Summer School


The PR machine rolls into action for "the world's most prestigious awards for science writing". Well, that's what they say. In reality, we are talking about the "Junior Shortlist" for the Royal Society Prizes for Science Books.

The six books shortlisted by the judging panel are:

  • Can you feel the force? by Richard Hammond (Dorling Kindersley)
  • How nearly everything was invented by the Brainwaves, illustrated by Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar (Dorling Kindersley)
  • It's true! Space turns you into spaghetti by Heather Catchpole and Vanessa Woods (Allen and Unwin)
  • KFK Natural Disasters by Andrew Langley (Kingfisher Knowledge)
  • My Body Book by Mick Manning and Brita Granström (Franklin Watts)
  • Science Investigations: Electricity by John Farndon (Wayland)
It is now down to "over 100 schools and youth groups" to pick the winner.
As if there wasn't enough news out there already, Research Councils UK has jumped in with another way to eat into your reading time. But RCUK Dispatch might save you time. It consolidates lots of stuff from the Research Councils.

Nice idea. Pity they haven't see fit to provide it as an RSS feed. Doesn't look like you can sign up for an email version either. So you'll have to visit the web site every day, or use a robot like UpdatePatrol to do it for you, to see what's there.

Oh well, nice try.
It isn't often that events given over to science in the media even mention engineering. That's why this one might be different Journalists and Scientists to Talk About Communication as a Critical Element of Science.
Some of the nation’s leading scientists and science journalists will present their perspectives on the roles of scientists and engineers in popular communication during a symposium April 2 at Arizona State University titled “Essential Dialogues: Why Scientists and Engineers Must Not Speak in Tongues.”
With participants like Charles Petit and Natalie Angier, they have certainly plenty of experience to draw on.
Ehsan Masood is among the people on the receiving end of the Third annual Templeton-Cambridge Fellowships. "Fellows are provided a $15,000 stipend, a book allowance, and travel expenses."

After a series of seminars by some seriously, er, serious people, including John Barrow, James Lovelock and Lewis Wolpert, "fellows will undertake five weeks of independent study and research into areas of their own specific interest, such as origins of life, neuroscience, the laws of nature, cosmology, genetic engineering, astrobiology, spirituality and health, and Islam and science".
The European Commission wants to analyse "public perception of science programmes on European TV and radio stations". It has put out a call for project proposals aimed at "gathering data and providing an analysis on how European citizens perceive the science and research programmes offered to them on TV and radio".

The results of the project could interest those who make these programmes. As the announcement puts it "This call will fund research investigating the ways the general public in Europe perceives, enjoys or dislikes current audiovisual science programmes. Findings will be broken down according to subjects' nationality and socio-economical background, as well as their expectations in this area."

You have until 23 May to put in your bid.
The UK's Freedom of Information Act has been so successful that the government now wants to curtail it, on the spurious grounds that it costs too much to meet all those awkward requests. Well, the country's universities seem to be happy to proclaim their willingness to spill the beans. Universities UK has even put put a "Media release" boasting Higher education delivering on people's 'right to know'.

It turns out that the load on universities isn't that huge. "Institutions received an average of approximately 3 requests a month, a level similar to that in 2005."

It is nice to read that "Journalists still account for nearly half the number of requests where the identity of the requestor is known". And they seem to be interested mostly in "University management, administration and finance".
An event in April "will explore ways to be creative in science communication without misrepresenting the science".

Creative Science Communication "Closely linked to the Edinburgh International Science Festival, the seminar combines workshops, practical exercises, interactive sessions and talks with highlights from the Festival programme to cover the whole spectrum of ways in which science can be made more engaging and involving, and scientists and journalists can improve how they understand and utilise each other."

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