Remembering F. Sherwood Rowland

August 16th, 2012 - Posted in 2012, Dimensions, From the CEO by Anthony (Bud) Rock

I would like to take this opportunity to comment on something both personal and professional. We recently lost a champion of scientific research, and for me a good friend, in F. Sherwood Rowland, Nobel Laureate, who, along with his colleagues Mario Molina and Paul Crutzen, showed us how chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, damage the Earth’s protective ozone layer. This is not a commentary, however, on the magnitude of Sherry Rowland’s work (though monumental it was, indeed). Rather, I reflect on the courage of those scientists who are prepared to jettison conventional wisdom, swim upstream, challenge notions—and bear the scars of that effort wherever it may lead.

Sherry once said that, for nearly a decade after undertaking his groundbreaking research, he could not get invited into a college classroom to lecture, much less excel among his peers. He was challenged at every turn. And yet, through scientific rigor and sheer perseverance, his work was translated from the laboratory into policy in one of the most progressive international measures ever envisioned: the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
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No Bad Questions

May 29th, 2012 - Posted in 2012, Dimensions, From the CEO by Anthony (Bud) Rock

“There are no bad questions, only bad answers.”

Implicit in this well-worn expression is the purity of inquiry, the virtue of asking, and the excitement of self-initiated discovery.

The adage comes to mind as I reflect on an interesting workshop on inquiry-based learning (IBL) that convened just prior to the start of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting, held in February in Vancouver, Canada. My thanks to AAAS and to Science World British Columbia, TELUS World of Science (our ASTC-member science center in Vancouver) for organizing and hosting this workshop. (more…)

Cultivating Innovation and Optimism

February 21st, 2012 - Posted in 2012, Dimensions, From the CEO by Anthony (Bud) Rock

I begin this column with a confession of sorts. I am not a science fiction (SF) reader. And yet, I am intrigued by the recent commentary of renowned SF writer Neal Stephenson in World Policy Journal. Stephenson laments the loss today of the “techno-optimism” of science fiction’s Golden Age—from Tom Swift’s photo telephone, to radiotransporters and robots in the works of Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov, to James Bond’s inventive gadgetry.

Where are those sources of imaginative innovation today? Where is the counterbalance to the apocalyptic tones of so many writers (and game designers) and the scientific skepticism and innovation risk aversion emerging in the general public?

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Informal Science Learning: Unpredictable, Chaotic…and Viral!

January 3rd, 2012 - Posted in 2012, Dimensions, From the CEO by Anthony (Bud) Rock

I recently represented ASTC on the scientific advisory board of a large media group that held its annual retreat in the pristine Colorado wilderness. Gathered together were leading scientific researchers, innovators, captains of industry, technology-based investors and philanthropists, artists, and science communicators.

In a relaxed venue, this diverse group explored the science issues that are most vexing in our world today and the topics only just visible on the edges of the horizon. The group examined, as well, the constantly changing ways in which the public obtains (and retains) science information now and in the foreseeable future.
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Engaging the Public Across Worldviews

November 28th, 2011 - Posted in 2011, Dimensions, From the CEO by Anthony (Bud) Rock

In September, I was privileged to be among the more than 400 delegates from 56 countries who attended the 6th Science Centre World Congress (6SCWC) in Cape Town, South Africa. I want to express ASTC’s appreciation to all who organized and participated in this inspiring and highly enjoyable event. It was a learning experience for all, producing a Cape Town Declaration that commits our field to addressing global challenges through science learning.
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