Page 3.14

In this post: the large versions of the Life Sciences and Physical Sciences channel photos, comments from readers, and the best posts of the week.


Life Sciences. Solenostemon, a genus of perennial plants native to tropical Africa, Asia, and Australia. From Flickr, by (Bill and Mavis) – B&M Photography


Physical Sciences. A block and tackle. From Flickr, by mrpattersonsir

Reader comments of the week:

On the Life Sciences Channel, Janet Stemwedel of Adventures in Ethics and Science highlights a new article in American Scientist that shows how Citizen scientists help track bee populations. Stemwedel notes that:

The trick, it seems, was working out what sorts of observations would be informative and practical to get from the non-scientist volunteers (who, after all, probably have other things they need to do besides sitting amongst the sunflowers all day waiting for bees)

Reader Brandon likes the idea of science kicking it (way) old school and involving the citizenry in the search for data:

This is a truly great thing. One of the nice features of (much) nineteenth century science was that it went out of its way to involve ordinary citizens in the actual scientific process, drawing on them to discover weather patterns, new species, etc.

Meanwhile on the Physical Science Channel, Matt Springer over at Built of Facts looks at the genealogy of physics professors in The Begats of Physcis. Springer traces the lineage of his professors at Texas A and M back through their PhD advisors and finds himself at the end of chain begun by some of histories greatest physicists:

Lord Rayleigh begat J.J. Thomson, Thomson begat J. Robert Oppenhemer; Oppenhemier begat Willis Lamb, Lamb begat Marlan Scully.
Marlan Scully is one of the fathers of quantum optics, and an active professor at Texas A&M university. I see him in group meetings all the time. He’s unbelievably good at physics, which is no surprise. It’s a little amazing to think that in some sense he’s a direct connection to so many legendary names of the physics past.

None of this impressed reader derek, who thinks that having many students, rather than one or two great ones, might be a better measure of someone’s influence on the field:

Begats look like what Stephen Jay Gould dismissed as the poorest cases in evolution: the nearly-extinct clades that were down to their last species.
What about the luxuriant bushes of physics? Which famous figure of the past can claim the most impressive diversity of graduate students in the present day?

Some other Life Science posts we thought were cool this week were:

Hundreds of New Australian Reef Species Discovered

Barnum Brown brings Tyrannosaurus to life

io9′s maddest scientists of 2008

The detachable tails of pigeons

Ratite Flight: Lost But Not Forgotten

And from the Physical Science channel:

Two New Mersenne Primes

Minarrrralogy for Pirates

The Truth Is In There

Science Majors Follow-Up

The Monty Hall problem and the nature of scientific discourse.

Look for highlights from other channels coming up!