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View Diary: Why We Need to Monitor Volcanoes in the US (189 comments)

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  •  My grandfather's town was close to Mt. Etna. They (8+ / 0-)

    were farmers: olives, hazelnuts, lemons, figs,...

    I wish I could go there and see it, too.  Some day when the economy is better, I hope to travel and see the Pacific Northwest as well.

    There are so many beautiful places on this earth, but the people in power are blind and ignorant.  They spend trillions on wars based on lies that destroy lives, even lives unborn due to the damage they do with depleted uranium.  Jindal doesn't question that spending, though.

    Bobby Jindal is a prime example of why we need better science education in America.  

    Information is the currency of democracy. ~Thomas Jefferson

    by CIndyCasella on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 07:41:32 AM PST

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    •  Jindal's comment was right up there with Palin (8+ / 0-)

      scoffing at spending research dollars on (gasp) fruit flies.

      Sure, fruit flies may sound silly, but they, with E.coli, are of giants of what scientists call model systems (and to lesser extents, the same is true of yeast and mice). Fast generation times, easy to study in quantity, easy to induce and study mutations, and researched for so long that there's a foundation of knowledge that facilitates further study. There is a vast amount of knowledge of genetics and basic molecular biology that comes from fruit flies, without which we would know very little about how these things work in humans and other higher species. The details don't all correspond directly, there are differences, but the basics are pretty darn similar, and provide a starting point for looking at "higher" species.

      This is some of the basic research that makes applied research possible, and that's something that general science education at lower levels should be conveying, and at its best, does. I believe that greater scientific understanding of the world is worthwhile for its own sake (like art or music), but is also has a role in what people consider to be "useful" applications, like understanding and treating human disease.

      Yes, there is some bad science out there, but some of the things that superficially sound silly really aren't.

      The volcano remarks are even more astounding, because it's an even more obvious leap for laymen to grasp why it's important to us than the fruit fly thing, which was a personal outrage to me as a former molecular biologist. (who, yes, worked with both fruit flies and E. coli).

      Public funding for universities, research, libraries, etc., is the reason that people from other countries have come in such great numbers to the US to study. It would be an incredibly sad self-inflicted wound to lose that position in the world, but some forces in this country sure do seem to want to go that direction.

      •  Well she is against the science of evolution, and (4+ / 0-)

        fruit flies are one of our most favorite analogs for studying evolution, because we can grow so many generations due to their short lifespans.

        So there are lots of reasons to attack fruit fly studies.

        I remember when the GOP attacked the Shrimp on conveyer belts--like a jogging machine. It was used to simulate migratory journeys so that Scientists could study the health affects and resiliency of crustaceans in polluted waters.

        But all GOPers could see were Shrimp on Jogging Machines--not deep thinkers. An imaginative person would at least ponder the why.

        Why would this study be important?

        We eat tons of shrimp and other crustaceans globally, so it's a multibillion dollar industry for starters.

        It's a bell weather with regards to our fisheries, since a lot of fish eat krill and shrimp as well--crustaceans being one of the species in the base of the oceanic food chain.

        And it lets us know how bad, bad is, in terms of pollutants, of which there are many in our waters.

        If I face palmed myself for every dumb thing uttered from that side of the aisle, I would have a permanent dent in my head.

        •  interesting about the shrimp study (5+ / 0-)

          I hadn't heard about that one. Really illustrates the point perfectly, doesn't it, that some research that sounds silly on the surface really isn't. Excellent explanation and defense in your post. Given that there is peer review and a lot of competition for research grants, truly silly stuff tends to get weeded out.

          •  Don't forget the IgNobel Awards in Science (4+ / 0-)

            Some of the questions that need to be asked seem silly or uncomfortable, and cause giggling to happen, but providing a solid conclusion one way or the other, still pushes the collective knowledge of our species forward, and silly or not, will help other studies go even further.

            You can read more about here.

            I turn myself inside out laughing at this stuff every year, when it's broadcast on Science Friday at NPR.

          •  Another "silly on the surface" bit of science (6+ / 0-)

            The observation that female mosquitoes and flies (at least most of them, I think) mate only once in their lives seems pretty silly.  (The female stores the sperm, and can fertilize all the eggs she ever makes from that one supply.)
            The obvious silly comment is 'what a dull sex life'.  But that observation is the basis of the program that has successfully eradicated screwworms from the USA, Mexico, and much of Central America.
            Males are raised, sterilized, and released.  Every female that mates with a sterile male is sterilized for life.
            Screwworms lay their eggs in cuts on livestock and humans.  The larve hatch and feed on the host's flesh.  They were a significant source of disease in cattle, and can cause fatalities.  
            Do we want flesh-eating fly larve around, or do we want to pay for some science even if we don't immediately see the point of it?

            We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

            by david78209 on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:29:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

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