Tag Archives: sciences

Learn to Write, Stem Majors

Just last week I watched one of my friends trod through grading some assignments. For anyone of you who is familiar with the pain that is grading, you know how horrible it is. For those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure I will say this, it’s worse than actually doing the assignment. No matter how much you suffered writing that paper or finish that lab I can guarantee you that grading it was worse. Why? Because the person who graded it had to do it 20 times while you only had to go through that hell once.

As I watched my friend grade those papers I felt nothing but sympathy and gratitude. Sympathy that he had to do that and gratitude that I only had to grade lab assignments and not papers. Because I’m going to be honest, there’s nothing worse than grading papers. When you grade a paper you’ve got to not only grade for content but also for grammar. Which is annoying and time consuming. Papers are often peppered with mistakes, some serious and some small. The line between too harsh and too lenient is blurry, making it difficult to know how many points to take off exactly.

The reason I bring this up is because I see the worst offenders for this sort of poor writing is STEM majors. We STEM majors have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to our ability to write, it’s almost sad. The worst thing about it all is that we make fun of the humanities while we do it. A majority of science majors can’t string three words together into a cohesive sentence but we delight in making fun of the people who can. I’m guilty of that myself, I’ve got at least a dozen English major jokes in my arsenal ready for use at any time.

But honestly? We STEM majors need to get it together. Either we have to stop making fun of the people who can do what we can’t and treat them with the respect they deserve. Or we need to stop scorning the skills altogether and learn how to do it ourselves. A lot of STEM majors will claim that they don’t know how to write, that their brain doesn’t work like that. Coming from the same group that’ll look down on an Art major who can’t do calculus. It’s funny because that Art major is going to need calculus way less than the STEM major will need to be able to write.

Pull yourselves together STEM majors and learn to write!

Gender Studies for Scientists

Radford University, like hundreds of other universities across the country, offers courses in Women and Gender Studies. I grew up in a highly scientific conservative household that taught me to see courses on those subjects as silly and useless, which is an opinion held by a lot of scientists today. My parents were both college educated, in chemistry and computer science, and raised their six children to work towards a college education, preferably in the sciences.

It was natural for me to gravitate to the more ‘hard’ sciences like physics, chemistry, and biology. I never questioned why these more male-dominated fields were considered ‘hard’ and why female-dominated fields like psychology and sociology were ‘soft’ sciences. It’s certainly not to do with difficulty.

I’m taking my first gender studies class this semester, my last semester before graduating with a degree in geology. With each week, I learn more and more about the ways my gender affects the way I study in my field and the way my peers treat me. These ways range from the gender pay gap that will affect me while I pay back my student loans to the motherhood penalty that will make getting a job in geology with children difficult.

Every woman you talk to in male-dominated sciences can tell you stories about being talked down to by male peers and instructors or by being spoken over in debates. I’ve experienced these things here at Radford. Once a male chemistry professor told me that he didn’t like having women in the lab because they were a distraction to the male students, effectively telling me and all the other girls in the class that our education didn’t matter as much as our male peers.

 

A new report links extreme weather to climate change

A new report called Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change written by the Committee on Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change Attribution links extreme weather to climate change. The report was pre-published recently and the final report will be available through the National Academies Press in spring 2016.

Working under Washington’s National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, the researchers of climate from British and American universities laid out the reports findings Friday March 11 at a news conference.

The committee expresses that they have a strong belief that most events of extreme weather such as heat waves, heavy precipitation, and droughts are being affected or caused by climate change.

Could extreme weather such as hurricanes be caused by climate change? Graphic from Wikipedia
Could extreme weather such as hurricanes be caused by climate change? Graphic from Wikipedia

Prior to this report, scientists and researchers had a general consensus that the happenstance of extreme weather and climate change had no conclusive link.

The researchers gathered long-term data on extreme events which allowed them to outline how they were developing in severity as the impacts of climate change grew over time.

The committee members noted the heatwave in Russia that occurred in 2010, which prompted the nation’s most detrimental drought in about 40 years, and the loss of around 34,749 square miles of crops. They additionally pointed to the extreme rain in the United Kingdom that occurred in 2000, which led to the most damaging and widespread flooding since the 1940s.

According to researchers, they don’t quite have enough information to conclude that every event of extreme weather is due to climate change. However, as the research is expanded, they may be able to link wildfires, hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons, and tornados to climate change.

As these extreme weather events become more dangerous and more frequent, the repercussions will be taken out on the economy and individual’s lives.

In 2014, the World Meteorological Organization approximated that occurrences of extreme weather cost the human race over 2 trillion dollars and have killed over 2 million people, while devastating millions more.

The researchers hope that they can expand upon the reports findings through research in order for researchers and forecasters to eventually design better predictive models not just with respect to the understanding of climate, but with the conclusive understanding of the effect that climate change is having on Earth’s weather systems.