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Posts

April 21, 2014

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12:46 PM | Birdbooker Report 317
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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12:12 PM | Away from home: Of ‘small’ things & big
The ‘Away from home‘ blogging series features Indian postdocs working in foreign labs recounting their experience of working there, the triumphs and challenges, the cultural differences and what they miss about India. They also offer useful tips for their Indian postdocs headed abroad. You can join in the online conversation using the #postdochat hashtag.  Read more
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12:06 PM | 48. Beneath
In the middle of Sydney Harbour, at Chowder Bay, there’s a dive site underneath and around a long jetty. It’s a marvellous place, gloomy and foreboding, while being so close to the heart of the city and the cacophony of … Continue reading →
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7:47 AM | Sunday Chess Problem
Blogging has been a low priority lately, partly because there’s been too much other stuff going on, and partly because I haven’t had much enthusiasm for it. The end of the semester is always a bit of a grind. But the long-suffering fans of Sunday Chess Problem should not have to wait another week! So…
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1:44 AM | You Should Know: Shareef Jackson
Welcome to my second installment of You Should Know, where I give my own #ScholarSunday salute to Science Bloggers and Blogs you may have been sleeping on. Introducing…. Shareef Jackson and... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

April 20, 2014

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5:00 PM | How to make graphene in a kitchen blender
Don’t try this at home. No really, don’t: it almost certainly won’t work and you won’t be able to use your kitchen blender for food afterwards. But buried in the supplementary information of a research paper published today is a domestic recipe for producing large quantities of clean flakes of graphene.  Read more
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2:27 PM | A 10K run into the Eocene of the Negev
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–Yoav and I had a long hike today into the Eocene succession of rock units in the northern Negev. We wanted to look especially at the Horsha Formation (Eocene, Lutetian) because it has some cool trace fossils and massively large oysters. Along the way there are also interesting features like submarine debris flows, […]
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2:02 PM | Medicare data reveals that U.S. wastes half a billion dollars per year on chiropractic
Hold on, you're about to get "adjusted."Ten days ago, the federal government released a huge data set detailing how it spent $77 billion in Medicare funds in 2012 to over 880,000 health care providers. The release of this data is part of a new transparency effort by the government, which many of us applaud.The data reveal some troubling things.Most news organizations focused on who the biggest beneficiaries are: the New York Times described how just 100 doctors received $610 million. […]
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5:21 AM | Wooster’s Fossils of the Week: A scleractinian coral and its tube-dwelling symbionts (Middle Jurassic of Israel)
I have a weakness for the beautiful scleractinian corals of the Matmor Formation (Middle Jurassic, Callovian-Oxfordian) of southern Israel. This particular specimen is Microsolena aff. M. sadeki from locality C/W-367 in Hamakhtesh Hagadol, southern Israel. (The “aff.” in the name means “affinities with”. It is a way of saying this looks like a particular species, […]
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12:17 AM | Gardening the hole day
TPP is bushed, tired, not politically inept. Yes, hole not whole, because that's what he did today; TPP dug holes. That's the bloody trouble with new shrubs, they need holes.  And when you take down 5 or 6 old spruce you end up with an empty space that's at least 65' x 20' to re-landscape, and that's what we be doing.  Let's see a Japanese snowbell, a fancy purple lilac, a Korean pine, a Korean azalea (hmm, is there a trend here?), a June berry, a double-file viburnum, a […]

April 19, 2014

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10:03 PM | Bad News Water Bears
On episode 2 of Cosmos, Neil de Grasse Tyson shrinks “The Ship of the Imagination” and goes looking for the toughest animal on the planet, which has been through all 5 mass extinctions.  He even touches on the theory of Panspermia, that life on Earth might have started somewhere else, since these things have been shown to survive both high radiation and the cold vacuum of space. Though Tyson (of the Bronx, not Gallifrey) is essentially piloting a shinier Tardis, that has […]
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5:13 PM | Errorgance
I’ve begun reading The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive) by Brandon Sanderson. It is an epic fantasy novel and very, very good. I highly recommend it if you like epic fantasy.[1] One of the characters is studying to be a scholar and she uses a word that I must add to my own lexicon. Errorgance. […]
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3:27 PM | Stratigraphy day at Makhtesh Ramon
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–Usually on Saturdays Yoav Avni and I do something “touristic”, like visit an archaeological site or museum. Since it is the Passover holiday, though, and we are both averse to crowds, we decided to do a little stratigraphy outside Mitzpe Ramon instead. Our challenge from Amihai Sneh was to sort out the lower […]
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11:48 AM | Eggcellent science | video | @GrrlScientist
Today's caturday video features ten crazy eggperiments you can use to impress your friends and relatives -- and it poses a question that you can answer scientifically!The caturday before Easter is very special to those of us who love birds. Why? Because Easter is a celebration of EGGS! (Mostly chicken eggs.) Which means that today is the day when I can share some eggcellent science tricks with you -- many of which I've performed in the lab or in the pub! Continue reading...

April 18, 2014

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11:00 PM | Of grice and men (2014)
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision. Bertrand Russell Between February and April each year, in the sagebrush … Continue reading →
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9:28 PM | The Only Game in Town: Remarks on Alan Liu and Digital Humanities
I’ve collected five New Savanna posts on Alan Liu into a single PDF; you can download it from my SSRN page, Remarks on Alan Liu and the Digital Humanities, A Working Paper. Abstract and introduction below. * * * * * Abstract: Alan Liu has been organizing and conceptualizing digital humanities (DH) for two decades. […]
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5:14 PM | Your Inner Fish: Stupid Design
Shubin did some neat bits on the first show that I don’t remember from the book (I always appreciate that kind of value-added filmmaking).  The time-lapse dissection of a human hand was especially cool, but my favorite one was the visit to the fish market to look at fish balls.  This was PBS, so they used the least offensive scientific word “gonads,” when they found them up near the heart.  Now, I already knew that human testicles have to descend through the […]
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5:12 PM | Educate Yourself
As I have more and more discussions on-line one of the most common responses to rejecting claims that I have heard is “educate yourself”. This is a utterly useless statement. It’s a throwaway. It’s a statement to make when someone has no interest in continuing the discussion. That’s usually (in my experience) because they cannot […]
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2:35 PM | Moon dust probe crashes
A NASA spacecraft that studied lunar dust vapourized into its own cloud of dust when it hit the far side of the Moon, as planned, in a mission-ending impact on 17 April. Launched last September, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) finished its primary mission in March. In early April, on an extended mission, it made close passes as low as 2 kilometres above the surface, gathering science data on more than 100 low-elevation orbits. Mission controllers deliberately crashed […]
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2:06 PM | New Books Party: books received this week | @GrrlScientist
A veritable smörgåsbord of brilliant science, nature and history writing awaits you! (Well, in this case, a very small smörgåsbord.)Below the jump, I mention the books that I received recently. They are gifts, review copies that arrived in the mail, or that I purchased in London. These are the books that I may review in more depth later, either here or in print somewhere in the world. Continue reading...
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2:00 PM | Friday Coffee Breatk
  A rather depressing new figure that is circulating around the social media sites about the prospects for a biology PhD. (From Sarah) Beard trends in men are undergoing negative frequency dependent selection…. seriously. (From Sarah) The world from the fabulous point of view of the snail. (From CJ) Whooping cranes make a nest, lay […]
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1:56 PM | A week of links
Links this week: It’s from late last year, but this piece on the biological origins of morality is worth reading. A new journal, Economic Anthropology, with the debut issue on greed and excess (and sorry, gated for those without academic access). Diane Coyle points to some older work on wealth and inheritance. She also pointed […] The post A week of links appeared first on Evolving Economics.
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1:43 PM | Old conservation, new conservation, true conservation
Should conservation science be united against the common enemy? I’m sure most people know the scene from from Monty Python’s Life of Brian, where the text goes something like: “Brothers, we should be united against the common enemy! / The Judean people’s front? / No, the Romans!” I was reminded of that scene by the…
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1:32 PM | Our camel friends in the Negev
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–It is a problematic relationship between camels and me. My first experience with a camel out here was watching one eat my lunch, bag and all, when I foolishly left it in the shade of the vehicle while I measured a section. My students and I have been dissuaded more than once from […]
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1:00 PM | What we’re reading: Stick insects, Gulf of Mexico oysters, and how many peer reviewers it takes to change a lightbulb joke?
In the journals Comeault, A. a., V. Soria-Carrasco, Z. Gompert, T. E. Farkas, C. A. Buerkle, T. L. Parchman, and P. Nosil. 2014. Genome-wide association mapping of phenotypic traits subject to a range of intensities of natural selection in Timema … Continue reading →
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1:00 PM | Science online, beards and shields edition
This week, at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! The life-history evolution behind basketball players' styles.And at The Molecular Ecologist: A new way to look for genetic targets of natural selection.Endless forms and whatnot. Here's an insect species in which females have stick an organ inside the males. But don't call it a penis.The future looks hungry. Famine in the age of global warming."I have a hobby that can kill people." And that hobby is running.The first step towards Hulk-based power […]
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11:36 AM | Upright walking: a long-standing debate (pt. v)
This week it’s the turn of the shoulder to get the long-standing debate treatment. It may not be obvious how changes in the anatomy of the upper limb are related to bipedalism and in fact that’s not really the point here. The most important thing to remember is that evolutionary theory states that features that […]
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11:30 AM | The biotech industry with Rob Carlson
In this interview, I speak to Dr. Rob Carlson, a Principal at Biodesic, an engineering and strategic consulting firm in Seattle that provides services to governments and corporations around the globe. At the broadest level, Dr. Carlson is interested in the future role of biology as a human technology. He is the author of the book Biology is Technology: The Promise, Peril, and New Business of Engineering Life, published in 2010 by Harvard University Press; it received the […]
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2:35 AM | Are You Blogging Fargo Episode 1?
Yes, dear. Man-o-man, that Billy Bob Thornton gets him some some good monologues goin’ there.  Example: “Your problem is you spent your whole life thinking there are rules.  There aren’t.  We used to be gorillas.  All we had was what we could take and defend.  Truth is, you’re more of a man than you were yesterday. . . It’s a red tide, Lester, this life of ours.  The shit they mak [...]
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2:09 AM | Walt Disney at Dawson Lake
This poem was written by James McGowan and read at a memorial service in celebration of this life.  In a real coincidence, Mrs. Phactor called the poem to my attention today, the day that the second stanza was observed for real by my taxonomy class out in the field (finally).  Enjoy it. Jim did.He's grab his sketch book              go in April, […]
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