A half century of the Tangled Bank
I have organized more than three dozen submissions, many of which embraced multiple fields, into the most logical sequence of categories I could come up with, beginning with the most basic of all the sciences and wrapping up with the least.
Don't you hate it when talk-show blowhards abuse statistics? Mark Chu-Carroll of Good Math, Bad Math really does.
What's the fuss about Iran's uranium enrichment dreams? Wheat-dogg offers a primer on the science behind the geopolitical debacle.
A little further afield is the Wilksinson Microwave Ainosotropy Probe, famous for depicting what happens if you let quantum fluctuations do their thing for 13.7 billion years and plot the results in the form of color-enhanced Rorschach blotches. Steinn at Dynamics of Cats has come up with a neat little WMAP for Dummies. And then, EGAD’s Millikan takes us on a tour of the implications of polarization of the cosmic background interference that’s responsible all those neat colors.
Not everyone is content to leave all universal age parameters at 13.7 BYA. Scientia Est Portentia says we can track the age of nuclei. Where would astronomy be without supernovae?
By now we all know that the chemists all envy the attention thrown at the physicists. Matt of Pooflingers Anonymous wants to change all that, beginning with his fond memories of chemistry class.
Why should we have been paying attention in Chem? Because those who did can appreciate Nobel Intent's review of the latest findings on elemental O and the rise of the modern world.
Combine a couple of those oxygen atoms with one carbon, and you've the molecule behind the big buzz of late on the global warming front, as a spate of new papers warns that the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets could melt a lot faster than we once though. William “Stoat” Connelly has a good overview and a critique of misleading media coverage, too.
George Musser of Scientific American is also on the AGW case. He figures there's so much confusion that it’s time the global warming skeptics got their own taxonomy. His initial attempts at canvassing the community break them down into seven meta-categories, but doesn’t stop there by any means.
Naysayers trouble Jennifer Forman Orth of the Invasive Species Weblog, too. But it's the fuss over "botanical xenophobes" that has her annoyed. There's a place for immmigrants, she suggests in a succint little post.
Doubt is also the order of the day when it comes to the ivory-billed woodpecker. Grrl Scientist laments that the debates appears to have "deteriorated into a battle over pixels." Habeus corpus, anyone?
In other things avian, we have this concise reminder of the threats many species face from the fossil fuel industry. Yes, says Mike of 10,000 Birds, wind turbines kill a few birds. But "the status quo isn't doing avifauna any favors."
From the skies to the deep sea, now, where we find confirmation of a 30-year-old idea that whales are very clever songwriters. Well, at least humpback whalesong displays a heirarchical structure. Wandering Visitors summarizes a bunch of recent findings on that note.Genetics
PZ Myers reminds us in a comprehensive Pharyngula post that "complexity is the result of simple, repetitive, iterated processes" and offers some great examples to prove the point.
An evolutionary approach to cancer is all very well, but as Orac notes in the second part of a new series at Respectful Insolence, there needs to be more thought given to the role of genetic diversity in oncology.
If you thought DNA was all about genetics, Nick Anthis has a surprise for you. He explores the latest breakthroughts in DNA nanotechnology at the Scientific Activist.
On more practical concerns, we're over the 2006 flu season but the H5N1 isn't going away, so Effect Measure runs down the latest thinking on the chances of contracting it. The bottom line -- it is too early to conclude that H5N1 is not likely to be easily transmissible from person to person – isn’t reassuring. And according to Sandra Porter’s Discovering Biology blog, now we know why it’s such a nasty little virus.
Emerging diseases, specifically zoonotic diseases, have the attention of Tara Smith, as well. She explains elegantly what these animal-transmitted pathogens are all about in a two-part opus beginning at this Aetiology page.
Mike the Mad Biologist weighs in on a new PNAS paper on using evolutionary methods to understand viral outbreaks, in this case the Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV).
Alzheimers researchers aren’t getting quite as much attention these days as bird flu or cancer, but Charles Daney is doing his best, with a review of the evidence that it’s a genetic disease at Science and Reason.
From the University of British Columbia's newly reminted Terry magazine/blog comes David Ng's take on the cultural divide in the form of "A game of twenty questions between a hungry hiv-infected, expectant Ethiopian mother, and an affluent North American." Not for the faint of political heart.
Not everyone agrees that marijuana is a medicine, but where else would you put this post on the use of genetic markers to separate the hemp from the more interesting variety of Cannabis sativa? This from the Biotech Weblog. Meanwhile, C. Melinda Wenner's drug of choice is caffeine, preferable in the form good old fashioned tea. She sings its praises at She Blinded Me with Science.
Greta and Dave Munger aren’t happy with videotaped confessions. Their two-part analysis on the value of the technique begins at Cognitive Daily here. I, for one, had never thought about the camera-angle angle.
Chris at Mixing Memory is so interested in new cognitive science research suggesting political partisans are't thinking straight that he isn't waiting for the paper to be published. His take: it's a little more complicated than that.
But not as complicated, I suspect, as sorting out the link, if any, between illness and exposure to electricity. Avant News' Ion Zwitter takes a look at the emerging concern, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, over all that electromagnetic radiation.
Then there's the case of postmenopausal women who sometimes have their own problems with cognition, concentration and attention spans. Neurotopia's Evil Monkey runs down the latest research in the conclusion of a three-part series.
And Carl Zimmer wanders a little off the Loom’s usual topics when he looks at the old “we only use 10 % of our brain” line. Turns out it might be true after all.
Evolution and other political minefieldsJanet D. Stemwede's latest Adventures in Ethics and Science take her to the complex world of animal and human testing, where she finds that living up to any given standards isn't all that easy. The ultimate question is can ethically flawed research still be scientifically sound? But just as important is whether scientists ought to use results from ethically flawed experiments.
Roger "Promotheus" Pielke Jr. exposes the emporer's lack of evidentiary clothing for the contention that the state of American science is proximate to the toilet. And rather deftly, too.
Chris Mooney’s Republican War on Science is turning out be a very provocative book. The gang at Crooked Timber certainly think so, having assembled a series of thoughtful essays in response. Well worth the time. As is a surprising new voice, Indian Cowboy, that argues there’s a whole whack of conservatives and some Republicans who want nothing to do with that particular war. Not when it comes to intelligent design.
On that note, and as this is a vanity carnival, here's one of my own musings on the Island of Doubt over the neverending debate of the role (and if there is one) of atheists in the campaign against creationism.
Bora Zivkoviv’s Magic School Bus has produced several good primers on how to teach science. I chose his use of jigsaw puzzles as a metaphor for the scientific method for this edition of TB. The imagery sticks with you.
And finally, Martin Rundkvist’s post at Salto Subrius is like a piece from another puzzle, so it gets its own category, thanks to a good picture and an even better headline on the geological oddity known as a giant’s kettle.Phew. What a riot. It was a most enlightening experience, an honor and a pleasure, and one that left quite the impression on my list of bookmarks.
I now hand over the torch to Discovering biology in a digital world, which is scheduled to play host to TB 51 on April 12.