Posts

October 08, 2014

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4:30 PM | Is it better to retract a paper, or publish a letter calling the conclusions “unphysical?”
Sometimes publishers and authors decide it’s easier to retract a paper than leave it up for discussion by other scientists. That seems to be the case here: The authors of a paper in Langmuir retracted it in September for a math mistake, but not before the journal refused to publish a comment criticizing the publication. […]
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2:19 PM | Diederik Stapel loses teaching post, admits he was sockpuppeting on Retraction Watch
Diederik Stapel’s reinvention as a teacher at a college in the Netherlands has proven to be short-lived. According to the NRC Handelsblad, Stapel resigned from the job at Fontys in solidarity with Anton Dautzenberg, whose contract at Fontys was terminated and with whom Stapel had co-authored a play. A performance of that play was cancelled […]
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1:18 PM | "Let's Get Rid of the Mole"
Being called one-dimensional is usually not a good thing. But a recent letter to the editor published in C & E News (hat tip to Chemjobber) is proposing that we all take one step closer to that state by getting rid of the mole, the counting unit used in chemistry. The proposed alternative is we use the yotta (= 1024) instead since it is pretty close to Avogadro's number (6.022 x 1023). And after all, learning about the mole is so difficult for high school students and we should all adopt to […]
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3:00 AM | Night School: The Hidden Science of Sleep and Dreams
By Richard Wiseman Synopsis: We think of sleep as a waste of time. A time when we are literally doing nothing. Yet every human on the planet spends several hours each day asleep. We are not […]
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12:15 AM | Smartphone app a life saver for heart attack patients
Patients recovering from heart attacks are far more likely to complete life-saving rehabilitation if they have access to a new smartphone app developed by CSIRO, research has shown. A clinical trial found that cardiac patients who undertook rehabilitation in their […]test The post Smartphone app a life saver for heart attack patients appeared first on Australian Science.
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12:15 AM | Science Book a Day Celebrates 150 Interviews!
Congratulations to Gavin Pretor-Pinney, who has become the 150th interview we’ve conducted on Science Book a Day. We’ve had a great response to the interviews since the blog began and I thank every author/editor/illustrator that we’ve […]
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12:00 AM | Science Book a Day Interviews Gavin Pretor-Pinney
Special thanks to Gavin Pretor-Pinney for answering 5 questions about his recently featured book – The Wavewatcher’s Companion Gavin Pretor-Pinney is a renowned journalist and cofounder of The Idler magazine in England. A former science nerd and […]

October 07, 2014

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3:30 PM | PubPeer Selections: PubPeer comments prompt investigation; Memory of water returns?
Here’s another installment of PubPeer Selections: “Based on your posts and comments I decided that these questions need to be fully clarified and requested an independent investigation according to the rules of our university, which will review all primary raw data,” writes one of the authors of a paper featured last week in PubPeer Selections. […]
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1:40 PM | A New Plastics-to-Oil Operation - In Syria?
I written in the past 1, 2 about "Plastics-to-Oil" (PTO), the process for anaerobic pyrolysis of plastics which ends up creating a sweet, crude oil. There are a few smallish operations here in the US but at this point in time, it does not play a critical role in our economy. And with gas prices continuing to fall (I saw $2.99/gallon yesterday for the first time in about 5 years!), that won't change soon.But is Syria, the story is different. There, all fuels are at a premium and so PTO suddenly […]
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1:30 PM | Blatant plagiarism sinks paper (and earns a sabbatical!) for mathematician
You know it’s a good one when it makes it onto the Wikipedia page for “scientific misconduct.” On April 21, the International Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics retracted two 2008 papers by scientist Alexander Spivak of Holon Institute of Technology in Israel. In September, the journal updated the notice to explain why: The papers both […]
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3:00 AM | I am Albert Einstein (Ordinary People Change World)
By Brad Meltzer Synopsis: Even when he was a kid, Albert Einstein did things his own way. He thought in pictures instead of words, and his special way of thinking helped him understand big ideas like […]
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12:15 AM | Jane Goodall on Empathy and How to Reach Our Highest Human Potential
“Only when our clever brain and our human heart work together in harmony can we achieve our true potential.” The question of what sets us apart from other animals has occupied humanity for millennia, but only in the last few […]test The post Jane Goodall on Empathy and How to Reach Our Highest Human Potential appeared first on Australian Science.

October 06, 2014

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10:15 PM | I did a Nobel thing…
It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future – so said Niels Bohr (or maybe Yogi Berra, or Mark Twain or… boy, it’s hard to track down who *really* said something…). Anyway, @carmendrahl and @laurenkwolf from @cenmag were kind enough … Continue reading →
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3:00 PM | Oxford group reverses authorship requirements for sharing data after questions from Retraction Watch
It seemed like an egregious violation of academic standards. A researcher forwarded us a data access agreement from the University of Oxford, in which Schedule 4 read as follows: Data Users who make use of Licensed Data must cite the relevant primary original publications (Fairfax BP et al. 2012 Genetics of gene expression in primary […]
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1:30 PM | Networking paper retracted for “overlap” with author’s prior publication
Here at Retraction Watch, we have a lot of fun exploring all the different kinds of science that cross our paths. Some, though, we’re just not qualified to understand, like this retracted paper in the Journal of Management Studies, which according to the abstract “demonstrates that the persistence of brokerage positions decreases broker performance.” What is clear is […]
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3:00 AM | Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
By Caitlin Doughty Synopsis: A young mortician goes behind the scenes, unafraid of the gruesome (and fascinating) details of her curious profession. Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty—a twenty-something with a degree […]
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12:15 AM | A sexless union to bear great fruit
We have received a $14.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve the productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa. This five year humanitarian project will develop tools to generate self-reproducing hybrid cowpea and […]test The post A sexless union to bear great fruit appeared first on Australian Science.
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12:00 AM | Science Book a Day Interviews danah boyd
Special thanks to danah boyd for answering 5 questions about her recently featured book – It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens My name is danah boyd and I’m a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, a […]

October 05, 2014

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3:00 AM | Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space
by Lynn Sherr Synopsis: The definitive biography of Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space, with exclusive insights from Ride’s family and partner, by the ABC reporter who covered NASA during its transformation from a test-pilot […]
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12:15 AM | Weekly Science Picks
We came to the end of one more brilliant scientific week. What this weekly review brought us are the questions as follows. Can virtual reality make us better people? Could engineers mimic the amazing camouflage abilities of the octopus? How […]test The post Weekly Science Picks appeared first on Australian Science.

October 04, 2014

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6:45 PM | Journal makes it official, retracting controversial autism-vaccine paper
A little more than a month after removing a highly criticized article that claimed the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine increased the risk of autism in African American boys, Translational Neurodegeneration has officially retracted the paper. Here’s the notice, dated yesterday: The Editor and Publisher regretfully retract the article [1] as there were undeclared competing interests on […]
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1:30 PM | Weekend reads: How’d my name end up on that paper?; Bob Dylan in the scientific literature
The week at Retraction Watch featured yet another case of a researcher peer reviewing his own paper, and an odd defense of plagiarism. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: “This summer I discovered my third publication that I did not write.” What’s Bob Dylan’s h-index? A group of scientists has been sneaking his lyrics into their […]
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4:00 AM | Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts
By Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson Synopsis: Why do people dodge responsibility when things fall apart? Why the parade of public figures unable to own up when they screw up? Why the endless marital quarrels over […]
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12:15 AM | The Science of Lucid Dreaming and How to Learn to Control Your Dreams, Animated
Trekking the continuum of sleep and wakefulness in a journey into metaconsciousness. As if the science of sleep and the emotional function of dreaming weren’t fascinating enough in and of themselves, things get even more bewildering when it comes to […]test The post The Science of Lucid Dreaming and How to Learn to Control Your Dreams, Animated appeared first on Australian Science.

October 03, 2014

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5:30 PM | Curtain up on second act for Dutch fraudster Stapel: College teacher
Diederik Stapel, the Dutch social psychologist and admitted data fabricator — and owner of 54 retraction notices — is now teaching at a college in the town of Tilburg. According to Omroep Brabant, Stapel was offered the job as a kind of adjunct at Fontys Academy for Creative Industries to teach social philosophy. The site […]
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3:30 PM | Doing the right thing: Particle physicists pull paper after equation collides with the truth
Three physicists at Imperial College London have retracted a paper on Coulomb collisions, a kind of fender bender between two charged particles, after realizing their equations were written wrong. The mistake resulted in an erroneous conclusion about the strength of the collisions. Here’s the notice for “Effects of Large-Angle Coulomb Collisions on Inertial Confinement Fusion Plasmas”: Shortly […]
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1:44 PM | Carcinogens I've Worked With
The Department of Health and Human Services issued the 13th edition of their Report on Carcinogens this week. The list is not just chemicals, but includes physical hazards such as gamma radiation, and biological agents (hepatitis B and C for instance). I decided to take a look at the list and see what I've exposed myself to over the years. The list is actually split into two categories - those known to be human carcinogens and those reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens. The former is […]
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1:30 PM | Oops: Elsevier journal publishes paper citing paper it promised to retract two months ago
Journal publishers can be agonizingly slow when it comes to officially retracting a paper. Here’s a prime example of the consequences of that bureaucratic foot-dragging: Ten months after being told that Fazlurrahman Khan had fabricated his data, and two months after announcing two of Khan’s papers would be retracted from two of its journals, Elsevier still […]
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4:00 AM | Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax Trilogy)
Synopsis: Hominids is a strong, stand-alone SF novel, but it’s also the first book of The Neanderthal Parallax, a trilogy that will examine two unique species of people. They are alien to each other, yet bound together by […]
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1:00 AM | Science Book a Day Interviews Scott Weems
Special thanks to Scott Weems for answering 5 questions about his recently featured book – Ha!: The Science of When We Laugh and Why Scott Weems’s career began as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, […]
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