Americans like science. But they think much less highly of American scientists than American scientists themselves do. Most scientists also rate media coverage of science as only fair or poor. Yet public knowledge of some scientific facts is .... not that bad (Section 7). A Pew Research Report reveals all.
A quiet revolution is taking place in the multiple sclerosis community. Long thought of as purely an autoimmune disease, possibly secondary to Epstein-Barr virus infection or even an STI, MS has never been pinned down to a single cause. Now things are changing, in a big and bloody way: MS appears to be related to abnormalities in veins. [more inside]
DFG Science TV is back. Researchers documenting their work. If you missed the first series, it is still available for viewing.
Test My Brain was set up by Harvard's Vision Lab and Social Neuroscience and Psychopathology Lab. There are five tests online at the time of this post; take one and maybe you'll learn something about yourself that you may not have known (other than your special ability to slack off on MetaFilter when you should be working). At the same time, you'll be helping researchers collect data from a wide range of subjects. One of the collaborators, Professor Ken Nakayama, is also responsible for creating these online tests for faceblindness. [previously] [more inside]
On behalf of medical organizations, universities, & individual patients, pathologists and genetics researchers, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit against Utah-based Myriad Genetics and the US Patent and Trademark Office. Myriad holds the US patents to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, associated with hereditary causes of breast and ovarian cancers. Their patents guarantee the company the right to prevent anyone else from testing or studying those genes, which the ACLU says is unconstitutional and inhibits researchers from finding treatments and cures. [more inside]
Is there a formula—some mix of love, work, and psychological adaptation—for a good life? For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been examining this question, following 268 men who entered college in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age. Here, for the first time, a journalist gains access to the archive of one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. What Makes Us Happy?
The rise and fall of a physics fraudster. In the spring of 2002, the world’s most productive young scientist was a 31-year-old physicist at Bell Labs in New Jersey in the US. With eight papers published in Nature and Science in 2001 alone, Jan Hendrik Schön was emerging with breathtaking speed as a star researcher in physics, materials science and nanotechnology...But in September 2002, managers at Bell Labs released a report [pdf] that...made clear that much of Schön’s data were fake. His discoveries were lies. Many of his devices had probably never existed...On the day of the report’s release, Schön was fired and fled the US to an unknown location. In all, 21 of Schon's papers were withdrawn from Nature, Science and Physical Review Journals.
A recent Nielsen study which has been circulating the web indicated that 60% of Twitter users quit the social networking site after just one month--music to many Mefite's ears. But as one reporter noted, the study didn't take into account any of the third-party applications, (like Tweetdeck) through which many users access their Twitter feeds. Just three days later, Nielsen responds with a revised study purportedly them into account.
Brain Researchers Open Door to Editing Memory : spotless minds might be closer than we think.
What can jump 4 feet straight up, births identical quadruplet pups nearly every time, can curl itself into an armor-plated ball, walk underwater for up to six minutes and can swallow air until it bloats to double its size to float? [more inside]
Microscope Imaging Station opens a door to the wonder of the microscopic world and allows the layman to explore it. They seek to recreate some of the excitement and wonder that the earliest biological researchers found. Features include cells with potential as well as bad oogy. The microscopic Galleries are inhabited by zygotes and organelles.
The Quilt Index is a growing research and reference tool designed to share access to information and images about quilts provided by an array of contributors. You may search by category including time period, style and technique, location, or fabric.
WikiLeaks: every current Congressional Research Service report in a Torrent (2.2 GB). h/t Jessamyn's twitter. Americans spend $100 million a year on the Congressional Research Service, a private think tank for members of Congress and their staffs. While technically available to the public, their reports were never posted on the Internet by the government. [more inside]
Circuits are flipping on in the nation's attic. A couple of weeks ago, 31 "digerati" -- like Clay Shirky, Chris Anderson, and George Oates -- dropped in to the Smithsonian Institution for the invitation-only conference "Smithsonian 2.0: A Gathering to Re-imagine the Smithsonian in the Digital Age". Dan Cohen of the Center for History and New Media provides a great summary (and continues to pose provocative questions) on his own blog. Those whose invitations were somehow lost in the mail can play fly-on-the-wall by watching the keynotes, paging through the Flickr pool of envymaking glimpses of their behind-the-scenes lab and collections tours, reading the blog (where Bruce Wyman of the Denver Art Museum lays out a succinct road map for museums using social media), and poking around in the SI's website gallery. Want to cheer on the USA's favorite 163-year-old "Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge" without taking the trip to DC? Thanks to their recent efforts, you can now follow the SI on Twitter, listen to its podcasts, watch its YouTube channel, visit the Latino Virtual Museum in Second Life, or use the FaceBook gifts page to send your best friends their very own pair of Dorothy's ruby slippers, Hope diamond, Negro Leagues baseball, or coelocanth.
Dr. Aric Sigman has told us that TV is literally killing us, that it makes children pregnant, that Batman makes our kids violent and that multitasking ruins children's attention span. Now he says that social networking can cause cancer, strokes, and dementia. (PDF of press release)
In the background behind attention-grabbing headlines about famous (and wannabe-famous) cancer patients, a quiet revolution may be on the brink of changing oncology. [more inside]
Nestled amid the red buttes of Papago Park in Phoenix, the Desert Botanical Garden hosts one of the world’s finest collections of desert plants. Home to 139 rare, threatened and endangered plant species from around the world, the Garden offers interesting and inspiring experiences, while their website offers gardening help including good growing guides. The Desert Botanical Garden has educational programming and research for children as well as adults. The internationally acclaimed living collection of over 20,000 desert plants, with particular emphasis on those inhabiting the Sonoran Desert, continues to serve the public and scientific community. [more inside]
Digital Research Tools (DiRT) is a wiki created by Lisa Spiro, director of Rice University's Digital Media Center. Tons of "snapshot reviews of software that can help researchers" are categorized by what you're trying to accomplish ("Analyze Statistics," "Network With Other Researchers," "Search Visually"), as well as by general topic ("Authoring," "Linguistic Tools," "Text Analysis"). Via
The Canadian Journalism Project (CJP) and its websites, J-Source.ca (English) and ProjetJ.ca (French), provides a source for news, research, commentary, advice, discussion and resources about the achievement of, and challenges to, excellence in Canadian journalism.
Hugh Reinhoff has sequenced his daughters DNA at home attempting to diagnose her unique genetic mutation. [more inside]
academia.edu is a project by Richard Price, who recently completed a Ph.D at Oxford on the philosophy of perception. In collaboration with a team of people from Stanford and Cambridge, he's launched this website, which "shows academics around the world structured in a 'tree' format, displayed according to their departmental and institutional affiliations" and "enables academics to see news on the latest research in their area - the latest people, papers and talks". [more inside]
Three psychology experiments that raise ethics questions because of the danger they posed to the research assistants. (via) [more inside]
You and Your Research was a talk given by Richard Hamming in 1986. Read it if you have an interest in doing first-class work.
The Economist on Drugs -- Scientists in North America, Europe and Israel are studying the use of MDMA, LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms, marijuana and other banned psychoactive substances in treating conditions such as anxiety, cluster headaches, addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They are supported by private funds from a handful of organisations: the Beckley Foundation in Britain; the Heffter Research Institute and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in America. [related]
Blind, Yet Seeing : New research into blindsight from Harvard University and M.I.T. showing that people who have been blinded by brain injury have resources beyond sight to do such tasks as navigate an obstacle course (movie).
The conclusion of a research paper by associate professor Andrew McIntosh and research assistant Declan Patton of the School of Risk and Safety Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia: "To minimise the risk of head and neck injury, head bangers should decrease their range of head and neck motion, head bang to slower tempo songs by replacing heavy metal with adult oriented rock, only head bang to every second beat, or use personal protective equipment." (Via)
Unscrambling an army of colours, reports The Guardian on the BBC's forthcoming screening of a colour-restored episode of the WWII sitcom Dad's Army. Not seen for 40 years and lost in its original PAL video colour format, it existed only as an archive on 16mm b&w film. However, the Colour Recovery Working Group found a way to recover the colour information from "chroma dots": pattern artefacts on the b&w representing unfiltered colour signal. Techie details here and here.
A team of researchers at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto have managed to reconstruct black-and-white visual images from an fMRI scan of a test subject's brain. Some more examples of the recovered data. The organization responsible claims that the technology to record thoughts and dreams is just around the corner. [more inside]
Search for an Rx - We asked Johns Hopkins administrators, physicians, and researchers about the health of a system Americans rely on to keep them healthy. Afterall, an ounce of prevention... [more inside]
Policy Archive compiles research and recommendations from think tanks, universities, government agencies and foundations into one browseable/searchable site. Designed to give the
non-wonk layperson free, centralized access to subject-specific information on public policy in the USA, Policy Archive offers quick links to topics like banking & finance, education, labor, and military. Or just browse by who wrote, published, or funded a given bit of research. 16,000+ documents and growing.
Claudia Castillo's new bronchus is the result of stem-cell research. The first hollow tube body part is transplanted with no rejection issues. A lab in Italy stripped the donor trachea of living tissue leaving a collagen matrix. Claudia's stem cells were grown in a Bristol lab, (all 6 million of them) to flesh it out, so to speak. Epithelial cells from her nose & lungs formed the lining. But...... [more inside]
Hi there, it’s Gail Westerfield, the writer's super heroine, and I'm feeling groovy thanks to Dr. Michael Mithoefer. Previously.
Do you have Asperger's Syndrome? Answer these questions and find out. I'm skeptical about this, but I find it fascinating. For years, I've suspected I'm an Aspie, and, as it turns out, I answered the questions exactly the way the researchers predict an Aspie would answer them. My "normal" wife answers them they way "normal" people do. I am almost incapable of understanding the "normal" answer. To me, the Aspie answer is obviously correct. Here is a great discussion about the research. Here is the original research paper (MS Word file). [more inside]
The DiVincenzo Code [youtube trailer, geekery]. Faced with a strict demand from a funding agency to allocate research funds towards the dissemination of research ideas to the public, an experimental physics group at the University of Oxford produced a feature-length (55 min) action thriller about murder, ancient prophecy, tea breaks, and quantum computation. [more inside]
Silly pencil pushers! You can't KILL Physics! What's that? Oh, physics *research*. You've won this round!
RIP Bell Labs "After six Nobel Prizes, the invention of the transistor, laser and countless contributions to computer science and technology, it is the end of the road for Bell Labs' fundamental physics research lab."
Scientists Repurpose Adult Cells - "Scientists have transformed one type of fully developed adult cell directly into another inside a living animal, a startling advance that could lead to cures for a variety of illnesses and sidestep the political and ethical quagmires associated with embryonic stem cell research." [nature abstract, nature writeup, audio announcement]
A Good Poop is an entertaining blog by an occupational and environmental health student who enjoys finding oddities in medical and scientific research from PubMed. (via Look at This...)
The US military has been putting more attention into brain science research, covering such potential applications as mind reading, mind control, cognitive enhancement and brain-machine interfaces. This is detailed in the report "Emerging Cognitive Neuroscience and Related Technologies" (also available in an abridged PDF version), authored by a National Research Council committee convened by the Department of Defense.
EO Wilson believes in
Darwinism group selection: "evolution as a multi-level process1 that can evolve adaptations above the level of individual organisms."
Correlative Analytics -- or as O'Reilly might term the Social Graph -- sort of mirrors the debate on 'brute force' algorithmic proofs (that are "true for no reason," cf.) in which "computers can extract patterns in this ocean of data that no human could ever possibly detect. These patterns are correlations. They may or may not be causative, but we can learn new things. Therefore they accomplish what science does, although not in the traditional manner... In this part of science, we may get answers that work, but which we don't understand. Is this partial understanding? Or a different kind of understanding?" Of course, say some in the scientific community: hogwash; it's just a fabrication of scientifically/statistically illiterate pundits, like whilst new techniques in data analysis are being developed to help keep ahead of the deluge...
Surtsey was first observed on November 14, 1963, as a pillar of smoke on the water some ways south of Iceland. The very next day lava and tephra broke the surface of the Atlantic and by May, 1964 the formation had grown to 2.4 km². Over the next three years lava eruptions continued, coating the loose debris in a hard shell and protecting it from erosion. An island born. Naturally, Surtsey has been under close scientific observation since its emergence, and courtesy The Surtsey Research Society you can read published reports on the geology and biological colonization of this new earth.
Andy Grove on Our Electric Future - "Energy independence [viz.] is the wrong goal. Here is a plan Americans can stick to." Perhaps some infrastructure spending1,2 is in order? [etc., &c., cf.] [more inside]
1999: Researchers at Wake Forest University discover an incredible oddity: a mouse resistant to many forms of cancer. The resistance is found to be inherited (Pubmed link). 2006: They show that cancer resistance can be transferred (Pubmed link) to non-resistant mice. 2008: They've found that the resistance is mediated through blood cells called granulocytes, and that some humans potentially have the same ability to resist cancer. Now they need your help. [more inside]
Measuring depravity. The Depravity Scale is an international research effort that aims to scientifically standardize the definition of legal terms such as "heinous", "atrocious", "evil" , and "depraved" according to input from the general public. But is the Scale itself, er, a bad idea? [more inside]
How much sleep do you really need? Six and a half to seven and a half hours. People who sleep eight hours a night are 12% more likely to die in a six-year period than those who sleep less. If your new lack of sleep means you get tired mid-afternoon, recent research says the solution is, shockingly, to nap. And if you can't nap, at least learn the optimal way to dose yourself with caffeine.
Two Spanish women meet in their late twenties and realize that they're identical twins. The hospital had accidentally swapped one with another random newborn, and each family had unknowingly taken home the wrong baby. Now all three women - the two actual twins, and the one fake twin - are suing the hospital, who seriously did not have their act together. But there are all sorts of ways this could happen. For example... [more inside]
HistoryWorld is a general-knowledge website, designed for anyone above the age of about twelve with an interest in history. I found the site searching for dance history, but it includes 400 broad topics with more added all the time. It approaches history as a narrative, making full use of chronology. This is for the student as well as the researcher. [more inside]
When your research subjects notice you watching.... The fine folks over at Little Green Footballs discovered "a pile of results and code" from an observation of their on-line discourse on a server at Carnegie Mellon. That led to a heated thread of sometimes paranoid speculation that eventually calmed down (somewhat) when the researcher's academic advisors posted a good-natured mea-culpa (wea-culpa?) and explanation.
The blood substitute PolyHeme has been previously discussed on MetaFilter, but new evidence shows that PolyHeme actually raises the chances of death by nearly 30%. PolyHeme was notable mostly for the reaction to its clinical trials, which, controversially, did not require patient consent.