Stolen from A Blog Around the Clock.
There’s news of new dinosaur publication from Coturnix, which is rather exciting for a couple of reasons.
One is that it seems to be an intrinsically interesting dinosaur. Structural Extremes in a Cretaceous Dinosaur is a publication of a dinosaur which is like a mini Diplodocus, mini being a relative description. What makes it very strange are the bones, there’s not a lot to them. The skull is described as a featherweight PLoS paper. This seems to be the same throughout the skeleton. Co-author Jeffrey Wilson said: “The vertebrae are so paper-thin that it is difficult to imagine them coping with the stresses of everyday use — but we know they did it, and they did it well.” The mounting of the skull on the spine means that it’s also more evidence as to whether Nigersaurus and Diplodocus ate like giraffes from high food sources, or from the ground like cows. You can read about it in the December National Geographic, or if you want to see where these facts come from go to the source in PLoS One, which is the second exciting thing.
The publication of the paper shows a really clever piece of thinking in publishing. Rather than just seeing publication as either commercial or non-commercial, the team working on Nigersaurus are using the strengths of both methods of publishing. In this instance the commercial publication in National Geographic is going to get the work far more attention than a purely open access publication would. At the same time, the open access publication means that the data will be accessible to anyone with internet access until the apocalypse. I’m currently having trouble tracking down publications that are barely a century old, so this is very attractive. It’s not an isolated example, the Archaeological Institute of America publishes their journal
with open-access free online but has a commercial publication with Archaeology magazine, which shows that organisations can work with both traditional copyright and open-access rather than one to the exclusion of the other. Yet I can’t recall this kind of co-operation being done with such a major find before.
Hopefully there’ll be many more successes for PLoS One in many more disciplines.
Two science-based blog carnivals have gone online recently. At Pharyngula the Creation Museum Carnival has just gone live. I appreciate the freedom of speech issue. If someone wants to spend millions of dollars fighting against science that it their right, but there’s no need to agree with or even respect dishonesty.
[Cross-posted to Revise & Dissent]
We had a talk recently at Leicester from Mike Edmunds, the professor at Cardiff who’s been leading the research into the Antikythera Mechanism. I plan to write more about that in the future, but one of the many highlights of the talk was that the mechanism has implications for how Greeks thought about Natural Philosophy, the precursor to Science.
The ancient Greek view of the world is strange. Sometimes you can be stunned by the skill of their observations, like when you see the Antikythera Mechanism. Other times their beliefs appear to make no sense at all. For instance the Athenians closed their silver mines in the winter – to allow the silver to grow back. Something that’s puzzled me is how people who were not stupid could think such a thing. Surely someone would have noticed the rock was as it was at the end of last season? One possible answer is that until the invention of devices like the Antikythera Mechanism there was no alternative.
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Another test podcast recorded as I picked up a cold. The claims around the Tomb of Jesus are… Well by now everyone knows.
According to New Scientist, here are 13 things that don’t make sense. How many can you explain?
- The placebo effect
- The horizon problem
- Ultra-energetic cosmic rays
- Belfast homeopathy results
- Dark matter
- Viking’s methane
- The Pioneer anomaly
- Dark energy
- The Kuiper cliff
- The Wow signal
- Not-so-constant constants
- Cold fusion
i-Science is pretty big on sustainability these days, so I thought this post about the drawbacks of biodiesel and a possible microbiological solution might be of some interest.
And if you’re not convinced of the need to combat climate change, maybe this video from the Blue Man Group might help:
There’s a new blogger on the the i-Science blog. Head of Department Derek Raine has logged into the system and added his thoughts on Rights for Robots.
The title doesn’t refer to him, but to NewScientist. I picked up the Christmas Edition today, and it’s a great read. I particularly liked the article on the evolution of beer, looking at the microbiology of yeast. But anyone subscribed to Alan Cann’s MicrobiologyBytes would have heard about this last month. There’s also a video clip to go with it.
If you’ve read the BBC article on IQ and Vegetarianism, then you may find Aydin Östan’s take on it interesting. I’d assumed that the correlation was due to intelligent people being more likely to be health-conscious and the vegetarian diet is more healthy. At least compared to mine – I view vegetables as something food eats. So I didn’t pay it any more mind. If I had looked more closely I would have found a lot of the vegetarians ate meat, and what about the IQ of Vegans?