Posts

September 02, 2014

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6:03 PM | Would you ban students from emailing you?
Developing successful student – professor interactions can be a very challenging aspect of teaching at the university level.  Getting students to ask questions and engage in a class is very hard, especially in large introductory courses.  One professor tried to combat this problem using a radical strategy, banning students from emailing her unless they were […]
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1:05 PM | Birdbooker Report 336
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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12:24 PM | The passenger pigeon by Errol Fuller – review
SUMMARY: Written by an artist and authority on extinct species, this book shares rare photographs and other visual materials to provide a general overview to the history of the extinct passenger pigeon. "Men still live who, in their youth, remember pigeons. Trees still live who, in their youth, were shaken by a living wind. But a decade hence only the oldest oaks will remember, and at long last only the hills will know.” -- Leopold Aldo, A Sand County Almanac:... Read more
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11:26 AM | The passenger pigeon by Errol Fuller | review | @GrrlScientist
Written by an artist and authority on extinct species, this book shares rare photographs and other visual materials to provide a general overview to the history of the extinct passenger pigeon.Men still live who, in their youth, remember pigeons. Trees still live who, in their youth, were shaken by a living wind. But a decade hence only the oldest oaks will remember, and at long last only the hills will know. -- Leopold Aldo, A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There (1949, 1989. New […]
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11:00 AM | Speak for yourself
Arguably the most unique ability of humans is the ability to communicate highly complex concepts, for which we need language. But language can mean many things, from sign language to writing, although the most efficient form of language we have is speech – a skill unique today to living modern humans. The apes have a […]

September 01, 2014

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3:59 PM | From Macroanalysis to Cultural Evolution
The purpose of this post is to recast the work reported in Macroanalysis: Digital Methods & Literary History in terms appropriate to cultural evolution. The idea is to propose a model of cultural evolution and assign objects from Jockerss analysis to play roles in that model. I will leave Jockers’ work untouched. All I’m doing […]
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1:16 PM | Sansa Stark's portrait in the Uffizi?
Renaissance art is mostly of a religious theme; the rest is portraits of important people. You don't see landscapes except for background details. Some of the frescos in the Uffizi about which they tell you nothing show you much more about the more ordinary life and times. At any rate, a younger relative began the meme of looking for portraits that resemble friends and family members. Thus while never intending to, portraits were being viewed with a new purpose, and much to TPP's surprise there […]
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1:05 PM | Thoughts on travel
The Phactors like travel, but not traveling. To be clear travel is when you are at someplace that is not home; traveling is the act of getting to that someplace. Traveling has become drudgery, a necessary ordeal to get to some place different. Nothing about traveling is fun, and it is often quite stressful. Traveling home is more so because there is no anticipation of going someplace new. Airports must be the most inhumane, uninhabitable, uncomfortable, uninspiring, and ugly places that humans […]
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12:48 PM | The changing life appearance of dinosaurs
Anyone who knows anything about Mesozoic dinosaurs will be – or certainly should be – familiar with the fact that our view of what these animals looked like in life has changed substantially within... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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12:30 PM | Do high voltage power lines cause cancer?
This could be a very short article. I could just write “no, power lines don’t cause cancer"—but that wouldn't explain why so many people believe otherwise. And it won’t help people who are thinking about buying a home that has power lines nearby. So let’s look at this question a bit more closely.For the past century or more, humans have been surrounding ourselves with an ever-growing array of electrical devices. All of these devices create electrical or magnetic […]
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10:45 AM | A feathered river across the sky by Joel Greenberg – review
One hundred years ago today, the last passenger pigeon, a captive-bred adult named Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo. Since we knew that she was the last of her kind, her body was frozen into a 300-pound block of ice before she was shipped by train to the Smithsonian Institution, where she was skinned, dissected and preserved as a mount. Although none of the people who knew the living bird are themselves still alive today, we can still learn more... Read more
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10:05 AM | How Starvation Causes Heritable Changes
A growing body of evidence is pointing towards unknown inheritance mechanisms th...
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8:34 AM | A feathered river across the sky by Joel Greenberg - review | @GrrlScientist
This comprehensive book meticulously documents much that is known about the iconic extinct passenger pigeon.One hundred years ago today, the last passenger pigeon, a captive-bred adult named Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo. Since we knew that she was the last of her kind, her body was frozen into a 300-pound block of ice before she was shipped by train to the Smithsonian Institution, where she was skinned, dissected and preserved as a mount. History suggests that few things stimulate human […]
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2:13 AM | POTW Returns
If that last post did not satisfy your need for brain food, then let me mention that as of today the Problem of the Week returns. This semester’s theme: Fun With Arithmetic! What’s that? You don’t like arithmetic? Well, let’s see if you’re still saying that at the end of the term. In general I…
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2:06 AM | Sunday Chess Problem
The Sinquefield Cup is turning out to be not just one of the strongest chess tournaments in history, but also one of the most exciting. In today’s round five all three games ended decisively, but the commentators were lamenting that the games were not as thrilling as in previous rounds. The sensation of the tournament…
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1:41 AM | First Wooster paleontology field trip of the year: the glorious Ordovician of Ohio
Today the Invertebrate Paleontology class at The College of Wooster drove south to one of our favorite outcrops: the Waynesville, Liberty and Whitewater Formations (= Bull Fork Formation) at the emergency spillway in Caesar Creek State Park. I enjoy taking students to this extensive exposure because it has diverse fossils, is easy for beginners, and […]

August 31, 2014

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9:20 PM | The Shape of the Neuron in Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is defined by its core symptomatology, which includes thought disorder, psychosis (including delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia), and negative symptoms, the latter which include things like apathy, depression, and executive […]
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3:04 PM | Deep Future of Big History
NEW PAPER: Deep Future of Big History: Cultural Evolution, Technoculture, and Omega Civilization  The epic of evolution has always set my imagination on fire.  Throughout the 13.8 billion years of cosmic existence an interconnected chain of events has resulted in the generation of culture, technology, language, and mind.  What is the nature of this evolutionary […]Deep Future of Big History was first posted on August 31, 2014 at 3:04 pm.©2013 "The Advanced Apes". Use […]
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12:06 PM | Showdown: Scientific Data vs. Conclusions (POLL)
A short post that guest-tweeting at the  Biotweeps account on Twitter got me thinking about– featuring a poll. Imagine this: two scientists (colleagues, if you’re a scientist) are arguing thusly. Say it’s an argument about a classic paper in which much of the data subjected to detailed statistical analyses are quantitative guesses, not hard measurements. […]
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9:46 AM | A week of links
Links this week: Daniel McFadden on how people make choices. Not that new but only spotted this week – Gerd Gigerenzer has a great rants on statistics. (HT: Noah Smith) Forty per cent of modern Chinese are patrilineal descendants of only three super-grandfathers from 6,000 years ago. (HT: Carl Zimmer) Anti-marijuana advocates funded by drug companies. […]

August 30, 2014

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6:33 PM | Filesnakes, Wartsnakes, or Elephant Trunksnakes
Arafura Filesnake (Acrochordus arafurae)In the swamps, marshes, streams, and estuaries of northern Australia and southeastern Asia live ancient snakes as thick as your arm, with tongues as thin as a thread, skin as rough as a file, and a disposition as gentle as a lamb. These snakes comprise the family Acrochordidae (from the Greek akrochordon, wart), and are known as filesnakes1, wartsnakes, or elephant trunksnakes. In Indonesian they are known as karung, which means 'sack'; in Thai, […]
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6:20 PM | Sources of error: the twisted rationality of double standards
I’ve written before about righteous indignation, but haven’t even touched its most peculiar property: asymmetry. Ever wondered why people like me find it easy to feel anger towards Tony Blair, but don’t seem to feel the same towards Abu Bakr…Read more ›
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5:37 PM | A tale of salt and gender: participation of women in halophile research
Interesting paper on women in science of direct relevance to my work: Frontiers | Salty sisters: The women of halophiles | Extreme Microbiology.  I have been working on halophilic archaea for many years (since introduced to them in graduate school) and published papers on this topic (e.g., see The Complete Genome Sequence of Haloferax volcanii DS2, a Model Archaeon and Sequencing of seven haloarchaeal genomes reveals patterns of genomic flux and more coming). […]
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3:39 PM | Mesquite "A modular system for evolutionary analysis" v3.0 released from Team Maddison
Just found out about this on Facebook via Rod Page: Mesquite V3.0  has been released.  Mesquite is from Team Maddison (Wayne and David).  I have been using their software since 1987 when I took Stephen Jay Gould's course at Harvard and they were TAs for the course demoing an early version of MacClade.   Lots of nice features and it is available in Mac, Unix/Linux, and Windows versions.   They describe "What Mesquite Does" on their Wikispaces site in the […]
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3:22 PM | NIH Announces Revised Genome Data Release Policies
Just got notified of this by the UC Davis Med. School grants administration: NOT-OD-14-124: NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy.  Lots of interesting things in here including a summary of the comments that they received on the draft policy.I have copied some of the more interesting and relevant bits below:Sharing research data supports the NIH mission and is essential to facilitate the translation of research results into knowledge, products, and procedures that improve human health. […]
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2:13 PM | Wooster Geologists begin the 2014-2015 school year
What a fine group of geologists we had at the first meeting of the College of Wooster Geology Club this week. We have an ambitious year ahead of us with outside speakers, student presentations, course field trips, and our biennial Mojave Desert Spring Expedition. Our number of geology majors has grown significantly as well, which […]
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11:42 AM | Notes from a quantum mechanics boot camp: day 3
With the third and final day of the workshop done, it’s time for me to wrap up this series on …Continue reading →
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9:35 AM | About Martha, the last of the passenger pigeons | @GrrlScientist
This caturday arrived just in time to share a few videos about Martha, the last passenger pigeon known to have lived.Its caturday once again, which means its that one day each week when we take a step back from our busy lives to honour animals and nature and our special relationship with them. Since the centenary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon is only a couple days away, I thought Id share some video about these birds. Continue reading...

August 29, 2014

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4:00 PM | Kudos to Dr. Roizen's Personalized, Preventive, & Integrative Medicine "Focus on Women's Health" Conference #NoMoreYAMMMs
Quick post here as I have a bit of a cold.  I post a lot of critiques here about meetings that have bad gender ratios for the speakers.  But I do focus on the negative and am trying to also call attention to the good cases.  Well here is one: the 12th Annual Dr. Roizen’s Personalized, Preventive, and Integrative Medicine Conference with a focus on Women's Health.  And unlike the recent Ovarian Club meeting (see No Ovaries? Well this Ovarian Club Conference is […]
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1:46 PM | New books party | @GrrlScientist
What good is a weekend without a good book to read? Take a look at these books -- hot off the presses -- that you may enjoy! Continue reading...
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