March 16, 2015

1:06 PM | TEDxMSU: Hot or Not? Just Try.
Shouting “Sex!” in front of nearly 2,000 people can be scary, but it proved to be a pretty effective way to grab an audience’s attention. On March 4th, 2015, I delivered a TED talk on my evolution research at TEDxMSU, an independently organized TED event held at Michigan State University. The process to getting selected […]
12:30 PM | Me and my soapbox: The 21 day sugar “detox”
Every day I hear about a new diet*/cleanse/detox program and most of the time I just wave them away as fads and unnecessary. However, when I saw that a blogger friend mentioned she was going to do the “21 day sugar detox” program, my ears perked. I read her post and I gathered that what she wanted to do was to lower her sugar cravings/consumption coming from extra added sugar in a lot of processed foods…but then I learned that the program also had fruits listed as “No […]
12:08 PM | Dreams and Lies and Intimacy.
I had some bad dreams last night. Drinking dreams. I dreamed that on my recent vacation with BB, I had actually had a few drinks. Never been drunk, but had a drink or two from time to time. And in fact, I dreamed that I had done that several times since quitting my alcoholic-level drinking. […]
11:06 AM | How Science Can Help Beekeepers Protect Their Colonies
David Tarpy and his lab are using advanced diagnostic tools to help beekeepers keep their honey bee colonies healthy and productive.
11:01 AM | Recent ecology & evolution papers I thought were really good
A while back we asked y’all what changes you’d like to see us make to the blog. One suggestion was “posts highlighting recently-published papers”. I responded that I wasn’t super-motivated to write such posts. Lots of people and organizations already … Continue reading →
11:00 AM | ‘It’s About Time’ – a science blog
Recently I’ve been busy getting our lab’s research blog up and running on WordPress. It’s called ‘It’s About Time‘ and is about our research into circadian clocks, alternative splicing, and how plants respond to temperature. We’re also collaborating with artist Ally Wallace on a Art-Science project, the aim of which is to help scientists reflect on […]
10:11 AM | Why collecting Long Term Ecological Data is not cool enough for funding agencies?
Most of my papers include in one way or another a sentence apologising for not having long term data, and excusing myself for using either a snapshot of whatever happens in a given year, or using long term data that is … Continue reading →
9:43 AM | War of the Words – The Conflict between Science and Journalism, Part 2
In a previous post I outlined some potential areas of conflict between scientists and the journalists who are reporting on research. Here I want to continue my look at this relationship. First off let’s start by looking at some surprising results from the social science literature which show that more often than not scientific findings are accurately reported. One study by Peters et al. (2008) reported, “interactions between scientists and journalists are more frequent and smooth […]

March 15, 2015

6:29 PM | Gender, conferences, conversations and confrontations
My departmental colleague Greg Martin has posted a paper entitled “Addressing the underrepresentation of women in mathematics conferences.” A comment and a bibliographical reference on page 9 of the text inform us that the paper is intended for publication in … Continue reading →
2:22 PM | Manuscript necromancy: challenges of raising the dead
If you’ve been doing research for any length of time, you probably have data that aren’t doing anything but taking up space on your hard drive.  Stick around a little longer, and you’ll eventually have entire projects with half-written (or … Continue reading →
1:51 PM | Is Science Broken? Let's Ask Karl Popper
On Tuesday I'll be speaking at a debate in University College London (UCL) on the topic of "Is Science Broken?" I'll be arguing that it is. One of the other people on the panel is UCL neuroscientist Sam Schwarzkopf, who on his (alter ego) Devil's Neuroscientist blog (DNS) recently argued that science is not broken. He makes several points but here's the nub: “Is Science broken?” - Attentive readers of my blog will probably guess that my answer to this question is a clear No. In […]

March 14, 2015

7:25 PM | Anticipation
It’s been a long winter but it’s ending quickly. March brings anticipation in this part of the world. This past week was a reminder of that, and we saw temperatures above freezing for several days in a row. The ‘big melt’ has started… dozens of tiny trickles have appeared beside roads, guided by gravity. I […]

March 13, 2015

8:00 PM | This Is the Koch Brothers Going Too Far
When someone has a lot of money, and I mean a hell of a lot of money, he can basically determine how we talk about policy in American. Billionaire Bill Gates, for instance, has a major influence on health and education, for good or ill, based entirely on which reform ideas are exciting enough for him to throw money at. By this point everyone knows that billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who own the highly diversified multi-national group of companies collectively known as Koch […]
6:05 PM | To Apply Or Not To Apply For That Grant?
When should scientists apply for grants? Does spending more time writing applications pay off in the long run? A paper published in PLoS ONE this week examined the eternal question: To apply or not to apply? The authors, Ted and Courtney von Hippel, start out by noting that most major grant awards are highly competitive - with success rates of just 20% in the case of US federal NIH and NSF awards. What's more, although decisions are made by a panel of expert judges, the evidence is th

von Hippel T & von Hippel C (2015). To apply or not to apply: a survey analysis of grant writing costs and benefits., PloS one, 10 (3) PMID:

4:41 PM | Open Science News – 13 March 2015
The latest in Open Science news: Are you attending the Experimental Biology meeting later this month? We’ll be there, at booth 541, and we’ll have a few printed copies of our Guide to Open Science Publishing. If you missed yesterday’s Mozilla Science Lab call, the notes are on the etherpad. Mozilla Science Lab [...]
1:00 PM | Music makes me lose control
Nautilus, you’ve done it again: an elegant post on two of my favorite topics: music and time.  Time and music are inseparable – music takes place over time, and both can be very precise and mathematical. But music also reminds us how subjective time is, which is the theme of Jonathan Berger’s post. The post weaves […]
12:00 PM | Recommended reads #48
Allen Orr wrote a masterful review of DS Wilson’s latest book on the evolution of altruism. Jeremiah Ory has some spectacular advice non-advice for managing dual careers. Quiz: Did a computer or a human write this? How Eric Grollman came out of the liberal arts closet. My 11-year old son Bruce just told me about the…
11:57 AM | Friday links: weak inference in ecology, the Ambiguous Pazuma, you vs. lunch, and more (UPDATED)
Also this week: Mammal March Madness, replicating a hoax, in praise of tough questions, good writing in action (literally), Deborah Mayo on banning statistical inference, Meg’s shoes, and more. Even Brian read the internet this week! From Brian (!): Anybody … Continue reading →
11:17 AM | Debating Models of Preregistration
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the Publication Bias Workshop in London, organized by the NC3Rs, a British scientific organization. The meeting was organized around the question of whether preregistration can be a solution for the problem of publication bias in medical research. I believe that it can, and I've been writing about this for several years. I didn't speak at the workshop, but the cause of preregistration was amply represented by speakers including Chris Chambers o
10:00 AM | Two buns in the oven
I am set to become an uncle for the first time as my sister is pregnant with twins! They are due in July meaning that they are unlikely to be Gemini (which is thematically disappointing) but as with all pregnancies talk immediately turned to the gender. As a student of Physics I wasn’t interested in…
8:25 AM | Do you speak Yamnaya?
I bet you do! One nice non-biological thing you can do with phylogenetics (unlike beers) is study the evolution of languages. If you aren’t familiar with evolutionary linguistics, it’s basically the same principles that we use to study the descent with modification of organisms but applied to words. Even though words do not evolve in a biological way, we can still apply similar phylogenetic principles by just adjusting the evolutionary models. OK but let’s go back to my […]
8:13 AM | 10 Things to Make You a Better Committee Member
I seem to have been sitting through a lot of committee meetings recently, of diverse kinds. Every committee meeting has its own dynamic – a grant-awarding meeting is very different in form from that of some sort of a departmental … Continue reading →
6:55 AM | UK research funding slumps below 0.5% GDP – putting us last in the G8
Tell Them Science is Vital: with funding in decline and an election looming, we must make sure our democratic representatives understand how crucial science is for our economy, health and happinessFive years ago, scientists were roused from their labs and took to the streets with supporters of science from all walks of life – from teachers and doctors to plumbers and taxi drivers – to protest against the coalition’s threatened cuts to the UK research budget. The protest […]
2:09 AM | Four Models of Non-Traditional Schools at SXSWedu
AUSTIN, TX—The annual South by Southwest Education conference in this capital city attracts hordes of educators, education technology companies and innovators. Each day this week, presenters pitched new gadgets, apps and technology that they said would revolutionize teaching and learning. Also, several presentations featured educators touting non-traditional school models and redesigned school structures and classrooms. Here are a few of those models. A school with coding in every […]

March 12, 2015

10:00 PM | LSAT Optional: Law Schools Finally Do Something Original
Law schools are in trouble. For a few years they could count on a steady stream of eager college graduates who thought of law school as a responsible way to get a stable career. And then the Great Recession hit, and the demand for lawyers plummeted. The number of law school applicants declined, dramatically, and it’s hard for many schools, particularly the lower ranked ones, to attract students. A few law schools are trying to reverse the trend. According to this piece in the […]
7:12 PM | Researchers document disaster recovery in FukushimaSince the...
Researchers document disaster recovery in FukushimaSince the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011, Yoh Kawano’s heart and mind have been set on venturing into the contaminated ruins of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.Recently, he achieved his goal. What he learned could help when the next disaster hits.Arfakhashad Munaim and Kawano focused their research outside the plant in Namie, a city of 21,000 that had been exposed to radiation-tainted winds from the Fukushima […]
4:34 PM | One million pageviews!
Shameless own-horn-tooting alert! I’m happy to announce that earlier today we passed… We couldn’t resist announcing it because it’s a big round number. :-) Thanks for reading everybody!Filed under: Announcements and events, Just for fun, Navel gazing
3:16 PM | Watch Buzz Aldrin’s upcoming talk, courtesy of Mendeley
Mendeley is really excited to be sponsoring another space-themed event at the Cambridge Union Society. Following last month’s debate, which discussed whether space exploration was worth the cost, this Saturday (March 14th) we are proudly sponsoring a talk by the second man to walk on the moon, Buzz Aldrin! The event will start at 13:00 GMT and […]
3:00 PM | Taking That Careers and College Thing Too Damn Far
An important phrase used by education reformers lately has to do with fixing American schools to prepare all students for “college and careers.” This is theoretically a good idea, since high school for anyone at all is followed by either more education or a job. While some politicians can support the whole “education as job preparation” concept a little too enthusiastically, a new reform in one state appears to be taking this to the point of absurdity. According to a […]
2:45 PM | Turbulent Deaths
New 3D simulations that capture the last minutes of a massive star's life reveal that its violently turbulent interior can affect how it dies.
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