Posts

March 16, 2015

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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 […]
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9:38 AM | The Plight of the Orangutan: Great Apes Heading Toward Extinction
There are two species of orangutan and both are endangered. The Sumatran orangutan Pongo abelii is the most critically endangered of the two, and is given the status 'Critically Endangered' by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The other orangutan species, the Bornean orangutan Pongo pygmaeus, is slightly less endangered, but is nonetheless considered 'Endangered' by the IUCN.Since the two species belong to two distinct districts, namely Sumatra and Borneo, this article will deal with the […]
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9:33 AM | A brief history of Electricity
By Yong Jian-Yi who is a Science Educator at Science Centre Singapore. Electricity has long been a subject of fascination in human history. The most common natural observation of it is lightning, however the link between the two was not apparent until Benjamin Franklin performed his classical experiment by flying a kite into a thunderstorm. The… Continue reading »

March 15, 2015

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11:00 PM | Extinction of Experience: Does it Matter?
Right after I graduated from Cornell, I took off for the North Cascades wilderness. First as a student and later an instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School, I spent summers in Glacier Peak Wilderness Area, ice climbing out of crevasses, backpacking through Pacific Northwest old growth forests, and scaling ancient volcanoes. For me, this was … Continue reading Extinction of Experience: Does it Matter? →
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2:52 PM | Climate change: UN backs fossil fuel divestment campaign
Framework convention on climate change says it shares aim for strong deal on fighting global warming at Paris summit The UN organisation in charge of global climate change negotiations is backing the fast-growing campaign persuading investors to… “Everything we do … Continue reading →
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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 →
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2:56 AM | Deforestation in Myanmar threatens biodiversity and communities
Myanmar’s government has allocated at least 5.2 million acres forestland and identified a further 11 million acres of some of Southeast Asia’s "last remaining biodiversity rich forests" as suitable to be cleared for private agribusiness projects, according to the report published Thursday by Forest Trends, a forest conservation organization. Continue reading →
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2:49 AM | Unlike Temperatures, Climate Change Deniers Are Falling Fast
Climate-change deniersd will persist as long as there is oil in the ground. Continue reading →

March 14, 2015

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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 […]
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1:17 PM | Top Ten Coolest Animal Feet
Check out this top ten to discover animals with some of the coolest feet!
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12:25 PM | Why do pet parrots mimic people? | @GrrlScientist
Since today is “Caturday”, I had to share some videos of one of my favourite birds in the world, the diminutive budgerigar named Disco. And because Disco is such a talented mimic, this gives me the opportunity to share the evolutionary reasons why pet parrots mimic people.Since today is “Caturday”, I had to share some videos of one of my favourite birds in the world, the diminutive budgerigar named Disco. Disco lives in western New York with his family, which includes […]
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3:33 AM | Mating systems
In a new paper, published online in Molecular Ecology, Pannell (2015) reviews the literature on the evolution of mating systems and dispersal in colonizing species as component of a special issue called Invasion Genetics: The Baker and Stebbins Legacy.  This issue is … Continue reading →

March 13, 2015

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4:39 PM | These urban farmers want to feed the whole neighborhood — for free
“The Beacon Food Forest is giving away dozens of strawberry plants. For free. “For now, the cooperative food forestry idea is at least spreading like those strawberry plants, thanks in part to the BFF’s focus on education. In addition to monthly work … Continue reading →
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3:08 PM | Caution, Wildlife Corridor Ahead!
Parks Canada is helping animals get around their habitat more safely by building human-made crossing corridors
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3:08 PM | Attention, passage pour animaux droit devant!
Parcs Canada aide les animaux à se déplacer de façon plus sécuritaire dans leur habitat en aménageant des passages pour animaux
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3:04 PM | Quantum Superposition
guest post by Piotr Migdał In this blog post I will introduce some basics of quantum mechanics, with the emphasis on why a particle being in a few places at once behaves measurably differently from a particle whose position we just don’t know. It’s a kind of continuation of the “Quantum Network Theory” series (Part […]
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12:44 PM | Plant clinics help improve yields in Machakos, Kenya
“Approximately 300 farmer-self help groups from Machakos County and its environs under the Katoloni community-based organization have registered improved crop yields in the last one year due to high levels of sensitization on crop pest and diseases at plant clinics in the region,” writes Maugo Owiti of HiviSasa.com. In the article, Pius Ndaka, a farmer […]
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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…
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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 →
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11:47 AM | New books party: books that arrived recently | @GrrlScientist
This week’s books include three scholarly works: one examines the language of science and how it changed from Latin to English; another probes the rise of online universities; and a third discusses the use of Victorian fairy-tales to communicate science to public.Scientific Babel: The language of science from the fall of Latin to the rise of English by Professor Michael Gordin [432 pages, Profile Books, 2015; Guardian Bookshop; Amazon UK hardcover/paperback/Kindle UK; Amazon US […]
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9:26 AM | Image of the Week: Smartphone Microscope
Originally posted on Wellcome Trust Blog:2015 is the UN’s International Year of Light, and to celebrate, the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering at Heriot-Watt University is launching a smartphone microscope competition for students. ‘Enlightenment: Build it, See it, Show it’ aims to get schoolchildren across Scotland building their own microscopes from kits,…
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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 […]
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6:20 AM | How photosynthesis is inspiring solar power research
SUMMARY: To meet humanity’s growing energy demands, scientists are taking lessons from plants, which perfected the process of capturing the sun’s rays and transforming that into starch. Might scientists be able to adapt the photosynthetic process pioneered by plants and adapt it to meet human demands? The impacts that people have upon the global environment has been a concern to scientists for more than 100 years. These impacts are due, in large part, to the fuels we use. To […]

Barber J. (2007). Biological solar energy, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 365 1007-1023. DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2006.1962

Porter G. (1950). Flash Photolysis and Spectroscopy. A New Method for the Study of Free Radical Reactions, Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 200 (1061) 284-300. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspa.1950.0018

Porter G. (1966). Studies of Triplet Chlorophyll by Microbeam Flash Photolysis, Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 295 (1440) 1-12. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspa.1966.0222

Porter G. (1978). The Bakerian Lecture, 1977: In Vitro Models for Photosynthesis, Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 362 (1710) 281-303. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspa.1978.0134

Tyndall J. (1861). The Bakerian Lecture: On the Absorption and Radiation of Heat by Gases and Vapours, and on the Physical Connexion of Radiation, Absorption, and Conduction, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 151 1-36. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstl.1861.0001

Cogdell R.J., P. I. Molina & L. Cronin (2013). The use and misuse of photosynthesis in the quest for novel methods to harness solar energy to make fuel, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 371 (1996) 20110603-20110603. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2011.0603

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March 12, 2015

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7:11 PM | Glimmer of hope for beleaguered Chemical Safety Board
After four hours of testimony on retaliation against employees, abuse of power and more, there was a glimmer of hope from new leadership at the Chemical Safety Board.
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6:07 PM | How ignorance and indifference are contributing to climate change
Similar stories of human ignorance and developer disdain for nature are repeated for rivers, lakes, valleys, villages, cities, and nations around the world. Continue reading →
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5:33 PM | Help locate the coughing frog!
You may have heard of a newly described species of leopard frog, the Atlantic Coast leopard frog (Rana kauffeldi) — also known as the coughing frog (main image, above). The chief zoologist at the New York Natural Heritage Program, Dr. Matthew Schlesinger, has organized efforts to learn more about the range of this newly described frog species with the support of a Regional Conservation Needs grant. Where is this coughing frog and when can I find it? The map of where […]
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5:09 PM | Photo of the Week – March 12, 2015
We conducted our first prescribed burn of the Spring this week.  It was very small – about an acre or so – surrounded by gravel roads.  The first burn after a long winter is always a little rocky; everyone’s a … Continue reading →
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5:04 PM | Rest in Peace, Terry Pratchett
AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.The End.
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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
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3:19 PM | Orchid mantis: more interesting than cryptic mimicry
I know, I know, you read the title and exclaim: what can be more exciting than cryptic mimicry?! Well, listen to this: On the face of it, this is a classic evolutionary story, and a cut-and-dried case: the mantis has evolved … Continue reading →
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