After a very busy week with York University’s Materiality Conference, I’m happy to offer this supersized weekly roundup.
Biological Psychiatry recently published a study linking placental abnormalities and autism risk.
Russell Foster argues in New Scientist (republished at Slate) that high schools ought to start later to provide teens with much-needed extra sleep.
From Smithsonian’s Surprising Science blog, women apparently prefer deep male voices, while men prefer high female voices; a paper published in PLOS ONE explains these results in terms of body size preference. But don’t despair; you can always change your voice with this.
The House Science Committee is embroiled in a dispute over NSF funding for the social and behavioural sciences, as committee chair Lamar Smith’s questioning the NSF’s peer review system comes under some sharply-worded criticism.
An image of a 4th-grade science quiz entitled “Dinosaurs: Genesis and the Gospel” from a Christian school in South Carolina has widely circulated online.
A new “Vampire” treatment for baldness involves reinjecting the patient’s own platelet-rich plasma.
A “no jab, no play” campaign launched yesterday aims to allow childcare centres in New South Wales, Australia, to ban unvaccinated children from attending. A similar policy in Ottawa has resulted in hundreds of current high school students facing suspension for failing to provide up-to-date proof of immunization.
Blueprints for a 3D printed gun have been released online by Defense Distributed, prompting calls for tighter legislation.
The National Institute for Mental Health has rejected the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is about to release its 5th edition. NIMH research will now be oriented away from the DSM’s categories.
Screenshot from the EC’s highly criticized video recruiting girls to STEM.
It turns out we won’t be hit with an asteroid on the day after Valentines’, so our roundup can proceed apace.
Scientists at the University of Leicester announced that they have identified the remains of King Richard III, based in part on DNA from a living Canadian descendent.
Mars vs Venus? Nope, we’re all Earthlings around here… A new study by Carothers and Reis suggests that many “gender-specific” personality traits (assertiveness, empathy, “desire to have sex with multiple partners” and even “interest in science”) overlap to such an extent that predicting someone’s gender based on traits alone is impossible (via Buzzfeed).
Speaking of “interest in science,” the “stereotype threat” of “innate differences” may be responsible for the United States, Canada, and other countries bucking the worldwide trend of 15-year-old girls outperforming boys in a science test administered by the OECD (published in a New York Times interactive graph). So avoid stereotypes, even if (like the European Commission) you have good intentions.
Iran claims to have sent a monkey into space, although some have expressed doubts.
A recent review of anthropological literature has found that polyandry (one wife, multiple husbands) is more common than what you’d hear about in anthropology 101, perhaps because “Western male anthropologists had a hard time ‘believing’ in polyandry.”
Did you overdo it at the Superbowl buffet? It’s not the end of the world: the nutritional labels on many foods are inaccurate. Well, unprocessed foods, anyway. If you prefer chips and pork rinds, you might need help overcoming mindless eating. (via Jezebel)
The Giants’ Shoulders is a rotating monthly roundup of history of science blog posts. This month’s theme is ”Curiosities, Utility and Authority“, and is hosted by Canadian historian Lisa Smith. There are all sorts of interesting links—give it a look!
National Geographic collects photos representative of humanity’s impact on the environment, which is so pervasive that the term “anthropocene” is now being used to describe the current geological epoch.
Public controversy is erupting again over the nearly exclusive use of male mice as a model organism for medical research, especially since they are still used, more often than not, to conduct research into diseases disproportionately affecting women.
NASA’s 30-year-long space shuttle program wraps up this summer. To pre-empt expected upcoming patriotic retrospectives, The Mark’s Jordan Bimm explores the shuttle’s checkered past.
Forbes reports that J. Craig Venter’s team was sued by the estate of James Joyce for encoding “To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life” into their synthetic DNA; their inclusion of a Richard Feynman quote, on the other hand, merely earned them a correction from Caltech (via Marginal Revolution).
Errol Morris responds to some of the criticisms of his New York Times “Ashtray” blog.
Chris Mooney at Discover Magazine asks if scientists have “public literacy“.
Judy Sebba asks, What can academic researchers learn from think tanks?
Amid the hopes and horrors in Libya, a controversy over Saif Gaddafi plagiarizing his PhD from the London School of Economics (apparently supervised by Nancy Cartwright) has been brewing.
Brian Leiter asks whether philosophy departments are being specially targeted for cuts.
Why is the science media so focused on the Fukushima nuclear saga rather than other aspects of Japan’s earthquake?
What’s a bigger threat: nuclear power or coal production?
Michael Ruse compares the New Atheists to the Tea Party.
Students and professors at Imperial College, London will be meeting in April to discuss how to use Wikipedia.
Ashley Brosius at Age of Engagement argues that there needs to be more focus on adaptation to climate change rather than just on prevention.
House Republicans voted against amendments to a bill stating that Congress acknowledges ”basic” facts about climate change.
Images of the future from history.
Evolutionary psychologists on the adaptiveness of homophobia: what could possibly go wrong?
Documentary film maker Errol Morris has a series of blog posts this week on his interactions with and thoughts about Thomas Kuhn.
Science journalists Jamie Hansen and Julia James experiment with “real -time science reporting“.
Science communication in Kenya: is there too little science to communicate?
McGill Office for Science and Society, developed and run by some of the most engaging chemistry professors, hosts a collection of news bulletins and informative content on the value of chemical knowledge in everyday life.
A Toronto statistician has cracked some kinds of Ontario scratch lottery tickets — statistics wins again.
Matthew Nisbet at Age of Engagement discusses embedding climate change education in TV programs. You know, like how every kids show would have an anti-smoking episode? Wow.
NASA’s Kepler observatory has been discovering new planets at a furious rate. Can we stop worrying about the environment yet Curtis?
No, then how about if we terraform Mars?
Bubble chamber at Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory ©Bruce Marlin
In the 1950s and 60s, bubble chambers were cutting-edge scientific apparatuses for physical researchers in North America. One of the first large-scale devices created to observe the interaction of charged particles, bubble chambers were novel and highly-intricate feats of engineering. Their realization required hundreds of different kinds of specialists to apply their knowledge in new, integrated ways. The various specialized bits of knowledge possessed by these specialists, along with their attendant crafts and technologies, all took on new applications and orientations in their common endeavour to construct bubble chambers, a task ultimately aimed at providing an experimental basis for modern particle physics.
Because bubble chambers were constructed by the mutually reinforcing intellectual collaboration of a variety of different specialists, bubble chambers serve as a nice metaphor for what we hope to achieve with this blog. The Bubble Chamber is run by a group of historians and philosophers of science whose interests and specializations vary widely, giving us all an opportunity to learn from each other and integrate our knowledge in new and fruitful ways. Our main hope for the blog, however, is that it will find readers from outside our academic disciplines. The idea is that we, as historians and philosophers of science, can create new applications for our specialized knowledge by bringing it to bear on social, political, and policy issues of general interest in ways that engage with a variety of people, from the general public to business people to working scientists. We hope to find such applications because we believe our society as a whole could do with a better, more nuanced understanding of science and its place in our modern world. To develop such an understanding, we all need to find new, integrated ways of bringing our specialized knowledge and experience together. This blog will be a forum for such intellectual cross-pollination and collaboration, where a wide variety of people can be exposed to the socially relevant work of historians and philosophers of science, and vice versa.