Software Carpentry

Helping scientists make better software since 1997

Archive for September 2008

Science in the 21st Century

I’m at the “Science in the 21st Century” conference at the Perimeter Institute today. There are 32 people in the room right now: 23 are male and 9 are female, but only one is non-Caucasian, which pretty much matches the numbers in the picture from the conference dinner last night. That’s about the same M/F ratio I see in science grad courses at U of T, but definitely not the ethnic distribution—wonder why? It can’t just be a “seniority effect” — this is a pretty young crowd. We see the same thing at DemoCamp: non-Caucasians are often a majority n sci/tech classes and companies in the Greater Toronto Area, but definitely a minority on Tuesday nights. Thoughts? Michael Nielsen says that SciBarCamp was 50/50…

Beth Noveck:  “Designing Digital Institutions: Science in Government 2.0”.  Talked about crowdsourcing patent review; wonder if U of T would run a grad course for sci/eng students to teach them how to do this (and as a side effect, get them to do some useful patent reviewing)?  Might be a good central theme for a tech reading/writing course.

Eric Weinstein: “Sheldon Glashow Owes Me a Dollar”. His main point seemed to be that radical thinkers need to find wealthy benefactors (Medicis or Gates) in order to have the freedom to pursue really wild ideas. What I took away from it was how fundamentally the influx of physicists into banking is reshaping the language used by the latter.

You can follow the others in real-time on FriendFeed, or better yet, watch videos of the talks on the Perimeter Institute’s site.


Written by Greg Wilson

2008/09/11 at 10:05

Posted in Community, Opinion

Science 2.0: the Future of Online Tools for Scientists

A pub night and panel with Timo Hannay, Cameron Neylon, and Michael Nielsen, hosted by Nature Network Toronto

What does the future hold for the way we do science? Are online repositories such as GenBank and the physics preprint ArXiv, or social tools such as Nature Network, about to change science profoundly? To find out, join Nature Network Toronto for an interactive panel discussion over drinks at the pub.

Date: Sunday September 7 at 7:30pm

Place: Fionn MacCool’s (181 University Avenue, near corner with Adelaide)

About the panelists:

Timo Hannay is Publishing Director of at the Nature Publishing Group, publishers of Nature and over seventy other scientific journals, plus numerous online resources for scientists. He is responsible for new online initiatives in social software, databases and audio-visual content. Timo trained as a neurophysiologist at the University of Oxford and worked as a journalist and a management consultant before becoming a publisher.

Cameron Neylon is a biophysicist working in molecular biology, biophysics, and high throughput methods. He has a joint appointment as a Lecturer in Combinatorial Chemistry at the University of Southampton and as a Senior Scientist in Biomolecular Sciences at the ISIS Pulsed Neutron and Muon Facility. He is developing an electronic notebook for biochemistry labs which has lead to his involvement in the Open Research movement and to his group moving to an Open Notebook.

Michael Nielsen is a writer living just outside Toronto, Canada. He is currently working on a book about The Future of Science. One of the pioneers of quantum computation, he coauthored the standard text on quantum computation that is the most highly cited physics publication of the last 25 years. He is the author of more than fifty scientific papers, including invited contributions to Nature and Scientific American.

For more information visit Nature Network Toronto (, or contact Eva Amsen ( or Jen Dodd (, 519 572 2275).

Written by Greg Wilson

2008/09/04 at 14:48

Posted in Community, Noticed