When I was in middle school, I was way into model rocketry. My best friend and I would build these elaborate rocket kits, then (having researched the pertinent ordinances) launch them from approved areas of public parks. We even started up a 4-H club on model rocketry, though it never really took off (as it were).

One day, we were walking through our New Jersey suburb on our way to a park to do a launch, rockets and wires and so forth poking out of our backpacks. A police car rolled up next to us, and the officer asked what we were up to. I don’t recall whether we flashed our hand-made rocket club membership cards, but we explained what we planned to do, and what we had researched about how to do a safe and legal launch. He let us go with a wave.

Had we done the same today, the result would likely be different.

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You know how they used to peddle orange juice by saying, “It isn’t just for breakfast any more?” That’s how I feel about informal science education. No, silly: not that it isn’t just for breakfast any more. That it isn’t just for kids any more. (Unlike Trix, silly rabbit, which are just for kids.)

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08.10.2015

NCSE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so we can’t endorse candidates. Exactly what that entails is tricky, but it means we generally don’t jump in on campaign events. What happened at last week’s first Republican primary debate is so important as to make that moot.

Because they simply didn’t talk about science.

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In 1939, the great African American physician and surgeon Charles Drew organized a massive blood bank, shipping thousands of pints of plasma from New York City to Britain. The shipment saved lives as German bombs shredded English cities. The Red Cross soon brought Drew on board to coordinate its blood banking efforts, a necessary step as World War II expanded through Europe, the Pacific, and to American shores.

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Astronauts surveying the geology of the Grand CanyonAstronaut Roger Chaffee and geologist Elbert King explore the Grand Canyon, March 5-6 1967.
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Will Saletan has an amazing, thoughtful, and compelling essay on Slate, exploring the hypocrisy and science denial of certain GMO opponents.

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In part 1, I described how I responded to an interesting question about the extinction of the Neanderthals. My correspondent was perplexed. Although he could see how competition, disease, interbreeding, and hunting might have reduced the population of the Neanderthals appreciably, he didn’t see how any of these forces could have driven them to extinction. It’s a big planet, after all, and various hominids had managed to coexist on it for a long time.

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