Double X: A Novel Approach to the Climate Change Report

June 28, 2009

The noir (and romance and haiku) of the latest government report on climate change:

Last week, the United States Global Research program released a report on the potential impacts of climate change in the United States. Based on a year and a half of work and a consensus from 13 federal agencies, the 198-page report makes the doom, gloom, and destruction that await us available to all. Still, who reads 198-page government reports? Well, I do.

So in an attempt to bring some amusement to a dark situation, I’ve summarized the main points of the climate change report using five different literary (ok, quasi-literary) styles. Each vignette is set in the year 2100 under the “higher emissions scenario,” which is a conservative estimate that presumes some kind of international reduction in emissions.

Read the rest here!


Double X: Oil Rigs in the Penguin Habitat

June 23, 2009

Shiny new science art, with a hint of vintage humanities:

I live in San Diego, so I visit our famous zoo a couple times a year. My favorite part is a lush, leafy canyon lined with tigers and tropical birds and tapirs. It’s a little piece of the Asian forests on which it’s based, an idyll untouched by the downtown skyline or nearby highway. Sure, the path is lined by earnest plaques about poaching and logging and the dire peril of endangered species, but I’m there for a pleasant afternoon stroll and I’ve never read them.

That’s the fate of most earnest attempts to educate zoo-goers about environmental peril. Nobody (except perhaps attendees of environmental film festivals) wants to pay $50 to be depressed and guilt-ridden. But the Vienna Zoo has a different vision. As covered by the landscape architecture blog Pruned, the Vienna Zoo has inserted the nasty side of the human world right into the animals’ enclosures.

More here.

Double X: Wile E. Coyote & Roadrunner are Total BFFs

June 16, 2009

Latest at Double X:

On Sunday, NPR reported that more than 2,000 coyotes were living in Chicago, many inside the city’s highly developed downtown Loop. That’s not unusual. Since the elimination of wolves and the advent of suburbs teeming with tasty prey, coyotes have made their homes in cities from Los Angeles to Boston. According to the NPR story, urban coyotes are actually faring better than their rural counterparts, free from hunting and able to dine upon a bounty of rats and goose eggs. Though it seems counterintuitive for people with visions of roadrunner-chasing Wile E. Coyote, urban coyotes actually protect city-dwelling birds.

More here. With bonus naughty Coyote stories!

More on scientists in GQ

June 12, 2009

In my last Double X blog post, I wrote about the Rock Stars of Science campaign. Dr. Isis has a different take:

The point of the campaign is to show people that science is hip, and cool, and sexy, and [insert other adjective here], but in each shot the scientists are fawning over the musicians.  The message this photo campaign sends is, “Yeah, being a scientist cool but, if I could be, I would really want to be [insert rock star name here].”  Thus, people looking at this campaign aspire to also be rockstars.  Not scientists.

And (via Isis), Bora scooped GQ back in 2006:

In this day of mass communications, it is logical to use modern technology to further your aims, so popularization of science should do the same. Turning some scientists into radio personalities, talk-show hosts, TV stars, movie stars and Internet stars (MySpace and blogs, for instance) should be a part of a multi-prong strategy to spread the scientific reasoning and rationality, as well as excitement for knowledge about the natural world.

What do you think? Could scientists become as famous as rockstars (and get featured in US Weekly – “Scientists! They’re Just Like Us!”)? Will this help change the perception of scientists as boring and science as a high-status but low-income career path? And frankly, do we actually need more scientists when there’s few decent jobs for the PhDs that we already have?

Double X: Sexing Up Scientists

June 12, 2009

Latest Double X post:

Scientists are not famed for their looks or fashion sense. Personally, I love this about science. I work that “get out of performing femininity free!” card for all it’s worth, slouching about in science-themed t-shirts and ratty sneakers as often as I can. But if I want to get in on this next phase of science marketing, apparently I’m going to have to trade the “Evolution Kills” t-shirt for something more befitting a rock star. There’s a movement afoot to sex up science and scientists, and it’s got big advertising dollars behind it.

More here!

Double X: Fowl Play

June 10, 2009

Latest Double X post:

Last month, Pat Robertson fretted that hate-crime legislation would lead to the protection of people who “like to have sex with ducks.” His remark resulted in a delightful Robertson-mocking pro-duck-sex song released last week by musical group Garfunkel and Oates. Robertson doesn’t have to worry too much about human-on-duck sex – it’s clearly illegal since quacking doesn’t qualify as consent. But ducks are no innocent victims. Rather, their giant members and coercive sexual practices make them the perfect posterbird for heterosexual sex gone awry.

More hot duck action here.

Double X: They Eat Wilderness Scouts, Don’t They?

June 4, 2009

Latest Double X post on the science of Pixar’s new movie Up:

Seeking scientific accuracy in Hollywood is a fool’s game. I’ve frothed at the terrible biology of Bee Movie and gnashed at the poor oceanography of Transformers and muttered at the unfortunate physics of Star Wars. So I wasn’t expecting much from Pixar’s latest offering, Up, what with the house floating along on helium balloons. But I was pleasantly surprised. The biology of Up is reasonably accurate—though Kevin the bird might harbor a dark secret.

Read the rest here.