Blog of the Week:
Russ Williams is the Director of the North Carolina Zoological Society and, as far as I know, the only "director of a zoo" who blogs. And does he ever - Russ has been blogging up a storm ever since 2005 when Ed Cone taught him how (you may call me The Blogfather, but Ed Cone is the blogfather for many of us in North Carolina). On his blog Russlings, Russ covers plenty - what is new at the N.C.Zoo in Asheboro, what is new in other zoos around the country and the world, what is new in policy and politics of animal conservation, plus cool pictures and videos of wildlife. But where the value really comes up is at the times of natural disasters - Russ is "in the know" and often the first and/or the only person to blog about the status of zoos and aquaria, as well as farm animals, wildlife preserves etc, in the affected areas. During disasters, Russlings is the Go-To place for such coverage.
How Our Disinterest in 'The Environment' Signals the End of Nature by Christopher Mims:
No one reading this has the slightest fucking clue what “nature” is, and in 1995 fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly proved it. In the paper that introduced the term “shifting baselines,” Pauly described how experts who determined how many fish should be caught often started with whatever the baseline state of the ecosystem was when they started their careers, instead of considering what a fishery might have looked like in the past, when it wasn’t nearly as degraded....
Getting used to being in charge of the planet by David Roberts:
...Nonetheless, like evolution, the dominance of human beings on Spaceship Earth is a profound and terrifying threat to all sorts of traditional worldviews. If Darwin showed us that God is not our author, the Anthropocene shows that He is not our caretaker. There’s no parent to supply us with endless resources and endless room to dispose of our waste. There’s no one to protect us or prevent us from screwing it all up....
Is preserving the general environmental conditions that allowed civilization to flourish—a moderate climate, a rich array of species, rivers that reach the sea—necessary to ensure humanity endures? Or is minimizing alterations to the global environment introduced by human activity—rising levels of CO2 from fossil-fuel burning, widespread extinction, dams that impound water—more important to our success? Choosing the right approach is vital as the scale of human impact on the planet becomes so large that scientists are calling this new epoch in Earth's history the Anthropocene (when human activity alters global climate and ecosystems)...
Last week I wrote about the anti-science campaign being waged by opponents of the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture. In that post, I promised to address a series of questions/fears about GMOs that seem to underly peoples’ objections to the technology. I’m not going to try to make this a comprehensive reference site about GMOs and the literature on their use and safety (I’m compiling some good general resources here.) I want to say a few things about myself too...
Sea level rise 101 by John Bruno:
Based on the NC legislature’s decree about the science of sea level rise projections and some of the related propaganda we have seen from climate change deniers, I get the sense there is a lot of confusion about sea level rise. So here is a primer on what we know about sea level and climate change...
Dirty soil and diabetes: Anniston's toxic legacy by Brett Israel:
The Rev. Thomas Long doesn't have neighbors on Montrose Avenue anymore. Everyone is gone. Widespread chemical contamination from a Monsanto plant was discovered in this quiet city in the Appalachian foothills back in the 1990s. In West Anniston, behind Long’s home, a church was fenced off, and men in "moon suits" cleaned the site for weeks. Nearby, boarded windows and sunken porches hang from abandoned shotgun houses. Stray dogs roam the narrow streets. A red "nuisance" sign peeks above the un-mowed lawn of one empty house. Bulldozers will be here soon...
Jessica Sanchez sits on the edge of her seat in her mother’s kitchen, hands resting on her bulging belly. Eight months pregnant, she’s excited about the imminent birth of her son. But she’s scared too. A few feet away, her mother, Bertha Dias, scrubs potatoes with water she bought from a vending machine. She won’t use the tap water because it’s contaminated with nitrates...
Lately, I’ve got colors on the brain. In part I of this post I talked about the common roads that different cultures travel down as they name the colors in their world. And I came across the idea that color names are, in some sense, culturally universal. The way that languages carve up the visual spectrum isn’t arbitrary. Different cultures with independent histories often end up with the same colors in their vocabulary. Of course, the word that they use for red might be quite different – red, rouge, laal, whatever. Yet the concept of redness, that vivid region of the visual spectrum that we associate with fire, strawberries, blood or ketchup, is something that most cultures share....
How the Chicken Conquered the World by Jerry Adler and Andrew Lawler:
The chickens that saved Western civilization were discovered, according to legend, by the side of a road in Greece in the first decade of the fifth century B.C. The Athenian general Themistocles, on his way to confront the invading Persian forces, stopped to watch two cocks fighting and summoned his troops, saying: “Behold, these do not fight for their household gods, for the monuments of their ancestors, for glory, for liberty or the safety of their children, but only because one will not give way to the other.” The tale does not describe what happened to the loser, nor explain why the soldiers found this display of instinctive aggression inspirational rather than pointless and depressing. But history records that the Greeks, thus heartened, went on to repel the invaders, preserving the civilization that today honors those same creatures by breading, frying and dipping them into one’s choice of sauce. The descendants of those roosters might well think—if they were capable of such profound thought—that their ancient forebears have a lot to answer for....
It was the sight of a young male Adélie penguin attempting to have sex with a dead female that particularly unnerved George Murray Levick, a scientist with the 1910-13 Scott Antarctic Expedition. No such observation had ever been recorded before, as far as he knew, and Levick, a typical Edwardian Englishman, was horrified. Blizzards and freezing cold were one thing. Penguin perversion was another....
Special topic #1: stimulants in school:
The Questions About ADHD Drugs The New York Times Didn't Ask by Matthew Herper
The labels change, the game remains the same by Vaughan Bell
The NY Times: When Stimulants Are Bad by Robert Whitaker
The Horror of Drug-Boosted Grades and SAT Scores by Jacob Sullum
Special topic #2: Prometheus and science in the movies:
The biology of Prometheus by Zen Faulkes
Prometheus: an archaeological perspective (sort of). by Henry Rothwell
Ridley Scott's Prometheus Examines the Roots of Alien's Mythology by Larry Greenemeier
‘Prometheus’ Offers a Creationist Indulgence for Science Geeks by James Gorman
Prometheus: what was that about? Ten key questions by Ben Walters
Stealing fire by Zen Faulkes
Space: The Science of Prometheus by Discovery News
What’s Wrong With Prometheus (a Partial List) by Julian Sanchez
Instant Egghead - What Causes Brain Freeze? by Ferris Jabr and Eric Olson
The Fabulab's Flame Challenge by Jeanne Garbarino, Perrin Ireland and Deborah Berebichez
Curly Haired Mafia - Prometheus SPOILERS!!! (video) by Lali DeRosier, DNLee and Dr.Rhubidium
UCD worker wins award for rare photo of bee sting in action by Andrea Gallo
Sensory Ecology of the Third Eye by Ashli Moore
Lovely Lysenko by Dominic Berry
Assuming the Doctor’s a ‘He’ by Danielle Ofri, M.D.
Why We (Accidentally) Name Babies for Hurricanes by Elizabeth Preston
What is a vagina? by Emily Willingham
Imaginary Numbers are Real by Matthew Francis
Curious Experiments by Archbishop Marsh's Library. "‘Curious Experiments’ for ‘The Amusement and Entertainment of Ladies, as well as Gentlemen’ which took place before a paying audience in Dublin in 1743." recreated by high school students 270 years later.
Crowdfunding: A New Opportunity for Science and Innovation by John R. Platt
Old Books that Guided Science by Samuel Arbesman
Why you probably won’t experience your own traumatic death by George Dvorsky
June Gloom by Cameron Walker
Dear Slate: America Needs More Artists by See Arr Oh
Negative results and dodgy papers: keep quiet or publish? by Tom W. Phillips
Our Animal Natures by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers
'I'm Not Your Wife!' A New Study Points to a Hidden Form of Sexism by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Achtman on Plague Evolution by Michelle Ziegler
Would You Call Me A Scientist? by Sheril Kirshenbaum
Visiting "Brains. The Mind as Matter" at the Wellcome Collection by The curious neuron
Food Trade Too Complex to Track Food Safety by Maryn McKenna
The Johannes Kepler Defense by Romeo Vitelli
Taking the colour out of light. by Thony C. "The man who didn't invent the achromatic lens" John Dollond born 9 June 1706.
Teaching Neuroanatomy With A Showercap by Neuroskeptic
Fungus Inside Us: A New Health Frontier? by Brandon Keim
The Top Ten Strangest Self-Experiments Ever by Alex Boese
G r e a t e r / l e t t e r / s p a c i n g / helps reading in dyslexia by The Neurocritic
Dangerous Interventions: MMS and Autism by Emily Willingham
Cholera vaccine deployed to control African outbreak by Gozde Zorlu
Bath salts and… zombies? by Donna
You Don’t Have What it Takes by Lucy E. Hornstein MD
What they didn't tell you about the transit of Venus by Rebekah Higgitt
Science Outreach: What Do You Need? by Matt Shipman
Double Xpression: Liz Neeley, Science Communicator Extraordinaire by Jeanne Garbarino
Overeating Makes Flies Obese, Diabetic, Dead by Elizabeth Preston
No, America Does NOT Need More Scientists and Engineers by Derek Lowe
Plant uses chemical weapons to make mice spit out its seeds and To control cannibal toads, you just need the right bait and Fear of spiders changes bodies of grasshoppers and makes plants decay more slowly and Microbial Menagerie and Male spider castrates himself and gets more stamina by Ed Yong
Where have I been? Or, science outreach's place in science. by Lauren Meyer
Scientists map 'Facebook for birds' by Alan Boyle
Double Xpression: Debbie Berebichez, PhD Physicist by Jeanne Garbarino
The anthropologist and the kurgans by John Hawks
Does Acceptance of Evolution Matter? by Ed Brayton
Did Neanderthals Produce Cave Paintings? by Sarah Everts
Media, Publishing, Technology and Society:
Sorry, Young Man, You're Not the Most Important Demographic in Tech by Alexis Madrigal
Online Seniors: Tech-Savvier Than You Think by Frederic Lardinois
A Serious Look at Funny Faces by Henry Adams - on the history of cartoons.
An Anarchist Constitution for Twitter by Rebecca Greenfield
Why Twitter Matters: Tomorrow’s Knowledge Network by Nigel Cameron
Learning To Write From Chopin by Murr Brewster
An alternative to the college degree? by Amy Scott
11 dreams for the publishing debate — #1 fewer papers and 11 dreams for the publishing debate — #2 get real credit for surveys and exposition and 11 dreams for the publishing debate — #3 get real credit for refereeing and #4 get real credit for communicating and
#5 sharing all our work every way we can by Peter Krautzberger
All A’Twitter: How Social Media Aids in Science Outreach – Chapter 8: Talking with the Social Media Experts and Chapter 9: Gathering Survey Results, and Chapter 10: Coming to Conclusions by Caitlyn Zimmerman
Why the World's Most Perfect News Tweet Is Kind of Boring by Megan Garber
Do Journo Watchers Ignore Environmental Beat? by Keith Kloor
Exhausted With The Same by Erika Napoletano
Why you should be excited about vector-based maps in iOS 6 by Tim De Chant
Please RT by n+1 editors