The basic idea for this blog…

Hello, internet.  I’m Ramin Skibba, an astronomer and astrophysicist (with interests in sociology and political science) at UC San Diego.  The basic idea for this blog is to comment on and discuss political issues within science as well as science in politics and policy.  In my opinion, the connections between science and politics are too often ignored.  Scientists, teachers, and science journalists should learn more about relevant political issues, while politicians and pundits should learn more about the relevant science before advocating for particular policies.

In particular, issues I’m interested in writing about include, but are not limited to: climate change, energy policy, scientific integrity in policy-making, science in the media and education, diversity in science, and investment in science.  One of my first blogs will probably be about the current budget proposals and the effect of the sequester on the funding of scientific research.  I’m also interested in writing about the recent UN climate change conference in Warsaw.

I hope that these blog posts start conversations.  You’re welcome to reply, write comments or questions, and link to articles elsewhere.  I encourage plenty of skepticism and criticism, as long as it’s constructive.  I’ll also occasionally have guest bloggers here to write about these or related issues.  (If you’re interested in writing a guest blog, please contact me.)

Finally, “pale blue dot” refers to a photograph of Earth taken by Voyager in 1990.  The phrase also refers to these inspiring words by Carl Sagan: “The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena….Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves….There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

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