What we're talking about Saturday, December 10, 2016

Never Mind About that Paper...

Look! No question mark in my title. This is from a post on retraction watch about “Nuclear energy and path dependence in Europe’s ‘Energy union’: coherence or continued divergence?” by Andrew Lawrence, Benjamin Sovacool, and Andrew Stirling, Climate Policy, 2016; 16 (5): 622 DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2016.1179616. Given the title and conclusions the pro-nuke folk weren’t likely…

I don’t have many “rules” per se about blogging, but one informal rule that I do live by is that I never blog about a study if all I can access is the abstract. In general, I insist on having the complete study before I will blog it, because to me the abstract isn’t enough.…

The crackpots are bustin’ out all over — not just in politics, but also in science. Remember Stuart Pivar? The septic tank tycoon who invented a whole new theory of evolution and development that he called Lifecode, built entirely around imaginary drawings of how embryos formed by folding and stretching themselves like balloon animals? It…

A few scientific papers are retracted after they're published, such as this analysis of nuclear energy that appears to have been nixed for poor methodology and bad numbers on Stoat. William M. Connolley adds that because of the politics surrounding nuclear power in Europe, "this crude level of analysis would be unlikely to be useful." Meanwhile, on Respectful Insolence, Orac looks at an anti-vaccine abstract that was so awful the publisher decided to take it down before the paper could be published. Orac writes, "basically, this paper is crap, so much so that even a predatory open access publisher pulled it, at least temporarily." And on Pharyngula, PZ Myers has fun deconstructing the "balloon animal biology" of Stuart Pivar et. al. which despite being well-illustrated "is all entirely fanciful, not based on observations of real animals at all." PZ continues: "I just…I just…I don’t know what to say. This is madness."

Channel Surfing

Life Science

A changing climate has the potential to greatly impact ectotherms, which depend on the environment to regulate their own body temperatures. In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology- Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers were curious how exposure to varying temperatures would affect developing ectotherms. They answered this question using Drosophila melanogaster,…

What a squid egg mass looks like if you step back a bit:

A few suggestions for holiday gifts, or library upgrades, in the topic of birds. Thinking About Birds Thinking Some very interesting books came out this year that investigate bird brains. Bird Brain: An Exploration of Avian Intelligence by Nathan Emery is the best current book on animal intelligence, and one of the best bird books…

Physical Science

“We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.” -W. Somerset Maugham After 13.8 billion years have gone by, you might not think that a year makes much of a difference. A year to the…

“It is worthy of notice that in Table VI the brighter variables have the longer periods. It is also noticeable that those having the longest periods appear to be as regular in their variations as those which pass through their changes in a day or two.” -Henrietta Leavitt The past year has held a slew…

“We are inside this plasma, and plasma is inside everything. It is incandescent in the sun, and I am curious to know if you are able to stop orbiting yourself around it even for a second.” -Marieta Maglas The phenomenon of solar flares has been understood qualitatively but not quantitatively for a long time. The…

Environment

A changing climate has the potential to greatly impact ectotherms, which depend on the environment to regulate their own body temperatures. In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology- Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers were curious how exposure to varying temperatures would affect developing ectotherms. They answered this question using Drosophila melanogaster,…

The Exxon saga rumbles on. Via RK on fb I find Exxon Wins Latest Legal Round in Climate Fight With Mass. AG from Inside Climate News. And the motto is: those that live by the courts will die by the courts. Or, in this case, a federal judge in Texas says Massachusetts AG Maura Healey…

EPA announced yesterday a proposed rule to ban trichloroethylene as a spot-cleaning agent in dry cleaning operations and as an aerosol spray degreaser. The agency is again moving swiftly to use its authority under a chemical safety law.

Humanities

For the first time in more than two decades, U.S. life expectancy has dropped.

I came across a neat article in Scientific American that described how reindeer and elk regrow their antlers every year. Could you imagine putting that much energy into growing new bone each year complete with a velvety cover containing nerves, skin, and blood vessels? Although full-grown antlers lose their blood supply and animals scrape the velvet…

If the ACA is repealed, miners could lose out on critical compensation for workplace illness; New York farm owner indicted in death of teen worker; possible contender for U.S. labor secretary opposes minimum wage hike; and in good news, Ikea expands paid parental leave for its U.S. workers.

Education

A changing climate has the potential to greatly impact ectotherms, which depend on the environment to regulate their own body temperatures. In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology- Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers were curious how exposure to varying temperatures would affect developing ectotherms. They answered this question using Drosophila melanogaster,…

I came across a neat article in Scientific American that described how reindeer and elk regrow their antlers every year. Could you imagine putting that much energy into growing new bone each year complete with a velvety cover containing nerves, skin, and blood vessels? Although full-grown antlers lose their blood supply and animals scrape the velvet…

I know this is not a comparative physiology topic, but this article caught my attention as I know I just ate a rather high fat meal last week for Thanksgiving and I plan to do the same throughout the holiday season. Insulin does more than just lowering blood sugar by increasing its uptake into tissues.…

Politics

What happens when you imagine the worst case scenario. Then the thing happens, but it was worse than you thought it could be. What is that called? Worchester isn’t just a city west of Boston anymore. We have a new Ikonokast podcast out, and in it, we speak with Shawn Otto about what happened on…

The Republicans don’t care at all bout the law, the Constitution, freedom, security, or the people of the United States. One way we ensure civilian control of the military is by restricting military associated individuals from being secretary of defense. It is not like it can’t happen, but there has to be a waiting period.…

He started the process of stealing your democracy. Why? How? Have a look: I will hold the electors who put his name in the ballot box as equally responsible. Oh, and by the way, he also did this: Donald Trump Picks GOP Oil Industry Ally, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, to Lead EPA

Medicine

For the first time in more than two decades, U.S. life expectancy has dropped.

Yesterday, I noted the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, a Hobson’s choice of a bill for those of us who support increased biomedical research funding that basically said: You can have an increase in the NIH budget. You can have the Cancer Moonshot. You can have President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative and his…

Well, it’s done. Today, the Senate passed the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill designed to weaken the FDA and empower pharmaceutical companies, sending it to President Obama’s desk. There’s no way Obama won’t sign it, as it contains provisions funding his Precision Medicine Initiative, and he supported it all along. For all its flaws,…

Brain & Behavior

A changing climate has the potential to greatly impact ectotherms, which depend on the environment to regulate their own body temperatures. In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology- Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers were curious how exposure to varying temperatures would affect developing ectotherms. They answered this question using Drosophila melanogaster,…

I know this is not a comparative physiology topic, but this article caught my attention as I know I just ate a rather high fat meal last week for Thanksgiving and I plan to do the same throughout the holiday season. Insulin does more than just lowering blood sugar by increasing its uptake into tissues.…

More and more of America’s adolescents and young adults are struggling with depression, especially young women, according to a study released earlier this week.

Technology

The CS Detective: An Algorithmic Tale of Crime, Conspiracy, and Computation by Jeremy Kubica is the tory of disgraced ex-detective and hardboiled private eye Frank Runtime. Frank Runtime knows REGEX and is not afraid to use it. From the publishers: When a robbery hits police headquarters, it’s up to Frank Runtime and his extensive search…

You know what LEGO is. Do you know what LEGO Ideas is? This is a program where people — not normal people but Lego Ninja Expert people — propose lego builds. The builds are normally actually built, but some are just designed or have parts that are just designed. These propose builds are then vetted…

So, today I was on my way to the pharmacy to buy important medicine for my son. The medicine cost about 50 bucks, and I had a fifty dollar bill in my back pocket. In my front pocket, I had a twenty. Just before I walk into the pharmacy, this dude with a mask comes…

Information Science

As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I’ve done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013,2014 and 2015. And here we are in 2016! As in previous…

As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I’ve done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013,2014 and 2015. And here we are in 2016! As in previous…

As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I’ve done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013,2014 and 2015. And here we are in 2016! As in previous…

Jobs

EPA announced yesterday a proposed rule to ban trichloroethylene as a spot-cleaning agent in dry cleaning operations and as an aerosol spray degreaser. The agency is again moving swiftly to use its authority under a chemical safety law.

This week’s snapshot of just one work-related fatality in the US. This one occurred on Wednesday, November 30 in Belding, MI.

If the ACA is repealed, miners could lose out on critical compensation for workplace illness; New York farm owner indicted in death of teen worker; possible contender for U.S. labor secretary opposes minimum wage hike; and in good news, Ikea expands paid parental leave for its U.S. workers.