Scientia pro publica # Seven

Scientia pro publica is a blog carnival dedicated to bringing together in one place links to the best of science blogging that would be of general interest. The previous edition of this carnival is at Mauka to Makai. You can find out about earlier editions and future editions at the carnival’s web page, here. You can submit entries to the carnival by going here. The next edition will be at A DC Birding Blog.

If you have further questions about the carnival in general, visit Grrl Scientists blog … she started the whole thing so she will be able to help you. If you have any questions about this particular edition, let me know.


What you need to do now is visit many, most, or all of these links. Red the post. Leave a comment on the post. If you have a blog, link to this carnival. Of all the posts you look at, pick the ones you like and Digg them, or Stumbleupon them, or whatever. Promote them. And thus promote science blogging.

OK, now that you know what to do, on with the carnival!

This Seventh edition’s theme is: “OMG, I can’t believe how many submissions there are! Science is everywhere!!!!”


… and malaria. A Primate of Modern Aspect blogs about Evolution of a malaria resistance gene in wild primates in a post called Genetic polymorphisms in wild baboons. This is obviously very interesting, and would probably make an excellent post for use in the life science classroom.

Speaking of genetics, what about the concept of Resistance without genetics – persistence in bacterial populations, which is covered by Lab Rat.


The Primate Diaries, just now moved to, addresses: The Struggle for Coexistence: Individuals, Systems and the Emergence of Cooperation in Bacterial Biofilms.


AK’s Rambling Thoughts writes about a peer reviewed paper on the brain in the post Nerve Cells and Glial Cells: Redefining the Foundation of Intelligence.

Sciurious of Neurotopia blogs about Things I like to Blog About: Neurotransmission, and illustrates the post very nicely. Steal these graphics for your presentations!

What about the Hippocampus and Depression? Dr. Shock addresses this.


Birds are good except when they accidentally almost kill you. Migratory Canada Geese Brought Down Flight 1549 according to surprising science. “Well,we were here first” said the birds as they were getting sucked into the get engine….

Regarding bird habitat, Coffee and Conservation has coverage of a peer reviewed paper: Andean shade coffee quality habitat for birds.

Nature conservation

Mauka to Makai addresses the question: What happens when endangered species are also killers??? Read Saving the Screwed.


The latest on the effort to track the flu via Google is summarized by It’s Alive!!! in Trends in internet influenza

Global Health covers an important issue in The Growing Threat of Malaria. This post has one of the bet mosquito pictures I’ve seen.

Yet another study demonstrates that unhealth is beating heath. New Voices for research blogs It’s hard work to be this unhealthy.


Green tea makes me laugh. People drink green tea because it is ‘better for them’ without acknowledging that it is way higher in caffeine than ‘black tea,’ a fact that should matter. Anyway, it has been suggested that green tea cures cancer (as one woo-uld expect since it has the word “green” in the title). Blue Genes looks at a preliminary study that asks the question Is it true that green tea ‘slows prostate cancer’?


What causes homosexual behavior in animals? Pleiotropy, in a post called Homosexuality is not a choice, provides us with the quote of the month winner: “Contrary to what most people probably think, homosexual behavior is not just common in animals, it is catholic.”

PodBlack Cat discusses Sex and the Single Somnambulist

…Sleepwalkers ‘have been described to be involved in complex motor activities like cooking, eating, driving a car, playing an instrument, stabbing and even murder’. One such case is that reflected in the title of this blog post – is it true that someone could in fact have sex when they were asleep?

Boys will be boys and girls will be girls and Swedish parents will … throw a wrench in the works. Science. Why Not. gives us The Pseudoscience Chronicles Volume 3:Girls will be girls and boys will be boys.

From moi, why do lions form prides? The better to hunt, of course! Well, no.


Something I’ve always wanted to know, seriously, is do Bone Assemblages Track Animal Community Structure over 40 Years in an African Savanna??? Galley Proofs looks at a peer reviewed paper by that name in Good news for paleontologists?.

Human Evolution

Pleiotropy asks if Orangutans … replace chimpanzees as our closest relative?

Physical Science

Surprising Science thinks you may be surprised to learn that the sunspots are missing, and provides An Explanation for the Missing Sunspots.

Galley proofs notes that Earth vibrations are an interesting phenomenon…

During a large storm over the ocean, high winds blow over the ocean’s surface. The wind transfers energy to the water, which is where the big ocean waves come from. That energy can generate “microseisms” in the ocean crust.

… in a post called “What’s the signal, and what’s the noise?”

Science on tap reviews Death from the Skies (Phil Plait).

Find the International Space Station with Twitter from Surprising Science.


Bob O’Hara at Nature Network asks the question Do We Need a Scientific Literature? which addresses among other things formal vs. pseudo science and peer review.

How much more meta can we get than The Science of StoryTelling: Nobelist Paul Nurse Talks about His Personal Genetic History as told to us by Grrl Scientist at Living the Scientific Life?


Why Sharks Matter at Southern Fried Science provides a slew of movie reviews related to nature conservation.

A Sea Change
End of the Line
The Cove


  1. #1 Moebius
    July 6, 2009

    […]This is the crème brûlée of science carnivals and includes the best writing from the past two months.[…]

  2. #2 superkuh
    July 6, 2009

    Your link to the Biofilms entry by The Primate Diaries is broken…..

    [fixed, thanks]

  3. #3 Arj
    July 6, 2009

    “Green tea makes me laugh. People drink green tea because it is ‘better for them’ without acknowledging that it is way higher in caffeine than ‘black tea,’ a fact that should matter.”

    where did you get that “fact”!? — green tea (and there are dozens of varieties) is LOWER than black tea in caffeine, and certainly lower than coffee or most sodas; and there are plenty of studies indicating health benefits for green tea and the antioxidants it contains. Why people even focus on caffeine I don’t know… there are dozens of components to coffee potentially more harmful to human health than caffeine.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    July 6, 2009

    Where did I get that “fact”? From lots of sources over the years. Most recently, Personal communication, the person who runs the tour at Celestial Seasonings in Boulder Colorado. Green tea has the basic amount of caffeine. When that green tea is processed to make black tea, lots of the complex molecules including caffeine are broken down. So, less of everything.

    Green tea is not lower than black tea in caffeine, all things being equal. Like, you take the green tea, measure the caffeine, then make some of that same green tea (that you saved aside) and cook it up to make black tea (which is basically roasted green tea) and measure the caffeine and there will be less.

    Now, the question of “focusing on” caffeine is not something I was talking about. That would be part of the “watch the monkey” strategy I feel coming my way in a few minutes…. (or hopefully not)

  5. #5 Heather
    July 6, 2009

    Thanks for another great carnival Greg. We’re happy to be included with all these great articles!

  6. #6 Arj
    July 6, 2009

    Copied DIRECTLY off the FAQ page at the Celestial Seasons website:

    “How much caffeine does an average cup of each kind of tea contain?

    Black Tea: Approximately 60 mg
    White Tea: Approximately 50 mg
    Green Tea: Approximately 30 mg
    Herb Tea: Most have no caffeine – see individual tea

    For comparison:
    Drip coffee: Approximately 90 mg
    Regular Cola: Approximately 45 mg”

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    July 6, 2009

    Arj: It is indeed said that a cup of green tea has less caffeine than a cup of black tea. But that is because the way one is supposed to brew black tea is for longer with hotter water, for green tea for less time and with cooler water.


    This is pretty much the same as people switching from non filter to filter cigarettes. Puff harder, smoke more, get the same.

    Honestly, this “green tea has less caffeine” thing is woo.

  8. #8 AK
    July 6, 2009

    A great line-up. Thanks for including me.

  9. #9 Stephanie Z
    July 6, 2009

    Complicating the comparison of green tea to black tea is the fact that you will often not find the same type of tea (same plant) available in green and black. Generally, green tea, as brewed, ranges from about half the caffeine of black tea, as brewed, to very slightly more caffeine. As they’re both agricultural products, they’ll also vary in caffeine content from batch to batch and year to year.

    In short, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, drink decaf or something else entirely. You may not even be able to rely on how one or the other makes you feel, as green tea may contain some sedative properties, which may or may not keep your heart from reacting to the caffeine.

  10. #11 Greg Laden
    July 6, 2009

    Actually, as we heard Ben say at dinner this evening, the plants are really similar, and as the tea industry will tell us, the tea makers get a big truck full of green tea, and then they cook up some of it to make black tea and leave some of it grean.

    What is different is white tea. This is the same plant, but the leaves are picked way way early. It happens that caffeine is one of the secondary compounds that develops early in tea leavs, so I’m pretty sure this stuff could be kick-ass on caffeine but it will depend on when the leaves are picked.

    Brewing difference can of course make a difference, but that is not what is being claimed. What is being claimed is that a teaspoon of black tea has less caffiene than a teaspoon of green tea. If you brew them the same you’ll get more caffeine in the green than in the black brew, though the black brew will have a stronger flavor.

    Just to drive everyone nuts who has not yet been driven nuts: French roast has less caffeine than regular, and espresso has the least. So all those people who have espresso instead of coffee first thing in the AM because they need the extra boost may well be under-dosing themselves.

    On the other hand, the average espresso drinker tends to drink lots of espresso. Today was an eight shot day for me.

  11. #12 zayzayem
    July 7, 2009

    Wouldn’t a more effective way of drinking less caffeine be to not drink tea/coffee at all?
    I agree with whoever said its like filtered cigarettes. When I drink green tea (only tea I’ll drink, and then only when at an asian restaurant and someone else orders it). I drink it like no tomorrow.

    Cheers for the link Greg!

  12. #13 Colin
    July 7, 2009

    My post about green tea was actually more focussed on the study in question (which was very poor) and the BBC article about it (also, very poor). I finished with a comment mentioning caffeine that seems to have indirectly sparked a lot of chat.

    In the paper that I was discussing the author mentioned some previous studies using green tea that had not shown any benefit at all, and had some side-effects. This study, however, used an extract called Polyphenon E (that presumably costs a lot more than the same amount of green tea) that has very little caffeine and he suggested that this might explain the lack of side-effects in his study.

    My post is much more interesting than an argument about which drink has more caffeine though *wink wink* …so everyone should go check it out… *wink wink* just click here…. (Sorry about the shameless plug, but I guess that’s what blog carvivals are about right?)

    -Colin (@ Blue-Genes)