With all the debate over what is and what isn’t being taught in public school science classrooms, it’s a refreshing change to see a proposed bill to mandate the inclusion of science fiction in West Virginia middle and high school curriculums. Ray Canterbury, a legislator from the West Virginia House of Delegates, proposed the bill; he stated in an interview with Blastr that “I’m not interested in fantasy novels about dragons, I’m primarily interested in things where advanced technology is a key component of the storyline, both in terms of the problems that it presents and the solutions that it offers.”
A new study in BJOG suggests that light drinking by pregnant women—meaning 1 or 2 drinks a week—was not harmful to their unborn children. While the links between fetal alcohol syndrome and drinking during pregnancy are clear, studies over the last few years have investigated the safety of occasional drinking, and led to discussions about mothers‘ choices during pregnancy.
Publicity? A media frenzy? An interview on the Colbert Report? Most grad students don’t expect to get famous from coursework assignments, but University of Massachusetts Amherst economics Ph.D. student Thomas Herndon’s unsuccessful attempt to replicate the results of the prominent Reinhart-Rogoff “Growth in a Time of Debt” study revealed a simple coding error in the original Excel spreadsheet, leading to a publication with his professors, Michael Ash and Robert Pollin.…
In light of the recent measles epidemic in the UK, Andrew Wakefield blames the government in a statement for The Independent. The paper quickly followed up with a damning article, with critics calling the whole episode “lunacy.”
I’m back from a 2-week hiatus in Quebec, where it’s still freezing. Thanks to Mike for his great job filling in last week.
Canadian scientists determined that Monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico using a built-in solar-calibrated compass, and not a “true” navigation system with positional awareness. Bonus points to CBC News author Emily Chung for including researchers’ “experimental bumps,” including uncooperative butterflies who wouldn’t migrate within the flight simulator, showcasing how the course of an experiment isn’t always smooth. The research is forthcoming in PNAS.
Sheila Jasanoff raises questions about the accountability (and lack thereof) of science advisers in the fourth article of The Guardian’s series on science advice (read parts 1, 2, and 3).
Will Oremus at Slate reminds us that Margaret Thatcher was really a “climate hawk”: she promoted responsible, sustainable economic development and was one of the earliest world leaders who spoke about the danger of global warming.
Here’s an amazing time-lapse video from Scott Lawson’s YouTube channel demonstrating magnetism with iron oxide-infused Silly Putty. Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy explains the properties at work, as well as why science needs more cool stuff like this.…