This November, there are a lot of very consequential elections and referenda in the United States. Most of them I won’t comment on here (although it wouldn’t be hard to infer my thoughts about the highest-stakes one). But one referendum, in one state, is – perhaps surprisingly – right up Scientist Sees Squirrel’s alley. The people of the state of Mississippi will vote, I hope, to approve the new state flag pictured above.
The proposed flag won a design competition and will be on the ballot for approval in November. It will replace an older flag that included an inset Confederate battle emblem, and I hope everyone knows why its time is (more than) up.* Continue reading
Many of Earth’s species bear scientific names based on the names of people – for instance, Charles Darwin’s barnacle (Regioscalpellum darwini) and David Bowie’s spider (Heteropoda davidbowie). My new book explores some of the things we can learn from such “eponymous” scientific names. These names let us see something of the quirks and personalities of the scientists who engage in the creative act of naming. They also open a window on who scientists think might deserve the honour (well, usually it’s an honour) of having a species named after them. There are a lot of things you can see through that window. One of them has to do with diversity.
I don’t mean biodiversity, although it’s true enough that the Earth’s incredible biodiversity is what provides the window of naming in the first place. Instead, I mean diversity of people. Who are the people who have species named after them? Perhaps not surprisingly, answering that question reveals a scientific community with a longstanding diversity problem. Continue reading
Black lives matter.
That shouldn’t have to be said, but it does. Systemic racism is an ongoing problem, everywhere. While anything we say or do is less than we should, and later than we should have, that’s no reason for inaction.
I had another post queued for today, but it will keep. Please take the time you would have spent reading it, and instead listen to some other voices. There are many; here’s one place to start.
Society needs everyone. Science needs everyone.
© Stephen Heard June 3 2020, but released CC0.