The Loom

Archives for May, 2007

In about a month I’m heading to Colorado for the “Science and Media Summit” at the Aspen Science Center. The name may conjure up an image in your mind of a long table with diplomats from Science on one side and Media on the other, tensely negotiationg an end to some sort of bloodshed. As…

An Open Mouse

A few months ago I got in my car and drove north until I reached a remarkable building filled with several million mice. At Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, scientists are studying mice to understand many mysteries of genetics and medicine. But I was particularly curious about a project that they’ve only recently launched:…

Old Hands and New Fins

The paddlefish is a surreal giant, with a spatula-shaped nose that some scientists believe it uses to sense the electric fields of its prey, which it sucks up like a whale. You might not think of it as an animal that has much to offer in our quest to understand ourselves. But in fact, underneath…

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, let me quickly recap (and then, at your leisure, read this post.) Last November, my article on the evolution of complex features came out in National Geographic. A few weeks later the article inspired a long but baseless attack from the Discovery Institute, an outfit that…

Jennifer Jacquet at SB blog Shifting Baselines just returned from the Galapagos, where she got the feeling that blogging has not made much of an impact, even among the scientists at the research stations. It left her wondering if science blogging is mainly restricted to the so-called “First World”–i.e., affluent places such as the US,…

Why don’t I blog more? In part because I’m busy reading other blogs. I finally got around to adding some of my favorite science blogs outside the scienceblogs.com empire to the blogroll over on the left side. Allow me to take a moment to introduce you to them. The Anti-Toxo: A blog about every new…

A Comment on Comments

I just wanted to take a moment to reiterate my longstanding policy on comments. I reserve the right to delete comments that are slanderous, obscene, or glaringly off-topic. I also reserve the right to ban commenters who do not follow these rules even after being reminded of them. Anyone who accepts these simple rules is…

Our culture wars make for strange ironies. The fight over the cervical cancer vaccine is a case in point. Yesterday news broke that a vaccine for cervical cancer might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Cervical cancer is caused by a virus known as human papillomavirus. It infects epithelial cells in the skin…

There was a time when the publication of the entire sequence of a genome–any genome–was exciting news. I don’t have any particular passion about Haemophilus influenzae, a microbe that can cause the flu various infections. But in 1997 it was the first species to have its genome sequenced. It became immensely fascinating, simply because we…

A bit of journalistic irony. Last week I groused that a new paper on methane from plants was getting very little attention in the press, despite the fact that it refutes a 2006 paper published in Nature that got lots of press. I wished aloud that the situation would be set right. Well, five days…