April 23, 2014

9:08 PM | Blogroll: Inviting ire and iron
Editor’s note: As we continue to invite bloggers out there in the wild to compose our monthly Blogroll column, Tien Nguyen penned the May 2014 column.  Read more
6:09 PM | Cancer: what’s Down syndrome got to do with it?
Trisomy 21 (having 3 copies of chromosome 21) is most well known as the cause of Down syndrome. But as you can imagine, having an entire extra copy of a chromosome has other negative consequences as well. For one, people with Down syndrome are 20 times more  likely than the average person to develop a severe form of leukemia, B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). Two recent studies have helped further our understanding of the molecular disturbances that take place in […]
3:55 PM | Who did what? Clarifying author roles benefits researchers, publishers and students.
Scholarly scientific publishing has a lot of traditions that are not transparent to the reader such as peer review or the non-payment of authors. The existence of many authors on a single paper is... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
3:30 PM | Retractions appear in case of former Kansas water scientist rebuked for misconduct
Back in December, the University of Kansas issued a public censure of a former water researcher who, the school says, engaged in a pattern of plagiarism and other shoddy publishing practices. Marios Sophocleous, who’d held the position of senior scientist at the Kansas Geological Survey: has been found to have engaged in scholarly misconduct, relating […]
3:13 PM | Sponsor a fish and save Canada’s experimental lakes
Fans of environmental science can now play a direct role in helping Canada’s unique Experimental Lakes Area continue to do the research it has done for decades.  Read more
3:00 PM | London’s biotech hub with Kit Malthouse
In this month’s Windback Wednesday series, we’re all about entrepreneurship: what it takes to be one, how to become one and more. But if you’re based in London, it’s not so easy. Although it’s got the brains and research centres to make it a hub, setting up shop in London is the tricky part. In this podcast, I speak to Kit Malthouse, the Deputy Mayor of London for Business and Enterprise, and find out how London is preparing to become the next biotech hub.  […]
2:45 PM | Egypt’s scientists want to redirect sunlight to narrow streets
A group of Egyptian scientists at Ain Shams University have come up with the idea for translucent panels that can divert natural sunlight into densely-crowded alleyways, and can get easily fitted there, on a lower budget.  Read more
2:00 PM | Away from home: Making graphene flakes in a kitchen blender
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
1:56 PM | From Pine Stumps to Polymers
A couple of days ago, one of the Xerox company blogs [*] had a post about making plastics from tree stumps. While tree stumps have yet to be fully exploited as a chemical feedstock, they have been partially used for decades to support the polymer industry. In particular, the rosin from pine stumps has been extensively used.20+ years ago it seemed like every paper company had a chemicals division that was doing just, refining and modifying rosin from pine stumps to make tackifiers for […]
1:30 PM | Crystal unclear? “Business decision” forces retraction of silicon paper
A group of researchers in Tokyo has lost their 2013 article in the Journal of Crystal Growth over commercial interests — which don’t appear to be their own. We’ll explain. The article, “Interactions between planar defects in bulk 3C-SiC,” came from a team consisting of a researcher at Keio University and scientists at two companies, […]
1:07 PM | Guest posting: Many journals have determined that they can assist in data sharing
Today we have a guest posting from F1000′s Iain Hrynaszkiewicz covering the topic of medical data sharing One of the world’s most influential medical journals recently highlighted data sharing as an important issue to be addressed if we are to improve the quality of reporting of biomedical research. However, the journal may have overlooked strong and far-reaching support for data sharing in some publishing and research communities. In an editorial published last month in JAMA, […]
12:15 AM | ‘Botox of plastic’ to freeze power costs
A new material that prevents plastic from ageing has been developed by CSIRO – offering huge environmental and cost savings for the energy industry. When applied to plastic lining this ‘botox for plastic’ can clean up exhaust gases from power [...]testThe post ‘Botox of plastic’ to freeze power costs appeared first on Australian Science.

April 22, 2014

10:00 PM | The molecular TIE fighter
Where did the inspiration for the TIE fighters in Star Wars come from? Well, we surely can’t rule out that George Lucas read this Zeitschrift für anorganische und allgemeine Chemie paper from 1953 and was particularly struck by the following … Continue reading →
9:41 PM | How the job market used to work…
For reasons that will become apparent in a few months (it’s not that exciting), I have spent a lot of today looking at papers associated with the discovery and early structural studies of ferrocene. I have come across wonderful footnotes … Continue reading →
3:55 PM | MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis on 3D Printing and the DIY Spirit
Bre Pettis is the CEO of MakerBot, a company that produces 3D printers, which he co-founded in 2009. Pettis also co-founded the Brooklyn hacker collective NYC Resistor, where MakerBot technology was first created, tested, and proven.  Read more
3:30 PM | Plant paper retracted when new species turns out not to be so new
In December, a group of biologists in Thailand published a paper in the Nordic Journal of Botany heralding the discovery of a new species of plant: Bauhinia saksuwaniae, a new species from northeastern Thailand is described and illustrated. It appears to be an endemic and endangered species. The new species is obviously distinct from all […]
1:30 PM | Scientist found to have falsified data in thesis sues to keep her PhD
In August 2012, the authors of “Novel Approach to the Lundurine Alkaloids: Synthesis of the Tetracyclic Core,” a paper in Organic Letters, retracted it: The authors retract this Organic Letters communication on the basis that the RCM of 24 to give 25 (Scheme 6) is not reproducible; thus, the reduction of 25 to give 26 […]
11:23 AM | Film on scientists gets national award
Featured on this blog earlier for its powerful narration of the life and science of India’s celebrated scientist triad Bose-Raman-Saha, The Quantum Indians has now won India’s National Film Award as the best educational film of 2013.  Read more
12:15 AM | Two Artificial Intelligence Chatbots Talk to Each Other & Get Into a Deep Philosophical Conversation
The folks at the Cornell Creative Machines Lab are “interested in robots that create and are creative.” Here’s one such example of robots getting creative. Above, the lab lets two chatbots (essentially computer programs designed to simulate an intelligent conversation) [...]testThe post Two Artificial Intelligence Chatbots Talk to Each Other & Get Into a Deep Philosophical Conversation appeared first on Australian Science.

April 21, 2014

5:53 PM | The Week That Was(n't)
As some of you noticed, this blog was absent last week, as in completely inaccessible as the domain had expired. But it's back. Here's a brief explanation of what happened to those who were curious.I publish this blog via Blogger/Blogspot which was acquired by Google some year back. Rather than having the blog URL be www.rheothing.blogspot.com, for the low, low price of $10 a year I registered through Google for the domain name www.rheothing.com. I put the billing on a credit card with […]
5:00 PM | Faulty model forces rapid retraction of paper on sea ice and climate change
Last month, researchers published a paper whose conclusions suggested that looking at Arctic sea ice in the autumn offers clues to winter temperatures in Europe. The letter appeared — briefly, as this post will demonstrate — in Nature Geoscience. The letter, titled “High predictability of the winter Euro–Atlantic climate from cryospheric variability,” was written by […]
3:30 PM | Springer fake paper tally up to 18
We have some updates on the case of more than 120 fake SCIgen conference proceedings papers that slipped into IEEE and Springer journals. A month ago, Springer said it would be retracting the 16 such papers it found, instead of just removing them: On 27 February, we said that we would *remove* the articles, not […]
1:30 PM | Retraction Watch is hiring an intern: Here’s how to apply
Retraction Watch readers: We need help. As many of our loyal tipsters know, the list of retractions and related stories that we can’t get to just keeps getting longer. And as we grow, we want to groom a stable of paid freelance — and perhaps one day full-time — Retraction Watch contributors. So with that […]
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
12:15 AM | Research leads to food and sport deals
The commercialisation of CSIRO research and technology reached an important milestone last week with agreements being signed in the food, sport and surveying industries. CSIRO has now created more than 150 companies and currently hold interests in around 30. It [...]testThe post Research leads to food and sport deals appeared first on Australian Science.

April 20, 2014

11:41 PM | Brutal honesty: Author takes to PubPeer to announce retraction — and tells us she’ll lose PhD, professorship
Over the past week, there have been a number of comments on PubPeer — a site of which we’re big fans — about a 2007 paper in Oncogene. The comments suggested that the figures in the paper had problems. Some bands seemed to be duplicated, and one of the images looked very much like that […]
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
5:05 AM | Weekly Science Picks
Indeed, it’s Sunday again. But, it’s not only Sunday. It’s Easter for all Christians all over the globe. Happy Easter to everyone! Also, it’s our time to recapitulate what have happened in this week. To be honest, the task was [...]testThe post Weekly Science Picks appeared first on Australian Science.

April 19, 2014

6:19 PM | Introduction to Traditional Peer Review
Peer review was introduced to scholarly publication in 1731 by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, which published a collection of peer-reviewed medical articles. Despite this early start, in many... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Bailar, J. (2011). Reliability, fairness, objectivity and other inappropriate goals in peer review, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 14 (01) 137-138. DOI:

Biagioli, M. (2002). From Book Censorship to Academic Peer Review, Emergences: Journal for the Study of Media & Composite Cultures, 12 (1) 11-45. DOI:

Benos DJ, Bashari E, Chaves JM, Gaggar A, Kapoor N, LaFrance M, Mans R, Mayhew D, McGowan S, Polter A & Qadri Y (2007). The ups and downs of peer review., Advances in physiology education, 31 (2) 145-52. PMID:

Bornman, L. (2008). Scientific Peer Review: An Analysis of the Peer Review Process from the Perspective of Sociology of Science Theories, Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge, 6 (2)

Brown, R. (2006). Double Anonymity and the Peer Review Process, The Scientific World JOURNAL, 6 1274-1277. DOI:

Callaham ML, Baxt WG, Waeckerle JF & Wears RL (1998). Reliability of editors' subjective quality ratings of peer reviews of manuscripts., JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association, 280 (3) 229-31. PMID:

Godlee, F., Gale, C. & Martyn, C. (1998). Effect on the Quality of Peer Review of Blinding Reviewers and Asking Them to Sign Their Reports, JAMA, 280 (3) 237. DOI:

Lee, C. J.,, Sugimoto, C. R.,, Zhang, G., & Cronin, B. (2013). Bias in Peer Review, JASIST, 64 (1) 2-17.

Spier R (2002). The history of the peer-review process., Trends in biotechnology, 20 (8) 357-8. PMID:

2:11 PM | Weekend reads: How to rescue science, what “censorship” really means, worst paper of the year?
Another very busy week at Retraction Watch. There were a lot of gems elsewhere. Here’s a sampling: Biomedical research in the U.S. must be rescued, write four heavy hitters in PNAS. It’s “time to confront the dangers at hand and rethink some fundamental features of the US biomedical research ecosystem.” “If you’re yelled at, boycotted, […]
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