audience responded with a sustained standing ovation.
UPDATE: Watch the video of Al Gore's special invited address to AAAS.
There was such a grant for a few years earlier in this decade, and it yielded impressive results: Not just joint projects, but more papers published with multi-national authors. The small grants also opened the door to much larger research grants.
New research on the Women's International Scientific Cooperation grants was presented today at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago, during the annual Women and Minorities in Science Networking Breakfast.
Agre will assume the AAAS presidency next week, after the close of the Annual Meeting in Chicago. He noted that 49 U.S. states are represented at this year's meeting, but as a native Minnesotan, he'd like to bring in some scientists from North Dakota, which is not represented, and from other heartland states.
Agre also talked about national science priorities and the impact of the global financial meltdown. To hear more, listen to Science Podcast.
Adult Stem Cells: From Scientific Process to Patient Benefit. 8:30-10:00 a.m., Hyatt Regency Grand Ballroom D North.
The Science of Kissing, a scientific symposium. 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Hyatt Regency Columbus CD.
The Grid, the Cloud, Sensor Nets, and the Future of Computing, a symposium. 10:30 a.m.-noon. Hyatt Regency Grand Ballroom B.
Lene Vestgergaard Hau, Wizardry with Light: Freeze, Teleport, and Go!, a topical lecture.12:30-1:15 p.m. Hyatt Regency, Crystal Ballroom A.
2009 John P. McGovern Lecture in the Behavioral Sciences: Elizabeth Loftus, Illusions and Delusions of Memory. 12:30-1:15 p.m. Hyatt Regency, Regency Ballroom A.
Origin and Evolution of Planets. 1:30-4:30 p.m. Hyatt Regency, Regency Ballroom C.
Susan W. Keiffer, Celebrating the Earth: Its Past, Our Present, a Future?, plenary lecture. 6:30-7:30 p.m. Fairmont Hotel, Imperial Ballroom.
For more information, check the online program planner or your program book.
And with the traditional media bedevilled by shrinking circulation, severe cutbacks and plagiarism scandals, many climate researchers and reporters are looking for the best way forward toward public education.
An option recommended by one panelist: "hyper-local" reporting, with local news media exploring in detail the impact of climate change in every city and town.
Americans know how to personalize just about everything. Want to listen to your favorite song? Just download it onto your MP3 player. Black and gold hightops? Log on to the right Web site and design them yourself. A cheeseburger hold the pickles? Swing by your local fast food joint and it's made to order.
What's his solution? A cheap, at-home water-splitting machine.
After an hour-long pre-Valentine's Day briefing on the science of kissing, many reporters came away with a vision of kissing as a snapshot of evolution in action.
"Researchers believe that the touching of lips is a 'biological' quality-control strategy for 'mate assessment' which has evolved over millions of years, wrote Richard Alleyne, science correspondent for the U.K.-based Telegraph. "It also triggers certain hormones that reduce stress, increase attachment between a couple and increases the sex drive."
Update: Hear a report by Science Update, the daily 60-second radio show from AAAS.
Ungar, a researcher at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, sees a relatively simple problem: We don't eat today what our distant ancestors evolved to eat. The research is interesting, but the implications are troubling for human health.
Listen to Science Update's first report from the AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago.
In his presidential address to the AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago, McCarthy offered a grim look at the dramatic--and perhaps irreversible--climate impacts caused by greenhouse gasses in Earth's atmosphere. But all is not hopeless. Writes Grimm: "McCarthy noted that there is more than one future ahead of us, depending on the path we chose. He has hope that, even if we can't stop emitting CO2, we may be able to mitigate its effects via geoengineering. And he's cheered by recent political trends."
Basic Research for Global Energy Security: A Call to Action, a symposium. 8:30-11:30 a.m., Hyatt Regency Grand Ballroom F.
The Central Role of International Scientific Cooperation in Meeting Global Challenges, a topical lecture panel featuring AAAS President James J. McCarthy; Lord Martin Rees, author and president of the Royal Society; and József Pálinkás, president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Noon-1:15 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency Crystal Ballroom A.
Harnessing the Sun and Oceans to Meet the World's Energy Demands, topical lecture by Daniel G. Nocera, professor of energy and chemistry at MIT. 12:30 to 1:15 p.m., Hyatt Regency, Crystal Ballroom B.
Science and Technology Policies and the Changing Global Economy, a symposium. 1:30-3:00 p.m., Hyatt Regency Columbus Hall KL.
Forum for School Science, a special session. 1:30-5:00 p.m., Hyatt Regency Columbus Hall IJ.
The Origin of the Human Species, a seminar. 1:30-4:30 p.m., Hyatt Regency, Crystal Ballroom B.
Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species, a plenary address by author and molecular biologist Sean B. Carroll. 4:30-5:30 p.m., Fairmont Hotel, Imperial Ballroom.
The Honorable Albert Arnold Gore Jr., former U.S. vice president and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner, will deliver a special invited address to registrants for the AAAS Annual Meeting and American Association of Physics Teachers winter conference. 6:30 p.m.
When humans switched from foraging to agriculture, that "greatly decreased the range of foods that we consume," says Peter Ungar, a professor of anthropology at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. "...The typical American diet is mostly processed flour, fat, and occasionally people throw some tomato sauce on top of it."
In Ungar's view, that is not an ideal menu. Richard Alleyne in the Telegraph and Ian Sample in the Guardian picked up the story and gave their readers interesting insight into the evolution of the human diet.
Several dozen scientists, from all over the world, using YouTube to sing happy birthday to Charles Darwin, who would've turned 200 today. Past AAAS Presidents Peter H. Raven and Francisco J. Ayala were among those to join the greeting--Ayala with a dignified "¡Feliz cumpleaños!"
AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner, who serves also as executive publisher of Science, delivered this greeting: "We're delighted you were born--you've certainly evolved our view of life and how it came about."
The YouTube birthday card for Darwin was produced by the Society for the Study of Evolution. Check it out.
The Science blog, Findings, has a great account of the new research.
Update: BBC's James Morgan has picked up the story, too.
UPDATE: National Public Radio and Deutsche Welle have picked up the story, too.
No surprise: The museum's Chilean rose hair tarantulas and Madagascar hissing cockroaches helped engage the kids, too.
That creative insight, expressed in an essay, won Pierno top prize in the 2009 AAAS/Subaru Essay Writing Competition. Four other teachers also were honored for their essays on designing science lesson plans and using technology in the classroom.
He'll be one of the speakers at a symposium on Monday morning--"Origins and Endings: From the Beginning to the End of the Universe." That's from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, in Columbus Hall KL.
Alexis Madrigal at the Wired Science blog has a nice advance look at Krauss' ideas.
A special Forum for Sustainability Science Programs will look at the challenges confronting universities as the attempt to meet a growing need for sustainability research--curriculum development, linking science to decision-making, and funding. 1:00-6:00 p.m., Hyatt Regency, Ballroom A.
The third annual Canada Reception, focused on "the Canadian way" of pursuing international partnerships and collaboration. 5:00-6:30 p.m., Hyatt Regency, Crystal Ballroom C.
The annual AAAS President's Address features AAAS President James J. McCarthy, the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography at Harvard University. The event is free and open to the public. 6:30 p.m., Fairmont Hotel International Ballroom.
For more information, check the online program planner or look at your program book.
The Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology: Kenneth R. Miller, a biology professor at Brown University.
The International Scientific Cooperation Award: Ambassador Thomas Pickering.
The Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement: Percy A. Pierre, vice president and professor emeritus of electrical & computer engineering at Michigan State University.
The Mentor Award: Sylvia T. Bozeman, professor of mathematics at Spelman College in Atlanta.
The Newcomb Cleveland Prize: Team members Anoop Kumar, James W. Godwin, Phillip B. Gates, and Jeremy P. Brockes of University College London; A. Acely Garza-Garcia of the U.K.'s National Institute for Medical Research.
The Philip Hauge Abelson Prize: Richard A. Meserve, president of the Carnegie Institution for Science.
The Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award: Drummond Rennie, M.D., journal editor and educator.
At Family Science Days this weekend, you can fly a kite indoors and meet a hip-hop mathematician. At lectures and speeches, you can learn about climate change, evolution, space exploration, high-energy physics, and other issues that are among the most fascinating of our time.
Five South American journalists are arriving in Chicago for the 2009
Annual Meeting under a fellowship program organized by
EurekAlert!, the global science news service operated by AAAS and
sponsored by Elsevir.
Last year, fellowship recipients came from the Middle East. In 2007, they came from China.
McCarthy, the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography at Harvard University, presides from 12-16 February over America's largest general scientific conference. It is expected to draw up to 10,000 scientists, policymakers, educators, communicators from 60 nations gather to Chicago for the 175th AAAS Annual Meeting.
For five days, strategies for leveraging science and technology to help solve pressing world problems will take center stage.