Archive for September, 2010

First of all, hearty congratulations to Caltech biophysics professor and alumnus John Dabiri, who studies jellyfish propulsion and does theoretical mechanical engineering, a subject that makes my heart go pitty-pat and makes me long for my days as an engineering major before I switched to physics. He works out of the Biological Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech.

And another hearty congrats to Amir Abo-Shaeer, who left a job in industry to teach high school physics. He’s the founder of Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy. He’s had enormous success in bringing girls into the field, something I can relate to personally as the kind of girl who always wanted to take stuff apart.

You can meet the rest of the 2010 MacArthur fellows here.

What is wrong with this picture?

A new organization called the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy has recently been formed by a group of scientists who are upset that the people who make drug policy don’t appear to be paying much attention at all to science.

I don’t think it reflects very well on the scientific communities of the world, especially America and Britain, that such an organization is needed.

This organization is needed partly because for the last 40 years, scientists have managed to duck drug policy as an issue that concerns science in any way.

Indeed, I have friends in science who get very worked up over creationism and the like, but make nasty faces at me when I try to bring up areas where federal drug policy completely ignores the physically measurable universe as described in peer-reviewed, published scientific journals.

I can understand this. Most people in science tend to be white and/or belong to the upper middle class academic elite, which places them out of reach of most of the negative consequences of the War on Drugs.

And the War on Drugs feels morally appealing — why not just ban everything that’s bad?

But government policy has to be evaluated according to a stricter standard than the mere sensation of moral well-being that contemplating such policy produces in the people who support it.

It’s time for scientists to stand up and demand that drug policy be held accountable to science.

There’s too much money and too many lives at stake for us to be content with moral hand-waving when it comes to justifying the continuation of a war that’s been going on for around 40 years now and still hasn’t been “won.”