Posts

September 09, 2014

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2:15 PM | Different Views of the Bog
Dr. Anderson describing the moisture gradient measured from the bog to the crest of the kame where the old growth remnant oak forest resides.   Our Climate Change visited Browns Lake Bog with the Plant Communities and Ecosystems class from Ohio Weslyan University’s Biology class taught by Dr. Laurie Anderson. Dr. Chuck Goss, a stream […]
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12:51 PM | Report on Cultural Evolution for the National Humanities Center, Revised Edition
Back in 2010 I wrote a piece for the National Humanities Center (USA), Cultural Evolution A Vehicle for Cooperative Interaction Between the Sciences and the Humanities, which is online at their Forum along with comments. I have since revised it to include a section on Jockers, Macroanalysis: Digital Methods in Literary History (2013). You can […]

September 08, 2014

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9:29 PM | The Last Phytosaur
Leaving the field is always bittersweet. After a week scrambling over rocks in search of fossils, a warm …
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6:49 PM | More on Basic and Extended Syntax
Question pronouns are important but hard to visualize. Yesterday I posted a notice about a review article by Heather K.J. van der Lely and Steven Pinker titled "The biological basis of language," that reports the brain supports two separate syntax...
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2:59 PM | Birdbooker Report 337
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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9:56 AM | How Some Critters Evolved to Eat Poison
Since plants generally can’t move around, they have to rely on other strategie...
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5:01 AM | Ancient Whale Provides an Early Glimpse into the Evolution of Echolocation
The author of a Nature study details the discovery of Cotylocara macei, a 28 million-year-old species of fossil whale, and its importance for the evolution of echolocation.
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4:20 AM | Sunday Chess Problem
I’m feeling a bit bereft now that the Sinquefield Cup is over. Fabiano Caruana won his first seven games, and then drew his last three, to win the tournament by a ridiculous three points (ahead of World Champion Magnus Carlsen). This is certainly one of the great tournament performances in chess history, worthy of mention…

September 07, 2014

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11:03 PM | Extracting High Quality Mud from Cedar Creek Bog
Tom Lowell and graduate student Stephanie Allard from Cincinnati and Jacklyn Rodriguez from the University of Illinois made the trip to Morrow County to core mud from a bog adjacent to the Cedar Creek Mastodon site. We will be working with the cores in Climate Change over the next several weeks and collaborating with this team. Extracting […]
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9:21 PM | The Science of Paris
My fiancé and I have been in France since August 30th, enjoying a combination of early honeymoon and a Brain Disorders conference. This post, rather than offering anything innovative and […]
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6:57 PM | A Breakthrough Paper
Sophie's Story looks at the strengths and limitations of Specific Language Impairment. The story of language and its origins that has been emerging on this blog is fairly simple: Members of the human lineage began using words when a population...
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6:32 PM | New POTW Posted
The second POTW has now been posted, along with one possible set of solutions for the first problem. This week’s problem has a similar flavor to last week’s, so if you liked that one you’ll like this one.
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4:00 PM | Story behind the paper: Bonnie Baxter on "A tale of salt and gender" #STEMWomen #Halophiles
After posting A tale of salt and gender: participation of women in halophile research I sent the post to Bonnie Baxter, one of the authors of the article I discussed and I asked if she would be interested in writing a guest post about the "Story Behind the Paper" (for which I have a whole series).  I am so so pleased that she said yes.  I have followed Bonnie's work for many years but this is her first guest post here.  I hope there will be more.  She is a […]

September 06, 2014

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7:20 PM | Understanding 3-way interactions between continuous and categorical variables: small multiples
It can be pretty tricky to interpret the results of statistical analysis sometimes, and particularly so when just gazing at a table of regression coefficients that include multiple interactions. I wrote a post recently on visualising these interactions when variables are continuous; in that instance, I computed the effect of X on Y when the […]
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4:06 PM | New look at September
September has always been a hectically busy month, so much so that it was never much fun, and yet it's a nice month, one that starts with some leftover summer and ends with the beginning of fall.  In academia everything, everybody wants to get things going after the summer: classes, students, reports, groups, activities, so many demands upon your time that you simply lurched from one to the next. For the first time in many decades this is not the case, so September gets a chance. The […]
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11:03 AM | Murmuration over Otmoor | @GrrlScientist
Tens of thousands of starlings produce spectacular sky shows with their movements at sunset as they gather together every evening during autumn and winter.September has arrived, so you all know what that means: the beginnings of huge bird flocks in autumn and winter! Just as humans spend more time congregating in pubs in autumn and winter, starlings also gather together in large numbers at these times. Every evening as the sun sets, small groups of a dozen or so individual birds follow aerial […]
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2:39 AM | Paperwork, paper pushing policies push people past pressure points
So I am going to make this simple here.  Paperwork at UC Davis is driving me batty these days.  One thing in particular does not make much sense to me. When I or anyone who works in my lab go on trips associated with work, we have to collect all the receipts for the trip and then these need to be submitted in an intemized way for reimbursement.  With a lot of people going on a lot of trips, this amounts to a lot of work for us, for my administrative assistant, for the UC Davis […]

September 05, 2014

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9:49 PM | Why the whale kept its hips
Thanks to a remarkably good fossil record, it’s now well established whales and dolphins evolved from land mammals, their forelimbs adapting into flippers, and their hind-limbs almost entirely disappearing. If you’d asked me yesterday what’s going on with that almost—the last vestiges of the hip bones that whales retain, which have no legs to support […]
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8:37 PM | Shrinking Dinos learn to fly rather rapidly
      Does this Genetically modified bird look like a shrunken dinosaur? Perhaps not, but when we talk about dinosaurs, most of us think of giant terrible beasties of huge proportions. As the article below suggests, most of the bird-like dinosaurs were rather small to begin with, but shrunk fairly rapidly when the need […]
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7:20 PM | Life forms appeared at least 60 million years earlier than previously thought
Originally posted on Science Post:Geologists in Ireland have rewritten the evolutionary history books by finding that oxygen-producing life forms were present on Earth some 3 billion years ago — a full 60 million years earlier than previously thought. These life forms were responsible for adding oxygen to our atmosphere, which laid the foundations for…
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6:37 PM | PEGE’s bringing it all back (and starting to post again)
PEGE’s back! Starting on the 19th of September, we’re re-starting our fortnightly posts! We’ve put a schedule up (it’s also at the top-right of the page) showing all the papers we’ll be covering for the next few months so you can join in more easily. See you next week! The above is what happens when […]
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5:36 PM | US foreign policy - dumb and dumber
Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat the past. TPP was a young adult of military draft age during the Vietnam Conflict (only Congress can declare war, and no war was declared), and it was obvious from the start that the military might of the USA could not win this conflict, could not defeat an enemy with a "non-traditional" approach to fighting the conflict, and this has proven pretty much true in each and every conflict the US has engaged in since. […]
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4:23 PM | A brief history of muskrats
Earlier in the year I made a promise that I’d get through more rodents here at Tet Zoo. Rodents, you see, divide people like no other group of tetrapods. Some hate them, others love them, and while... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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1:00 PM | What we’re reading: Hyper-mutating symbionts, cichlid genomes, and active learning in biology class
In the journals Remigi P, D Capela, C Clerissi, L Tasse, R Torchet, et al. 2014, Transient hypermutagenesis accelerates the evolution of legume endosymbionts following horizontal gene transfer. PLoS Biology. 12(9): e1001942. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001942. Following introduction of the symbiotic plasmid … Continue reading →
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1:00 PM | Stuff online, conservation and consternation edition
For now and the future. Fifty years of wilderness protection in northern Minnesota. Not feeling the fucking love. A soft-pedal profile of I Fucking Love Science, and its emphatic counterpoint. Visibility! A new site devoted to the personal stories of … Continue reading →
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10:02 AM | A week of links
Links this week: Two pieces on diet. First, an excellent article on how the poisons in vegetables might be making you stronger. Second, a new study in the fat-carb wars. Andrew Gelman on the strength of statistical evidence. Two excellent podcasts. Gregory Clark on social mobility (and the genetics behind it) and Paul Sabin on […]
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5:36 AM | Wooster’s Fossils of the Week: A hardground with rugose corals from the Upper Ordovician of southern Ohio
The above slab is a carbonate hardground from the Liberty Formation (Upper Ordovician) of southern Ohio. Carbonate hardgrounds are cemented seafloors, so we’re actually looking at the hard rocky bottom of an Ordovician sea. I’ve long found the idea of a hardground fascinating — it is like a bit of ancient time frozen before us. […]
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12:04 AM | Nice letter to the editor in the Davis Enterprise taking on school district's anti-science tone
I assume many people heard about the recently released report from the American Academy of Pediatrics where they recommended high school classes start later in the morning than most do right now.  See for example: Let Them Sleep: AAP Recommends Delaying Start Times of Middle and High Schools to Combat Teen Sleep Deprivation.  And this report was covered in all sorts of newsy and bloggy places.   See for example, Amy Graff's article in SFGate and Deborah Netburn in the […]

September 04, 2014

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6:02 PM | BUGGY, WET, and AWESOME
Guest bloggers: Zach Downes & Wilson Nelson For me, the trip started in Juneau, Alaska.  We arrived in Juneau late with a couple of things to take care of the next day before getting in a small plane and heading to Gustavus, Alaska where Glacier Bay National Park is based.  We needed food, XtraTuf boots, […]
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2:00 PM | Lookin’ Good, Ecology!
Did you know that the journal BMC Ecology has an annual photo competition? Harold et al. has recently announced the 2014 winners and the images are incredible! Check out the full, open-access article here (or you can “cheat” and view some of the images as a slideshow here). Lookin’ good, Ecology!     Harold S, […]
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