Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Nature again: Access to scientific results

Once again, Nature did it. Whilst we (taxonomists) talk about LSIDs, guids, dois, Nature is offering an archive where dois and handles are given to any of your scientific work. The idea is to help to foster scientific exchange. So, you could for example add all your publications for which you didn't sign an exclusive licence to the publishers and thus it will become part of the growing digital world.

A comment is given at O'Reilly's radar

The question behind this, similar to flickr and youtube is, that these are at the end all private and commercial enterprises which lay outside our control (similar to EOL and BHL), and I wonder how wise it is from our funding fathers (science foundations etc.) to let this happen without having some sort of control mechanisms, or do it by themselves. This sort of accumulation of knowledge are certainly one of the pillars of research.

We all talk about community, democracy but with that we all work towards single institutions which are exactly the opposite of what we envision. Google is scanning an enormous amount of books at their cost, but do we really have access to its content, or can we build api to mine or use it the way we envision? No. Who can profit from our joint input into tagging things - certainly a novel feature in understanding our behavior?

Despite all this, we should make usage of this offer. Add your old publication on Nature precdings, add the bibliographic references to Connotea, but let's use this to demonstrate to our funders and our congress men and women, that these instiutions need be part of our science infrastructure, because we actually use it.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A NASA insight

Editorial in June 2, 2007 New York Times

" Hot Enough in Here?

Published: June 2, 2007

Michael Griffin, administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is renowned for speaking bluntly so it was no surprise when he stuck his foot in his mouth during a recent interview. The disturbing element is that he may have inadvertently revealed one reason the space agency has been cutting back on satellite missions to study global warming.

In an interview with National Public Radio, Mr. Griffin acknowledged that global warming is happening but then, remarkably, suggested that it might not be a problem — or at least one that had to be fixed. “I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth’s climate today is the optimal climate,” he said, adding that he wasn’t sure there was any “need to take steps to make sure that it doesn’t change.”

Those comments were a jarring denial of the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is serious and requires mitigation. It even lagged behind the thinking of President Bush who — under strong domestic and international pressure — has now called for a long-term global goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

In response to the mini-furor over his comments, Mr. Griffin stressed that NASA simply collects and analyzes data; it does not make policy on issues like climate change. But the scary thing was the lens his comment provided into his innermost thoughts. The Bush administration has been justly criticized for cutting the agency’s earth sciences budget and downgrading NASA’s once-prominent goal “to understand and protect our home planet.” Tight budgets are one key reason for the cuts in earth sciences, as is the administration’s long refusal to grapple with global warming. But now it seems that Mr. Griffin’s own belief that climate change may be no big deal accounts in part for his agency’s ill-conceived retreat from environmental studies.

It is interesting to see, that one man with such as decisive power doesn't listen to its own scientists, and not to speak of all the others involved in the climate debate.