The violet filter on the Imaging Science System aboard Voyager 1 and 2Many years ago, I said to a colleague, “What a beautiful shirt! Royal blue is a good color on you.” She replied, “What do you mean blue? This shirt is purple!” After some experimenting, we discovered that we consistently differed on the line between blue and purple. In extending our experiments to co-workers, we found that I was the outlier—most people saw blue and purple more like my colleague. It turns out that such differences are real; the proteins that detect light in our eyes can be tuned to slightly different wavelengths, and we can each have slightly different ratios of the three proteins that allow us to distinguish colors. I really do see blue where most people see purple. (Do you? Here’s a Buzzfeed quiz.)

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My advice of the day?

Never pass up a chance to hang out with science teachers!

The occasion was the 2017 awards luncheon of the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA). The National Center for Science Education was being honored with the 2017 Distinguished Contributions Award, for our work supporting the California Science Framework review process, and our help in providing teachers with guidance about how to respond to the Heartland Institute’s mailing of misleading climate propaganda to California teachers. It was awfully nice of CSTA to recognize NCSE since in my view, it’s teachers who deserve the accolades.

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The Silver Lining

The Heartland Institute’s recent stunt of mailing unsolicited packets of propaganda to thousands of teachers across the nation continues to win further bad publicity for the climate-change-denying think tank. (Self-inflicted damage is something of a Heartland specialty: remember its 2013 billboard comparing “believers” in global warming to the Unabomber? As the Los Angeles Times (May 9, 2012) noted, it cost Heartland the support not only of allies who reject the scientific consensus on climate change but also of a number of wealthy corporate sponsors.) But Schadenfreude isn’t the only consequence. The stunt also seems to have invigorated a lot of educators, scientists, parents, environmentalists, and even legislators to speak up and speak out on the need to support climate education.

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    Der Nasenbohrer. Carsten Eggers. Via Wikimedia Commons

    The Heartland Institute is trying to fool teachers. NCSE is fighting back. You can help us.

     

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    Katherine Hayhoe, photo by Ashley Rodgers, Texas Tech UniversityKatherine Hayhoe, photo by Ashley Rodgers, Texas Tech University

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