In Science We Trust – Rolling Stone

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In a world reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic, the role of science has been brought into sharp focus. Chief scientific advisors, epidemiologists and infectious disease experts have become household names around the world; all hopes pinned on pioneers of modern medicine to provide the escape route: a vaccine. We are guzzling up information with newfound gusto, hungry for the facts of science over the disorientation of hearsay, rumor and rhetoric.

Yet, this spotlight on science is more an anomaly than a normality in the wider context. Society still isn’t embracing the full potential of science. Opportunities built on the foundations of scientific understanding to advance humanity are being missed.

Unlike questions raised over policies, laws, and opinion, science only ever speaks in evidence and data. Used well it can cut through the minefield of opinions and lay the groundwork for forward-thinking decisions. More urgently than ever, it’s time for decision-makers to put their trust in the opportunities science and technology present to lead us into a better future.

Prioritizing science in this way not only makes sense, it echoes the calls of public opinion. A new Philip Morris International (PMI) white paper, “In Support of the Primacy of Science,” revealed that 84 percent of people polled across 19 countries want their governments to take recent findings into account when crafting policy. However, just 51 percent of those individuals believe their leaders are doing so.

The Public Wants Action From Lawmakers and Businesses Leaders

PMI’s white paper also revealed that 77 percent of respondents believe that scientific advancements can solve the world’s most pressing issues. However, those surveyed aren’t convinced that society recognizes the importance of science in our lives. While industry experts and researchers espouse science’s value, just 45 percent of the PMI survey sample thought the public held it

Early Humans Were Using Fire 300,000 Years Ago to Forge Superior Stone Tools

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A stone tool made of flint.

A stone tool made of flint.
Image: Avraham Gopher

The prehistoric practice of using controlled fires to produce customized stone tools dates back 300,000 years, according to new research. The discovery affirms the cognitive and cultural sophistication of human species living at this time.

The baked flint tools, found at Qesem Cave in central Israel, are evidence that early hominins were capable of controlling the temperature of their fires and that they had stumbled upon an important survival skill, according to new research published today in Nature Human Behavior.

The heating of flint at low temperatures allowed for better control of flaking during knapping. Armed with this level of control, tool builders could cater their tools for specific cutting applications. The new paper was led by archaeologist Filipe Natalio from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

Silje Evjenth Bentsen, an anthropologist at the University of Bergen who wasn’t involved in the new study, said fire use among hominins is currently a hot topic in archaeological research, and for good reason.

“I personally think that hominins could not survive long in the cold climate of Eurasia without hot food and a warm fire, but some researchers still argue that controlled and habitual use of fire came quite late,” explained Bentsen in an email. “If hominins in Qesem Cave were using fire 300,000 years ago as a technology and as part of their tool production strategies, it is a sign of advanced use of fire. And as such, it could also help us understand how and when hominins controlled fire and used it casually in their everyday life.”

From left to right: a pot lid, flake, and blade (not to scale).

From left to right: a pot lid, flake, and blade (not to scale).
Image: A. Agam et al., 2020

Our species, Homo sapiens,