23andme, the provider of a saliva-based DNA test kit for individuals, has been ordered by the FDA in an open letterto cease all sales after the latter ruled the corporation had begun marketing the kit as a medical device.
Biologists have discovered a new organ in the throats of koalas responsible for their deep mating calls.
Cracked offers a list of the history of science’s 5 most epic acts of trolling, including Feynman’s Manhattan Project shenanigans (contains strong language).
American gynecologists are forbidden from treating male patients (yes, they have male patients, receiving treatment for STIs and anal cancer). UPDATE: The ABOG released a statement today overturning the prior proscription.
Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón’s space thriller, has attracted the attention of science writers and space buffs alike, sparking a conversation about attention to detail vs. plot-required inaccuracies. Neil deGrasse Tyson took to twitter to point out errors in the film’s physics (as well as its title; he suggests “Angular Momentum” as a replacement).
“You know the movie Wall-E? We are headed that way, and unless we do something I see very little evidence that things are going to change very much.” Evolutionary biologist Daniel Lieberman discusses his new book, the problem of obesity, and why dieting is just so hard.
PopSci asks whether animals orgasm, how we’d know if they did, and why the topic is increasingly difficult to study.
The New York Times decried the plight of Canada’s muzzled scientists in an editorial claiming that “the government is doing all it can to monitor and restrict the flow of scientific information [...] This is more than an attack on academic freedom. It is an attempt to guarantee public ignorance.”
Popular Science is removing the comments section for its online articles. Online editor Suzanne LaBarre explains: “A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.”
You do too have free will. Thanks to Slate’s Roy F. Baumeister for clearing that up.
Michelle Murphy traces the economic, neoliberal, and feminist roots of campaigns aiming to support “The Girl.”
The Dallas Zoo is transferring Patrick, a gorilla whose ambivalence and aggression towards females has earned him the labels “anti-social” and “sexist,” to a South Carolina zoo. He’s being replaced with two gorillas from the Calgary Zoo, including Zola the breakdancer.
After our hit-or-miss summer update schedule, we’re proud to bring you the first weekly roundup of the new school year.
A photo of a frog leaping away from NASA’s Minotaur V rocket launch of LADEE earlier this month has gone viral. According to the Guardian’s Jason Goldman, this is just the latest addition to a lengthy history of frogs in space; Nancy Atkinson at Universe Today describes other notable animal encounters with NASA launches, including birds, bats, and cows.
Yesterday, scientists across Canada protested the government’s muzzling of results and cuts to research funding in “Stand Up For Science” rallies. #standup4science took the twitterverse by storm yesterday (although the hashtag also refers to the ongoing Texas Creationism textbook issue). Evidence for Democracy has a sample of tweets, including a regional breakdown.
Should you keep eggs in the refrigerator? A new study sponsored by the Daily Mail says it makes no short-term difference.
The overuse of antibiotics leads to “superbugs” which sicken millions and cause the deaths of 23 thousand Americans every year, according to a new CDC report.
Economist Emily Oster’s book Expecting Better, which presents the data behind conventional pregnancy recommendations and prohibitions, faced a barrage of criticism and negative online reviews, in part from fetal alcohol syndrome advocates, for her inclusion of research suggesting that consuming small amounts of alcohol (up to one drink a day after the first trimester) has not been shown to be harmful during pregnancy.
Is Coke’s business success over Pepsi the result of good marketing, or do we prefer more sweetness in samples than in full-sized soft drinks? Slate’s Matthew Yglesias dives into the science behind the Pepsi challenge.
Don’t pour your grease down the drain: London sewer workers discovered a 15-ton “fatberg” in Kingston upon Thames.
The new edition of the Accelerated Christian Education, Inc. textbook Biology 1099 has removed the now-famous passage citing the Loch Ness Monster as evidence that dinosaurs are alive today. Last year controversy erupted over a taxpayer-supported Westlake, Louisiana private school’s use of the Creationist textbook. A reference to a dinosaur caught by Japanese whalers appears to not have been removed.
Caitlin Shetterly’s recent first-person account of the allergen dangers of GM corn for Elle magazine is misleading and misrepresents the scientists and doctors quoted therein, according to Slate’s Jon Entine.
It’s been a busy week for baby journalism: Pregnancies can naturally vary in length by as many as five weeks, according to a recent article in Human Reproduction. To some, these findings complicate the standard procedure of inducing overdue babies, although the study’s authors do not make any clinical recommendations. Time magazine’s recent cover story on The Childfree Life has prompted much commentary and criticism. And controversial evolutionary psychologist (& fired Psychology Today blogger) Satoshi Kanazawa is at it again, admonishing intelligent women for failing to follow their biological imperative to have children in a new book.
Partly because of the way the Chinese government provides its citizens with free heating, researchers have been able to determine that coal-fired power plants have led to an average decrease in life expectancy of 5.5 years for those living in affected areas.
Frequentist philosopher of science Deborah Mayo relays some questions about why particle physicists continue to use frequentist analysis when it is, according to Dennis Lindley, obviously bad science? Mayo links to many of her past discussions of this issue.
An unmanned Russian rocket, launched from a pad in former Soviet republic Kazakhstan, crashed soon after launch this week. The launch area was quickly evacuated, as were surrounding towns. This is because fumes from the rocket’s fuel are extremely poisonous. I’m sure Kazakhs are absolutely thrilled that a foreign government is launching poisonous rockets near their homes.
Scientists have demonstrated a way to date recent skeletal remains by measuring the concentration of Carbon-14, which was produced by atomic bomb tests.
Bastion of quality journalism Fox News recently hosted Eben Alexander as an expert on Heaven. The Heaven you go to when you die, or apparently when you’re in a coma, which he was at some point. He’s also a neurosurgeon, and as we know if you have “neuro” in your job title you can be an expert on anything. Paul Raeburn has a fascinating post about Alexander’s book, “Proof of Heaven” at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker.
Jezebel summarizes recent research purporting to reveal the secrets of attractiveness to the opposite sex. This is bad news for clean-shaven men in dark t-shirts in the winter and non-brunette women on Wednesday afternoons.
According to a recent study, people have the most difficulty falling asleep on Sunday nights. No wonder everyone, including Garfield, hates Mondays.
Researchers have sequenced the oldest genome to date (560-780 thousand years old) using an ancient horse fossil discovered in the Yukon, with ramifications for our understanding of horse evolution. The results were published this week in Nature.
Vaguely reminiscent of the plot from 90′s blockbuster Mercury Rising, the Australian Air Force released its recruitment phone number for engineers as the solution to a complex equation. Unfortunately, two typos meant the original problem was unsolvable; it has since been corrected.
Disaster experts estimate that the battle between Superman and General Zod in the film Man of Steel caused 129 thousand deaths, 1 million injuries, and 2 trillion dollars of damage to the city of Metropolis.
The Bubble Chamber is a blog written by historians and philosophers of science for discussing contemporary issues of science and society through the lens of historical context and critical analysis.
Founded by the University of Toronto's Science Policy Working Group, The Bubble Chamber is a forum for those interested in a critical assessment of science in society and the development, regulation, and trajectory of science.