Cool science on the web made availabe by people who like to share….
About the language of open access
I am a big supporter of open access. But as I ponder on its virtues, I also ponder about its reach. As we move towards making our work available to the public through open access publishing, I wonder whether the language in which we write our work will continue to represent a barrier for true public reach. It is a difficult one, most of the jargon we use is required to express ourselves with precision and without ambiguity.
Then this week I came across this PLoS One article by David M. Lambert, Lara D. Shepherd, Leon Huynen, Gabrielle Beans-Picón, Gimme H. Walter, and Craig D. Millar that I think has bridged this gap. The article describes some genetic studies they did on museum specimens of the extinct huia, and although I would normally give a short summary of the article, this one is worth a read by scientists and non-scientists alike.
Great finds on the web:
- Ed Yong from ‘Not exactly Rocket Science’ has a great blog on an article that looked at vision in hammerhead sharks
- Brandon Keim has a great article on Wired Science on “paleoart’, the creation of 3D representations that bring our ancestors to life
- Dr Zen from ‘NeuroDojo’ has a great blog on hummingbirds, their song and their tail sound (and how it all evolved)
- And if you aren’t yet convinced about the beauty of science, check out these beautiful pictures of fluid dynamics from New Scientist.
Become a citizen scientist
As a biologist I often get asked a lot of questions about biology, most of them of the form
“I heard that <insert favourite rumour here>. Is that true?”
Most of the time, I don’t have the answer, and more often than not, the answer is not there. These are the ‘rumours’ of science that prompted Matt Halstead, John Montgomery and I to actually try to seek the answer. For that reason, we opened a webpage at popscinz.wordpress.com where the data can be posted and, hopefully, rumours be put to rest (one way or another).
We launched the website with a very simple rumour about Tuis, and we are hoping that New Zealanders of all ages (but especially the younger ones) will tell us when and where they spot these fantastic birds.
In the future, we hope that schools will take advantage of the site to gather data for science projects, or communities will gather data that they need to put forward to their local councils, and so forth. It is, in itself an experiment, one that we think could be a lot of fun. So visit the site, and if you spot a tui please let us know here!
And my favourite tweet has to be this by @MsBehaviour, the first data point in the Tui project. Thanks Helen!
Random samples of my reading list brought to you through the magic of the internet, bloggers and Open Access.
The Society for Neuroscience just held its annual meeting in Chicago, and this year they encouraged the use of social media to disseminate the results presented. Many registered as official neurobloggers and the list can be found here. I, for one, am grateful to all of those who have allowed me to take a peek into the meeting, which I was unable to attend.
A new article in PLoS Biology looks at what it is that determines whether a bee will differentiate into a male or a female. The article by Gempe, Hasselmann, Schiøtt, Hause, Otte and Beye shows how sex in bees is determined by the regulation of two genes (csd and fem). Based on their data, the authors suggest that males are the default developmental programme, and that the female phenotype is expressed when bees are heterozygous to csd, which in turn results in the expression of the female form of fem that leads to a developmental path towards femaleness. There is a very nice comment on the original article by Mary Hoff.
There is a great post by Eric M Johnson on his blog the Primate Diaries on “Science and the Worship of Truth”. Here is a guy that is constantly making me think and reframe my position around issues. And he does it again on this post. It is worth a read, as is the post he links to by Henry Gee on the same topic.
And my favourite tweet this week is this one from @CameronNeylon. It links to a video of a session on making science public (featuring Felix Reed-Tsochas, Maxine Clarke, Ben Goldacre and Cameron Neylon). I tried to follow this session through twitter, and I was elated to see the video put online.
This week’s science reading list brought to you through the magic of the internet, bloggers and Open Access.
There’s been a lot going on this week, starting with the Nobel Prizes, and of course, NASA’s quest for a watering hole. That of course, does not mean that other interesting things did not pop up on my reading list.