Weekly Roundup

Still image from Google’s animated doodle for Earth Day 2013.

Monday was Earth Day! Google celebrated with an elaborate doodle. But according to Phil Plait, they got a few astronomical details wrong

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 womenmeaning 1 or 2 drinks a weekwas 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 motherschoices during pregnancy.

An independent journalist is suing the University of Central Florida for access to records related to the publication of the debut analysis of the “New Family Structures Study” in Social Science Research last year. The journal has been criticized for the speedy publication (and timeliness) of Mark Regnerus’ paper, as well as its methodology and the political motivation of the project’s funders. Regnerus, an associate professor at the University of Texas, commented on the study’s results for Slate last year.

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.

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