Blog of the Week:
This week's choice was easy - March of the Fossil Penguins, written by Dr. Daniel Ksepka. What is there not to like? Penguins! Fossils! Straight from the keyboard of the leading world expert on the topic. Enjoy!
Hale County in west central Alabama and Bamberg County in southern South Carolina are 450 miles apart. Both counties have a population of 16,000 of which around 60% are African American. The median households and per capita incomes are well below their respective state’s median, in Hale nearly $10,000 less. Both were named after confederate officers–Stephen Fowler Hale and Francis Marion Bamberg. And although Hale’s county seat is the self-proclaimed Catfish Capitol, pulling catfish out of the Edisto River in Bamberg County is a favorite past time. These two counties share another unique feature. Amidst a blanket of Republican red both Hale and Bamberg voted primarily Democratic in the 2000, 2004, and again in the 2008 presidential elections. Indeed, Hale and Bamberg belong to a belt of counties cutting through the deep south–Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina–that have voted over 50% Democratic in recent presidential elections. Why? A 100 million year old coastline....
The Curious Case of the Poisoned Cows by Deborah Blum:
On a bright morning in early June, a Texas rancher named Jerry Abel turned his small herd of cattle out to graze. The 18 cows moved hungrily into that field of fresh grass. Within a few hours, only three were still alive. Abel’s 80 acre ranch sits just a little east of Austin and the story was strange enough that on Sunday a local CBS affiliate picked it up. “There was nothing you could do,” Abel told KEYE about his desperate efforts to save the animals. “Obviously, they were dying.”...
In the Steps of a Hungry Acrocanthosaurus by Brian Switek:
Compared to mounted dinosaur skeletons, fossil footprints might seem like mundane objects. They only record one small part of a fantastic creature, and it is harder to envision a whole dinosaur from the ground up than the wrap flesh around a skeletal frame. But we should not forget that dinosaur footprints are fossilized behavior—stone snapshots of an animal’s life. And sometimes, trackways record dramatic moments in dinosaur lives....
When It Comes to Numbers, We're All Late Bloomers by Elizabeth Preston:
Good news for aspiring jelly-bean jar estimators who are under 30! Your intuitive grasp of numbers may not have peaked yet. Unlike other cognitive skills, the ability to approximate keeps improving well into adulthood. Since the skill is tied to mathematical smarts, this news might bring hope to struggling students....
Summer of Smoke by Christie Aschwanden:
June 8, 2012, Cedaredge Colorado—It was an ordinary Friday afternoon. I was at my desk writing when I looked out the window and saw an enormous plume of smoke billowing from the back of our property. It was the kind of moment when you’re supposed to remain calm and remember all the wise things you learned in first aid class or girl scouts. (Stop! Drop! Roll!) Instead, I panicked.
Plague at the Siege of Caffa, 1346 by Michelle Ziegler:
The first stage of the Black Death among Europeans was said to begin with the whoosh of a Mongol trebuchet. Gabriele De’ Mussi, a lawyer from near Genoa writing in about 1348, is believed to have recorded the account of the earliest use of plague as weapon of war at Caffa in 1346....
I could write the entire genome of a flu virus in around 100 tweets. It is just 14,000 letters long; for comparison, our genome has over 3 billion letters. This tiny collection of genetic material is enough to kill millions of people. Even though it has been sequenced time and time again, there is still a lot we don’t know about it....
‘Man-sheep-dog’: inter-species social skills by Paul Keil and Greg Downey:
Paul, the lead author, interviewed sheepdog trialer Damian Wilson about his interactions with his dog, a border collie named Yandarra Whiskey. Damian and Whiskey gave Paul a demonstration of the techniques used in sheepdog competitions as they together tried to move a mob of three sheep. In a competition in New South Wales, a trainer and dog have to move three sheep who have never been herded through a difficult obstacle course, and the trainer loses points if he (or, less frequently, she) breaks from a slow, measured pace walking the course. The rules mean that the dog itself must be trained until it anticipates the sheep’s reactions, and understands, on some level, what dog and trainer, together, are trying to accomplish. Although the trialer may give commands, the dog, too, is a kind of expert....
If you missed the final launch of the Space Shuttle, or the first private spacecraft rendezvous with the International Space Station, fear not. A new documentary to be released late this year promises you a fiery, 3-D, launch-pad view of these historic flights...
A Wartime Medical Dispenser by Jaipreet Virdi:
The Napoleonic Wars brought John Harrison Curtis’ studies to a standstill, as he became one of thousands of young men conscripted to fight against Napoleonic advances towards Britain. With his medical learning in hand, Curtis enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1808, to obtain his qualifications as surgeon and extend his medical skills. Since 1745, the Royal College of Surgeons in London, Edinburgh and Dublin, and the Navy held close associations with each other as the College was responsible for examining naval surgeons for active service. To be admitted as surgeon in the navy, candidates had to obtain a certificate of competence from the College and then be subjected to a two-hour oral examination at Somerset House....
Special topic #1: Getting young journalists and scientists to become savvy on the Web:
Young journalists don't seem to care about the Web: Why not? by Phillip Smith
Few Tweet successes as Generation Y fails to use blog-standard tools by Elizabeth Gibney
British Ph.D. Students Don't Tweet by Elizabeth Gibney
Special topic #2: Wicked Problems:
Covering Wicked Problems by Jay Rosen
Overcoming Wicked Problems by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus
Andrew Revkin on the Super Wicked Problem of Climate Change by Amanda Frank
David Roberts on the Simple Climate Problem by Andrew Revkin
Wicked Problems by UpLook
Global Distribution of Nobel Prizes Reflects Great Shifts in Modern History [Infographic] by Scientific American Magazine
Mathematically Correct Breakfast by George Hart
A Song About A Circle Constant by Vi Hart
Oldest Sound Recording Resurrected from Paper by Eric Olson
What does traffic have to do with fluid dynamics? by FY! Fluid Dynamics
Milestone for WINS by The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Beautiful Black Art by Tony Barnhart
Making the Invisible Visible in Video by MITNewsOffice
How Many Men Does it Take to Pull an Astronaut Out of the Ocean? by Amy Shira Teitel
Scraps to soil: New Yorkers carry compost to Greenmarkets instead of tossing it in the trash by Laura Geggel and Virat Markandeya
Beware Stimulus Effects in Psychology by Neuroskeptic
TGIPF: The Weird World of Banana Slug Sex by Cassandra Willyard
Bad science not about same-sex parenting by Andrew Perrin
Adrenaline Junkies Look to the Moon for Great New Fix by Amy Shira Teitel
Snakes that chew their food by Andrew Durso
The Anthropocene, and the tech that might save humans by Christie Nicholson
Far out in North Carolina by Stefan Rahmstorf
S.O.S. Save Our Seagrass by Whitney Campbell
What does the way you count on your fingers say about your brain? by Corrinne Burns
Size and evolution by Anthony King
Madness over sea level rise in North Carolina by John Bruno
Seven sins of scientists part 5: snobbery by Paul Knoepfler
Tidal massaging reveals a hidden ocean on Saturn's moon, Titan by Matthew Francis
How did the remote control get so awful and confusing? by Daniel Engber
Thoughts on Obamacare by Pal MD
Why supermarket tomatoes look great but taste bland and Exposed: the severe ethical breaches of superhero journalists and Mystery of the flatfish head solved *cough* four years ago *cough* and Why a new case of misconduct in psychology heralds interesting times for the field and Californian condor not extinct yet, but still regularly poisoned by lead by Ed Yong
Shiny! Top 10 reasons why seafarers love Joss Whedon’s Firefly by Miriam Goldstein and Craig McClain
Mysterious Fairy Circles Are 'Alive' by Rachel Nuwer
The Dolomite Problem - Peeking Under The Hood by Suvrat Kher
The Curse of the Lead Bullet by Deborah Blum
CDC proposes testing baby boomers for hepatitis C by Jessica M. Morrison
Climate-Studying Seals Bring Back Happy News by Elizabeth Preston
Brave New Worlds by Cameron Walker
Your Color Red Really Could Be My Blue by Natalie Wolchover
Science Denied by Phil Primack
A New Satellite Tool Tracks Deforestation by Rachel Nuwer
Sleeper Sharks Slurp Snoozing Seals by Brian Switek
The Lessons (and Echoes) of Silent Spring by Keith Kloor
The curse of the gingers by PZ Myers
Poland’s wolves trot across key wildlife overpasses by DeLene Beeland
In defense of pink microscopes by TheCellularScale
In Defense of #sciencegirlthing by Ben Young Landis
Social Justice in Animals and Animals in Visual Media by Marc Bekoff
Media, Publishing, Technology and Society:
SciWriteLabs 8.1: The Lehrer affair, consequence-free plagiarism, and rules for blogging and SciWriteLabs 8.2: Is it kosher to re-use wording from Facebook updates in your journalism? And: do we need a Son of Sam law for media miscreants? by Seth Mnookin
Open Notebook Series: What is an Open Notebook? by Anthony Salvagno
Genius writing - or can a good lab journal help you become smarter? by Eric-Wubbo Lameijer
On Blogging, Direction And Ben Radford’s “Still Skeptical of Blogs” by Kylie Sturgess
Launching version 2.2: Twitter Integration by ScienceSeeker
A bad bad week for access by Richard Smith
Google’s One-Gender-Fits-All T-Shirts Don’t Fit by Ryan Tate
Library of Congress Acquires Carl Sagan Papers by Audrey Fischer
Putting People at the Center of Journalism by Josh Stearns
Did you just tell me to go fuck myself? by Ian Mulvany
Scientists On Twitter: 30 Biologists And Chemists To Follow by Rebecca Searles
Measuring and Visualizing Interdisciplinarity by Samuel Arbesman
Why Porn and Journalism Have the Same Big Problem by Jordan Weissmann
Can you go on the press release diet? A 12-step program by Denise Graveline