Days of the Enola Gay

In a must read article at Slate, Ben Lillie (Story Collider) looks at the events surrounding the Thirty Meter Telescope protests at Mauna Kea. He challenges scientists and the science community to recognize and reflect on the dark parts of our history – and how that history affects today’s events:

I’m disturbed that this conflict came as a surprise, and disturbed about what that says about the culture of science. I’m disturbed by how scientists see ourselves as separate from culture and history, unaffected by it, and not responsible for its ills, and I wonder what we can do about that…And so transcendence can take the form of blindness to differences between people and to our own biases.
Ben Lillie

I am compelled by his argument that we should, in addition to the days we promote for celebrating scientific achievement, set aside days in our year for reflecting on the regrettable aspects of scientific history. The Days of the Enola Gay (8:15AM 6 August – 11:02AM 9 August) will be going on The Finch & Pea‘s calendar of holidays (in the traditional sense of holy days).

What Jim doesn’t know could fill a [INSERT REALLY BIG THING HERE]

Laura Helmuth pretty much nails it in her Slate piece on the auction of James Watson’s Nobel prize medal:

Watson…knows fuck all about history, human evolution, anthropology, sociology, psychology, or any rigorous study of intelligence or race. – Laura Helmuth

HT: Deborah Blum

What a cute baby. . .solar system

The folks at Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) just released an insanely detailed image of a developing star and the surrounding disc of material that may become its planetary system.

Credit: ALMA (NRAO/ESO/NAOJ); C. Brogan, B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)
Credit: ALMA (NRAO/ESO/NAOJ); C. Brogan, B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

Phil Plait explains why this image is more than aesthetically interesting at Slate.

From what we understand of planet formation, a star and disk this young shouldn’t have a planetary system evolved enough to create these gaps. That’s a bit of a shock. Research published in 2008 also indicated the presence of a new planet, and I’ll be curious to see how this new observation fits in with that work as well. – Phil Plait

HT: Amy Shira Teitel