Terran Lane's short blog post explaining why he is leaving academia (for a post at google) offers concise and damning insight into problems at US research universities. I find the analysis resonates with the Canadian experience as well (though I'm a grad student not a professor)..
Mapping Toilets in a Mumbai Slum. As part of an initiative by the Harvard School of Public Health, a team of students is researching life in the Mumbai slum, Cheeta Camp. They started by studying sanitation and water use. Their results? This map of toilets.
"People prefer music that deviates from perfection in a natural way." Researchers into rhythm are trying to figure out the nature of these deviations, and what implications this has for audio engineering and neuroscience.
Billy Joel has now officially endorsed - The Longest Time (Coral Triangle Edition), by the Barber Lab Quartet [more inside]
Just because you don't like a study doesn't mean it's wrong. Gawker takes the rest of the blog world to task for misinterpreting this new paper on women who watch televised sports. [more inside]
Does anesthesiology have a problem? Final version of report suggests Fujii will take retraction record, with 172
In the wake of a very thorough and damning statistical analysis of 168 of his papers, published in March, Japanese investigators have concluded that Yoshitaka Fujii, fabricated his results in at least 172 published studies; shattering the previous record for most retracted papers. Considered an expert in postoperative nausea and vomiting, his "incredibly nice" findings drew scrutiny in 2000, but he continued to publish prolifically for more than a decade. Here are the published results of the Japanese Society of Anesthesiology's Special Investigation Committee, with an annotated list of all of his papers (PDF). The Retraction Watch also considers not only the depth of Fujii's betrayal but also whether the discipline of anesthesiology itself has a problem as it weighs in. [more inside]
A quarter-century of responses to the Pew Research Center's American Values survey statements show some surprising trends when graphed over time. A sampling:
- I think it's all right for blacks and whites to date each other
- Books that contain dangerous ideas should be banned from public school libraries
- School boards ought to have the right to fire teachers who are known homosexuals
- I don't believe that there are any real limits to growth in this country
"You could turn your home into a battery," said researcher Neelam Singh. Researchers at Rice University have created paints that act as rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. They can be painted onto virtually any surface, and can be charged with a solar cell. Full paper.
“[...] it took more than a dozen calls to work out the details of her zombie contagion. “After about the 17th time,” says McGuire, “I called and said, ‘If I did this, this, this, this, this, this and this, could I raise the dead?’ And got, ‘Don’t … don’t do that.’ And at that point, I knew I had a viable virus.”
Obama evolved. The NAACP evolved. The NCLR has evolved. How do you get your friends and family to evolve into support for LGBT rights? The Movement Advancement Project's excellent Talking About LGBT Issues series gives research-driven rhetorical and messaging frameworks that work best for meeting reluctant folks where they are. They include warnings about civil rights framings, how to hit emotional marks that emphasize commonality and cover things like adoption, marriage, transgender etiquette and employment protections.
The U.S. National Institute of Heath has urged steps to curb growth in "training" positions in biomedical research (report). [more inside]
FaceTracker is an example of a complex technique that builds on top of a series of computer vision, image processing, and machine learning functions in order to achieve its result. Here's an interview with Kyle McDonald, artist and researcher in New York with a background in computer science and philosophy. He released FaceOSC, a tool for prototyping face-based interaction. Kyle has a growing body of work that uses face tracking in an artistic context, notably Face Substitution.
Last week, I wrote about how urban trees—or the lack thereof—can reveal income inequality. After writing that article, I was curious, could I actually see income inequality from space? It turned out to be easier than I expected.
Consequences, Choices, Children in Crisis, Challenges. HBO’s multi-part research documentary The Weight of the Nation examines obesity in America in four parts, marshaling leading doctors, epidemiologists, economists, researchers, and community leaders to understand and explain the individual costs and public solutions to a multi-faceted social and individual problem. The documentary both explores large picture statistics, while giving voice “to those that often too seek to be invisible: members of the nearly 70 percent of Americans currently diagnosed as overweight or obese. (AV Club Review)” [more inside]
Are bias and fraud damaging the existing public trust in scientific and medical research? (previously) [more inside]
"Experimental adaptation of an influenza H5 HA confers respiratory droplet transmission to a reassortant H5 HA/H1N1 virus in ferrets." After an extensive, months-long debate, one of two controversial papers showing ways the H5N1 "avian" influenza virus could potentially become transmissible in mammals with only 3 or 4 mutations was published in Nature today. The journal included an editorial on the merits and drawbacks of "publishing risky research" with regard to biosafety. The debate included an unprecedented recommendation by The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) to block publication -- a decision they later reversed. (Via: 1, 2) Nature's special report has additional articles, including interviews with the teams behind both papers.
The learning paradox is at the heart of “productive failure." While the model adopted by many teachers and employers when introducing others to new knowledge — providing lots of structure and guidance early on, until the students or workers show that they can do it on their own — makes intuitive sense, it may not be the best way to promote learning. [more inside]
Is Some Homophobia Self-Phobia? Many have suspected but now the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has published empirical research on the subject. In the study, 20% of self-identified "highly-straight" participants demonstrated some level of same-sex attraction in reaction time tests. These individuals were significantly more likely than any other group of participants to favor anti-gay policies. Also in NYTimes.
For my 250th post: There is a lot of interesting research going on in business schools, and some of it is even fun to watch. Wharton has been hosting 10 minute entertaining talks on cutting-edge research by faculty including: where inspiration comes from at work, how time relates to happiness, how to run an innovation tournament, socially responsible investing, learning from people who leave your company and what breakfast cereal and Steve Jobs have to tell us about the secret sources of innovation. If you want less academics in your business school mini-lectures, Stanford also has a collection of advice to entrepreneurs on many subjects that includes everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to Guy Kawasaki.
How Creativity Connects with Immorality Are creative types more likely to cross moral boundaries?
A researcher at St. Andrews University is using a tool called a densitometer to measure which pages in medieval manuscripts are the dirtiest, and therefore the most frequently read. The complete (and well-illustrated) study is available online from the Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art. [more inside]
While growth prospects in the field are incredibly high, recent trends, such as "tools grow[ing] more advanced" (see Adobe Flash Builder or MS Visual Studio) have had people wondering over the past few years if computer science has much room for growth left. Some question whether it is alive. Others, such as Carnegie Mellon, say not so fast. In any case, employment has been a bit iffy (/.). There is the possibility that Computer Science is simply growing up (PDF), then again the U of Florida decided to say good bye to it this past week. But hey, if you are not going to that University, and still are shooting for computer science, here are some tips.
LiveHoods: Using Social Media and Machine-Learning to Study Cities [via mefi projects] [more inside]
According to research recently published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research[DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2011.01711.x], tattooed people drink significantly more than their peers (as well as other risky behaviours).
How to read a paper is a series by Trisha Greenhalgh in BMJ, the British Medical Journal, that explains how to critically read and apply the biomedical literature. Deciding what the paper is about. Assessing methodological quality. Statistics for the non-statistician: parts I and II. Drug trials, diagnostic and screening tests, economic analyses, systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PDF), and qualitative research (PDF).
It's getting harder to do genealogical research using the SSDI, and this bill might make it impossible. [more inside]
MIT is leading an NSF-funded project with researchers from University of Pennsylvania and Harvard that aims to enable anyone to "design, customize and print a specialized robot in a matter of hours." Constructed from "cyber-physical primitives," the robots (some early examples here) would be able to be made in bulk on demand and could help change the entire workflow of device and robot creation, from engineering to warehousing to assembly.
How Corporations Corrupt Science at the Public's Expense: Report looks at methods of corporate abuse, suggests steps toward reform [Full Report (PDF)] [Executive Summary (PDF)] [more inside]
The committee took the unprecedented step of recommending that some details of these biological studies [be] kept from the public, so that no one could use them as recipes for new bioweapons. [more inside]
"Pseudonyms are the most valuable contributors to communities because they contribute the highest quantity and quality of comments." As anonymous and pseudonymic online contributors struggle to remain non-identifiable, Disqus data show pseudonymous commenters are the best. (most recently previously)
The Spam Poetry Institute is an organization dedicated to collecting and preserving the fine literature created by the world’s spammers
Relating SCIENCE! to everyday life, Ouch: A Year's Worth of Occasionally Disturbing Research on How to Get Ahead is comedic advice on how to excel in the new year (from the usually-more-serious Harvard Business Review's "The Daily Stat") - reminiscent of Barking Up The Wrong Tree, a blog of tongue-in-cheek nuggets of research by Eric Barker.
Here are some evidence-based and research based psychotherapy modalities you may or may not have heard of, a few in the words of their creators: David Burns and CBT and T.E.A.M. Therapy [pdf], Steven Hayes and ACT (also), Marsha Linehan and DBT (also [pdf] and also [pdf]), Joseph Weiss and Control Mastery Theory (also), Eugene Gendlin and Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy (also).
Amazon has recently declared that tomorrow is Price Check day. If you go into a brick and mortar retail store with Amazon’s new Price Check App on your smart phone, and scan a barcode with the location settings active, and then report back to Amazon on the price of that product, Amazon will deduct $5 from your online purchase of that product. Amazon claims it’s trying to keep prices low for consumers, but others attribute the move to a less innocuous agenda. [more inside]
Serum hemoglobin is related to endurance running performance. Smoking is known to enhance serum hemoglobin levels ... alcohol may further enhance this beneficial adaptation.A recent paper by Kenneth Myers in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reviews the potential benefits of smoking for endurance atheletes. [more inside]
Shattered Families, a new report from the Applied Research Center, has found that there are at least 5,100 children currently living in foster care who are prevented from uniting with their detained or deported parents. Executive Summary(PDF) and Full Report(PDF) [more inside]
Emory University English professor Mark Bauerlein (previously) argues that the majority of research by literary academics has no meaningful value. [more inside]
Obese monkeys lose weight by new drug that kills off fat cells. Adipotide is the newest weapon in the war on obesity. Unlike other weight-loss drugs that try to suppress appetite, boost one's metabolism, or block the absorption of fat, Adipotide blocks the blood supply that feeds fatty tissue. Studies show monkeys lost 11% of their body weight after 4 weeks of treatment.
This video introduces the concepts behind Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer, a new open-source toolkit for building small electronic devices using the .NET Micro Framework. [more inside]
Is the internet rewriting history? Teaching the difference between truth and propaganda online via BBC [more inside]
Dr. Emily Lethbridge of Cambridge University is on a year-long research trip to document the settings of Icelandic Sagas. The short documentary Memories of Old Awake beautifully captures those dramatic landscapes, and you can read more about her research on her blog The Saga-Steads of Iceland: A Twenty-First Century Pilgrimage. (via) (previously)
An experiment done in the 1990s exposed children to various levels of lead. The lawsuit filed in 2001 by the parents of over 100 participants accuses the Kennedy Krieger Institute that the scientists knowingly used the kids as test subjects in toxic dust control study. [more inside]
Is that review a fake? A new paper from Cornell researchers proposes an algorithm for sussing out fake reviews from websites. Here's a summary of tell-tale signs.