Posts

December 17, 2014

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9:41 PM | The Quirks Holiday Book Show: Math, Volcanoes, and Stuff
It's our annual book show this week, where we feature interviews with the authors of 3 new popular science books - dealing with a powerful, but little known volcano; why stuff matters, and the joys of mathematics.
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9:40 PM | Rapists Could Be Identified With The Bacteria On Their Pubic Hair
The results of a new study suggest forensic scientists could one day use the microbial signature of people's privates to identify sexual offenders. Think of it as a musty, microscopic, x-rated fingerprint.Read more...
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9:34 PM | Mumps in the National Hockey League: A Wakefield Legacy?
Several days ago, Dave Lozo, lead writer for the National Hockey League, wrote in the Bleacher Report about an outbreak of mumps among NHL players. As of December 15, 2014, there were 15 NHL hockey players who'd come down with mumps during the 2014-15 season. Apparent several referees have also gotten mumps. Mumps is a viral disease, spread by direct or indirect contact with the saliva or mucus of an infected person. Hand washing can help prevent transmission of the disease.... Read more
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9:34 PM | Obama Issues 12 Pardons, Commutes 8 Sentences
President Obama commuted the prison sentences of eight people who were convicted of drug-related crimes Wednesday, in a move that also saw 12 presidential pardons issued.
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9:33 PM | Virus gifts
Looking to give a virus-themed gift to someone this year? Here are some suggestions. As expected Ebola virus dominated. Where are the EV-D68 items? An Ebola Texas shirt from VineFreshTees: Virus tree ornaments made of wood at BuenoMarket: Viral mugs at Thefty: Artologica always has fabulous microbe art, including this swine flu watercolor: A favorite […]
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9:32 PM | Interview: Powering the Top of the World
Powering the Top of the World is a new documentary by Christoph Mazur and Chris Emmott, from Imperial College London. It explores energy supply in Nepal, and the innovative solutions to sustainable energy provision in some of the most remote parts of the world. With over 1.2 billion people with no access to electricity across the globe, these issues are echoed in countries the world over. Christoph Mazur speaks to Climatica about their work in Nepal, the moviemaking process, and their […]
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9:31 PM | Alan Gross' Release: How It Went Down
American Alan Gross had spent more than five years in a Cuban prison where he suffered ill health. Then, on Tuesday, his lawyer, Scott Gilbert, told him in a phone call that he was going home.
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9:28 PM | New Challenge: Put Technology to Work to Protect Drinking Water
The following excerpt is reposted from “EPA Connect, the Official Blog of EPA Leadership“ By Ellen Gilinksy You likely remember when, this past summer, half a million people who live in the Toledo, Ohio, area were told not to drink the water coming out of their taps for several days. A state of emergency was […]
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9:25 PM | Solite Excavation: Day 14
On Saturday, our last day of excavation for 2014, we reached the cumulative work time of two weeks. During that time we collected ~53 cubic feet of insect bed and several boxes and crates full of various plants and vertebrates including … Continue reading →
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9:23 PM | The Rise of ‘Welfare Chauvinism’
Thomas B. Edsall in the NYT: The United States and Europe reveal the contrasting ways in which political systems in advanced democracies cope with factors as diverse as globalization, depressed wages, cultural tension, welfare policy, immigration and nontraditional family structures,...
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9:20 PM | The future of nephrology training: A fellow's perspective
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9:19 PM | Switching to spintronics
In a development that holds promise for future magnetic memory and logic devices, researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Cornell University successfully used an electric field to reverse the magnetization direction in a multiferroic spintronic device at room temperature. This demonstration, which runs counter to conventional scientific wisdom, points a new way towards spintronics and smaller, faster and cheaper […]
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9:19 PM | Practicing Kindness Can Change Your Brain, New Study Suggests
Being compassionate is thought to be a personality trait that only some of us have. The ability to ignore suffering and turn a blind eye toward the needy is just as commonplace as compassion and causes more suffering. If only everyone would provide an even level of compassion, the world … READ MORE
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9:15 PM | Mistaken Identities
This blog contributed by former intern, Julia Olszewski-Jubelirer. Plants and animals are pretty easy to distinguish, right? Not every time. Here are the four animals (or animal parts) that are commonly mistaken as plants in the Naturalist Center. Coral In the Naturalist Center, we have several specimens of coral, including this Red Coral: and this […]
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9:11 PM | We're Down To 5 Northern White Rhinos: Is It Too Late For Babies?
With the death of a northern white rhino in San Diego's zoo this week, researchers are working to see whether they can save the species. They'd better hurry — only five remain.
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9:11 PM | In Gaza, The Specter Of ISIS Proves Useful To Both Sides
The Islamic State is not believed to be in the Gaza Strip. But a flier in its name was recently sent around the territory. Both Israel and Hamas are trying to use it to their advantage.
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9:10 PM | New York state to ban fracking for natural gas
State health commissioner's report suggests the unknowns are too large.
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9:09 PM | Dreaming Up A Safer, Cooler PPE For Ebola Fighters
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University are revamping the Ebola suit. They've come up with a design that's safer, cooler and easier to take off than the space suits currently in use in West Africa.
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9:06 PM | AGU Fall Meeting 2014: Day 2
Tuesday I spent most of my time in the poster hall - a full day on my feet, in fact, which I'm regretting slightly today. In the morning I was learning about fluids and mineralization in hydrothermal systems in a number of places - Iceland, Chile, mid-ocean ridges, among others - and in the afternoon I saw some presentations on eruptive dynamics, particularly at my old field area of the Santiaguito lava domes in Guatemala.
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9:01 PM | Life under Arctic ice
Ever wonder what lies beneath the polar ice? Turns out several researchers did as well. This past July a team of scientists led an expedition designed to image life under sea ice. The video below was captured with the Nereid Under Ice (NUI) vehicle and shows brown algae living on the bottom of sea ice…
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8:56 PM | Cochrane review: e-cigarettes and risk The Cochrane review on...
Cochrane review: e-cigarettes and risk The Cochrane review on e-cigarettes was published today (press release, review). Reading it was disappointing, as there was little communication of the uncertainty on e-cig safety as supported by research. This feels crucially significant given the example afforded to us in the recent history of biomedical research and the tobacco industry. Denial, downplaying, distortion and dismissal of evidence were key in the industry’s maintenance at […]
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8:54 PM | How 3-D Printing Made The Perfect Prosthetic Legs For Derby The Dog
You should see this dog run. Derby was born with deformed front legs, but recently received a pair of 3-D printed prosthetics, which he is quite good at maneuvering…
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8:53 PM | End of teaching update
I have done my last teaching for 2014. Today’s Materials Chemistry and Catalysis poster session went surprisingly well, and even those whose posters were not the best defended them with conviction. Of course, marking remains to be done, but my next undergraduate lecture will be on X-ray diffraction, in 2015! I now switch to research … Continue reading End of teaching update →
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8:53 PM | Learning with Fredholm Kernels - implementation -
Here is a way to do semi-surpevised learning with kernels (and even with Random Features at the very end) Learning with Fredholm Kernels by Qichao Que Mikhail Belkin and Yusu Wang. In this paper we propose a framework for supervised and semi-supervised learning based on reformulating the learning problem as a regularized Fredholm integral equation. Our approach fits naturally into the kernel framework and can be interpreted as constructing new data-dependent kernels, which we call […]
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8:51 PM | Best Science Books 2014: The Guardian
As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I’ve done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. And here we are in 2014! As in previous years,…
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8:47 PM | Why Do We See the Man in the Moon?
Take a look at the slideshow above. The photos depict, in order: tower binoculars, a tank tread, tree …
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8:47 PM | What Happens After You Get That Mammogram
What are the odds that you'll get a false positive when you get a mammogram? How likely is it that it will detect cancer? Here's one way to look at it.
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8:44 PM | Chemist mystery of the day: Who died in 2013?
Thanks to Twitter chatter about the deadliest occupations, I was looking at the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and found this interesting tidbit: in 2013, 3 chemists died on the job. Their cause of death is not clear, but it seems to me (from the table) that at least 1 of them died from "violence and other injuries by persons or animals."Any ideas? 
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8:43 PM | ESA Policy News December 17: Congress passes “CRomnibus” spending bill, Senate committee chairs announced, US Census public comment opportunity
Here are some highlights from the latest ESA Policy New […]
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8:40 PM | Competition Puts Nature Under a Microscope: Photos
The annual contest documents life in the natural world, as seen through light microscopes.
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