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Posts

April 07, 2014

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10:18 AM | Nature Futures Competition: The Winners Revealed
At the start of this year, Futures ran a competition challenging readers to write a science-fiction story in just 200 characters. After a difficult judging session, we’re pleased to award first prize to Catherine Rastovski, who wins a year’s subscription to Nature plus a gift voucher for the Futures 1 eBook. Five runners up — Adam Flanders, Arran Frood, Judith Reeves-Stevens, Anssi Sajama and Chaim Schramm— also receive gift vouchers for Futures 1.  Read more

April 06, 2014

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11:11 PM | The wrong trousers (1985)
“Women cannot complain about men any more until they start getting better taste in them.” Bill Maher There’s one episode from my distant past that I’ve put off sharing, partly because most of the details are blurry, and partly because … Continue reading →
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4:38 PM | Heron rookery in early spring
The Phactors, other guests, and our country-living hosts all took a pre-dinner nature walk to work up an appetite. The destination was the banks of a nearby river where the great blue herons had returned to their rookery high in a sycamore. For those of you who have never seen a great blue heron please understand that they are a big bird about 1.2-1.4 m tall and 2-4 kg in mass. This shows the top of the tree and less than half of the nests in the rookery. There were 20-30 herons present at […]
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2:58 PM | The “Race” to Discover Cortical Dysplasias in Autism
An article was published recently in The England Journal of Medicine by Eric Courchesne’s group, investigating what is essentially evidence of dysplasia (underdevelopment due to prolonged progenitor proliferation at the […]
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1:20 PM | A week of links
Again, closer to a month of links: A great set of essays triggered by David Dobbs’s assault on the selfish gene. Tim Harford on big data. His piece on behavioural economics is also worth reading. Take the hype with a grain of salt. The Greg Clark show continues – an interview on Social Science bites, […] The post A week of links appeared first on Evolving Economics.
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5:59 AM | Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: A brontothere jaw fragment (Miocene of South Dakota)
This fossil has been sitting in a glass case outside my office door for nearly three decades. Only this year — in the desire to find more Fossils of the Week — did I bother to open the cabinet and take it out for a looksie. On the reverse was a 19th century label: “Titanotherium […]
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5:05 AM | Sunday Chess Problem
I guess it’s been clear that I haven’t been in a blogging mood lately. There’s plenty of fodder out there, but somehow every time I sit down to write about it I suddenly remember I had something else to do. But that doesn’t mean that fans of Sunday Chess Problem should suffer! So this week…
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2:20 AM | Good reading on the history of the terms/concepts of prokaryote & eukaryote
Preparing for some lectures at UC Davis for Biodiversity and The Tree of Life course and came across this: The Prokaryote-Eukaryote Dichotomy: Meanings and Mythology by Jan Sapp which I had not really scrutinized before.  It is quite good and has lots of information on the history of microbiology and the twisted history of the prokaryote - eukaryote distinction.  Veryvery interesting stuff.  And freely available in Pubmed Central. Thank you thank you thank you Pubmed […]

April 05, 2014

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5:44 PM | It takes a village - and if you are interested in plants - here is one
Continuing to be impressed with PlantVillage. Their mantra isPlantVillage is built on the premise that the all knowledge that helps people grow food should be openly accessible to anyone on the planet. PlantVillage is a user moderated Q & A forum dedicated to the goal of helping people grow their own food. It is an open freely available resource that helps you solve all your plant related questions.I first found out about this when David Hughes was visiting UC Davis a few weeks ago to […]
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5:37 PM | name555
I woke up from a nap with this phrase from the song “Jackson” running through my head. We got married in a fever Hotter than a pepper sprout Not the whole song, just those two lines, over and over.  I hadn’t heard the song recently (probably not since seeing Walk the Line), so it probably was not the random recombination of daily information that seems to be a part of long-term memory consolidation during dreams.  I’d felt like crap all day, straight through my […]

April 04, 2014

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11:43 PM | Declarations Are Not Reality
Several years ago (I say ‘several’ and that’s what we’re going stick with!), something relatively important happened in my life. I became a legal adult. One morning, I woke up (I was born 18 years earlier at 4 in the morning) and I was an adult. I had to fill out this card that said […]
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11:31 PM | A new record!
Well, anything on the cheerful side is most welcome right now, and last month's blog traffic was a new record totaling over 27,000 page reads, an average of just under 900 pages per day.  Thanks people!  Now this blog is not really the big time, although closing in on a million hits since its inception, but TPP doesn't flog any products, have any ads, take any money or prisoners. It reassures TPP that so many seriously disturbed, desperate, people are out there. ;-)  As […]
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11:17 PM | TGIF on a dreary week
Today has been a mixed bag, an ending of a semi-miserable week. It's been 40-ish all day, gray, damp, and very windy all day. Today was a research symposium for biology students, and TPP was pleased to see how many students had done research on botanical subjects. Some colleagues still have difficulty believing that a significant segment of our majors like plants. And best of all, the students knew what they were talking about and they all seemed to really like their […]
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6:47 PM | Minnesota winter as a series of cinematic genres
(Update: Cross-posted.)First snowfall: Romantic comedy. You meet cute when you feel the first flakes against your cheek. The fresh snow cover makes everything look new and crisp and innocent. You take a long evening walk through the park, watching the falling snow dance in the light of the street lamps. You stop to make snow angels. There is a snowball fight, but afterwards everyone is still friendly. Towards the end, adorable children come out to play.The cold snap: Heist. Going outdoors […]
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6:21 PM | Spite Is Good. Spite Works.
Evolutionary theorists . . . are studying what might be viewed as the brighter side of spite, and the role it may have played in the origin of admirable traits like a cooperative spirit and a sense of fair play.
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3:29 PM | The Coelacanth has had its day
Who hasn’t wanted to bring an extinct species back into existence? Sure, there are risks, both physical (T. rex and pathogens) and ethical (Neanderthals), and sure, we’re better off without some species (smallpox and mososaurs), but how about the gastric brooding frog and the thylacine and the dodo and so on? Surely the world would be a better – or at least not worse – place if we hadn’t lost them. Enter the de-extinctionmovement, which seeks to bring extinct […]
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2:00 PM | Friday Coffee Break
  Well this is terrifying. Ebola outbreak in Guinea, that is both unexpected and spreading at an alarming rate. (From Sarah) An eight year old girl tries to make the wooly mammoth the state fossil of North Carolina… and is blocked by state senators? (From Sarah) APRIL FOOLS! Or not. A few science claims by […]
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1:59 PM | Chief Scientific Adviser to the European Commission discusses evidence-based policy and nurturing and supporting a European scientific culture
Professor Anne Glover joined the European Commission as Chief Scientific Adviser to the President in January 2012, and is the first person to hold this position.  Read more
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1:41 PM | Lunar dust mission still chasing mystery of ‘horizon glow’
NASA is preparing one last blast for its expired Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft — a controlled crash into the Moon’s surface, probably on 21 April. But before it goes, LADEE will take a final shot at unraveling one of the top mysteries it went to the Moon to uncover.  Read more
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1:21 PM | European Commission report urges legal reform to help scientists text-mine research papers
European copyright law should change to help researchers use computer programs to extract facts and data from published research papers, legal experts have urged in a report [pdf] for the European Commission published today.  Read more
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1:00 PM | What we’re reading: Coevolving diversity, gut microbiota and gas, and killing the phrase “next-generation sequencing”
In the journals Boots M., A. White, A. Best, and R. Bowers. 2014. How specificity and epidemiology drive the coevolution of static trait diversity in hosts and parasites. Evolution. doi: 10.1111/evo.12393 We examine theoretically how epidemiological feedbacks and the characteristics … Continue reading →
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1:00 PM | Science online, footprints of destruction edition
This week, at The Molecular Ecologist: Results from a reader survey on peer review and anonymity.And at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! The science-y joys of Twitter.Well, barring massive global environmental changes. Hummingbird diversification is still going strong after 22 million years.Ow. A graduate student studying bees has run a side project on the worst parts of the body to get stung.Preach. "The words 'in my opinion' are not themselves some kind of rhetorical vaccine. They can, […]
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10:38 AM | 47. Sanctuary Update
Above is a ‘Blue Groper’ peering at us from Cabbage Tree Bay, the marine reserve near Sydney where a lot of the animals on this website live. A few months ago I wrote a post about the state government’s plan … Continue reading →
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12:42 AM | Tyson vs. Swimme: Cage Match Wonder-Off
Yesterday was UNCG’s Chautaqua on environmental education.  Last night was a screening of Brian Swimme in the one-hour version of The Journey of the Universe.  Co-executive producer John Grim introduced it and led the after-discussion.  He suggested at one point that we might usefully compare JotU with Neil de Grasse Tyson’s new Cosmos series, the first episode of which my son walked out on because it was too trippy.  He had the same reaction when I came […]

April 03, 2014

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9:58 PM | Mississippi Doesn’t Know What Can of Worms They Just Opened
So, the governor of Mississippi has just declared to the world that he is the leader of a hugely backward state and the state couldn’t care less about the US Constitution. Today, he sighed a bill into law. Bill SB-268 1 says (in part) This act shall be known and may be cited as the Mississippi […]
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4:38 PM | Do we sign our peer reviews? Mostly, no.
Last week, inspired by discussions with my co-bloggers and a post by Terry McGlynn, I asked our readers to tell me whether they do peer review anonymously, and why. A total of 87 folks responded to a brief online survey, … Continue reading →
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3:22 PM | Journals must boost data sharing
Here’s the text from Tim’s recent (3rd April) Correspondence piece in Nature The journal ecosystem is a powerful filter of scientific literature, promoting the best work into the best journals. Why not use a similar mechanism to encourage more comprehensive … Continue reading →
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2:59 PM | Push notifications in R!
Despite its great litany of flaws, I love R. I love it super-hard. One of the best things about it is that people are always making weird packages that solve your problems; one of the annoying things is that you tend to find them just after they’d have been really useful, and that maybe they […]
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2:20 PM | United States of Koch & Adelson - Bought and paid for
You want to see the bill of sale?  Well, just look at the list of donations from "individual donors", citizens in every conservative sense, a for-sale universe where money is speech and corporations are people. So this cartoon, a scene from a multiverse, is for you SCOTUS, and especially its chief. Man, do these justices have screwed up concepts of how a for-and-by-the-people democracy works.  HT to Pharyngula.  BTW Scenes from a Multiverse is a seriously funny cartoon. […]
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11:23 AM | Who knew? Popular teens are not immune to bullying either
Turns out being popular might not save you from sneering, jabbing and harassment in school yards, a new University of California study concludes – and it’s even worse if you’re a girl, poor or “physically vulnerable.” In fact, becoming popular increases the risk of getting bullied, and worsens the negative consequences of being victimized, according to the same study.  Read more
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