Author Archives: mcshanahan

Looking for personal stories from women in science

Originally posted on Marie-Claire Shanahan’s personal blog, Boundary Vision, on 27 August 2014.

The submission deadline for provisional topics and titles is 10 September 2014.

Me and my daughter admiring a penguin at the Calgary Zoo.Diving headlong into motherhood this year has meant less blogging (obvious to anyone who subscribes here…), but it has also made me think a lot more about the scientific life that I would hope for my new daughter and girls like her. Currently her research interests include ceiling fans, her toes, her soother, the dogs and the penguins at the Calgary Zoo. But should she be interested in pursuing science as a career, what would I want her to know? Continue reading

Please don’t blindly follow PopSci’s lead and get rid of comment spaces

Originally posted by Marie-Claire on her home blog, Boundary Vision. Reposted here with permission, because EXACTLY.

A tiny explosion happened in the online science communication world yesterday. Popular Science.com announced that they will be closing off opportunities to post comments on their news stories: no more public comment spaces. Why? They argue that uncivil commenters have an overly negative effect on readers, so negative that it isn’t worth maintaining the comment spaces. They make some scary claims too about a small number of negative commenters poisoning the way readers perceive the stories and about a war waged on expertise. They use an New York Times Op-Ed written by Dominique Brossard and Dietram A. Scheufele to back up those claims.

I must, however, respectfully disagree. Continue reading

Whitehorse’s Achilles’ Desire [Repost]

Editor’s Note: Marie-Claire has been too busy getting situated as the first Research Chair in Science Education and Public Engagement. How busy? Too busy to listen to music. Forget about writing about music. To give you a reprieve from my musical tastes, we are reposting this gem from 11 September 2012.

Husband and wife duo Whitehorse pack an emotional punch with the first single from their new album The Fate of the World Depends on this Kiss. (I promise I’m not wallowing in clichés here, the punch is literal. Watch the video.) Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland, major talents in their own right, have continued their musical partnership that began last year with the release of their self-titled debut. Continue reading

Stars: Holding On & Letting Go

Editor: Marie-Claire Shanahan is a bit busy taking on her new job as the new & first Research Chair in Science Education and Public Engagement at the University of Calgary; but she was not too busy to make a Song of the Week pick.

Not sciency at all…But here’s the song I wanted to post. New video from one of my favourite bands, about love and being yourself in love and seems appropriate for the particular moment in time.

Echo Beach: far away in space and time?

I first heard this song when I was about 8 years old at the 1984 Renfrew Fair. The cool older kids seemed to love it, and they were playing it non-stop on what I was convinced was the scariest and coolest ride at the fair: The Zipper. Released by Canadian New Wave greats Martha and the Muffins on their 1980 album Metro Music, it was written by Mark Gane while working for the summer checking wallpaper for defects. He said in an interview with CBC radio a few weeks ago that he changed the worker to an office clerk, because he figured that was more relatable than wallpaper inspector (fittingly CBC Music just hosted their first music festival at Echo Beach in Toronto, though that wasn’t the beach named in the song). It’s undoubtedly an early ’80s classic.

But unlike lots of other songs I encountered at the time, this one has always stuck with me as a favourite. Beyond loving the really rhythmic chorus and the repeated hook at the end, I think I love it because it’s a bit sciencey. The beach isn’t nostalgic or the memory of something that happened long ago. It’s “far away in time”, which always made me think that the song recognized space and time as connected. And “knowing I’ll be back at echo beach someday” always said to me that it’s not gone. It exists both then and now. It always felt like a planet visited in Dr. Who, far away both in space and time but not gone when you leave, not in the same way that childhood homes and toys are gone. I’m probably reading way too much into it but it was one of the first things I thought of when I started to learn more advanced physics. So for no other reason than that it’s a cool image of time, I wanted to celebrate this great song.