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Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of science... the thrill of discovery... and the agony of failed experiments... the human drama of scientific advancement... This is the Blue Streak Science Podcast!

Jun 20, 2015

On the day of his inauguration in 1961 President John F. Kennedy proclaimed that the torch of American idealism had been passed to a new generation. He called on Americans of all walks of life to come together in self-sacrifice to fight tyranny, poverty, disease, and even war itself.

And growing up I thought my generation was going build upon those brave efforts...that we would be a generation to lead the world by example. We could have ridden that wave of the 1960’s...the successes of civil rights legislation, desegregation, environmentalism, gender equality, and sexual and reproductive rights.

But something happened in the 1980’s.

Just as my generation began embarking on their careers our country took a hard turn to the right, to the religious right. It was the goal of Reverend Jerry Falwell and his self-anointed Moral Majority to elect right-wing Christian politicians to evangelize in the halls of Congress, the White House, and even in the Supreme Court

And boy howdy did they succeed

And so it has been for over 30 years, a new brand of conservative, standing against and sometimes rolling back the hard-won progress of American idealism. Efforts by the religious right to use public institutions to do their proselytizing came one after another. Often times it has been only the Constitution that has protected us from the tyranny of an American-born theocracy

Here we are in 2015. A new generation is here.

The Millennials.

Born from from about 1982 to 2004, Millennials are already the largest living generation.

But are they really any different from the generations that came of age during the forging of America’s alliance between politicians and the religious right?

According to a Pew Research Center study released in March of 2014, the fastest growing religious cohort in America are those who check the box for “no religious affiliation”. These numbers have been rising steadily since the 1990’s, when they were in the single digits, to the present 23 percent of adults of all ages with no religious affiliation. Also, there’s been a 7% jump just since 2007. And here come our Millennials. Fully 34 percent put themselves in the “none of the above” category when it comes to religion.

The Pew study also found that they’re the best-educated segment of young adults in American history, and 49% of millennials think America’s best years are ahead of it. They are much more optimistic that my generation has ever been.

That’s amazing to me since we’ve passed on to them a world choking on the excesses of our unbridled consumerism, stripping and polluting the world for short-term gains

Better educated, more optimistic, embracing science and shunning superstitions.

Now more than ever, and because of them I share their optimism for the future, to see the world and universe as it really is, not as they hope it will be or how some Bronze Age text tells them it is. I admire the Millennials' willingness to make the changes and the sacrifices we and previous generations refused to make. So that they can proudly pass the torch of American idealism to the next generation along with a world that is healthier than the one they inherited.

Blue Streak Science News

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  • Philae wakes up to discover it's on a comet hurtling toward the sun! 
  • Greater Farallones Marine Sanctuary is created
  • Genetic mutation found to block prion disease in tribe that once practiced ritual cannibalism
  • Hepatitis E vaccine shows strong coverage
    Rosetta orbiter and Philae lander
    Rosetta orbiter and Philae lander

Asshole of the Week

Sir Tim Hunt, is a British biochemist who was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of protein molecules that control the division of cells.

"Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry."

Those are the words of Sir Tim Hunt to the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea.

Why do we even give a crap about Tim Hunt?

Tim Hunt received the Nobel Prize in 2001 for his discoveries in cell division

But we’re not going to talk about that now, because Tim Hunt has stepped in some deep shit

I’m sure he’s backed off his statement...maybe he had just finished binge-watching Mad Men or just momentarily thinking of himself as the Hugh Hefner of Nobel laureates

Nope!

It looks like Timmy has doubled down instead.

Sure he told BBC Radio 4 that he apologizes for any offense that was taken, but he said he had "meant to be honest".

It’s the classic “I’m sorry you’re offended” apology seemingly purloined directly from the playbook of conservative American politicians after they give their expert opinions on female anatomy and reproduction.

He has stated that the remarks were "intended as a light-hearted, ironic comment" but had been "interpreted deadly seriously by my audience".

"I did mean the part about having trouble with girls," he said.

He continues, "It is true that people - I have fallen in love with people in the lab and people in the lab have fallen in love with me and it's very disruptive to the science because it's terribly important that in a lab people are on a level playing field.

"I found that these emotional entanglements made life very difficult.

Putting aside the content of his initial statements, and his lack of genuine apology.

Level playing field? Really? You are calling your female colleagues “girls”. Do you call your male colleagues “boys”?

My guess is that you don’t.

Is that what you mean by a level playing field?

You have earned yourself a spot in the newly created male chauvinist douchebag wing of our hall of shame.

You, Sir Tim, have been knighted the Blue Streak Science Asshole of the Week!

This Week’s Shout-out goes to Quanta Magazine!
Find this great website at www.quantamagazine.com
"Our work often resembles journalistic alchemy — we mash together the complexities of science with the malleable art of storytelling in an attempt to forge a precious new alloy. It can be a mind-bending enterprise, but we relish the challenge."

That's it for this edition of the Blue Streak Science Podcast
The Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from Sonoma County, California; Atlanta, Georgia; and Sydney, Australia!
See you again next week!