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1.2 Defining science promotion

A basic definition of science promotion would be useful here: in the context of this unit it means putting forward the benefits of science by motivating and engaging non-scientists. You may be aware of the sociological argument that science is open to social influences and constraints, and it is worth bearing this in mind when thinking about whether the benefits of science are necessarily the same for everyone. Likewise, you will need to remember that the public is not a homogeneous mass with
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1.1 The political climate

You may have read a lot about recent political moves to involve the public in science policy making. Some commentators, such as Alan Irwin and Brian Wynne, are in favour of it, while others, such as Lewis Wolpert or Richard Dawkins, are circumspect or even hostile to involving the public in science. However, it is generally agreed that increasing public engagement with science is important and worthwhile, with tangible societal value (in other words it has value for experts, policy makers and
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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • have an awareness of the issues surrounding public understanding of science;

  • engage with some of the debates surrounding this topic.


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Introduction

For many years, the view that dominated the science–public realm was that if only ‘the public’ were educated more, they would better appreciate the intrinsic value of science in their lives. Moreover, under this approach, people were too often seen as ‘empty vessels’ waiting to be filled with scientific knowledge that was transmitted one-way from experts to citizens – an idea that you will recognise as the ‘deficit model’ of how ‘the public’ understands science. With a few
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5 Summary

Domesticated organisms evolve in artificial environments under artificial selection, and opportunistic or enforced hybridisation often occurs between species that would not normally interbreed. Natural selection cannot be eliminated and continues to operate. At least two different forms of dwarfism are common in domesticated livestock and humans, but only the rarer midget type of dwarfism occurs in wild lineages. Domesticated mammals and birds have distinctive patterns of skin pigmentation th
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4.1 Introduction

Domestication of dogs and of most other livestock took place so long ago that reconstructing the course of events is extremely difficult. Written records and illustrations describing the origins of many modern breeds are also sparse until the 19th century. We can only guess at what the domesticators were aiming to produce and how and when domesticated traits appeared in the species subjected to artificial selection. However, a little-known experiment on the domestication of red foxes (Vulp
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3.1 The origins of domesticated dogs

Archaeologists and biologists agree that dogs (Canis familiaris) were the first species to become domesticated. Francis Galton, Darwin's younger cousin, suggested at the end of the 19th century that domestication began when humans captured and raised wolf puppies. The resulting adults ate scraps of human food, assisted in hunting and acted as guard dogs around camps. Among the evidence in support of this hypothesis is the observation that tribal people all over the world take wild anim
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2.3 Skin pigmentation and pattern

Most domesticated livestock differ from their wild ancestors in the colour and pattern of the skin, hair or feathers.

SAQ 10

  • What gene-associated
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Learning outcomes

When you have completed this unit you should be able to:

  • define the terms ‘artificial selection’ and ‘domestication’ and explain the relationship between artificial and natural selection;

  • describe some forms of dwarfism in modern breeds of dogs and explain their relationship to dwarfism in humans and in modern and extinct wild mammals;

  • describe some features of the skin, fur, feathers and the shape of the head frequently observed in domestic
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3.2 Angular size, actual size and distance

The angular size of an object is determined uniquely by its actual size and its distance from the observer. For an object of fixed size, the larger the distance, the smaller the angular size. For objects at a fixed distance, the larger the actual size of an object, the larger its angular size. For objects with small angular sizes, such as typical astronomical objects, the precise relationship between angular size, actual size and distance is well approximated by th
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3 Measuring the Sun

Section 2 referred to observations that can only be made using sophisticated telescopes, but this section turns to an observation you can do yourself. There are two reasons for this: one is to give you experience in scientific measuring and the other is to introduce some terminology that astronomers use frequently.


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1.3 Beyond visible light

During the twentieth century, astronomers extended their capabilities by developing telescopes and detectors that were sensitive to radio waves, microwaves, infrared and ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and gamma rays. All these forms of electromagnetic radiation, along with visible light, are emitted by the Sun.

Figure 6</span><br><span class=Author(s): The Open University

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1.1 The Sun at visible wavelengths

The Sun is seen as a blindingly bright, yellow object in the sky. The part of the Sun that you normally see is called the photosphere (meaning ‘sphere of light’); this is best thought of as the ‘surface’ of the Sun, although it is very different from the surface of a planet such as Earth. Its diameter is about 1.4 million kilometres, making the Sun's volume roughly one million times that of the Earth. The photosphere is not solid. Rather, it is a thin layer of hot gaseous mater
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1 Observing the Sun

Safety warning

Never look directly at the Sun, either with the unaided eye or through spectacles, binoculars or a telescope. You risk permanently damaging your eyes if you do so.


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Learning outcomes

At the end of this unit you should:

  • know about the electromagnetic spectrum and how it is used to infer properties of sources of radiation;

  • know about the range of sizes, distances and motions of objects in the Universe and how they can be measured;

  • know about the structure of, and the main processes operating in, the Sun;

  • comprehend concepts lying well outside everyday experience, including those that involve very large and very smal
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Acknowledgements

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary (see terms and conditions) and is used under licence.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this unit:

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary and is used under licence.

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5.3.4 Aye-ayes

Perhaps with good reason, the aye-aye has been dubbed by some ‘the strangest of all primates’ and LoM provides some of the reasons [p. 243]. Little wonder that, as DA points out, the species was first classified as a rodent like them, it has powerful incisor teeth that grow continuously.

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5.5.2 Indris and sifakas

Both indris and sifakas are unusual amongst lemurs in that they are active largely by day. Leaves are their primary food. They have a specialised form of locomotion, best described as ‘vertical clinging and leaping’ and the leaps they can take, using their powerful legs, can be up to 10 m. DA describes the bounding movement of sifakas when they are compelled to come to ground. (If you go back to the previous video sequence that shows this strikingly white species – the so-called silky s
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5.2 Madagascan diversity

Activity 7

Watch the video sequence below, which focuses on just three lemur species – the ring-tailed (in a very brief sequence, leaping from one tree to another), the golden bamboo lemur, already mentioned, and the sifaka, plus the
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