Go to Google Images and search for “science.” What are the results? More than likely, the search will come up with beakers, protons, lab coats, double helixes, pulsars, microscopes and perhaps a smattering of trees and images of the globe. Photographs of researchers boot-high in streams collecting samples, for instance, or of a Cayman Island blue iguana in its natural habitat, would probably be few and far between. But images such as these—which show an aspect of the biological sciences, environmental processes or a subject of ecological research—rarely show up, even though they are of course also science.
Finding patterns and trends in the environment is an important natural human tendency. Without trends, for instance, Darwin may never have theorized about evolution. But the somewhat controversial question, especially now in the face of climate change, is “what do trends explain about the world?” Or a more specific example: do studies showing elevated global temperatures and sea level rise prove that one caused the other?
More than 150 scientists are meeting today with federal officials at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge to discuss and coordinate the federal response to the Deep Horizon oil leak. The one-day meeting, hosted by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership and sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Coast Guard, is being “led by non-Federal scientists to discuss the urgent issues involved with both short-term response actions for the spill and long-term monitoring of the environmental and human health impacts,” according to an Ocean Leadership press release.
While stranded tourists and airline companies curse Iceland’s belching volcano, atmospheric scientists have found a ray of hope in the clouds of ash. In a press conference today, experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said migrating ash plumes are giving scientists a chance to test new atmospheric science models and ash-sampling technology.