Category: blogging

Science online, dilated pupils edition

Science online, dilated pupils edition

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pupils 2007 An apt pupil. Photo by thraxil.
  • So. Freaking. Cool. NASA successfully landed a car-sized, nuclear-powered, laser-equipped exploratory rover on Mars—for a fifth of the cost of the 2012 Olympic Games.
  • Meanwhile, in the life sciences. Thousands of ecologists converge on Portland, Oregon for the Ecological Society of America meeting. Check Dynamic Ecology and EEB & Flow for coverage.
  • What is the difference between wheelchair racing and cycling, when you think about it? The line between human athletic achievement and technological advancement is fuzzier than you might think.
  • Next: NOM announces that pupil dilation is a “lifestyle choice.” A new approach to testing sexual orientation measures pupil dilation. See also good discussion by Scicurious and Deborah Blum.
  • Yet another microbiome. Examining the bacteria living on the surface of plant roots might be as informative as examining the ones living inside plant roots.
  • Commitment to innovation? Apparently the fundamentalist textbooks for Christian schools are now opposed to set theory.
  • FACT: Wearing a bike helmet all day = 80% reduced risk of death by meteor. How to clearly explain risk, with an illustrative story.
  • Because we only think they think they’re people. Why it’s important to avoid anthropomorphizing when discussing the sexual habits of non-human animals.
  • Cool! Google Scholar will now identify new articles for you to read based on your own publication list.
  • That … sounds like a problem. Some of the world’s most important food-producing regions are living on non-renewable water.


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Science online, solve for x edition

Science online, solve for x edition

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Ocean Latte Save your Starbucks card, and have a cup of ocean instead. Photo by nicadlr.


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Science online, disruptive lesbian astronauts edition

Science online, disruptive lesbian astronauts edition

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Sally Ride. Photo by WikiMedia Commons.
  • She defied gravity. Sally Ride, the first female U.S. astronaut—and only queer astronaut?—died this week. See also, also, and also.
  • Quiet, honey! Hungry bats zero in on the sound of flies mating.
  • I think yes. Do evidence-based teaching methods need to start addressing motivated reasoning?
  • Is anyone surprised? The geometry of herd responses to a predator suggests sheep are selfish.
  • Sure, why the hell not? Is open-access on the verge of “disrupting” academic publishing?
  • War on facts, round infinity. Government-funded research did, in fact, create the Internet.
  • Isn’t this like making Solo cups out of steel? Shark teeth are covered in fluoride, which may mean they never get cavities.
  • It’d be … kinda gross. If Spiderman’s anatomy more properly paralleled a real spider’s.
  • You’re doing it wrong. Pronouncing “Muller’s Ratchet”, that is.
  • Gooey suicide bombers. In one species of termites, aging workers end their careers as suicide bombers.


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Nothing in Biology Makes Sense: Merch that makes sense!

Nothing in Biology Makes Sense: Merch that makes sense!

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Merchandising! Images from Denim and Tees.

If you enjoy the group science blog Nothing in Biology Makes Sense!—and I hope many of my readers here are also fans of NiB—you can now wear that appreciation on your sleeve. Or on your chest, anyway. NiB is officially launching its first merchandise, including tee shirts and coffee mugs bearing a selection of icons from the website header, and (with apologies to Theodosius Dobzhansky) a variation of the site’s slogan. All proceeds will go toward the costs of maintaining the site, so if you like the work we’ve been doing over there, go place an order.◼


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Science online, Black Friday edition

Science online, Black Friday edition

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There may be more going on in those tiny heads than you think. Photo by shadarington.
  • Attention, bacon fans. Epileptic seizures can be controlled by an ultra-high-fat diet. (NY Times)
  • A few mg of prevention. Men who have sex with men can substantially reduce their risk of HIV infection by taking antiretroviral drugs. (NY Times, Dan Savage; original article in The New England Journal of Medicine)
  • Oh, now you tell us. Turkeys have enough social intelligence to recognize other turkeys from their own social group. (Jason Goldman for Scientific American)
  • Mmm. Cranberry genomics. Jason Goldman rounds up Thanksgiving-themed online science writing. (The Thoughtful Animal)
  • Meta-blogging science? The fellows behind Obesity Panacea have launched a blog about science blogging. (Science of Blogging)
  • A pithy comment is beyond the scope of the present linkfest. Incremental publication can be a good thing. (DrugMonkey)
  • Well, that was easy. A simple 15-minute writing assignment closes the “gender gap” between male and female physics students. (Not Exactly Rocket Science)
  • To be fair, science is pretty difficult. The leadership of the American Anthropological Association is moving to remove references to science from the organization’s mission statement. (Fetishes I Don’t Get)

And finally, Robert Krulwich narrates a beautifully animated short film about an enduring mystery of human behavior: our inability to walk in a straight line without help from visual cues.


Source: New feed

Science online, oily coral edition

Science online, oily coral edition

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Photo by ucumari.
  • Is anyone really surprised? Biologists working with NOAA have found the first clear evidence that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is damaging coral reefs. (Deep Sea News)
  • Drink the corn liquor, let the Ritalin be. Could Ritalin help fight cocaine addiction? (Neurotic Physiology)
  • Trade-offs are a bitch. Adaptation for swimming and seal-hunting has made the polar bear’s skull structurally weaker than those of its closest relatives. (Not Exactly Rocket Science)
  • Admixture is fun! Razib Khan examines genetic studies of major human ethnic groups. (Gene Expression)
  • Gotta get funded to do the science. Over at dechronization, Rich Glor lays out tips on writing a doctoral dissertation improvement grant. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 Part 5)
  • Scientific support for the siesta. A daytime nap can improve memory performance. (BrainBlogger)
  • Hint, hint. Submissions for the Open Lab 2010 collection of online science writing close at the end of the month. (The Thoughtful Animal)
  • This just in. Eating fewer calories than you burn results in weight loss—even when most of those calories are in Twinkies. (Weighty Matters)
  • Because you can’t develop Seasonal Affective Disorder if your brain is too small. Lemur species that live in habitats with greater seasonal changes have larger brains. (NeuroDojo)
  • Paging Dr. Pangloss. Psychologists are surprised to discover that the sight of cooked meat makes men less aggressive. They will no doubt also be surprised to find that it makes men ask for a fork and A-1 Sauce, too. (AOL News, McGill University press release)
  • Science is impossible. But that’s okay. Really. (We, Beasties)


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Science online, miracle cure edition

Science online, miracle cure edition

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Photo by rpongsaj.
  • Or, you know, the evolution of a super-cold. The discovery of a new way to stop viruses after they’ve already invaded cells could lead to an actual cure for the common cold. (The Independent)
  • Pleistocene Park, anyone? An extremely well-preserved mammoth skeleton unearthed near Denver, Colorado, may contain reasonably intact DNA. (The Denver Post)
  • Not just because of running to catch the bus. People who use public transit tend to be more active in general. (Obesity Panacea)
  • What the !?%$#**! do we know about human mutation rates, anyway? Less than you might think. (John Hawks Weblog)
  • This confirms what I already believe about both anti-vaxxers and corporate PowerPoint use. A GlaxoSmithKline presentation on the importance of vaccination leaves Jason Goldman pondering cognitive bias and the vital importance of good PowerPoint use. (The Thoughtful Animal)
  • All part of a conspiracy by socialist Radiolarians. Analysis of carbon isotopes in sediment cores suggest that a period of climatic warming in the middle Eocene was caused by increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. (Scientific American)
  • WTF is hepato-splen? That’s just one of many questions Scicurious can’t answer about a truly bizarre study investigating the effect of lunar phases on women’s menstrual cycles. (Neurotic Physiology)

Video this week, via io9: German researchers have determined that bats recognize bodies of water by echolocation because, when presented with a metal plate that reflects sound the way water does, they try to drink from it.


Source: New feed

Science online, mysterious extra vertebrae edition

Science online, mysterious extra vertebrae edition

Wow. Lots of links this week. I’m using Google Reader again, so evidently getting better at aggregation and/or wasting valuable dissertation-completion time.
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Sundews catch insects on their sticky leaves, potentially putting them in competition with web-spinning spiders. Photo by petrichor.
  • Shape up, Dad. Female rats are more prone to develop diabetes if their fathers were obese—through an inherited metabolic disorder. (Neurotic Physiology)
  • Also useful for studying how lizards rebel against their creators. To study how lizards communicate, build a robotic lizard. No, really. (The Thoughtful Animal)
  • Sounds like the basis for a very strange odd-couple sitcom. Can a spider and a plant be competitors? Maybe, if the plant is carnivorous. (It Takes 30)
  • A species in the genus Rosa by any other taxonomic identifier … Rod Page contemplates the importance of taxonomic names to biological research, and how to handle them in modern data structures. (iPhylo)
  • Nobody could’ve predicted. BP’s cost-cutting and rapid corporate expansion probably contributed to a corporate culture prone to accidents. (ProPublica)
  • One more way in which sloths are weird. Almost all mammals—giraffes included—have seven vertebrae in their necks. But sloths have up to 10. A new developmental study suggests how those extra vertebrae evolved. (NY Times, h/t Mike the Mad Biologist)
  • Every little bit helps. A new study suggests that, without modern conservation efforts, the ongoing extinction crisis would be even worse. (Southern Fried Science)
  • Um. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Placebos are used all the time in pharmaceutical research, but very few published studies actually report what the placebo was made of. (Helen Jacques)
  • The salmon of doubt. The inaugural article in the Journal of Unusual and Serendipitous Results casts doubt on interpretation of functional MRI readings—when its authors find brain activity in a dead fish. (Byte Size Biology)
  • But it looks so cool when Don Draper does it. Dave Munger ponders the ultimate effectiveness of smoking bans and warnings. (SEED Magazine)
  • “Aspergirls” is one catchy neologism. Steve Silberman continues his exploration of human experience on the Autism spectrum with comedienne Rudy Simone—and opens an ongoing conversation with her at The Well. (NeuroTribes)

More sloth weirdness on video: they can swim! But the water’s a dangerous place, as David Attenborough will tell you.


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