Weekly Roundup, Leap Day Edition

Happy Leap Day! Here are the best ways to geek out. Or just enjoy “Leap Day,” the 6th-season episode of 30 Rock that created the yellow-and-blue-themed hootenanny to celebrate our extra .242190 day’s worth of orbit. The episode introduced the kindly Leap Day William (who trades children’s tears for candy) as well as the spoof holiday movie Leap Dave Williams (deftly casting Jim Carrey and Andie MacDowell), a Liar, Liar/Groundhog Day/The Santa Clause mashup. (And of course, don’t forget about leap seconds.)

Speaking of movies, the scientific and technical Academy Awards (the less-flashy cousin of last night’s politically-charged, cookie-filled gala) quietly celebrated recent design innovations for the film industry a few weeks back.

Guess who won a promote-girls-in-STEM campaign’s tech competition. Give up? It was Josh. Sadly, women-in-STEM campaigns are notorious for bungled execution and this one is no exception. Now, #prettycurious joins fellow PR trainwrecks #hackahairdryer and “Science: it’s a girl thing.”

Here are two good ideas: 1. Therapy dogs. 2. Therapy for dogs.

Manatees, fresh from their party at Three Sisters Springs, are present in Florida in record numbers. And the monarch butterfly is making a comeback, suggesting that recent pollinator campaigns have been effective. Conversely, both recent successes could suggest that we’re less-reluctant environmentalists when species are charismatic.

Next week’s eclipse coincides with a supermoon.

Weekly Roundup

Here at The Bubble Chamber, we’ve discussed the War on Science (as well as the Science Wars, which are slightly different) most heartily. So it’s very encouraging to see new angles the topic, coming from a panel of historians of science at AAAS who caution against calling varied opposition to particular scientific issues a “war.” The panel, which included Roberta Millstein, Steve Strauss, and Erik Conway, had an especially memorable moment in Mark Largent‘s call for scientists to own their responsibility, straight out of Stan Lee’s wheelhouse…

Relatedly, new research sheds light on our climate change attitudes: our particular political affiliation (but not, interestingly, overall political ideology) predicts our acceptance of climate change, and believing in climate change doesn’t translate to support for particular environmental policies. And the HPV vaccine has been largely successful at reducing cervical cancer, although physicians must be more diligent in recommending it in order for the vaccine to deliver proper immunity.

Black holes don’t look the way we think they do, but their indirect effects look pretty cool. And here’s an incredible new image of the Milky Way from the APEX Telescope Large Area Survey of the Galaxy (ATLASGAL) in Chile.

Facebook’s Reactions, now available to users as an elaboration of the “Like,” are “straight out of Darwin“; they’re based on universal emotional responses, like those from the Pixar film Inside Out.

“When they did push the button, the servers all went down”: Inside Higher Ed has new details about the publication process for LIGO’s discovery of gravitational waves.

Don’t feel too sorry for the robot… it’s the only way it’ll learn.…

Weekly Roundup

Cheers! The CDC, which received swift and biting criticism for their recommendations that any women of childbearing age and not on birth control abstain from consuming alcohol (and in addition, that the risks to “any women” of alcohol consumption include “injuries/violence” and “unintended pregnancy”) have clarified that their recommendations for “any woman” were not meant, in fact, for all women. They’ve also modified, and then removed, the pesky online infographic in question. The CDC should have known better, given how well their 2006 designation of all women of childbearing-age as “pre-pregnantwas received.

Sue Carter, the new head of the Kinsey Institute, prefers to study human sexuality within the context of bonding and relationships (she originally studied pair-bonding prairie voles, which some see as a betrayal of Kinsey’s original intentions for his research into human sexuality.

Our fears of robo-revolution remain blissfully unfounded, as most AIs are incapable of passing an 8th-grade science test (multiple choice, no less).

Death Valley may be about to explode with wildflowers in a rare display known as a “super bloom.”

A new journal, the Preclinical Reproducibility and Robustness channel of the F1000Research open-source research network, is entirely focused on replicability.

Oh, and we found gravitational waves, as predicted (and temporarily doubted) by Einstein. No big deal.…

Weekly Roundup

It’s Groundhog Day! Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, according to the interpretations of the Groundhog Club (whose machinations are as mysterious as those of the Nobel Committee). A Canadian groundhog, Shubenacadie Sam, is the best weather groundhog, with 42% accuracy. Sadly, we mourn the loss of one of Canada’s weather-predicting groundhogs, Winnipeg Willow.

Speaking of helpful animals, the Netherlands is training eagles to protect Dutch airspace from malicious drones.

Physicist and science blogger/journalist Sabine Hossenfelder elaborates her call out against sloppy science journalism in this interview in Scientific American’s Cross-Check:

Yes, there is good science journalism. But then there are a lot of outlets that just seem to uncritically repeat press releases or what a scientist told them about their own research. And after one major outlet picked it up, it will appear in a dozen other places, each trying to make a bigger headline than the others. How come we still haven’t confirmed string theory if we’ve read two dozen times that it’s soon going to happen?

Oh good, a mysterious in-flight illness.

Biographical tweets about male scientists as though they were female scientists: His dour personality made everyone think he’d never marry. Even so, Schrödinger got a wife and a Nobel Prize.

“This discovery shows that there is still more to learn about ancient science, and that every new thing we do learn demonstrates just how clever the ancient astronomers were”: Clay tablets containing abstract calculations reveal that Babylonians invented astronomical geometry much earlier than Europeans did.

The truth, which is out there, is also in these real UFO files released by the CIA.

A “lady shark” ate a male tank-dweller at a South Korean aquarium. She was previously seen bopping her husband, Andy Capp, on the head with a rolling pin.…