Public Release: 

2004 AAAS annual meeting spotlights world health, oceans and family science

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Ocean and world-health headlines, plus family science -- from hair-raising electricity to "Oobleck" demos -- promise something for everyone at the 2004 AAAS Annual Meeting.

Set for 12-16 February in Seattle, Washington, the world's largest general scientific conference offers free events for families and job-seekers, as well as a peer-reviewed technical program for scientists, educators and policymakers. The Meeting will draw some 6,000+ individuals from around the world, including 1,000 press registrants.

Why does this year's AAAS (Triple-A-S) Meeting focus on marine science, world health and family science activities?

"Marine life is disappearing faster than scientists can identify it, affecting our ecosystems and our food choices," said Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and executive publisher of Science Magazine. "Researchers also are racing to address diseases such as AIDS, which has orphaned millions of children, and the health impacts of global warming."

At the same time, Leshner said, parents are searching for easy, effective ways to keep children excited about the science that affects all our lives, everyday.

Family Science Days, featuring ice cream made with liquid nitrogen, mysterious Oobleck goo, the physics of wheels and a Super Cool Science Show, were added to this year's Meeting as a public service. The free events will take place from 12 noon to 5:00 pm, Saturday-Sunday, 14-15 February, in the Washington Convention & Trade Center.

Another new feature of this year's Meeting, the Oceans for Everyone town hall gathering, will bring together policymakers, scientists, environmentalists, fishing professionals and the public to address critical marine science questions. Some 300 attendees are expected to participate in the town hall, set for Sunday, 15 February, from 2:00 to 5:00 pm in the Convention Center, rooms 2A and 2B. (Pre-registration required.)

Kicking off the AAAS Annual Meeting, the Association's President, Dr. Mary Ellen Avery, will team with Dr. Richard Klausner, executive director for global health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for the Presidential Lecture on Thursday, 12 February at 6:30 pm (Sheraton Hotel, Grand Ballroom ABC, 2nd Floor).

Avery, a pioneer in newborn medicine, will describe the power of imagination and the promise of scientific discovery for alleviating human suffering, particularly for women and children. In Brazil, for example, some 130,000 children had lost at least one parent to AIDS by the end of 2001. And, in sub-Saharan Africa, roughly a third of all children have lost both parents to the disease. Other diseases such as malaria are taking a disproportionately heavy toll on the developing world. In response, the Gates Foundation in 2003 launched a $200 million medical research initiative. Klausner is expected to unveil the Foundation's next major steps at the AAAS Annual Meeting.

The AAAS Meeting, "Science at the Leading Edge," also includes these highlights:


Luminaries such as U.K. Chief Science Advisor Sir David King will offer free plenary lectures at the AAAS Meeting. King and colleagues will address global warming's likely impacts to people worldwide, from London to Seattle.

Infectious disease expert Kenneth R. McIntosh of Children's Hospital, Boston, will outline his investigations of HIV infection in infants and children. Kip S. Thorne, CalTech's award-winning author of Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy, also will be on hand to explore some of life's more perplexing physical-science mysteries.


A major new marine-science report, outlining the impacts of climate change on fragile coral reef ecosystems, is slated for release at the AAAS Meeting. New data on the migratory patterns of endangered sea turtles also is part of the program. And, during the Oceans for Everyone town hall meeting, AAAS will disclose the results of a national public-opinion survey covering a range of marine science questions, from seafood safety to fishing regulations. A free public marine science pavilion is planned for the exhibition floor, with

a special theater showing recent ocean expeditions Saturday, 14 February.


Research or "therapeutic" cloning technologies and cloned animals -- including a trio of cloned mules in the exhibition hall Sunday, 15 February -- are likely to generate interest at the AAAS Meeting. A would-be celebrity dog will take part in a session on future medical advances resulting from genomic sequencing.


Will people all over the world speak a single language by 2050? If so, what language will dominate once a universal tongue emerges? "Language death" is happening at a rapidly accelerating pace, and some researchers predict that up to half the world's more than 6,000 languages may vanish during the 21st century. How does language death occur, and what are its social and scientific consequences? What's next in the evolution of human communications?


Just in time for Valentine's Day, a new mathematical model describes heterosexual marriages, as well as gay and lesbian relationships. Can the model predict the future of your relationship? Attend this session and decide for yourself.


Timely insights to our solar system, including Marsis slated for discussion in Seattle. Yet another focus of the Meeting will be the socioeconomic link between poverty and sustainable use of the Earth's fertile soils.


On Saturday and Sunday, 14-15 February, the AAAS Meeting will include free career-skills workshops, a short course on interviewing skills, networking opportunities and the Science Magazine Career Fair for job seekers. See for details.


HISTORY: The first AAAS Annual Meeting took place in 1848 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Past meetings have featured such notables U.S. Presidents George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton; Microsoft's Bill Gates; author Michael Crichton; the science ministers of the European Commission, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Hungary; Nobelists Ralph Cicerone, Sherwood Rowland, Leon Lederman, Wolfgang Ketterle; and others.

REPORTER NOTE: Specific details from scientific presentations and lectures scheduled to take place at the AAAS Annual Meeting will remain strictly embargoed, meaning they cannot be published, broadcast, posted online or otherwise made public until the event.

This news release contains only general, publicly available information about this year's program, and is therefore appropriate for immediate release.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science ( AAAS was founded in 1848, and serves some 265 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million. The non-profit AAAS ( is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!,, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

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