Monday, August 1, 2011

Scientist, You May Speak Freely

Quite the kerfuffle erupted last week over the federal government muzzling a leading fisheries scientist whose work could shed light on the reasons for the crashing of salmon stocks off the west coast of Canada.

This has led to further criticism of the Conservative government's poor relationship with science in general, the meddling in grant allocations, and other attempts to control the message and the undertakings of science in this country.

A refreshing departure from this trend would seem to be the work of the Pavilion Lake Research Project, which is exploring a pair of lakes in British Columbia that are endowed with an extremely rare bio-geological phenomenon. Underwater structures there, called macrobialites, are thought to have been created billions of years ago due to the actions of ancient bacteria which were some of the most primitive lifeforms on Earth.

The cool thing about this project is that there is a fairly comprehensive Youtube record of activities, as well as a blog that many of the scientists have participated in since 2009.

Since the exploration occurs underwater, with many complexities in a hostile environment, the project makes an excellent model (or "analog" as they say) for possible future space missions. Therefore, the partners in the project include NASA, the Canada Space Agency and several universities. A truly multidisciplinary project.

The relatively wide open public communication of this project could be due mostly to the fact that there is little conceivable controversial material that could emerge, and the win - win dynamics of the operation across several fields, not the least of which the Vancouver developer of the submersible exploration unit, Nuytco Research Ltd.

Be that as it may, the public information they make available is extremely interesting and is a prime example of how the work of science can be shared with a public that would love to have more of this information.In fact, getting more exposure for this type of information would probably be the best thing that could ever be done in order for science to capture the interest of more young people.

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