October 11, 2007 |
The Air We Breathe By Andrea Barrett 297 pp. W.W. Norton. $25 Andrea Barrett is a lyrical novelist of the American past, giving life to pioneers in science with such resonance that even readers who wrestled mightily with chemistry come away entranced by her evocative accounts of discovery. The winner of a MacArthur fellowship and the National Book Award (for the 1996 short-story collection Ship Fever) and a Pulitzer finalist (for the 2003 Servants of the Map), Barrett is taken with an earlier time, when the country was much smaller and exploration - pushing boundaries in science, geography and knowledge - mattered far more than it does today.
November 17, 2006 |
Plays about science - especially physics - are a fascinating theatrical sub-species (Stoppard's Arcadia and Frayn's Copenhagen are among the finest). The problem is how to teach the audience all it needs to know while watching. QED, Peter Parnell's play about the great physicist and charismatic personality Richard Feynman, solves this problem with much charm, although finally the play is more about the man and his adventurous approach to life than it is about quantum electrodynamics (i.e.
June 21, 1987
The Supreme Court did the only thing it could have last week when it ruled unconstitutional a Louisiana law requiring that any public school that taught evolution must teach creationism as well. Creationism, or "creation science" as it is sometimes called, is based on the belief that the universe was created by God as set forth in the biblical account in Genesis. No matter how one sliced it or diced it, creationism is religious belief, and requiring that it be taught is a violation of the Constitution's requirement that there be a division between church and state.
March 6, 1987 |
School children blew through the old place like a spring storm, then suddenly left it quiet and still. No one and no thing seemed particularly bothered. The quills of an African porcupine stood on end as they have for more than 100 years. There were no feathers ruffled among the birds, all lifeless and twisted into life-like poises. Fish, locked away in antique cabinets, still appeared to swim out of water. Like a stubborn stone in a quick-running stream, the Wagner Free Institute of Science in North Philadelphia seems resistant to the forces that constantly move about it. Even time itself seems to have spared this Victorian-style hall at 17th Street and Montgomery Avenue of much of the burden of its advanced age. Set in a massive loft of a building modeled after the Jardin des Plantes museum in Paris, the Wagner Institute has become over the years a sort of museum of a museum.
January 24, 2013
Two local high school students have been chosen as finalists for the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search. Meghan Shea of West Chester, a senior at Unionville High School, and Jonah Kallenbach of Ambler, a senior at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, will travel to Washington in March with 38 other finalists for a weeklong competition. The event is a program of the Society for Science and the Public and is the oldest pre-college science contest in the nation. The top winner will receive $100,000.
July 10, 2007 |
All the universe is a stage for Neil deGrasse Tyson. The scientist and the showman fuse in the handsome, genial host of the PBS series Nova scienceNOW, a flashy, fast-paced show designed for younger viewers. Whether playing James Bond for a segment on cryptography or donning a black vest embroidered with gold suns and moons to deliver the program-ending commentary, Tyson takes the audience on a rocket ride across the scientific spectrum from anthropology to zoology. "All the sciences are fair game," Tyson, an astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium at New York's American Museum of Natural History, says in a phone interview.
January 25, 1987 |
West Deptford school officials soon will ask voters to approve a tax increase to pay for a $650,000 modernization of inadequate and outmoded science facilities at West Deptford High School. School Superintendent Charles McNally said projects that the voters would be asked to approve April 7, along with the annual school budget, included construction of a new wing with two biology labs and the merging of three rooms into two physics/chemistry labs. It was not known how much the modernization would cost township homeowners, but school board members estimated the tax increase at $33 a year, up from $765 to $798, for the owner of a house assessed at $50,000.
August 21, 2003 |
Distinguishing truth from fantasy has been a full-time occupation in Washington for generations. But even the most seasoned politician can be baffled by debates on the safety of smallpox vaccines, the potential of fuel-cell automobiles, stem-cell research, and hundreds of other issues that hinge on matters of science. The painful reality, however, is that Congress lacks an independent source of science and technological advice - one that can cut through the tangle of special-interest analysis and help lawmakers understand what's known, what's unknown and what's unknowable.
November 12, 1992 |
For a generation of students who grew up learning their ABCs from Big Bird, learning science from a textbook can be boring. That's why school science coordinator Monica Braconnier stresses hands-on learning through classroom science experiments. And when she had the chance to bring the magic of television's Mr. Wizard to St. Kevin's School in Springfield last week, she did. "Each grade in the school studies various lessons in energy, from conservation to mechanics, in science class," Braconnier said.
December 3, 2003 |
The moralizers are trying to muck with U.S. science again. A flurry of activity over the last few weeks has followed the effort of the Traditional Values Coalition, a right-wing religious group, to call into question almost 200 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants focusing on behavioral and social aspects of issues such as sexuality, HIV/AIDS transmission, and drug abuse. This incident could have been written off as noise by a fringe group had it not come almost on the heels of the near-passage in the House of Representatives last July of what came to be known as the "Toomey Amendment," after its author, Rep. Patrick Toomey (R., Pa.)