Mendeley Brainstorm – Science and Politics – We Have a Winner!

When politics and science collide, is it time to go on the march?

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to Science and Politics; picking a winner given the well thought out answers was particularly difficult this time, however in the end, we selected Isaac Alcón Rovira’s post:

To me the problem is a bit deeper. I think something that must change in science today is the capacity to reach people who is out of science. By “reaching” I mean being able to transmit what science is. Out of the scientific world, people have no idea what science is, and I believe that if everyone would have a scientific point of view (even not being a scientist at all) that would be very beneficial in their life in many senses. However, scientists, at the moment, have not idea about how to transmit science. In fact, to all conferences that I have been so far (not many, but some) around 80% of talks have been so opaque that I have not got more than a glimpse of what that person tries to achieve with his/her research. As a consequence, I come back home with the feeling I have wasted 80% of my time. Now, if scientists are not able to fully transmit, even to the colleges of their own field, their research, then, let’s forget about transmitting our science to the rest of the world, to people who are not familiar with what an atom, or a molecule, is (now thinking in Chemistry, of course).

In my opinion, the day scientists are capable of transmitting what science is to the rest of the world, we will get the power to reach people, to touch people and, eventually, to move people. That day, probably, we will not really care what politics do or whether they believe in science or not, because 80% of people will do care of science, and that will be far enough.

Isaac is a PhD student at the Universitat de Barcelona, He wrote:

My research is not about communication skills, or politics, I am a chemist and I am designing 2D materials for possible future applications in organic electronics. What inspired me? … I have become quite passionate with Beatles during the last year and, to me, there is a common factor in all most successful songs by Lennon and McCartney: all of them are tremendously good but, at the same time, tremendously simple. I am sure many scientists would tell me that Science cannot be transmitted in such a simple way as Music, because of its more complex nature. Well, I think it is possible, and it is just a matter of caring about it, and putting the effort to make it happen.

Thank you, Isaac!

Those who didn’t win this time are encouraged to respond to the latest Mendeley Brainstorm, regarding Cloning. Thanks again to all our participants.

Mendeley Brainstorm – Send in the Clones?

Twenty years ago, the first sheep was cloned; there have been huge advances since.
Twenty years ago, the first sheep was cloned from an adult cell; there have been huge advances since.

Twenty years ago, Dolly, the first sheep cloned from an adult cell, was revealed to the world. Since then, cloning and genetic manipulation technologies have advanced considerably. Should we welcome a new era of genetic science? Or is our knowledge growing faster than our wisdom? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research! The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes April 12, 2017.

Hello, Dolly

On February 22, 1997, the Roslin Institute in Scotland announced the arrival of Dolly, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell. According to the Institute, “in the week following the announcement…(we) received 3,000 phone calls from around the world”. Dolly had captured the public’s imagination about the potential of cloning, which at one point had been thought to be impossible.

Spinoffs

Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, the 2012 winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine was intellectually stimulated by Dolly’s arrival. He subsequently investigated how the adult DNA which had been used to create Dolly had been revivified. The eventual result was “induced pluripotent stem cells”, which “have become a scientific workhorse, providing limitless supplies of differentiated cells and tissue for use in the lab” (Economist, 2017). They also are “an invaluable tool for modelling human diseases and screening drugs” (Economist, 2017).\

Moral Objections

Cloning technologies have always been controversial. Many ethicists and public figures have questioned whether scientists have the right to “play God” and alter the building blocks of humanity. Some countries, including the United States, have implemented restrictions on this research.

Send in the Clones?

Are these concerns overblown? Or is our knowledge growing faster than our wisdom? What is the future of cloning in your view? Tell us!

Need Funding for Your Research?

Here are some of the latest funding opportunities for biology researchers provided by Mendeley Funding:

Organisation Opportunity
Oak Ridge Associated Universities Molecular biologist research opportunity in plant viruses
University of East Anglia Cloning and expression of topoisomerase genes from Trypanosoma brucei
Developing methods for genetically encoded unnatural amino acids to develop novel proteins
National Institutes of Health Cancer and stem cells epigenetics
Ancillary studies to the NIDDK intestinal stem cell consortium
Spermatogenic stem cell culture systems to preserve and restore reproductive capacity in males
Stem cell-derived blood products for therapeutic use: Technology improvement
John Templeton Foundation Genetics – Large grant
Genetics – Small grant

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

References

Gene editing, clones and the science of making babies. (2017). The Economist. [online] Available at: http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21717035-ways-reproducing-without-sexual-intercourse-are-multiplying-history-suggests-they-should [Accessed 23 Feb. 2017].

Hello, again, Dolly. (2017). The Economist. [online] Available at: http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21717028-twenty-years-ago-world-met-first-adult-clone-sheep-called-dolly-her-legacy-lives [Accessed 23 Feb. 2017].

The Life of Dolly | Dolly the Sheep. (2017). [online] Dolly.roslin.ed.ac.uk. Available at: http://dolly.roslin.ed.ac.uk/facts/the-life-of-dolly/ [Accessed 23 Feb. 2017].

Mendeley Brainstorm: Science and Politics – Unhappy Together?

Is it time for researchers to adapt or go on the march?
Is it time for researchers to adapt or go on the march?

The worlds of science and politics appear to be in conflict. Britain voted for Brexit; it’s estimated 90% of British academics voted Remain. Recent policy announcements by the Trump administration have provoked scientists to plan a “March for Science” on Washington DC. Are science and politics destined to clash? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research! The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes March 8, 2017.

Post-Factual Versus Evidence Based

The world of politics introduced new terms into the lexicon in 2016, including “post-factual”, “post-truth” and “fake news”; the world of science continues to rely on evidence, data and peer reviews. In 2016, politics erupted with statements that denounced “experts”; science depends on expertise to achieve its advances.

Funding Pressures

The Trump Administration has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to freeze all grants. This could be a prelude to more cuts for research in environmental and other sciences. Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s choice to head the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, apparently asked in September 2016 after considering studies done about the Zika virus, “…do we really need government funded research at all”.

What’s Next?

Can science learn to live with the new political environment, or is it time for researchers to march? Will “post factual” politics be compelled to yield to cold, hard data? Will science shift from countries like the United States and Britain to elsewhere? What are your thoughts on what will happen and what will you do? Tell us!

Need to Store & Publish Your Data?

Mendeley Data is a secure cloud-based repository where you can store your data (including open data governmental datasets and websites), ensuring it is easy to share, access and cite, wherever you are. Click here for more information.

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

References

AHUJA, M. (2017). Scientists planning their own march in Washington. CNN. [online] Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/25/politics/scientists-march-dc-trnd/index.html?sr=twCNN012617scientists-march-dc-trnd0530AMStoryPhoto&linkId=33790680 [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].

BELLUZ, J. (2017). Trump’s budget director pick: “Do we really need government-funded research at all”. [Blog] Vox. Available at: http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2016/12/21/14012552/trump-budget-director-research-science-mulvaney [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].

KASPRAK, A. (2016). FACT CHECK: Trump’s Budget Director Pick Asked “Do We Really Need Government-Funded Research at All?”. [online] Snopes. Available at: http://www.snopes.com/trumps-budget-director-pick-asked-really-need-government-funded-research/ [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].

WAPNER, J. (2017). Trump Freezes Grants, Approves Pipelines and Considers Sharp Budget Cuts At the EPA. Newsweek. [online] Available at: http://europe.newsweek.com/trump-freezes-grants-approves-pipelines-and-considers-sharp-budget-cuts-epa-547738?rm=eu [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].

Mendeley Brainstorm – Open Data – We Have a Winner!

Is the future of data open?
Is the future of data open?

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to Open Data; picking a winner given the well thought out answers was not easy, however in the end, we selected Sarah’s post:

When we talk about Open Data, there are really two separate issues: the sharing of raw data and open access to publications.

Sharing of raw data is incredibly valuable for the scientific community. Any group that chooses to publish polished interpretations of their data (such as a paper) must also be responsible for the quality of the raw data and/or analysis that went into it. Because researchers may have unrealized biases in data analysis and interpretation, it is vital that the raw data also be available for examination.

Open access is a thornier issue. While the benefits (greater spread of knowledge, greater inclusion in science, greater connection with the public) are valuable, our current system of publication does not incentivize open access. Treating the scientific publication process as a public good, as academic research is treated, may therefore be a valuable approach to solve this issue of incentives.

Sarah is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, She wrote:

I’m….studying retinal development, so my interaction with Open Data is more the general academic experience and thinking about it abstractly. The first part of my response was mostly inspired by my experiences reading papers and the frustration of knowing they’re only the beautified surface of the work that was actually done. The second part of my response was actually inspired by economics podcasts like Planet Money and Freakonomics, which are some of my favorite things to listen to while doing lab work.

She also told us:

Also I just want to take the chance to thank everyone at Mendeley! I really appreciate that you’ve made it more than just a useful application (and it is incredibly useful).

Thank you, Sarah!

Those who didn’t win this time are encouraged to respond to the latest Mendeley Brainstorm, regarding Ageing Societies. Thanks again to all our participants.

Mendeley Brainstorm: Hacking – How Secure Are We?

Our lives are more networked than ever before; does that make them more vulnerable?
Our lives are more networked than ever before; how vulnerable are we?

Recently, a nuclear power plant was hacked. According to Reuters, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency said the attack “caused some problems” and the plant had to “take some precautionary measures.”  Given the increased prevalence of internet-enabled applications, how vulnerable are we to cyber-attacks and what can be done to prevent them? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research!  The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes November 23.

Hacking – Not Just for PCs Anymore

The arrival of the Internet of Things has meant that our lives are more networked than ever before; the internet isn’t merely on a computer stuck in the corner, it’s connected to our phones (which track our every movement), it’s embedded into our appliances and vehicles, it’s wired up to security cameras and to life support machines.  However, this widespread connectivity also is indicative of a just as widespread vulnerability: our personal data, our public services, and even our cars could be hacked.

New Dangers

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said a nuclear plant had been hacked. While he didn’t fully spell out the risks, he noted that the security breach had “caused some problems” and “some precautionary measures” were required.

And Continuing Vulnerabilities

On October 11, Symantec revealed that hackers had attacked users of the SWIFT financial transfer network.  The goal was to use “malware to hide customers’ own records of Swift messages relating to fraudulent transactions”.

What Can Be Done?

It’s been projected that “$1 trillion will be spent globally on cybersecurity from 2017 to 2021”; but is this expenditure in vain?  Can our data, our banks, and our public services be truly protected? What can be done enhance security?  Tell us!

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

References

Cybersecurity Ventures. (2016). The Cybersecurity Market Report covers the business of cybersecurity, including market sizing and industry forecasts, spending, notable M&A and IPO activity, and more. [online] Available at: http://cybersecurityventures.com/cybersecurity-market-report/ [Accessed 11 Oct. 2016].

PEYTON, A. (2016). Symantec reveals more hack attempts on Swift network.  Banking Technology. [online] Available at: http://www.bankingtech.com/606802/symantec-reveals-more-hack-attempts-on-swift-network/ [Accessed 13 Oct. 2016].

SHARWOOD, S. (2016). Nuke plant has been hacked, says Atomic Energy Agency director The Register. [online] Available at: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/10/11/nuke_plant_has_been_hacked_says_atomic_energy_agency_director/ [Accessed 11 Oct. 2016].

Mendeley Brainstorm: Climate Change – Too Little, Too Late?

Difficult decisions lay ahead if our planet is to avoid environmental catastrophe
Difficult decisions lay ahead if our planet is to avoid environmental catastrophe

2016 is set to be the hottest year on record. Rising sea levels have already forced out entire communities; melting permafrost may have unleashed an anthrax epidemic in Russia.  In response, the United States and China have promised to curb their carbon emissions.  However, is this a case of too little, too late? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research!  The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes October 19.

2016: The Hottest Year on Record?

According to NASA and the United Nations, 2016 promises to be the hottest year on record.  This past June was, according to the UN, the “14th month for record heat” on land and sea.  This change represents a 1.3 degrees Celsius increase on the temperatures of the pre-industrial era.

The consequences of climate change have already been severe.  In August, the coastal village of Shishmaref, Alaska voted to relocate itself due to rising sea levels.  Elevated temperatures have been linked to melting of the permafrost in Russia, which may have sparked an outbreak of anthrax.  More extreme weather events and their follow on consequences have been widely predicted.

The World Responds

At the recent G20 summit, the two nations which emit the most carbon, China and the United States, agreed to make significant reductions.  In August, the Netherlands discussed banning petrol and diesel fueled cars. President Obama also promised $40 million to island nations in order to help them cope with the effects of climate change.

Too Little, Too Late?

The nations of the world are finally grappling with the reality of climate change, but are these efforts too little, too late?  Tell us!

Try Mendeley Data!

mendeleydata-climatechange

Climatologists already use Mendeley Data to store their findings; it’s handy, easy to use and offers a broad variety of licensing schema so that your data can be distributed, embargoed and utilised in any way you choose.  It also interlocks with the wider Mendeley ecosystem for added convenience.  Visit http://data.mendeley.com

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

References

Bogado, A. (2016) Alaska native village votes to relocate in the face of rising sea levels. Climate Desk. Available at: http://climatedesk.org/2016/08/alaska-native-village-votes-to-relocate-in-the-face-of-rising-sea-levels/ (Accessed: 6 September 2016).

Luhn, A. (2016) Did climate change cause Russia’s deadly anthrax outbreak? Climate Desk. Available at: http://climatedesk.org/2016/08/did-climate-change-cause-russias-deadly-anthrax-outbreak/ (Accessed: 6 September 2016).

Parkinson, J. (2016) Obama, Chinese president ratify landmark climate deal ‘to save our planet’. ABC News. Available at: http://abcnews.go.com/International/obama-chinese-president-xi-ratify-climate-change-agreement/story?id=41842303 (Accessed: 6 September 2016).

The Guardian. (2016). 2016 set to be world’s hottest year on record, says UN. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/21/2016-worlds-hottest-year-on-record-un-wmo [Accessed 6 Sep. 2016].

Sheppard, K. (2016) Obama to announce new climate change help for island nations. Huffington Post. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/obama-climate-change_us_57c855dee4b0e60d31dda9bd (Accessed: 6 September 2016).

Staufenberg, J. (2016) Climate change: Netherlands on brink of banning sale of petrol-fuelled cars. The Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/netherlands-petrol-car-ban-law-bill-to-be-passed-reduce-climate-change-emissions-a7197136.html (Accessed: 6 September 2016).

Mendeley Brainstorm – Augmented Reality – We Have a Winner!

Augmented Reality helps us see the world and each other in new ways.
Augmented Reality helps us see the world and each other in new ways.

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to Augmented Reality; picking a winner given all the well thought out answers was not a straightforward matter, however in the end, we selected Carol from the University of Manitoba’s response:

I think a really obvious app for AR would be an emotion recognition app. There are already emotion recognition apps that allow people to look at photos and select which emotion the person is expressing and there is software that analyzes the emotion in video content. Augmented reality would be the next logical step. For those individuals with Social Anxiety, Autism Spectrum Disorders or certain types of Traumatic Brain injury and others who have a difficult time recognizing social cues and/or emotions. They could simply check a “message” and learn if the person is stressed/calm/indifferent. It wouldn’t hurt for single people doing the dating thing either!

We asked her what inspired her. She responded:

…I know several people with difficulty recognizing emotions/social cues for a variety of reasons and it seemed to me to be a natural fit for an augmented reality app. Could you imagine the sheer processing power that it would require to do real-time emotional recognition?

That sounds like a challenge. Carol also told us:

By the way love the Mendeley product and am having a blast teaching it to my library clients at the University of Manitoba. It makes me look like a guru. 😉 Thanks for making it easy.

You’re welcome, Carol!

Those who didn’t win this time are encouraged to respond to the latest Mendeley Brainstorm, regarding Assistive Technology. Thanks again to all our participants.