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.
Mark Solovey & Hamilton Cravens (eds.)
Palgrave Macmillan (2012)
Cold War Social Science is an edited volume that serves as an ideal entrée into the history of social sciences in mid-twentieth-century America, as well as an argument for its subject matter as a distinct subfield in the history of social science.
The volume is divided into three themed sections: Knowledge Production, Liberal Democracy, and Human Nature. As David Engerman’s chapter shows, social scientists were heavily influenced by their experiences during the Second World War: “They abandoned disciplinary questions in favor of policy concerns; they rejected longstanding traditions of solitary work in favor of collective research enterprises; and they worked closely with the national security organs that sponsored their work”(25). Engerman’s and other chapters in the first section detail how wartime and Cold War institutions such as the RAND corporation, along with technological changes and the perceived successes of mathematical economics, led social scientists to focus on quantifiable, theory-driven research projects.
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 US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that human genes can’t be patented, but that Myriad Genetics, which previously held patents on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes used in breast cancer diagnoses, can keep its patent on synthesized cDNA. Marie-Claire King, who discovered the BRCA1 gene, is thrilled, but the Supreme Court’s admitted confusion over the molecular biology of the case is worrying to some.
At the end of April Lamar S. Smith, Republican chair of the congressional committee on Science, Space, and Technology, made headlines first by drafting legislation aimed at reforming the National Science Foundation’s merit review process, and then by writing a letter to the Acting Director of the NSF asking for details about the review of six proposals, all from the social sciences.
Based on my review of NSF-funded studies, I have concerns regarding some grants approved by the Foundation and how closely they adhere to NSF’s “intellectual merit” guideline. To better understand how NSF makes decisions to approve and fund grants, it would be helpful to obtain detailed information on specific research projects awarded NSF grants.
Smith’s committee is tasked with holding the NSF accountable to its merit review process, and thus it makes sense to request details about how proposals are judged in order to facilitate proper oversight. What could be wrong with seeking to understand the process better? But this request occurred in the context of congress already gutting the funding for political science research from the NSF and comments from fellow Republican Bill Posey that, “It’s just hard to conceive how those are important to our national security or our national interest.” These are not disinterested politicians doing their due diligence.
Reminiscent of Michael Pollan’s linking of women’s refusal of their previous “moral obligation to cook” and rising consumption of prepackaged/fast food and obesity, a new study by India’s National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation suggests that Indian mothers are to blame for rising obesity rates, based on a lingering “famine mentality” and a turn to prepackaged meals.
In a great example of practitioners’ contributions to scholarly progress, hairdresser Janet Stephens’ published findings on Ancient Roman hair techniques are in thenews. Stephens showed that the complex historical hairstyles could only be created with needles, not hairpins, overturning many classicists’ assumptions. You can find examples of Stephens’ hair archaeology on her YouTube channel.
Hastening the end of the mismatch between New York City’s distributing condoms as a public health policy and seizing condoms as evidence of prostitution, Brooklyn police have been instructed to no longer use the possession of condoms as evidence in prostitution arrests.
Planetary Resources, a space exploration company, is using Kickstarter to crowd-source ARKYD, a publicly-accessible space telescope. After only 2 days, they are over halfway to their million dollar goal.
Eating candy is just fine for your waistline, according to a new Nutrition Journal study; PopSci helpfully points out that the research was sponsored by a candy trade group.
Canada’s National Research Council announced earlier this month that it will “refocus” away from basic research to better serve business interests and industrial applications. Those critical of this move call it short-sighted, pointing to the difficulty in projecting either the profitability or future applications of pure research.
Critics of the new edition of the DSM worry that some of its categories, including PMS and depression, are culture-bound syndromes and are not exclusively biological.
The New York Times Magazine explores research suggesting that women lose sexual interest in their monogamous male parters sooner, as well as the development of new drugs aiming to rekindle women’s sexual desire. Slate points out how this issue has been treated differently than sociobiology’s rationalizing of men’s purported hard-wired promiscuity.
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.