Tag Archives: Cassini

June 8th birthday shout-out

9 Jun
birthday cake, copyright iStockphoto.com/MarcusPhoto1

birthday cake, copyright iStockphoto.com/MarcusPhoto1

I decided that in honor of my own birthday, I’d see which scientists also blew out candles on this spot on the calendar. (Okay, so I guess it’s a day late.)

My cosmic alignment is pretty distinguished. Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the DNA double helix was born on June 8, 1916. I also share a birthday with Giovanni Domenico Cassini, the Italian astronomer who co-discovered Jupiter’s Red Spot back in the 17th century. Yes, all those Cassini space missions are named for him.

But those aren’t the only distinguished scientist birthdays this week. For all of you June 11th babies, you share your day with Jacques Cousteau.

Update on June 10th- I initially missed a big scientist birthday this week. The biologist E. O. Wilson celebrates his 80th birthday today!

The Webbys of Science

5 May

Daily blogging this month made for an excellent excuse to browse the 2009 Webby nominees and winners.

The science nominees included Nature, Scientific American, and Wired Science. As a science journalist, these three are already on my regular web diet, so I didn’t feel the need to take a closer look.

The Webby winner, NASA JPL’s Cassini site, has been redesigned since I last looked at it. It’s visually stunning, smooth and intuitive, with beautiful graphics and clear explanatory information. And, honestly, I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t think that Saturn and its rings are cool.

But, my favorite is another nominee, The Exploratorium’s Evidence: How do we know what we know?. This site completely blew me away with it’s explanatory clarity, its beauty, and its ability to boil the tough topic of how scientific evidence works into a clear set of questions and a process. It’s interactive– it lets participants map how they gather and weigh evidence, and it illustrates a great scientific question, the origin of human beings. It brings the best of the Exploratorium‘s interactive approach to understanding science to the web.

The beauty of science is that evidence isn’t static: scientists are constantly making new discoveries and shifting their notions of what data means based on the greater context of available information. That intellectual give and take is the life-blood and culture of science. How science works, a series of questions illustrates the scientific method in the clearest, most intuitive way that I’ve ever seen.

I often have a conflicted relationship with scientific information on the internet (she says, ironically, as she writes about science on the web). I love that I have access to so much information so easily, and the internet makes my job possible. I’m also frightened by the massive amounts of inaccurate, outdated or even misleading information that I sometimes find on websites and blogs.

However, scientific information presented this well on the internet is a true masterpiece. Congratulations Science Webby nominees and winners!