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As I write this I'm in Montreal just wrapping up my coverage of the Association of Science - Technology Centers (ASTC) annual conference.
A strong democracy needs strong science
Canada's commitment to making decisions based on evidence, not politics, helped to build our prosperity and make our country one of the safest, healthiest, best educated and most compassionate countries in the world. Making evidence-based decisions requires investing in the science and research upon which they are founded but in recent years, our federal government has turned away from science, putting at risk the foundation of what makes Canada great.
A futuristic article by Kim Stanley Robinson, "How Science Saved the World," can be found in the February 2000 issue of the prestigious journal Nature (Vol. 403, p. 23). Looking 1,000 years into the future, Robinson reviews two books written around 3,000 AD: Science in the Third Millennium by Professor J. S. Khaldun; and Scientific Careers 2001-3000, written by a computer named "Ferdnand."
There's this cartoon you probably know. It features a big-headed, bald kid named Charlie and a girl named Lucy. Again and again in this amusing comic, Lucy promises not to move the football she's holding while the Charlie kid runs to kick it. And, again and again, to great bittersweet hilarity, she does and little Charlie goes flying landing on his back, chagrined but, we understand, still trusting in Lucy's innate goodness. We love that adorable sap, Charlie Brown.
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Hardly a week goes by without an article in a major scientific journal about the diversity of microorganisms living in and on our bodies. Few microbial species can be grown in pure culture, but modern DNA sequencing techniques have unleashed a flood of information about microbes associated with humans. Google Scholar analysis of the term "human microbiome" shows fewer than 1,000 articles between 1970 and 1999, 3,000 articles between 2000 and 2009, and over 17,000 articles since 2010.