Area of Research: The Scientific Enterprise
The Big Data Mindset
MV Environmental Film Festival
An article about the 7th annual Martha’s Vineyard Environmental Film Festival (May 27-30) recaps the history, which began with Jesse Ausubel + Jacques Perrin. Jesse will host a set of short films about the oceans on Sunday 30 May at 1pm.
DNA and Art Law
Thanks to Diana Wierbicki, Dean Nicyper, and Eric Rayman, Jesse Ausubel presented a short talk on Some DNA Issues for Art Law to the Art Law Committee of the New York City Bar based on the progress of the Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project.
Play about the murder of Moritz Schlick
A pair of excellent books about the Vienna Circle of philosophers have recently appeared: Exact Thinking in Demented Times: The Vienna Circle and the Epic Quest for the Foundations of Science by Karl Sigmund (2017) and The Murder of Professor Schlick: The Rise and Fall of the Vienna Circle by David Edmonds (2020).
As an undergraduate, I took several philosophy courses and was especially taken with Wittgenstein. In the spring of 1972, a multi-talented astronomy graduate student, Joseph Timko, also keenly interested in philosophy, and I wrote and performed a short play about the murder of Moritz Schlick, The Best Picture. Performing the role of Schlick, I was murdered each evening. The play was performed again in 1975 in New York and on a few other occasions.
Working in Vienna during 1979-1982 at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, I was eager to learn more about the Vienna Circle. Much curiosity then pertained to Vienna 1900 but little to Vienna between the wars. I attended the Kirchberg Wittgenstein symposium in 1981, where one felt stirrings of the revival now mature in the Sigmund and Edmonds books. In honor of the Schlick revival, find posted a slightly revised 1980 version of The Best Picture, a melodrama in which Ludwig Wittgenstein, Private Investigator, made his stage debut in solving the Case of the Posthmous Positivist.
Joshua Lederberg biography published
Genes, Germs and Medicine: The Life of Joshua Lederberg by U. of Toronto historian of science Jan Sapp has just been published. The book provides an engaging, balanced, and perceptive view of the multifaceted life and mind of Dr. Lederberg, who passed away in 2008.
For Jesse’s particular remembrances, see
Joshua Lederberg (In memoriam, 2008)
Joshua Lederberg (A Tribute to the Foresight of Joshua Lederberg, 2009)
Crowning achievement of Deep Carbon Observatory
The media have much coverage of the new paper Extending full-plate tectonic models into deep time and its marvelous visualization of a billion years of movement of the Earth’s continents and tectonic plates in 40 seconds. The paper generously acknowledges the Deep Carbon Observatory as well as Sloan and Lounsbery foundation grants arranged by Jesse. Congratulations to the brilliant leader of the EarthByte Group, Sabin Zahirovic, lead author Andrew Merdith, and the rest of their team. The paper will become a citation classic and earn them many prizes. For history of the Deep Carbon Observatory, see Jesse’s Foreword to Simon Mitton’s new From Crust to Core (A Chronicle of Deep Carbon Science)
Simon Mitton’s history of deep carbon science
Cambridge (UK) historian of science Simon Mitton has just published the excellent book From Crust to Core (A Chronicle of Deep Carbon Science). Jesse Ausubel authored the Foreword, which explains the origin of the Deep Carbon Observatory.
Retrospective on the Census of Marine Life
The Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) hosted a virtual symposium entitled Observing Life in a Changing Ocean: Exploring a ‘Census of Marine Life’ Today, on January 27, 2021.
The Census of Marine Life was an international program of discovery of life in the ocean, from microbes to whales and from coral reefs to abyssal plains. The Census ran from 2000-2010 and was a model for building collaboration and a global baseline of knowledge of marine diversity, distribution, and abundance. COL convened the symposium to highlight the need and generate excitement for a sustained, collaborative, and systematic program in marine biodiversity research and observation. Jesse Ausubel gave an opening 25-minute retrospective on the program beginning 5 minutes 40 seconds into the video.
Passing of Robert A. Frosch
Our great friend and colleague Robert A. Frosch passed away 30 December 2020 at age 92. Jesse Ausubel met Bob in November 1977 at the first meeting of the NASEM Climate Research Board, and we cooperated for the next 40 years. Bob chaired the National Academy of Engineering study group that produced the 1989 book Technology and Environment with the opening essay, Technology and Environment: An Overview by Jesse H. Ausubel, Robert A. Frosch, and Robert Herman. A Remembrance will follow.