Lofgren bill would create U.S. Science Laureate

The nation would have an official Science Laureate – a renowned expert in a scientific field who would travel the nation to inspire future scientists – under new legislation coauthored by Rep. Zoe Lofgren.

The idea of the bipartisan legislation, cosponsored in the House by Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and in the Senate by Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., is to promotes science education and celebrate scientific achievement – a key goal as the nation emphasizes the importance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education to produce a more skilled workforce.

EinsteinThis new honorary position would be appointed by the president from nominees recommended by the National Academy of Sciences and serve for a term of one to two years. The laureate would be empowered to speak to Americans on the importance of science broadly and scientific issues of the day; the position would be unpaid, and the scientist would also be encouraged to continue his or her own important scientific work.

“Scientists like Albert Einstein or Sally Ride can capture the public’s attention and inspire Americans if they are given a platform to speak from,” Lofgren, D-San Jose, said in a news release. “As our society becomes ever more technical, a role model for how important scientific advancement is for our nation’s future will help us. The Science Laureate can serve that role, as an accomplished individual to engage Americans on the importance of science in our lives and who can encourage our students to be the innovators of tomorrow.”

The legislation is supportred by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society; the STEM Education Coalition; the American Chemical Society; and the Hands-On Science Partnership. The original cosponsors of H.R. 1891 include Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, another member of the House Science Committee.


Read the court papers filed against ricin suspect

The Justice Department has released the criminal complaint and affidavit supporting the arrest of Paul Kevin Curtis, the Mississippi man accused of mailing letters containing the deadly poison ricin to President Obama and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

Paul Kevin CurtisThe complaint is pretty boilerplate but the affidavit is interesting reading; it basically describes Curtis as a conspiracy theorist who had corresponded regularly with public officials using the same verbiage he allegedly finally placed in the poisoned letters.

Should we be relieved that this wasn’t part of some sophisticated terrorist plot, or mortified that someone who apparently is stone-cold crazy was able to cook up and mail out a deadly poison?