sci-lit

independent.co.uk
Bill Nye's Netflix series to dispel 'anti-scientific claims espoused by politicians'
A new year is here, and a new set of Netflix originals are on the horizon. 2017 will see the return of beloved shows Stranger Things, House of Cards, Love and more, but also a brand new offering from Bill Nye that could do some very important work. Set to arrive in spring 2017, Bill Nye Saves the World’s premise sounds pretty squarely aimed at Donald Trump:

“Don’t call it a comeback; I’ve been here for years.”

#BillBillBill

“Now I know grief is a whetstone that sharpens all your love, all your happiest memories, into blades that tear you apart from within. Something has been torn out from inside me that will never be filled up, not ever, no matter how long I live. They say “time heals,” but even now, less than a week after my father’s death, I know that’s a lie. What people really mean is that eventually you’ll get used to the pain. You’ll forget who you were without it; you’ll forget what you looked like without your scars.”

Claudia Gray, A Thousand Pieces of You

There were so many different ways in which you were required to provide absolute proof of your identity these days that life could easily become extremely tiresome just from that factor alone, never mind the deeper existential problems of trying to function as a coherent consciousness in an epistemologically ambiguous physical universe.
—  Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless

“All of the books in the world contain no more information than is broadcast as video in a single large American city in a single year. Not all bits have equal value.”
– Carl Sagan

Critical thinking and the daily practice of routine, healthy skepticism are just as pertinent to the exploration of knowledge archived in libraries as is required while perusing the internet. It’s necessary to understand this before embarking on ones personal journey of curiosity so to not be led astray from truth by charlatans whose motive is to deceive or dissuade from the evidence counter to their end goal.

An understanding of how the natural world works – underpinned by physical laws – bolsters ones awareness of the environment responsible for the existence of the mechanisms of the universe itself. This disciplined commitment of intellectual honesty is the safeguard against others – individual or collective – whom forgo dignity and integrity toward personal gain; or the influence of some special (corrupt) interests, fueled by a strategy of manipulation to engage, captivate, and exploit the ignorance of others.

We live amidst a jungle of entrapment and wonder. Navigating through the brush and recognizing the traps set before us are key to our survival as well as our ability to learn more about the world with which the jungle thrives.

A word about AP scores

As many of you have gotten/are about toget AP scores back, I want to remind everyone of a few things:

-The AP program is meant to provide students with the opportunity to learn college-level material while still in high school. To a college, the AP scores of an incoming freshman serve as the ability to place out of introductory classes. That’s it. It’s just a kind of placement test, nothing more. That being said, don’t despair if you didn’t do as well on an AP as you had hoped. All that means is you might need to take one more class in college. You’re not a lesser person if you got a bad score on an AP.

-The AP program is weirdly focused and structured so even if you do good/bad on a specific subject you might have a completely different experience with it in college, and that’s okay.

-If you’re not a senior and plan on sending your scores to colleges as part of the application process, don’t worry either. You might not want to send them a really low score, but in regards to the application process what colleges mostly look at is the fact that you took the class at all (”rigor of schedule” is what many schools like to call it). Colleges also look at so many other factors that a good or bad score might not even make a difference, and that’s okay.

-Everyone has their bad days and there are hundreds of reasons why you might not have gotten the score you wanted. Don’t dwell on it. You also don’t know how close/far away you were from the thresholds to each score, so don’t sweat it.

-On the flip side, a 5 doesn’t mean you’re god’s gift to humanity. By all means be proud of your accomplishments, but remember to stay humble. College will be a huge transition for everyone; the fact that you got a 5 on x AP won’t matter when you’re sitting in your college classes.

Regardless of the score you got, you made it through the year and the test and I’m proud of all of you–you should be too.

Korreras was a planet, in her mind, that was beautiful just the way it was. It was full of water and beautiful geography completely untouched by the hands of man. It was full of spires and red mountains that turned sandy white and sea-foam green along the edges of the water.

It was full of partial clouds drifting as freely and aimlessly as they liked, and one could always see its two sister planets Konna and Kova drifting around the planet, as if dancing around each other like a free spirited trinity of young girls. 

Korreras seemed to be filled with music solely related to the sounds of nature. The ripples across the oceans, trickles of springs and cascading rivers, the shift of loose dirt carrying down the mountain side by playfully bullish winds… 

It was a truly untamed planet, more so than even Earth. Because it seemed to be devoid of intelligent life - a planet still nurturing what would become ancient organisms that had yet to mature and evolve into new species of life. 

And to her, she thought that was beautiful. It was still an unspoiled planet, a young mother of life - and she couldn’t stand to think of someone prematurely spoiling this place. There was a certain beauty to things untouched that should be preserved up to the very last second.

That’s why when home base radioed her through her helmet asking for an update on the potential of Korreras as the next human stop shop, she so ruefully reported the planet was completely unfit to sustain life and was full of unknown chemical toxins in the air. 

It wouldn’t stop further investigations from eventually coming to Korreras again - no, it wouldn’t stop the furtherment of mankind… But eventually still wasn’t today. Eventually meant that Korreras still had time to grow, evolve, and remained yet untouched. Eventually meant that Korreras… 

Still had an unspoiled tomorrow.

The health of our global citizenry is not a partisan subject. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what Repubs or Dems want, or even what you or I ‘think’ we want; rather, it’s about what we need, based on empirical, evidence-based decision making by which the data reveal to be the most accurate path to sustainability.

Led by the men and women on the forefront of medical research across an array of fields: biology, meteorology, genetics, genomics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, physiology, neuroscience, psychology, climatology, oceanography, ecology, biodiversity, agriculture, planetary science, geophysics, anthropology, paleontology, economics…the list of related concentrations pertaining to the health and survival of life necessary amongst the diverse family thriving in this biosphere are contributing to the information needed to address tomorrow.

Yet, Carl Sagan’s words still, hauntingly, ring true for our society in its present condition:

“We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”

He followed by rhetorically postulating, “Who is making the decisions about science and technology in a democracy where no one understands anything about science and technology?”

Make no mistake – understanding how the world works at the fundamental level is not only liberating and exciting, it’s crucial in order to safeguard one’s intellect from being able to determine fact from fiction. And when arguments from authority are presented or asserted in a reactionary way, a continuously refined skepticism and knowledge of science (pertaining to and incorporating a global view of our society) will prevent us from being lied to so that we may hold said authority accountable. With persistence, we will appoint authority figures to positions of influence whom are scientifically literate themselves; that is, if artificial intelligence doesn’t step in and fill these roles for us to correct for human error.

To this end, I find it disturbing that the health and sustainability of our society has become so politicized and polarized to ad nauseam, moving beyond simple hypocrisy. Complaining about our imperfect healthcare system while pushing for environmental deregulation and, simultaneously, a resurgence of fossil fuels, is not hypocritical; it’s ignorance. Madness. And it’s betraying the very biosphere which enabled our existence, and enables it still.

—  @sagansense
Of course schools should be required to teach evolution as the underpinning of biology, the same way geology wouldn’t be taught without learning about tectonic plates; or chemistry without the periodic table of elements. The only reason this remains such an issue of debate in America is because ‘religious freedom’ has become the ‘anything goes’ scapegoat to cry oppression or persecution; and simultaneously, those in positions of influence on school boards have pushed through legislation implementing negatively disruptive ideology (see: Creationism, Intelligent Design) into the curriculum for upcoming generations. And with the advent of the internet, those who would otherwise be perched on soap boxes to preach their chosen gospel have access to a viral megaphone for the world to hear; injecting pseudoscience and unscientific theology into the digital stream of human consciousness without impunity. When personal computers were introduced into schools, computing classes involved the teaching of elementary programs and basic computer language, rather than how to properly, safely, navigate the internet. The American education system failed the public generations over by excluding curriculum solely focused on critical thinking and healthy skepticism. Thus, scientific literacy became a niche, chess-club-elective only reserved for those with whom it came “naturally” without illuminating its purpose to all as a method and tool for everyday survival. Now, we have rampant religious extremism masquerading as political lenience; casual racism and sexism passed off as “straight talk”; runaway corruption as “business as usual”; bully pulpit “news” forums posing as intellectual discourse; voracious and unwavering science denial regarding meticulous research, accessible evidence, and an overwhelming consensus; and yes, harmful religious ideology determined to place a distracting wedge of doubt into a scientific subject for all the wrong reasons, and without an iota of research to support it.
—  @sagansense

BIG NEWS about ILLUMINAE announced in the Hollywood Reporter! Yup, looks like this @firstinlinereaders​ title is headed to the big screen- and Brad Pitt and the Warner Bros Team are involved! Check out the full article here. #FirstInLine @misterkristoff @amiekaufman @hollywoodreporter

Reblog with a crazy thing you've written on an AP exam frq.

Don’t say anything too specific though cuz the collegeboard will get ya.
I’ll just start by saying I took four this year and the last question of the last exam was just idk.idk.idk.idk. So I said something to the effect of “I have no idea and honestly I don’t care anymore”.

Amber

The amber light of the bar played in her dark hair. Wrapped in carmine, one long leg draped over the other.

He approached her.

With a chuckle at his introduction, she replied: “No, you are not alone. I am here for you”.

He thought it reassuring.

After a few rehearsed, yet lamely delivered lines, she finally spoke again: “Yes, you are right. I am not like other girls. I am here for you”.

He asked if she would show him what that meant.

A short drive later, she opened herself to him and said: “I am here for you”.

He screamed.

The amber light of its eyes glimmered in the dark house. Covered in carmine, it hissed: “I am not like other girls”.