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What's the Big Idea? Scientific Literacy at the San Antonio Public Library.   Tags: adult programs, environmental quality, evolution, science  

Last Updated: Apr 21, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

General Science Resources @ SAPL Print Page

More Science Books @ SAPL

A GARDEN OF MARVELS : How We Discovered That Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of Plants - Kassinger, Ruth

Call number: TBA 

Publication Date 2014


ATOMIC ACCIDENTS : a history of nuclear meltdowns and disasters: from the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima - Mahaffey, James A

Call number: NEW 363.1799 MAHAFFEY 2014  

Publication Date 2014


THE FUTURE OF THE MIND : the scientific quest to understand, enhance, and empower the mind - Kaku, Michio

Call number: TBA

Publication Date 2014



The End of Night: searching for natural darkness in an age of artificial light - Paul Bogard

Call number  NEW 551.566 BOGARD 2013

Publication date 2013



The Science Delusion : asking the big questions in a culture of easy answers - Curtis White

Call number NEW 501 WHITE 2013

Publication date 2013  


book jacket 


Dance of the Molecules: How nanotchnology is changing our lives - Ted Sargent

Call number 620.5 SARGENT

Publication date 2006 


 book jacket

Mad science: Einstein's fridge, Dewar's flask, Mach's speed, and 362 other inventions and discoveries that made our world- edited by Randy Alfred

Call number 500 MAD 2012

Publication date 2012 




Robotics Demystified - Edwin Wise

Call number 629.892 WISE

Publication date 2005



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Search our databases to help with research or other important science information

  • Science & Technology Collection
    Over 800 leading full-text journals covering relevant aspects of the scientific and technical community. In addition to full text, this database offers indexing and abstracts for more than 1,700 publications.
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What You'll Find Here

Become involved in science for adults. Browse our selected science resources and learn more about presentations by experts in various science fields.

Discover a BIG IDEA in science at the

San Antonio Public Library. 


Science Books @ SAPL

Cover Art
Quantum Mechanics - Leonard Susskind; Art Friedman
Call Number: TBA
ISBN: 9780465036677
Publication Date: 2014-02-25

Cover Art
The Homing Instinct - Bernd Heinrich
Call Number: TBA
ISBN: 9780547198484
Publication Date: 2014

Cover Art
Lucky Planet - David Waltham
Call Number: TBA
ISBN: 9780465039999
Publication Date: 2014-04-08

Cover Art
Missing Microbes - Martin J. Blaser
Call Number: TBA
ISBN: 9780805098105
Publication Date: 2014-04-08

Cover Art
The Gap - Thomas Suddendorf
ISBN: 9780465030149
Publication Date: 2013-11-12
What separates our minds from other animals?

Cover Art
Identically Different - Tim Spector
Call Number: 616.042 SPECTOR 2013
ISBN: 9781468306606
Publication Date: 2013-08-01


Why Should You Be Scientifically Literate?

Why Should You Be Scientifically Literate?


Robert M. Hazen

December 2002


Robert M. Hazen, Ph.D., is a research scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Geophysical Lab


We live in an age of constant scientific discovery — a world shaped by revolutionary new technologies. Just look at your favorite newspaper. The chances are pretty good that in the next few days you’ll see a headline about global warming, cloning, fossils in meteorites, or genetically engineered food. Other stories featuring exotic materials, medical advances, DNA evidence, and new drugs all deal with issues that directly affect your life. As a consumer, as a business professional, and as a citizen, you will have to form opinions about these and other science-based issues if you are to participate fully in modern society.


Scientific literacy helps us understand the issues.

More and more, scientific and technological issues dominate national discourse, from environmental debates on ozone depletion and acid rain, to economic threats from climate change and invasive species. Understanding these debates has become as basic as reading. All citizens need to be scientifically literate to:


     appreciate the world around them

     make informed personal choices


It is the responsibility of scientists and educators to provide everyone with the background knowledge to help us cope with the fast-paced changes of today and tomorrow.


What is scientific literacy?

Scientific literacy, quite simply, is a mix of concepts, history, and philosophy that help you understand the scientific issues of our time.

Scientific literacy is not the specialized, jargon-filled esoteric lingo of the experts. You don’t have to be able to synthesize new drugs to appreciate the importance of medical advances, nor do you need to be able to calculate the orbit of the space station to understand its role in space exploration. Scientific

     literacy is rooted in the most general scientific principles and broad knowledge of science; the scientifically literate citizen possesses facts and vocabulary sufficient to comprehend the context of the daily news. If you can understand scientific issues in magazines and newspapers (if you can tackle articles about genetic engineering or the ozone hole with the same ease that you would sports, politics, or the arts) then you are scientifically literate


Admittedly, this definition of scientific literacy does not satisfy everyone. But my colleagues and I feel strongly that those who insist that everyone must understand science at a deep level are confusing two important but separate aspects of scientific knowledge. As in many other endeavors, doing science is obviously distinct from using science; and scientific literacy concerns only the latter.




Coma Niddy University

Anti-Matter Rap Song

  Coma Niddy is my name, making fun Science videos is my game. 

  For more videos, see .


Coma Niddy University

Theory vs Hypothesis


NASA at SXSW: Behind the Webb

A full-scale model of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope was on display at the 2013 SXSW, South by Southwest Festival.

Take a look at how NASA got setup at SXSW and prepared for bringing the future of space sight to Austin, TX.

For more videos about the James Webb Space Telescope and NASA's interactive exhibit at SXSW see .



SciShow discusses science news and history and concepts.

With equal parts skepticism and enthusiasm, they go a little deeper...without going off the deep end.

Most of the time, anyway.



Videos about numbers - it's that simple. Videos by Brady Haran

For more videos, see .

Subject Guide

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Sandra Carreon Griffin
Contact Info
Send Email
Poetry, Science

Subject Guide

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Paul Przewoznik
Contact Info
Send Email

Science Magazines @ SAPL

Title Popular science

Central Holdings May 1873-Current
Branch Holdings current 12 months held by Forest Hills, Bazan, Brook Hollow, Cody, Collins Garden, Great Northwest, Igo, Johnston, Landa, Las Palmas, Maverick, Memorial, Mission, Parman, San Pedro, Semmes, Thousand Oaks, Tobin

Title Discover


Central Holdings July 1981-Current
Branch Holdings current 12 months held by Forest Hills, Brook Hollow, Cody, Cortez, Great Northwest, Igo, Las Palmas, Maverick, McCreless, Memorial, Mission, Pan American, Parman, Semmes, Thousand Oaks, Tobin, Westfall


Title New scientist


Central Holdings January 1989-Current
Branch Holdings None


Title Science news


Central Holdings June 4, 2005-Current
Branch Holdings current 6 months held by Brook Hollow, Carver, Cody, Igo, Maverick, Memorial, Mission, Parman, San Pedro, Thousand Oaks, Westfall


Title Scientific American


Central Holdings July 2005-Current
Branch Holdings current 12 months held by Guerra, Johnston, Maverick, Parman, Semmes, Thousand Oaks


Science Videos @ SAPL

Title Impossible: Physics Beyond the Edge

Call number DVD 530 IMPOSSIBLE 4 videodiscs (ca. 720 min.) Pub date 2010

Title The Sacred Science

Call number DVD 610.98 SACRED 1 videodisc (77 min.) Pub date 2011

Title Can Science Stop Crime?

Call number DVD 364.2 CAN, 1 videodisc (60 min.) Pub date 2012

Title Blast!

Call number DVD 522 BLAST, 1 videodisc (ca. 74 min.) Pub date 2011

Title Brave new world

Call number DVD 500.2 Brave, 2 videodiscs (ca. 231 min.) Pub date 2012

Title What will the future be like?

Call number DVD 600 WHAT, 1 videodisc (60 min.) Pub date 2013

Title Birth of civilization

Call number DVD 599.938 BIRTH, 1 videodisc (90 min.) Pub date 2008

Title What's the next big thing?

Call number DVD 601.12 WHAT'S, 1 videodisc (60 min.) Pub date 2011

Title Can I eat that?

Call number DVD 641.3 CAN Description, 1 videodisc (60 min.) Pub date 2012

Title Brave new world with Stephen Hawking

Call number DVD 500.2 BRAVE, 2 videodiscs (ca. 231 min.) Pub date 2012

Title Can science stop crime?

Call number DVD 364.CAN, 1 videodisc (60 min.) Pub date 2012

Title What are the animals thinking?

Call number DVD 591.513 WHAT, 1 videodisc (ca. 60 min.) Pub date 2012

Title Hunting the elements

Call number DVD 546 HUNTING, 1 videodisc (120 min.) Pub date 2012



Science Is Everywhere in Entertainment

But Are We Smarter for It?


By  Ethan Gilsdorf on


On a Tuesday night in December at the Oberon Theater in Harvard Square, for a program called “You’re the Expert,” an unusual experiment is being performed.

Three comedians and one witty host are combined, on stage, with one world-renowned scientist in a petri dish called live performance. Unrehearsed, the funny-men and -women attempt to guess what the person studies. Then the expert scrutinizes just how wrong are their analyses. One of several shticks is called the Jargon and Acronym Game, wherein comedians try to guess the meaning of various terms relating to the expert’s field. For this particular show, the expert is Margaret Geller, a professor at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and MacArthur Fellow who studies the formation and evolution of the universe.

"What does CCD stand for?” says Chris Duffy, founder and host of the hybrid science-comedy show.

“Cut the Crap, Darkstar,” offers stand-up comedian Bethany Van Delft.

That’s not correct, of course, but Van Delft gets a laugh from an audience sipping drinks and seated at the Oberon’s cabaret-style tables.

“I’m going to assume it’s ‘Cosmic Certain Death,’ ” says Christine Cuddy, another comedian on the panel.

“No, no,” Dr. Geller replies. “A CCD, it stands for ‘charge-coupled device.’ And I bet every one of you is carrying one around, whether you know it or not.”

“That’s really none of your business, Margaret,” Cuddy quips.


When the laughter dies down, the audience learns from Geller that a “charge-coupled device” is used to detect light.

Cameras in some cell phones have them, but for her purposes, an astronomical CCD detects “these ancient photons that have been traveling through the universe for hundreds of millions and billions of years. They plop into the detector, and we read the history of the universe,” she says. “Pretty amazing.” By the end of the evening’s show, the 150 or so attendees also understand a little more about the mysteries of the universe.


To read more go to .


What is Nova Next?

For nearly 40 years, NOVA has been sharing with you the wonders and delights of science, exploration, and discovery. With NOVA Next, now they are bringing that same expertise and passion to science journalism on the web.


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