scientificactivist

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May 6, 2010
Remember that strikingly inept poll analysis about the Tea Party movement from The New York Times last month? Well, the new Washington Post-ABC News poll addresses the same topic, and the Post's analysis seems to actually be rooted in reality: The conservative "tea party" movement appeals almost…
April 14, 2010
Actually, I should say that this is a very dumb analysis of a poll. The New York Times is really promoting its new NYT/CBS poll right now; as I write this, the top headline on the Times' homepage reads "Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated." When I first saw that headline and…
April 8, 2010
Today, the UCLA chapter of Pro-Test held its second rally in support of animal research. With as many as 400 or so supporters in attendance, it looks like it was another great success! Here are a couple of early reports on the event: Tom Holder of Speaking of Research: On a beautiful sunny day in…
April 7, 2010
This is pretty neat: scientists have apparently discovered the first example of truly anaerobic animal life (i.e. an animal that can survive in the absence of oxygen). This isn't some sort of fuzzy critter, though; instead, these are tiny (less than 1 mm in length) animals that were found on the…
April 6, 2010
Web traffic to ScienceBlogs.com is up about 50% over last year (and has been growing at that rate since the site's inception in 2006). That's pretty impressive! Check out the stats here: SBRelease20040610.pdf (Hat tip to DrugMonkey.)
April 6, 2010
Oh boy, it was a real scorcher in our nation's capital today... at least by April standards! With temperatures in some locales surpassing 90 degrees, several area daily high temperature records were broken. As I sweated through the day, I got to thinking: where are all of those oh-so-clever…
April 5, 2010
The UCLA chapter of the pro-science organization Pro-Test has announced its second major rally to show support for science and to stand up against the ongoing campaign of intimidation being waged by animal rights activists. The organization originated in Oxford in 2006 during a streak of…
February 23, 2010
I don't write much about the antics of animal rights activists these days, because while some of their activities have a very negative impact on the work of some scientists, they're really just a marginal--albeit highly vocal--bloc that thrives on attention. Still, sometimes they need to be called…
February 23, 2010
This year's version of the science blogging anthology, The Open Laboratory 2009, is out and available from Lulu publishing. You can order it in paperback format or as an electronic download. Three cheers to editor Scicurious and series editor Bora Zivkovik for their great work in making this happen…
February 21, 2010
Last year, I wrote about a scientific controversy over the structure of the influenza M2 proton channel, particularly over the protein's binding site for adamantane type anti-flu drugs. The Schnell/Chou model, based on solution NMR, had the drug binding to the outside of the channel, within the…
January 25, 2010
Clearly, I'm not the only one who thinks that the most obvious solution for health care reform is for the House to pass the Senate bill: The New York Times just published an editorial arguing the same point: The most promising path forward would be for House Democrats to pass the Senate bill as is…
January 25, 2010
It's been a rocky ride this year, getting heath care bills passed in the House and the Senate. It's been just over a month since the Senate passed its bill in a dramatic Christmas Eve vote (and much longer since the House passed its version), but the fate of health care reform still appears as…
January 13, 2010
The top 50 science blog posts of the year, as judged by a large panel of bloggers, have been announced and will be included in The Open Laboratory 2009. The fourth annual volume of this blog anthology will be published early this year, but you can go ahead and see the winning posts here and here.…
January 12, 2010
Have you gotten your H1N1 flu shot yet? If not, it's still not too late. Due in part to the successes of the public health campaign against H1N1 influenza, people have begun adopting a rather casual attitude toward it. This is problematic, because due to an extent to initial shortages of vaccine, a…
January 11, 2010
Chad Orzel, of Uncertain Principles, has a nice article today in Inside Higher Ed about the value of science blogging, both in his own career and in the scientific process in general. This is a view that I of course agree with and think is important, and Chad brings a unique perspective on the…
January 8, 2010
If you get the Smithsonian Channel on your TV, then tune in at 8 pm this Sunday (January 10th) to watch the program Zoo Vets: Claws, Paws, and Fins. Not only does this look like a pretty neat program (from my admittedly very biased perspective), but it features--among others--my girlfriend,…
January 6, 2010
This isn't really anything new, but Emily Anthes has a nice summary in Slate today of what we currently know about the effectiveness of nutritional supplements--namely that they don't consistently show any clear benefits except in a few very specific situations: Vitamins--with their promise to…
January 4, 2010
Go to the bottom of the post to see my recommended methods for cooking rice. This week, I resolved that for the new year I would start blogging more frequently. Given that I really haven't been blogging at all recently, that shouldn't be too hard. I won't bore you with the various reasons why…
November 21, 2009
In the op-ed pages of The Washington Post today, Elliot Gerson--the American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust--takes a bold stand: Tonight, 32 young Americans will win Rhodes Scholarships. Their tenures at Oxford are funded by the legacy of the British imperialist Cecil Rhodes, a man whose life would…
November 12, 2009
When doing science, there's generally one totally optimal way of performing an experiment. But, there may also be several other less optimal means of gathering similar data, and one of those may be much more feasible than the totally optimal method. As a scientist, you have to determine whether…
November 11, 2009
Yesterday, the influential AMA (American Medical Association) announced that it would cease its opposition to the concept of medical marijuana and instead advocate for a change in federal classification of the drug. From the LA Times: The American Medical Assn. on Tuesday urged the federal…
October 20, 2009
Just as I was in the process of finishing my doctorate in August, I found out that my first first-author paper had been accepted for publication by The EMBO Journal. This was good news, because we were reporting some pretty fundamental findings in a relatively saturated field, and one of our…
October 19, 2009
Late last week, I received emails from two journals (The Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) and PLoS ONE) indicating that they are now incorporating interactive 3D images of molecular structures in their papers. The atomic coordinates of all published biomolecular structures have been available…
October 12, 2009
I recently had the pleasure of writing an op-ed piece about health care reform for my hometown newspaper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and it ran in the paper today. You can check it out online here. I grew up reading the Star-Telegram, so this was an exciting opportunity. My article discusses the…
October 7, 2009
The winners of this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry have been announced, and the prize will be shared equally between Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas Steitz, and Ada Yonath "for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome." The information encoded in DNA is decoded to produce functional…
October 6, 2009
I have a bone to pick with The Weather Channel, and it has to do with misuse of statistics. This is something I noticed a long time ago, so it's about time I said something about it. The problem here is fairly obvious, so I'm sure many others have noticed this before. Also, this may not be…
October 5, 2009
Today, the Nobel Committee announced the winners of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, equally shared between Elizabeth Blackburn of UCSF, Carol Greider of Johns Hopkins, and Jack Szostak of Harvard Medical School--all three American. This year's prize was awarded for the discovery of…
September 17, 2009
Members of the Obama Administration have mentioned using science for diplomatic purposes on various occasions, most notably when President Barack Obama himself included this idea in his address at Cairo University in June. Today, SEEDMAGAZINE.COM published an article by Harvard's Sheila Jasanoff on…
September 15, 2009
As I indicated earlier this summer, the blogging would continue to be a bit slow as I entered the home stretch of grad school. Since then, I'm happy to report that I have submitted my thesis, successfully defended it, resubmitted a corrected version, and had my final thesis accepted. Within the…
August 6, 2009
Mike Dunford tells a compelling story today at The Questionable Authority: Yesterday, I took the kids to the doctor for their school physicals. I wouldn't normally subject you to an account of the day-to-day minutia of my personal life, but given the current debate about how we should handle health…