Noted in Passing 2nd February 2013

A weekly post on things that were interesting or which I would have liked to have blogged about …….

Science and Behaviour


Exercitationes de Vena Medinensis et de Vermiculis capillaribus infantium by G. H. Velschius (1674)

It seems that human infestation by guinea worms is sharply down pointing to the success of the program to eradicate them. Carl Zimmer writes an obituary for this creature which will not be missed (by humans) if it becomes extinct. But why is it that the intentional eradication of species inimical to man is perfectly OK, but the demise of other species which have failed to adapt and can no longer compete is considered a catastrophic loss of bio-diversity? In genetic survival terms the guinea worm or the mosquito might well be more important than tigers or panda bears.

There are those who would swear that the science of climate is well understood and settled. But it seems we know very little about clouds indeed and that bacteria which survive in the upper atmosphere could be one source for the nucleation of clouds.  In the same vein, it seems that irrigation in one area can cause storms elsewhere. A new study shows that agricultural irrigation in California’s Central Valley doubles the amount of water vapor pumped into the atmosphere, ratcheting up rainfall and powerful monsoons across the interior Southwest.

The British Museum and the Smithsonian teamed up to prove that their two crystal skulls, purportedly made by Aztecs in Mexico prior to Columbus’ arrival. are actually fakes. 

Kim Ryholt shows that in the ancient Egyptian city Tebtunis, 2,200 years ago, people voluntarily entered into slave contracts with the local temple for all eternity and they even paid a monthly fee for the privilege.

New findings suggest that free-ranging cats are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for US birds and mammals.

Dienekes suggests that even with a generations long selective breeding program to select for Neanderthal genes, achieving a 100% Neandertal might be impossible.

Engineering and Technology

NASA will use the International Space Station that to test expandable space habitat technologyand will test a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), which is scheduled to arrive at the space station in 2015 for a two-year technology demonstration.

As they become easier to acquire and use, one of the obvious benefits of 3D printers is their ability to distribute the tools of production and manufacturing to the masses. But what they’re used to produce can create legal, regulatory, and even ethical concerns.

The PowerBuoy is a “smart” ocean-going buoy that uses piston-like motion in the float relative to its stationary spar to mechanically convert energy into electricity as it rides the waves.

Bad Science

The status of Harvard College’s investigation of student cheating has been distributed to faculty, staff and students by Arts and Science Faculty Dean Michael D. Smith.

Academics at the Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence are at war with an anthropologist at University of California at Berkeley and alleging that he stole ideas. Needless to say the UC Berkeley investigation report exonerates their own.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency, may face further scrutiny into accusations of bullying and harassment of scientists and other employees.

Funding agencies may be paying out duplicate grants, according to an analysis by Harold R. Garner, Lauren J. McIver and Michael B. Waitzkin.

Forbes dumps on the unfortunate Lisa Jackson.

With the rapid growth of misconduct cases, scientific rehabilitation may have to become a necessary tool for research-integrity offices.

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One Response to “Noted in Passing 2nd February 2013”

  1. Fighting against species extinction is to deny evolution | The k2p blog Says:

    […] safari parks I have never seen any of them. I don’t have the same reaction when I read that guinea worms or disease-carrying species of mosquitoes are being eradicated. “Good riddance” is then […]

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