Scientia Pro Publica 10, The Science, Nature and Medicine Blog Carnival

Aug 19 2009 Published by under Blog Carnivals I've Hosted

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Image: wemidji (Jacques Marcoux).

Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est (And thus knowledge itself is power)
-- Sir Francis Bacon.

The summer has caused the carnival contributions to be reduced to a minimal number, but as always, all of the contributions are valuable and interesting reading. I am sure that the number of submissions will increase as soon as school begins soon.


Astrophysics
This thoughtful analysis describes cloud & atmosphere data collected from the public domain by Mike Malaska, a keen amateur based in the USA, using Google Mars, ESA's Mars Webcam and NASA/JPL. A super good example of science in the public domain!
Mathematics
To teach mathematics, mundane applications like measuring farmland, adding up prices, etc., are used. No wonder people think math is boring, writes Glowing Face Man. But this essay describes three applications of higher math, applications that are a little more amazing and surprising than usual: making CDs scratch-resistant; calculating search-engine results; and modern encryption.
Geology and Climate Change
Seattle and the Pacific Northwest are frying under a heat wave this summer. In New York, it's so cool that the New York Times has called it "the summer that isn't." And Texas is suffering under the most severe drought since the 1950s. What does this all mean for climate change? Absolutely nothing. In short, this article published on the Smithsonian blog, Surprising Science, explores and describes the difference between weather and climate.
Biology and Evolution
This essay, "Stages of Design", is described by Lab Rat as a colorful look at the stages he went through to design a gene for synthesis. Hrm. This looks like intelligent design to me, what do you think?
Knuckle-walking is a pretty special mode of locomotion. Amongst primates, only the African apes do it habitually, and anteaters are the only other mammal who does it. It would seem, then, that the most parsimonious explanation for such a specialized form of locomotion would be that the African apes all share a common ancestor who was also a knuckle-walker. An addendum to this explanation would be that humans, since they fall within that nested African-ape clade, also share an ancestor who was a knuckle-walker. The thing about parsimony, though, is that when a "parsimonious" explanation is met with conflicting evidence, it is no longer parsimonious!
This essay examines a research paper that describes a new integrative theory for cortical pyramidal neurons with revolutionary implications. The author first explains the implications and then the workings of the specific mechanisms involved -- Calcium and NMDA spikes -- at a level that is hopefully accessible to the informed layman. Be sure to leave your feedback on this piece in the comments section for the author.
In this essay, a translation of a research paper discussing evolution across fitness landscapes, Darwin's worries about evolution of asexual populations were unfounded. Yes, it's comfortable to imagine that evolution proceeds by ever so many slightly beneficial steps, but the fact that it doesn't always do that does not mean that Darwin's theory breaks down. At least not the way the Theory of Evolution is understood in this century.
Chemistry & Biochemistry
This is the second part in a series of really interesting essays that describe state-of-the-art DNA sequencing technology. In this essay, the author, who writes the blog Genetic Interference, looks at the Second Generation Sequencing machines that are currently sequencing thousands of genomes-worth of DNA per year throughout the world. Of course, it includes lots of colorful pictures and some useful references to help provide a clear explanation to the reader.
Human and Veterinary Medicine
A new study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine finds that, on average, physicians fail to report clinically significant abnormal test results to patients -- or fail to document that they had informed them -- in one out of every fourteen cases. In some practices, the failure-to-inform rate is as high as an astonishing one in five abnormal results, writes the blog author, Walter Jessen. The take-home message? Follow up with your physician to find out about test results, even if it means calling yourself. Never assume 'no news is good news'.
Scientist and Society
This is an interesting essay by Richard Rifkind, M.D., Chairman Emeritus of the Sloan-Kettering Institute and founding Chairman of the New York Structural Biology Center, and his adventures involved with the making of a video to make biomedical research more transparent to the public. Includes videos.

This ends the tenth issue of Scientia Pro Publica. The next edition will be hosted on the first Monday in September (7 September) by Andrew, author of Southern Fried Science. To send submissions to the next issue of Scientia Pro Publica, either use this automated submission form or send it directly to ScientiaBlogCarnival at gmail. Be sure to include the URL or "permalink", the essay title and please, please, please include a brief summary of what you've written.
There are several of you who are interested to host this carnival, but I need more, more, MORE! I have only one more host after Andrew, so I need more people to volunteer, or you'll all be stuck with me as your host starting in October, and I am sure that none of you want that!
I also welcome your creative efforts for Scientia Pro Publica: logos and artwork for advertising and publicity purposes, and even a 500-pixel wide Scientia Pro Publica banner and other images (perhaps one for each category?) that hosts might wish to use to promote and decorate their editions.

4 responses so far

  • Grrl, congratulations on getting married!
    Here's my wedding present to you: I'll host the next edition whenever you like. Just let me know what date you prefer.

  • AK says:

    A great bunch of posts. Thank you for including mine.
    And sorry for getting back to you so late. I just discovered today that you'd published. (I kept looking at Quiche Moraine, and not seeing it.)

  • Bjørn: anytime after the 21st is fair game. will email you about this.
    AK: i was lame and didn't advertize after i finished putting this together, so no need to apologize.

  • Scott Long says:

    I'd like to host an upcoming carnival edition, if another host is wanted. I think any date would be fine with me, whatever is needed by the carnival. What's the recommended time commitment, a half day, or a day maybe?