11 Things I Learned Reading Every Last Word Of The AAAS Meeting Program Book

AAAS Program Book 2014

Susannah F. Locke

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is the world's largest general scientific society. It's the publisher of the journal Science, and it has a giant meeting every February in a giant conference center in the bowels of a giant city. I attended this year, lugging around the meeting's 176-page program book. But there's too much going on to attend every session. So I then read every page of said book so that you don't have to. Here's the goods:

  1. Researchers are using online search records to find medication interactions.
  2. Researchers are also monitoring residents of assisted living facilities by using a special floor with sensors in it.
  3. "Since 2007, at least three-dozen science festival initiatives have formed in the U.S. alone."
  4. "The development of probability theory resulted from the earnest contemplation of problems faced by gamblers."
  5. "Blood-feeding mosquitoes select victims based on the microbial composition of human skin."
  6. You can help map neurons in the brain by playing the game EyeWire.
  7. Nine billion people will live on this planet by 2050. (Current count is around 7 billion.) How will we feed them all? And how will we transport them all and house them all and warm them all without destroying the planet?
  8. "Risk is traditionally defined as a triplet consisting of what can go wrong, how likely it is to happen, and the consequences of it happening." However, the folks who wrote this blurb say that people who evaluate the risk of cyber threats should also factor in their guts ("value judgments").
  9. Almost 100,000 people are waiting for a kidney transplant in the U.S. And organ donations on the whole have plateaued.
  10. Every year, more than 10 million shipping containers cross into the U.S. of A. They could have bombs or nukes or who-knows-what, and we're barely screening any of them. New tech could help, but of course.
  11. X-ray crystallography is linked to 28 Nobel Prizes. Go crystallography! (And what the heck is crystallography? Check out Maki Naro's explanations in comic form.)

H/t to Sam Sifton at The 6th Floor blog of the New York Times, whose post on reading every last word of Field & Stream inspired this one.