Posts

November 04, 2014

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2:34 PM | Your next Mission is just around the corner!
Find out when the next Mission is launching!
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12:28 PM | Birdbooker Report 345
SUMMARY: Books, books, beautiful books! This is a list of biology, ecology, environment, natural history and animal books that are (or will soon be) available to occupy your bookshelves and your thoughts. “Words in leather and wood”. Bookshelves in the “Long Room” at the old Trinity College Library in Dublin. Image: Nic McPhee from Morris, MN, USA. 2007. (Creative Commons.) Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them!... Read […]
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12:19 PM | WTF (What’s The Function?)
Jay Shendure’s editorial, “Life after genetics”, points out that we, as geneticists, should shift our focus from variant-finding (e.g., GWAS) to understanding the functional implications of disease-associated variants: “We are in a period of rich discovery in human genetics and genomics. The … Continue reading →
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11:23 AM | Anybody out there teaching a successful intro biostats course? Tell us about it!
This is a bleg.* A while back I asked your help in choosing a textbook for an introductory biostats course I co-teach. We settled on Whitlock & Schluter, which fits our needs quite well. The course covers a pretty traditional … Continue reading →
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2:19 AM | Network Theory (Part 33)
Last time I came close to describing the ‘black box functor’, which takes an electrical circuit made of resistors and sends it to its behavior as viewed from outside. From outside, all you can see is the relation between currents and potentials at the ‘terminals’—the little bits of wire that poke out of the black […]

November 03, 2014

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11:06 PM | Not an “accident”: Milton Hernandez, 22 suffers fatal work-related injury in Scott, Louisiana
This week’s snapshot of just one work-related fatality in the U.S. This one occurred on October 28 in Scott, Louisiana.
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9:03 PM | Dog disease threatens Siberian tigers
Wild ThingsAnimals,Conservation by Sarah Zielinski 7:30am, November 4, 2014 The world’s dwindling tiger population is threatened by poaching and humans encroaching on the big cats’ habitat, but canine distemper virus may also be a problem, a new study finds.Stuck with my Camera/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)Despite its name, canine distemper virus can infect plenty of non-dog species, […]
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7:52 PM | What to do if you’re facing tenure denial
A nontrivial fraction of tenure-track faculty are denied tenure, well over the standard 5% threshold for Type I errors that we use in the sciences. Even though academia has a love for self-scrutiny, we overlook the consequences of tenure denial. Tenure denial is not rare, but thoughtful information about tenure denial is rare. Since I wrote…
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7:00 PM | New faces: Rob Denton
This week we’re pleased to welcome a big group of new contributors to the blog. By way of introduction, I asked each of them to answer a few quick questions about him- or herself. —Jeremy Who are you? I’m a … Continue reading →
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5:54 PM | New faces: Arun Sethuraman
This week we’re pleased to welcome a big group of new contributors to the blog. By way of introduction, I asked each of them to answer a few quick questions about him- or herself. —Jeremy Who are you? Arun Sethuraman, … Continue reading →
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1:30 PM | Navel-gazing in NYC
We’re headed back to the Big Apple this week – this time, not in search of ants, but BELLY BUTTONS. We’re launching a new research project investigating how belly button microbes – and skin microbes more generally – produce chemical signals, particularly odors, that may signal our attractiveness to mosquitoes. And so we need a few good belly button samples. We’ll use those samples to study the composition of microbes, the odors they produce, and their […]
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11:42 AM | A hypothesis about why some ecologists don’t like “pure theory”
As we’ve discussed several times (e.g., this comment thread), ecologists as a whole may be increasingly skeptical of the value in “pure theory”, meaning theory that is at best only loosely connected to “reality” or “nature”. The evidence for that … Continue reading →
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11:23 AM | Combatting the “black spot” on citrus production in Ghana
Contributed by Melanie Bateman, Integrated Crop Management Adviser, CABI in Switzerland Not long ago, farmers in the Ashanti region of Ghana had seen citrus as a potential money-maker but now many are now giving up in despair as pathogens such as citrus angular leaf spot (Pseudocercospora angolensis) and citrus black spot (Guignarida citricarpa) diminish yields […]
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11:08 AM | Factsheet of the month: November – Brown planthopper of rice
Last week, Nature published an article on the story of rice, from a wild grass to the stable crop we know today. Rice is one of the most important crops in the world as it forms the basis of the diet of a large portion of the human population. Due to the high importance of […]
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10:04 AM | Is dispersal neutral?
Winsor Lowe & Mark McPeek. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 29(8): 444-450. Is dispersal neutral? I picked this paper because I don’t think dispersal is neutral and I had a hunch that the authors didn’t think so either. Perhaps because I already agreed with the main thrust of their argument – that we need to consider […]
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9:23 AM | Size isn’t everything: organising small conferences
The late afternoon sky drizzled softly on Manchester. The pubs along Oxford Road gently creaked with the weight of workers sinking pints following a long week of doing whatever it is that people who work in Manchester do.  Sat in a beer garden, I relaxed and pondered the exceptionally busy previous 48 hours, the main feature of which had been the effective and successful running of a small conference. Having waved goodbye to 50 happy delegates, I had the time to reflect on what had made it […]
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5:34 AM | Artists cultivating Food Systems
When I’m asked how Lanchonete.org is art by a curator, I often feel like it’s a test to see whether I’ll reference Gordon Matta-Clark’s FOOD, a restaurant the artist/ architect and colleagues started in lower Manhattan in the 1970. Sometimes … Continue reading →
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2:44 AM | IPCC Final Report: We’ve Blown Two-Thirds of Our Carbon Budget
"Given the massive wealth and political power of a fossil fuel industry intent upon preserving its $27 trillion stock value, it's no wonder that the dire messages on climate change given by the Nobel prize-winning IPCC, a volunteer organization with almost no PR budget, are drowned out by a stupendous amount of industry-funded misinformation, echoed by politicians they help elect and sympathetic media outlets" (Dr. Jeff Masters). Continue reading →
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1:30 AM | Chain-Free Elephant Volunteer Program 2015
In an unprecedented gesture of faith in a US-based nonprofit organization, Nepalese government officials invited Elephant Aid International (EAI) to create the country’s first-ever chain-free corrals at Chitwan National Park where 63 working elephants now live, shackled in painful leg chains. These elephants engage in anti-poaching patrols and are essential to the government’s ongoing conservation work to protect endangered tigers and rhinos. To date, 31 chain-free corrals have […]

November 02, 2014

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7:04 PM | How can art (in all its forms), exhibits, installations and provocations be a better catalyst to raise awareness, support and momentum for urban nature and green spaces? 
No summary available for this post.
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6:03 PM | Weekly facts and quotes, 10/27 – 11/2
I keep little facts and quotes that I find interesting in an evernote notebook. I thought I’d start sharing them because everyone should learn one fact per day. Monday The Circumcellions regarded martyrdom as the true Christian virtue (as the … Continue reading →

November 01, 2014

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9:59 PM | Making science more welcoming for women and minorities: a workshop.
It’s been a tough week for social justice in academic science. There was a series of racially insensitive tweets about “overpopulation” and Ebola, a misogynist metaphor occupied centrestage in a piece condemning the “new conservation” movement, and a New York … Continue reading →
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1:17 PM | Top Ten Animals Getting Better Sleep Than You
Check out this list of animals that have found the perfect place for a little shut eye!
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9:58 AM | Whooooo said that? The distinct voices of owls | video | @GrrlScientist
This interesting video shares some of the calls made by a few owl species, including the calls made by one of the worlds most widespread bird species, the barn owl.Since tomorrow is All Souls Day (and last night was Halloween), when peoples thoughts turn to ghosts and spooky animals, I thought Id share this fun little video about owls and their distinct voices. As youll hear in this video, each owl species has its own special voice just as they have their own distinctive appearance. This video […]
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4:57 AM | Princess Tiara’s Journey to Happiness!
For those of you haven’t watched the show, you may want to catch it first at the Science Centre before it ends! For more details, click here! For those of you who have seen the show and were wondering how some of the cool tricks shown actually worked, here are explanations so that you can… Continue reading »
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12:40 AM | 38 federal agencies reveal their vulnerabilities to climate change — and what they’re doing about it
Or as the president's initial 2009 executive order on climate change put it: "In order to create a clean energy economy that will increase our Nation's prosperity, promote energy security, protect the interests of taxpayers, and safeguard the health of our environment, the Federal Government must lead by example." Continue reading →

October 31, 2014

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11:59 PM | Birth Control Enters Mainstream Concern
Reducing the human population by encouraging birth control will take generations. In the short term (like in the next five years), we must drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and we must gain control over land use practices. Continue reading →
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11:26 PM | Big Coal Dumps on Wildlife in a Biological Motherlode
How do mining companies get away with it? The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) requires miners to certify that these sites have undergone restoration and reclamation. The sites in this study were mined in the late 1990s and certified as “reclaimed” in 2007 by the Kentucky Department for Natural Resources. But all that really means, said Steven J. Price, a University of Kentucky professor and co-author of the paper, is that the mining companies “were […]
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11:00 PM | Starstruck Friday – When Transformers meet Little Red Riding Hood!
This is such a happening week(end) for Science Centre! Last night, our colleagues in the Exhibitions Group were busy with the launch of the Transformers 30th Anniversary Exhibition. At the same time, our colleagues in the Education Programmes Division have also prepared a slew of fun activities and a cool Science Show for The Not… Continue reading »
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9:25 PM | Study engages residents in collecting air samples around fracking sites, finds high levels of dangerous chemicals
A recent study of air quality around unconventional oil and gas extraction sites — more commonly referred to as fracking — found high levels of benzene, hydrogen sulfide and formaldehyde, all of which pose risks to human health. But what makes this study particularly interesting is that the air samples were collected by the very people who live near the extraction sites, and the collection times were specifically triggered by the onset of health symptoms.
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