By: Jeff Inglis, The Conversation

Editor’s note: The following is a roundup of archival stories. The Conversation

Pi DayOn March 14, or 3/14, mathematicians and other obscure-holiday aficionados celebrate Pi Day, honoring π, the Greek symbol representing an irrational number that begins with 3.14. Pi, as schoolteachers everywhere repeat, represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

What is Pi Day, and what, really, do we know about π anyway? Here are three-and-bit-more articles to round out your Pi Day festivities.

A silly holiday

First off, a reflection on this “holiday” construct. Pi itself is very important, writes mathematics professor Daniel Ullman of George Washington University, but celebrating it is absurd:

The Gregorian calendar, the decimal system, the Greek alphabet, and pies are relatively modern, human-made inventions, chosen arbitrarily among many equivalent choices. Of course a mood-boosting piece of lemon meringue could be just what many math lovers need in the middle of March at the end of a long winter. But there’s an element of absurdity to celebrating π by noting its connections with these ephemera, which have themselves no connection to π at all, just as absurd as it would be to celebrate Earth Day by eating foods that start with the letter “E.”

And yet, here we are, looking at the calendar and getting goofily giddy about the sequence of numbers it shows us.

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Join Us to Free the Science

ECS at 115

I hope most of you have heard of ECS’s initiative to Free the Science. Our goal is to make our high quality, peer-reviewed research in the ECS Digital Library freely available to everyone. That means authors can publish for free and anyone, anywhere, can read papers, abstracts, or proceedings without a subscription. We think it will revolutionize the progress made in our niche of science and we hope it will set an example for other publishers, especially those that are nonprofit societies, to pursue a more robust open access business model.

As we celebrate our 115th anniversary this year, Free the Science couldn’t be more important. The research that YOU do has the ability to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues from energy independence and clean water, to safety and medical technology. We don’t think it’s too bold to say that our science can save lives and ensure our planet’s sustainability. And that’s why, more than ever, we must work together to Free the Science.

But our initiative to Free the Science is hardly free. While we want to open access to science there is a cost to producing peer-reviewed research. It takes time, money, and know-how to disseminate quality scientific research. After 115 years in the field of scholarly communications, ECS has the knowledge and bandwidth to implement such an initiative, but we need the support of our membership to make it happen.

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EJ Taylor is the chief technical officer and intellectual property director at Faraday Technology, which focuses on research and development services related to aerospace, energy, environmental, manufacturing, and medical markets.

He is the current ECS treasurer as well as the chair of the ECS Free the Science advisory board.

Taylor’s work includes corrosion sensing technologies, electrochemical cells for printed circuit boards, and electrochemical water treatment technologies.

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By: Tom Solomon, Bucknell University

Darwin“The evidence is incontrovertible. Global warming is occurring.” “Climate change is real, is serious and has been influenced by anthropogenic activity.” “The scientific evidence is clear: Global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and is a growing threat to society.” The Conversation

As these scientific societies’ position statements reflect, there is a clear scientific consensus on the reality of climate change. But although public acceptance of climate theory is improving, many of our elected leaders still express skepticism about the science. The theory of evolution also shows a mismatch: Whereas there is virtually universal agreement among scientists about the validity of the theory, only 33 percent of the public accepts it in full. For both climate change and evolution, skeptics sometimes sow doubt by saying that it is just a “theory.”

How does a scientific theory gain widespread acceptance in the scientific community? Why should the public and elected officials be expected to accept something that is “only a theory”? And how can we know if the science behind a particular theory is “settled,” anyway?

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Women in STEMEvery year, we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 as a way to commemorate the movement for women’s rights. This global holiday honors the social, economic, cultural, political – and in our case – scientific achievements of women.

Additionally, International Women’s Day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Currently, women remain underrepresented in the STEM workforce, although to a lesser degree than the past. According to the National Science Foundation, the greatest gender disparities still exist in the fields of engineering, computer science, and physical science.

In the U.S., women make up half of the entire workforce, but only 29 percent of the science and engineering field. While the gender gap may still exist for women in STEM, many phenomenal female scientists have entered the field over the years and left an indelible mark on the science.

Take Nettie Stevens (born 1861), the foremost researcher in sex determination, whose work was initially rejected because of her sex. Or Mary Engle Pennington (born 1872), an American chemist at the turn of the 20th century, pioneering research that allows us to process, store, and ship food safely. Barbara McClintock (born 1902) was deemed crazy when she suggested that genes jump from chromosome to chromosome. Of course, she was later awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her discovery of genetic transportation.

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By: Carolyn Conner Seepersad, University of Texas at Austin

Women in engineeringAs millions of students of all ages return to school this fall, they are making important choices that have a strong influence on their eventual career path – which college majors to pursue, which high school classes to take, even which elementary school extracurricular activities to join. Many of them – especially women, girls and members of minority groups – make choices that lead them away from professions in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Women are just 13 percent of mechanical engineering undergraduate students. And women earn only 14.2 percent of doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering. More broadly, women make up 49 percent of the college-educated workforce, but only 14 percent of practicing engineers nationwide.

When these disparities persist, everyone suffers. Women miss out on opportunities in growing and highly paid occupations that require science and engineering skills. Furthermore, diverse design teams are more innovative and often avoid key flaws when designing products and systems with which we interact on a daily basis. Early airbags designed by primarily male design teams worked for adult male bodies, but resulted in avoidable deaths of female and child passengers. Early voice recognition systems failed to recognize female voices because they were calibrated for standard male voices.

How can we get more women into engineering fields, and help them stay for their whole careers? We need their insight and creativity to help solve the problems facing our world.

Options for action

Experts tell us that there are a variety of things that will help. For example, we need to encourage young girls to develop their spatial skills, laying the foundation for further scientific exploration as they grow.

We also need to find ways to help women feel less alone as they help us build a more inclusive engineering community. This includes hosting female-focused engineering interest groups on campuses and in workplaces, and highlighting engineering role models who reflect the true diversity of our population.

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ECS at 115

There’s a lot of noise in our world today about separating fact from fiction. We are constantly bombarded with volumes of information and data—and we are challenged with what and who to believe?

But when it comes to electrochemistry and solid state sciences, and related fields, be assured that the ECS journals are a source that you can trust. For 115 years, ECS has been publishing high quality, peer-reviewed journals that contain work from YOU—renowned scientists, engineers, inventors, and Nobel Laureates. YOU also provide the high quality and knowledgeable peer review of manuscripts submitted for ECS journal consideration. From our meetings proceedings, ECS Transactions, to our journals, the Journal of the Electrochemical Society and the Journal of Solid State Science and Technology, we maintain rigorous standards that land our publications in the top ranked, most cited in the world.

ECS is also one of the only remaining independent, nonprofit society publisher of electrochemistry and solid state science and technology. With over 3.2 million full-text article downloads in 2016, we are seeing an increase in use of the ECS Digital Library since we have transitioned to hybrid open access, with the future goal to completely Free the Science, ensuring complete access to our entire body of knowledge.

We’re proud of this legacy and we thank you for the contributions that you’ve made to ECS publications through the years.

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ECS Celebrates Open Data Day

On March 4, 2017, ECS will be celebrating Open Data Day! For 2017, this global initiative focuses on four key areas that open data can contribute to: open research data, tracking public money flows, open data for the environment, and open data for human rights.

What is open data? Open data is the revolutionary concept that some data should be available for public use without legal or fiscal restrictions. ECS’s Free the Science initiative aligns categorically with open research data and open data for the environment. This ECS initiative is fighting to bring science and technology into the information sharing era; as technology makes information rapidly more available, the way in which data is accessible and presented becomes evidently more important for scientific advancement. In light of this, ECS is actively seeking ways to make our research open to expedite innovation and find solutions for environmental issues and other technically relevant areas. In addition to this, we are seeking to change the way that scholarly communication among scientists is exchanged and socialized. In the coming months, keep your eye out for big announcements in these areas which are expected to help us accomplish those goals!

Do you want to participate in Open Data Day but don’t know how? On Thursday, March 2 through Saturday, March 4, ECS will be circulating a survey to determine our field’s specific needs in the realm of accessibility to data and research. The best way to contribute to open data is by sharing your knowledge and helping us to understand the accessibility needs of our researchers.

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Support Students and Young Scientists

ECS at 115

As we reflect on the 115th anniversary of ECS, it is also important to look towards the future and strengthen opportunities for the next generation of scientists.

In 2016, ECS provided support for student and early career scientists through:

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By: Ellen Finnie, In the Open

Free the ScienceThe Electrochemical Society, a small nonprofit scholarly society founded in 1902, has an important message for all of us who are concerned about access to science. Mary Yess, deputy executive director and chief content officer and publisher, could not be clearer about the increased urgency of ECS’ path: “We have got to move towards an open science environment. It has never been more important – especially in light of the recently announced ‘gag orders’ on several U.S. government agencies– to actively promote the principles of open science.” What they committed to in 2013 as an important open access initiative has become, against the current political backdrop, truly a quest to “free the science.”

ECS’s Free the Science program is designed to accelerate the ability of the research ECS publishes — for example, in sustainable clean energy, clean water, climate science, food safety, and medical care — to generate solutions to our planet’s biggest problems. It is a simple and yet powerful proposition, as ECS frames it:

“We believe that if this research were openly available to anyone who wished to read it, anywhere it the world, it would contribute to faster problem solving and technology development, accelerate the pace of scientific discovery, encourage innovation, enrich education, and even stimulate the economy.”

How this small society — which currently publishes just two journals — came to this conclusion, and how they plan to move to an entirely open access future, is, I believe, broadly instructive at a time when our political environment has only one solid state: uncertainty.

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