Building Blogs of Science

[Open] Science Sunday – 18.04.10

Posted in Health and Medicine, Science, Science and Society by kubke on April 18, 2010

Opening content by traditional Toll Access journals

At about the time that I had made the personal commitment to only contribute to Open Access publishing (as service on editorial boards or peer review) I was contacted by Georg Striedter asking me to join the Editorial Board of Brain Behavior and Evolution. After hearing from him his views about the new direction he was planning to take the journal, I could not refuse. Georg Striedter took the Editorial position for the journal starting this year and a big change ensued. The journal now has a new section called Highlights and Perspectives in Neuroscience, and articles in this section have been made free to access. I have been quite impressed with this section, and the quality of the discussions there. As an example, you can go and look at Mark Changizi’s piece “Neuroscientis’s Embarassment: Artificial Intelligence’s Opportunity” and Anat Barnea’s piece “Wild Neurogenesis”. For the latter, I recommend reading first a great summary of the article around which the discussion centres which was posted by NeuroDojo when the article came out. Mark Changizi’s piece is self contained but you might also want to check this awesome discussion around brain size.

Many journals are opening up some of their content for free, and this is a good move. For example, on the 26th of March, Nature Publishing broke the news that the Nature News content free of charge. This is a great section and it is wonderful to have that content available to the general public.

Don’t mess with technology, what about BioTorrents?

On the 10th of April I participated in the Public Acta meeting in Wellington. One of the statements of the Wellington Declaration said that

“[Technological Protection Measures] should not infringe on or limit the rights of users to use or access copyright material in a manner that would be permitted without the TPM”

One of the arguments raised that day, is that technology is sometimes attacked when it is can be used to infringe copyrighted works, but that restricting such technologies may infringe on the ability of accessing material that is otherwise legally available.

This week saw the publication of a paper in PLoS One by Morgan GI Langille and Jonathan A Eisen. BioTorrents: A file sharing service for Scientific Data. As Tim O’Reilly said on his Tweet, this is a great use of the BitTorrent technology. Here is a technology that has valuable applications and should, too be protected as such.

One may ask what prompted me to attend the PublicACTA meeting. The answer is simple: Most scientific information is behind the copyright that as authors we often transfer to the journals where our work is published (for journals outside the Open Access model). Education, Health and Science rely heavily on having good access to this information. Any decision to regulate copyright will inevitably have an impact on Education, Health, Science and Technology. So ACTA cannot be framed around the protection of recording artists and the film industry and not consider its implications for these other areas of public good. The text of ACTA will be made public next week, at which time I hope scientists, educators and health professionals will collaborate in making sure the implications for their fields are taken into account.

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[Open] Science Sunday – 22-11-09

Posted in Health and Medicine, Science, Science and Society by kubke on November 22, 2009

Roaming through the web, I found great stuff this week that shows the value of an ‘Open’ attitude in science.

The Rutherford Medal, New Zealand’s top science prize, was awarded to Professor Peter Hunter from the Bioengineering Institute. Peter Hunter is also one of the minds behind the Physiome Project,

“…a worldwide public domain effort to provide a computational framework for understanding human and other eukaryotic physiology.”

Peter Hunter is the Director of the Bioengineering Institute at the University of Auckland, a great model of what can be done in science in New Zealand when great thinkers are given the opportunity to build upon great ideas. You can read more about Peter Hunter’s award here and here.

A great article “Open Source Science: A revolution from within” written by Vivian Wagner was published in Linux Insider:

“Just as open source software allows programmers to access the code in order to create new and improved versions of software, open source science gives the scientific community open and easy access to fundamental experiments, methods and data in order to facilitate more research. The goal, ultimately, is better science.”

This type of approach to science is becoming a successful alternative and perhaps one that will be more successful in a world where scientific funding is continuously on the decline. (via @plos on twitter)

Ed Yong from Not Exactly Rocket Science has a wonderful post on the energetic problem that comes with having a large brain, and the genetic changes that may be a tell-tale of the evolution of brain size. And if you are at all interested in the evolution of brain size, Mark Changizi has started an incredibly interesting discussion on the topic. Both the post and the comments make for a great read. (I also like that he opened this discussion up and did not restrict it to academic circles.)

A great video from National Geographic shows the “supercrocs” in action:

“Paul Sereno, Paleontologist, University of Chicago: These stubby teeth didnt even touch each other to snare a fish, no, they were hook-like, strong cylinders to grab onto a dinosaurs limb or neck and pull it into the water. We began to understand this animal as a hidden predator of the dinosaurs.”

And related to this a great tweet from @carlzimmer linking to a dinosaur story on 60 minutes.

Ten summer fellowships were awarded to students to take part in the Tamaki Transformation project, and Wednesday marked the celebration of the beginning of what we hope will be a great collaboration between the University of Auckland and the community. I am part of  one of these teams with a project that will be led by Fraser Peat, a Med Student at the University of Auckland, wher we will be looking at issues surrounding science and health related education and literacy in the community. The results of the summer work will be shared with the community in March next year.