Why do i have to know this science stuff anyway?

 This is the first in a 5 part series on Management for scientists. Subscribe to the Addgene Career Advice Posts here.

Why Do I Have to Know This Science Stuff Anyway?

“I'm slowly becoming a convert to the principle that you can't motivate people to do things, you can only demotivate them. The primary job of the manager is not to empower but to remove obstacles.” – Scott Adams, Dilbert cartoonist

If that is all it takes, then how come there are so many bad managers? New managers are rarely chosen because they have demonstrated skill at managing and this is especially true in science. It is assumed that if you are good at science and you are smart, you can be a good manager.

The kind of smarts and the type of skills that it takes to be a good scientist are not the same ones it takes to be a competent manager (much less a really good one).

While getting your PhD or doing a postdoc few science trainees will have opportunities to work on Emotional Intelligence or to hone delegation skills, for example.

Listen to our podcast interview with Harvard Medical School researcher Connie Cepko to learn about her management style.

Five need-to-know things about coronavirus

Why Do I Have to Know This Science Stuff Anyway? Image copyright Getty Images

Myths around the risks of coronavirus in the UK are doing the rounds. We put the facts straight.

Face masks aren't that useful

  • You might be seeing people wearing them, but there is limited evidence that they work.
  • That's because they are generally too loose, don't cover the eyes and can't be worn for long periods.
  • Face masks need to be changed frequently (because they get sweaty), if they are to offer any real protection.
  • To protect yourself, the World Health Organization (WHO) says it's more important to:
  • cover your mouth and nose while sneezing, with a tissue or your elbow
  • put the tissue straight into a closed bin
  • wash your hands regularly with soap and water or sanitiser
  • keep your distance from people who are coughing and sneezing (at least one metre)

Don't bother:

  • eating garlic
  • gargling mouthwash
  • rinsing your nose with saline
  • using sesame oil under the nose

None of these will help protect against the new virus in any way, the WHO adds.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Dogs and cats are not spreaders

You can't catch the virus from pets

  1. There is no evidence that your pet dog or cat can pass on the new coronavirus, according to the WHO.
  2. UK experts say reports of a dog in Hong Kong repeatedly testing positive should not lead people to panic.

  3. “We have to differentiate between real infection and just detecting the presence of the virus,” says Prof Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham.

  4. “I still think it's questionable how relevant it is to the human outbreak as most of the global outbreak has been driven by human-to-human transmission.

  5. He added: “We need to find out more, but we don't need to panic – I doubt it could spread to another dog or a human because of the low levels of the virus.”
  6. But you should still wash your hands regularly with soap and water after touching pets.

Even cuddly ones can carry bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella – and these are bugs that can pass between pets and humans.

The new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease Covid-19) is thought to have originated in wildlife and been passed to humans via a live animal market in Wuhan, China.

The virus could have gone unnoticed in animals before jumping to humans, which is how many viruses start. eg. avian flu, Ebola, Sars.

Why Colorado Can’t Get Enough Coronavirus Tests — And Why It’s Starting To Reopen Anyway

At his Wednesday news conference, reporters pressed Gov. Jared Polis on Colorado’s plans for providing mass testing for COVID-19. He responded with a pointed rebuke.

  • “You're still obsessed with testing,” he said.
  • If the press is trying to understand his safer-at-home plan, which goes into place when his stay-at-home order expires on April 26, he said they should ask about other strategies to combat the virus.
  • “I wish everybody was asking about the other three things: the need to wear masks, the social distancing and protecting our most vulnerable,” he said.

The comment marks a stark shift for the governor, who previously cited widespread testing and containment as the key to Taiwan’s and South Korea’s successful efforts to control the novel coronavirus. The emphasis on other strategies shows how his thinking has changed about the next stages of Colorado’s response.

While the state has increased its testing capacity, it still lacks enough tests and public health infrastructure to stop a resurgence if Colorado’s economy reopens all at once.

The governor’s strategy instead focuses on carefully, gradually dialing back Colorado’s current levels of social distancing. Scientists working with the state think it could work while allowing an increase in economic activity, but it also comes with incredible risk.

If the public can’t follow the new, more complicated guidelines, the state could face a second wave of cases that could overwhelm an already stressed health care system.

Why Do I Have to Know This Science Stuff Anyway?Andrew Kenney/CPR NewsGov. Jared Polis provides an update on the state's response to the new coronavirus on Monday, April 20.

Public health officials are cautious about lifting rules without more testing.

May Chu, a clinical professor at the Colorado School of Public Health who has advised the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, worries about the potential for a future spike if the state proceeds without ramped-up testing. Without adequate tests, she doesn’t understand how Colorado will be able to break the chain of transmission.

“You don’t know how to put out the fire if you can’t see the light,” she said.

Chu clarified her reaction is a personal opinion and she hasn’t been asked to review the data behind Colorado’s decision, which has been analyzed by Jon Samet, her dean at the School of Public Health. Nevertheless, she fears the plan could overtax health care workers even if hospitals in Colorado have the beds to treat new cases.

Twenty hospitals across the state are predicting protective equipment shortages in the next week. Far fewer predict staffing or bed shortages.

Read "Every Child a Scientist: Achieving Scientific Literacy for All" at NAP.edu

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Suggested Citation:“Why Do We Need Science, Anyway?.” National Research Council. 1998. Every Child a Scientist: Achieving Scientific Literacy for All. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6005.


school lunch orders to the dispatcher. The custodial staff may be in a workshop to learn how to operate the school's new, high-tech security system.

The administrative assistant could be faxing immunization records to the school system's central office to expedite the registration of new students.

Using the school's computer network, your child's teacher may be looking at grade reports as the principal reviews the agenda of the upcoming school board meeting.

During the past two decades, science also has become more integral to our daily lives.

Twenty-five years ago, if a child injured her knee while playing soccer, parents would take her to the emergency room for an X-ray. Today, the doctor could recommend an MRI (magnetic resonance image) as well.

The more familiar people are with such devices and procedures the easier it will be to make informed decisions about their use.

Many of us in our own homes and workplaces are scrambling to keep up with science and technology, but our children cannot afford to be unprepared. They must be ready to take their roles as citizens, employees, and family members in a rapidly changing world and highly competitive global job market.

Preparation for a more scientifically and technologically complex world requires the best possible education.

Beginning in kindergarten, children must learn how to think critically, synthesize information accurately, and solve problems creatively.

They also need new skills-facility with computers, the ability to communicate using all available media, and familiarity with the science and technology that form the foundation of the modern world.

Is our educational system meeting the changing needs of our students? Evidence from the 1996 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) suggests not.

Administered to students in grades 4, 8, and 12, these tests are designed to provide a snapshot of our progress in science education.

Although most students have some grasp of basic scientific facts and principles by the end of high school, they are not able to apply scientific knowledge to a new situation, design an original experiment, or explain the reasoning behind their answers.

The Purposes of NAEP and TIMSS For over 25 years, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has been the United States' only ongoing assessment of K-12 students' educational progress. This Congressionally mandated test measures what students know and are able to do against what has been agreed as desirable for students to know and be able to do in science as well as in other subjects. Whereas NAEP scores show the level of knowledge a student has (basic, proficient, or advanced), the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is an international comparative study on an agreed upon set of topics in math and science.

Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing

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James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

March 23, 2020
6:11 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much.  And I see we have fewer people because of the virus problem, and we appreciate you being here.  And this is getting to be more and more social distancing, and that’s fine.  That’s the way it should be, and it’s too bad.  We extend our best wishes to the person affected.  And we feel sure that he or she will be better very soon.

And thank you for being here.  America continues to mobilize every segment of our society to turn the tide in the battle against the virus.  I want Americans to know that we will get through this challenge.

  The hardship will end; it will end soon.  Normal life will return.  And our economy will rebound very, very strongly.

  But, right now, in the midst of this great national trial, Americans must remain united in purpose and focused on victory.

To every single American, please know that the sacrifice you’re making at this time is saving lives — many, many lives.

  It’s very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States and all around the world.  They’re amazing people, and the spreading of the virus is not their fault in any way, shape, or form.

  They’re working closely with us to get rid of it.  We will prevail together.  It’s very important.

From the beginning, we have been working closely with our nation’s best scientists and medical professionals, and we will continue to do so until we have defeated the virus.

  Our public health experts, who are terrific, are studying the variation in the disease across the country, and we will be using data to recommend new protocols to allow local economies to cautiously resume their activity at the appropriate time.

We also have a large team working on what the next steps will be once the medical community gives a region the okay — meaning the okay to get going, to get back; let’s go to work.

Our country wasn’t built to be shut down.  This is not a country that was built for this.  It was not built to be shut down.

My administration continues to work with Democrats and Republicans to reach an agreement on an urgent relief bill for the millions of American workers and small businesses and large businesses that were badly affected by the medical difficulty that we’ve had.

If you had a viable business in January, we are committed to ensuring the same is true in the coming weeks.  In fact, we want to make it even better than it was before, and we’re doing things to help in that regard.

America will again, and soon, be open for business — very soon — a lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting.  A lot sooner.  We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.  We’re not going to let the cure be worse than the problem.

At the end of the 15-day period, we’ll make a decision as to which way we want to go, where we want to go, the timing.  And essentially, we’re referring to the timing of the opening — essentially, the opening of our country, because we have it pretty well shut down in order to get rid of this invisible enemy.

Two weeks ago, we moved at record speed to pass paid sick leave and paid family medical leave and approve $8 billion, including money for the development of treatments and vaccines.  And we’re doing tremendous work in both — on both fronts.  The vaccines are coming along very quickly.

Now Congress must demonstrate the same bipartisanship again and join together to pass the Senate bill as written, and avoid playing any more partisan games.  They have to get together and just stop with the partisan politics.  And I think that’s happening.

  I got a call a little while ago; I guess they’re getting closer.  It should go quickly and must go quickly.  It’s not really a choice.  They don’t have a choice.  They have to make a deal.

  This should not be a time for political agendas but rather one for focusing solely and squarely on the needs of the American people.

We are going to save American workers, and we’re going to save them quickly.  And we’re going to save our great American companies, both small and large.  This was a medical problem.  We are not going to let it turn into a long-lasting financial problem.  It started out as a purely medical problem, and it’s not going to go beyond that.  We’re just not going to allow that to happen.

What is a Dimension Anyway?

This story is a supplement to the feature “Using Causality to Solve the Puzzle of Quantum Spacetime” which was printed in the July 2008 issue of Scientific American.

A Whole New Dimension to Space In everyday life the number of dimensions refers to the minimum number of measurements required to specify the position of an object, such as latitude, longitude and altitude. Implicit in this definition is that space is smooth and obeys the laws of classical physics.

But what if space is not so well behaved? What if its shape is determined by quantum processes in which everyday notions cannot be taken for granted? For these cases, physicists and mathematicians must develop more sophisticated notions of dimensionality. The number of dimensions need not even be an integer, as in the case of fractals—patterns that look the same on all scales.

Cantor Set : Take a line, chop out the middle third and repeat ad infinitum. The resulting fractal is larger than a solitary point but smaller than a continuous line. Its Hausdorff dimension [see next page] is 0.6309.

Sierpinski Gasket: A triangle from which ever smaller subtriangles have been cut, this figure is intermediate between a one-dimensional line and a 2-D surface. Its Hausdorff dimension is 1.5850.

Menger Sponge: A cube from which subcubes have been cut, this fractal is a surface that partially spans a volume. Its Hausdorff dimension is 2.7268, similar to that of the human brain.

Generalized Definitions Of Dimensions

Hausdorff Dimension

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