Posts

November 09, 2014

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12:00 AM | What I’m doing for #digiwrimo 2014
November is a month for writing, at least judging by the virtual pledge campaigns. There’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo), and Digital Writing Month (DigiWriMo). Writing has long been one of my outlets. I hadn’t been … Continue reading →

November 08, 2014

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7:42 PM | Gold, Lies and Scandal - The Bre-X Saga
In 1997, a discovery of over 2000 tonnes of gold was reported from Busang on the island of Borneo, Indonesia. With an estimated worth of over $70 billion USD, this was called the ‘discovery of the century’. However, the dream quickly turned into a disaster as it emerged that the entire operation was a fraud. The consequences for the commodities market and the legislation of mining were widespread. The Busang mine was operated by a small Canadian company, Bre-X Minerals Ltd., […]
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6:32 PM | These glass eyeballs —aka “ocular pathology...
These glass eyeballs —aka “ocular pathology specimens”— were used as teach aides in European medical schools during the 1860s. The collection was donated to UCSF in 1963 by Phil Danz, an ocularist. (Ocularists are highly skilled craftsmen who designs prosthetic eyes.) See what else is hidden in the UC Archives →

November 07, 2014

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8:37 PM | Simmons Joins Growing List of Women's Colleges to Accept Transgender Students
Simmons College in Boston is the third U.S. women’s college - and the second in Massachusetts - to officially accept applications from transgender students.  Simmons has long admitted gender nonconforming students, but is now formalizing its admissions policy and accepting students born female, regardless of their current gender identity, as well as those who were born male and now identify as female. Related: Mount Holyoke's New Transgender Policy Redefines Women's Education […]
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7:41 PM | Apparently it's World Vasectomy Day!
Apparently it's World Vasectomy Day, so I thought I would dust this off from a few years ago. Besides being my entre onto twitter (I had no idea what I was doing), this was an excellent decision for many reasons. Dudes, consider this as a great form of birth control and an incredibly easy and […]
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7:16 PM | Open Science News – 7 November 2014
Want to go for an interstellar ride (sorry, not that Interstellar)? Explore the vastness of space by designing, building and managing space missions with Project Chronos. Check out Scientific Protocols (part of the Reproducibility Initiative). With over 30 pages of research protocols and discussions for each, chances are you’ll find [...]
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7:15 PM | Is It Time for the End of the Common App?
The Common Application for college admissions, used by an increasingly large number of colleges as a way to help ambitious students streamline the admissions process (these days a lot of students apply to at least six colleges; filling out multiple applications is just unnecessary), might now be the new has-been application process. According to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education: Admissions officials at some of the nation’s most-selective colleges seek to create a new […]
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6:19 PM | Cerebrovascular physiology – article alert #89
Brain autoregulation 452- Baroreflex and Cerebral Autoregulation Are Inversely Correlated – Nasr et al. 453- A comparison of dynamic cerebral autoregulation across changes in cerebral blood flow velocity for 200 s – Müller and Osterreich 454- Static autoregulation in humans: a review and reanalysis –  Numan et al. 455- Monitoring of Cerebral Autoregulation – Czosnyka […]
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5:44 PM | The first university in space The Triton Rocket Club is a group...
The first university in space The Triton Rocket Club is a group of undergraduate students interested in rocketry at UC San Diego and they’re hoping to build a rocket that will launch into the low reaches of space. The idea is to build a two stage rocket and send it 62 miles high above the Nevada desert. The task is not easy and has been tried by others with no success. The group’s president, Nicholas Montoya, explains: Even if you do everything right, things can go wrong. You […]
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3:56 PM | Results are Results.
I’ve been working out with a personal trainer once a week for a month now. And I’ve been going to the gym and running a total of about five days a week for 4 months. I’m putting in a lot of miles, and doing a lot of calisthenic type work and lifting (not huge weights, […]
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2:11 PM | Tristan Adventure 4: an island without birdsong
I’ve spent a good chunk of the last 10 years working on seabird islands.  During the breeding season, birds look for the safest spot to raise their young, and this often means they find themselves on coastal cliffs, offshore islands, and remote parts of the world.  This natural order of things is thrown on its […]
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1:00 PM | Recommended reads #39
There’s a site named Shit My Reviewers Say. Which has a bunch of heartless and unsubstantiated zingers that folks discover in their reviews. There are a several gems. Wayne Maddison wrote a wonderful, brief obituary for Herbert Walter Levi, “one of the grand arachnologists of the 20th century.” There was an absurdly absurd op-ed in the…
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12:09 PM | This Is What Science Looks Like At NC State: Emily Meineke
Emily Meineke explains what she loves about studying insects and the effect of higher temperatures.
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11:49 AM | Friday links: everything old is new again, and more
Also this week: how to become really highly cited, robot statistician, universities vs. brands, and more. From Jeremy: We’re a bit late to this: the 100 most cited scientific papers ever. See how many you can guess before clicking through. … Continue reading →
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8:23 AM | When the Magic Falters
This autumn in Cambridge the weather has been rather kind. The trees around the College have been spectacular, reminding me of fall in New England, and until recently cycling has been possible without any sort of jacket as opposed to … Continue reading →
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12:01 AM | A Spark of Science
Why are some snakes more venomous than others? When did plate tectonics begin? What geological mysteries await our discovery on Mars? How do organisms build their own bodies? How do businesses manage biodiversity? These are just some of the interesting and diverse Lightning Talks which were presented at a recent event in the School of Natural Sciences. Researchers from the disciplines of Botany, Geology, Geography and Zoology had just two minutes to present their work to colleagues and friends. […]

November 06, 2014

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10:43 PM | What have I learnt from post doc-ing?
I am no longer a postdoc. This both makes me ecstatic and sad. As a belated goodbye to academia post, I thought I would share my thoughts on my period as a postdoc. I learned a lot over the last 3 years or so and, looking back, am very glad I became a postdoc. I […]
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10:39 PM | The Inherent Limits of MRI Tractography?
A popular neuroscience tool, diffusion MRI tractography, may fundamentally have limited accuracy. That’s according to a paper just published in PNAS: Anatomical accuracy of brain connections derived from diffusion MRI tractography is inherently limited The authors, Cibu Thomas and colleagues of Bethesda, Maryland, begin by explaining why diffusion MRI is so widely used The creation […]The post The Inherent Limits of MRI Tractography? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.

Thomas C, Ye FQ, Irfanoglu MO, Modi P, Saleem KS, Leopold DA & Pierpaoli C (2014). Anatomical accuracy of brain connections derived from diffusion MRI tractography is inherently limited., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25368179

Citation
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5:38 PM | Why Can't We Fire Bad Teachers? There's a More Important Question to Ask Here.
Erstwhile Washington Monthly editor Haley Sweetland Edwards has written a great article about teachers’ unions. I urge you to read it because it's a balanced and compelling piece that looks seriously about what's going on in education policy and how the profession is going to change. It was also a highly controversial piece, but largely because of the cover treatment and headline it received from Time, where Haley now works. It was called "Rotten Apples: it's nearly impossible to fire a […]
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5:20 PM | What Removing Default Rates Means For Gainful Employment
The most controversial change from the Department’s proposed version of the gainful employment regulation in the spring and the one released at the end of October is no longer judging programs based upon the percentage of borrowers that defaulted on their loans within three years of entering repayment. Removing this program cohort default rate got a lot of attention because it was the only measure that looked at all borrowers, regardless of whether they dropped out. In […]
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5:17 PM | Financial Benefits of Popular Short-Term Certificates Questioned
Hugely popular short-term certificates—educational credentials designed to be completed within one year, and being pushed by community colleges and other higher-education institutions—provide almost no financial return to students, according to new research. While earning an associate’s degree or long-term certificate results in a higher likelihood of finding a job, and at a higher salary, short-term certificates generally resulted in neither of those, the research, by the […]
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4:25 PM | Getting sketchy (when it comes to geology)
I was inspired to think about the topic of drawing (and markerboards) by the great post by Miles Traer on using stick figure animations to explain complex science concepts. I don't know if geoscientists are a special breed in that they often default toward drawing out their ideas and thoughts, but I've always found it to be an invaluable part of my research process.
Editor's Pick
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1:00 PM | Social media: what is it good for?
For better or worse, I am the only person in my department who engages regularly in social media. Blogging here, reading other blogs (and occasionally commenting), chatting on twitter…over the last year or so these have become regular activities for me. So for our informal seminar series, I decided to talk about using social media…
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11:34 AM | Guess the famous ecologist from the wordle! (UPDATED)
Guess the famous ecologist from wordles made from abstracts of a bunch of their (fairly recent, first authored) papers! (UPDATE: Wow, that was fast! Took less than half an hour for commenters to combine to identify all four! :-) I … Continue reading →
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11:00 AM | Poorly cited
  So the question is – am I a good scientist? How can you tell, I hear you ask? Well, you could just take it from me that I’m ..well…showing signs of potential shall we say. Or you could ask my colleague, Professor Stuart ‘Stu’ Dent, what he thinks, but then again his work is […]
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5:00 AM | Discovery of Two Novel Innate Immunity Molecules Wins Kaluza Prize for Grad Student Jiaxi Wu
His parents were both physicians, and Jiaxi Wu says that, while they inspired him to learn more about disease, in the end, he decided to pursue a career not in clinical medicine but in biomedical research. So far, Wu is off to a flying start. He graduated first in his class in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in biology from the China Agricultural University in Beijing. A year later, he joined a PhD program in molecular biology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the […]

November 05, 2014

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11:32 PM | Music Videos from iGEM
A number of iGEM teams made parody music videos. A couple of my favourites are here:Plasmid'outai from the INSA-Lyon team which has a nice Bollywood fell to it.The St2ool Project from the Valencia Biocampus team- a parody of YMCA.There was also a Katy Perry parody I liked, but I haven't been able to find the video yet, I'll update this post when/if I find it.
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11:13 PM | Gold!
Congratulations to the Macquarie IGEM team, who are the first Australian team to ever win a gold medal at an iGEM competition! Congrats to all of the other medal and award winners (full results here), especially the Grand Prize winners, Heidelberg in the undergrad category, and UC Davis in the overgrad category.The 2014 iGEM contestants-the Macquarie team and myself are in the very front, slightly left of the centre
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9:15 PM | Federal Policy Can Help Avoid Tragedies of Unlicensed Child Care
The dirty underbelly of child care sometimes has the worst possible outcome: the injury or death of a child. A report by the Washington Post earlier this year found that 60 children had died in child care programs, with several more since, according to an op-ed published last week by the executive director of Child Care Aware of Virginia. Worse yet, some of those deaths might have been preventable: The Washington Post report found that more than 7 in 10 of the deaths occurred in child care […]
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3:08 PM | Doing Emotional Work.
I tend to operate at high levels of anxiety. I think this comes as a surprise to no one who knows me, even just online. I fear that sometimes this comes across as pointless drama, but in actuality, I’m regularly feeling deeply concerned about at least two or three aspects of what I consider to be […]
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