Submitted by Andy Guess on August 20, 2007 - 4:00am
Robert C. Amme, a research professor of physics at the University of Denver, thinks there aren't nearly enough scientists with expertise in managing nuclear waste. So to train the next generation of environmental assessment specialists, he's taking them to a place where there's no radiation, nuclear fallout or even laws of gravity.
Armed with a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Amme and his colleagues are preparing to build a nuclear reactor -- in the virtual, online world of Second Life.
Seeding Labs, a five-year-old, Harvard University-based effort to collect used and surplus laboratory equipment and distribute it across the developing world, aims not only to transport microscopes but also to forge connections. “You can’t do science in a vacuum, regardless of whether you’re in the U.S. or the Congo,” says Nina Dudnik, Seeding Lab’s founder and a Ph.D. student in molecular biology at Harvard Medical School. “Having the research capacity in the Congo only strengthens us here and vice versa.”
A common complaint among social scientists in recent years is that institutional review boards -- which are supposed to protect the interests of human subjects in research -- are too involved in work they don't understand. Good social science is getting held up, the social scientists say.