Federal Data Dump Day in the U.S., Unless You’re a Science Agency

The first milestone in the Open Government Directive – the release by each federal agency of three high-quality data sets – is today.  Data.gov has a list of all Open Government Initiative data sets released today.  As I look at it, there are over 100 datasets and counting.  Those that the agencies consider high-quality are marked with an asterisk.  Many agencies came through, often with many more than three datasets (though not always three high-quality data sets).

Oddly, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, and the National Institutes of Health are not represented in today’s data dump.  Maybe there will be a last-minute entry.  Given the wealth of information in the NSF Science Statistics section, and the recent release of Science and Engineering Indicators, I’m a bit surprised they didn’t have something new to throw in.  The Office of Science and Technology Policy does have new data sets, which are collections of information on the National Nanotechnology Initiative, the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program, and the Global Climate Change Research Program.  Even so, there are plenty of new data sets ripe for the mining, so researchers spread the word.

The Science Movies Opening Today – They *Aren’t* Documentaries

Creation and Extraordinary Measures open today in the U.S.  Neither are likely to make a big dent in the weekend box office, as Avatar continues to rake in dough, The Book of Eli may have a strong second weekend, and/or the kids may drag their folks to The Tooth FairyI have not seen either film, but have watched the promotion of both and read some early reviews.  My sense is that science is at best a minor player in both films, though science policies may have more of an impact on the plot of Extraordinary Measures than science does in either film.

Creation has been out in the U.K. since last fall and premiered at the Toronto Film Festival.  Creation, a movie treatment of a biography developed by a descendant of Charles Darwin, revolves around his struggle in writing On the Origin of Species, not the research that provided Darwin with the material for the book.  We do see Darwin as a younger man, and not the old bearded one we might think of at first.  What reviews I’ve seen (the film has a very limited release) note that the film is more about religion – the conflict within Darwin and between him and his devout wife – than about science.  While this should be no surprise, I think some may be disappointed that they don’t find out more about Darwin the scientist.

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