Global Warming and Risk Management

November 30, 2007

Stolen from A Blog Around the Clock.


The Open Access Dinosaur

November 15, 2007

There’s news of new dinosaur publication from Coturnix, which is rather exciting for a couple of reasons.

Nigersaurus
Nigersaurus from PLoS One.

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 Carnivals

May 27, 2007

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.

More cheerful is the Carnival of Space, hosted by Universe Today, which has a collection of links on Space Science and Astronomy from various weblogs.


The Antikythera Mechanism and the Birth of Science?

April 4, 2007

[Cross-posted to Revise & Dissent]

L'Atmosphere: Météorlogie Populaire

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.
Read the rest of this entry »


Something else that doesn’t make sense: The Tomb of Jesus

March 4, 2007

Another test podcast recorded as I picked up a cold. The claims around the Tomb of Jesus are… Well by now everyone knows.


13 things that don’t make sense

March 3, 2007

According to New Scientist, here are 13 things that don’t make sense. How many can you explain?

  1. The placebo effect
  2. The horizon problem
  3. Ultra-energetic cosmic rays
  4. Belfast homeopathy results
  5. Dark matter
  6. Viking’s methane
  7. Tetraneutrons
  8. The Pioneer anomaly
  9. Dark energy
  10. The Kuiper cliff
  11. The Wow signal
  12. Not-so-constant constants
  13. Cold fusion

gene genie

February 17, 2007

Sonic hedgehogLike genetics? Like blogs? Then you’re going to like the latest blog carnival, gene genie.

The first issue at ScienceRoll contains lots of good stuff, including Bye Bye, Sonic Hedgehog.