Science

Following on from the apparent interest in Big Poppa's thread about a New Scientist story (http://www.lovehoney.co.uk/community/forums/sex-tips-and-talk/360536-new-scientist-this-week-the-science-of/) I thought it'd be nice to have a thread to pop all interesting scientific stories! There are plenty of people who are interested in science and wish they knew more, and plenty of people who study/work in science and have particular interests (since it's a massive topic) so I reckon with enough people contributing with links to things they find interesting, we'll get a pretty broad collection of science stories!!

Plus science rocks!

So....

I'll start with this fascinating story: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028123.800-childhood-leukaemia-linked-to-mosquito-bites.html how childhood leukaemia in Nevado may have something to do with mosquito bites.

I don't know how popular this thread will prove since I know some people really aren't interested in science - but I hope some people find it interesting

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Calling all science writers....

If you're an amateur writer with an interest in science then the deadline closes for the Wellcome Trust, Guardian and Observer competition for an 800 word written piece.

The entries can be traditional newspaper features or writing suitable for the web that utilises the medium in an innovative and appropriate way. Bear in mind, however, that this prize is primarily about the writing and is not meant as a way of recognising expert programming skills or multimedia.

The prize is £1000 and your article to be published in the Guardian or Observer.

And the opportunity to go to a science writing workshop for the 30 shortlisted.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2011/apr/07/wellcome-trust-science-writing-prize

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I've put "deadline closes" and not put when it closes! 20th May - so 4 days to get cracking :)

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Dunca1348 wrote:

I get emails about these sort of things all the time from uni. Never even think of trying them mind you.

Our uni never tells us about these things...I follow lots of sciency people on Twitter though!

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13417956

Tarantulas produce silk from their feet to keep a firm grip on slippery surfaces!

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This one's from the future (01.10.11) -- unless you're American.

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/fermi-thunderstorms.html

NASA's Fermi Catches Thunderstorms Hurling Antimatter into Space

Scientists using NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected beams of antimatter produced above thunderstorms on Earth, a phenomenon never seen before.

I never expected antimatter to turn up in a significant way outside the realm of Star Trek.

Cuddly Hubby wrote:

I never expected antimatter to turn up in a significant way outside the realm of Star Trek.

CH, antimatter's fascinating stuff, and probably linked to the very earliest moments of the universe. Still, that's a bit close for comfort...

Scientists send Water Bears in to space to see how cells respond in extreme circumstances and see if these hardy creatures really can survive anywhere!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/12855775

Stem cells, ready for human use as a therapy? Israel think they might be:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/17/us-brainstorm-trial-idUSTRE74G32020110517?feedType=RSS&feedName=scienceNews&WT.tsrc=Social%20Media&WT.z_smid=twtr-reuters_science&WT.z_smid_dest=Twitter&dlvrit=59169

Design graduate?

Want to work at http://twitter.com/newscientist? We are looking for a talented art intern http://bit.ly/lITnvj

Cool thread, I read some really interesting articles in Physics World in the last few months. One I came across which was fascinating was the establishment of fundamental measurements, i.e definition of the metre, speed of light, weights etc.

The article discussed ways in which we are now trying to diverge from reference standards, utilizing empirical standards formed from natural phenomena. Metre length is defined by speed of light and not a traditional physical reference standard stick which denotes its length.

The main issue dealt with in the article is the redefinition of many SI units, and most notably the kilogram. The kilograms reference has been calculated to be loosing mass in correspondence to the replicas held, so a search for a non variable measurement has been inisisted upon to accurately determine a kilogram.

I couldn't find the original article online (only in the subscription of Physics World unfortunately ), but I did find this article discussing the situation.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080228120943.htm

I read about this too. I had no idea there was an institute in Canada who's sole job it is to constantly refine and make all measures and weights . There are big fisty cuffs over how long a year is at the moment!

Alicia D'amore wrote:

Stem cells, ready for human use as a therapy? Israel think they might be:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/17/us-brainstorm-trial-idUSTRE74G32020110517?feedType=RSS&feedName=scienceNews&WT.tsrc=Social%20Media&WT.z_smid=twtr-reuters_science&WT.z_smid_dest=Twitter&dlvrit=59169

However, studies in mice show "self" derived stem cells may still be rejected during transplantation:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20476-stem-cell-setback-as-mice-reject-own-tissue.html

http://blogs.wsj.com/ideas-market/2011/04/11/twin-lessons-have-more-kids-pay-less-attention-to-them/

I was so annoyed watching BBC breakfast this morning. A researcher from the US had stayed up into the night to talk about his research into twins which by following those who were genetically the same found parenting had little to no effect on how the twins turned out. Sounded like proper research the way he described it obviously dumbing down a bit for TV.

So how does the BBC stimulate debate around this matter? By having some utterly random woman who has no expertise in this matter sit there and spout off about how this is 'poppycock' ( no kidding ) from her wealth of err ... her own experience.

Oh thats right! Silly me I forgot that your one isolated case is of course is more valid evidence than a properly designed scientific study followed for many years.

I am paraphrasing this but I'm not kidding that she basically at one point said " Well its alright for you, you're a professor. You know loads of people and have lots of money so you're kids will be fine ".

I just wanted to pat him on the back and tell him to forget about it as this woman sadly may well represent the majority of people when presented with evidence that our beliefs are nothing more and are not backed up by study.

Grrr

BigPoppa wrote:

So how does the BBC stimulate debate around this matter? By having some utterly random woman who has no expertise in this matter sit there and spout off about how this is 'poppycock' ( no kidding ) from her wealth of err ... her own experience.

Ah... yes! I've seen this before from the BBC. Presumably it's a ham-fisted attempt to be seen to achieve editorial balance. Can't find an informed expert with an opposing view? No problem -- just put up someone who can rant a bit, and let the audience judge what seems to stick.

One of my biggest rants, though, is newpapers that don't give links to or information of those scientific papers that have influenced their articles.

That article you linked so far, is just a bloke insisting to me that he's read proper papers and has proper evidence but who says he's evidence is the same as my evidence? Mr. Wakefield convinced people he had evidence of MMR being linked to autism.

It's important to give people the information of the evidence so that they can make up their own minds. It's also important to take research in context - there may be evidence from one paper saying nature and nurture don't exist - but 50 more saying the opposite - we should all be sceptical of all research, this regulation is crucial.

For anyone who wants to know about this I can't recommend Ben Goldacre's Bad Science enough - a fantastic way for anyone to look at science news and research critically!

I do agree that the BBC (and other news sources) has major issues with giving non-experts just as much sway as experts though and I believe this is also covered in Goldacre's book.

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She may have well just sat there and said ' Oh shut up you swot! ' for all the value her comments had.

poor guy waiting up until late in the night. the level of distrust and scepitism around science is staggering in the UK.

' I can't understand it so it must all be rubbish '

If only we could smack them round the head with every item in their house that owes its creation to science

Now back to informing each other more stupid scientists stuff. Durrrr

I agree totally Alicia. I wish I knew the guys name. A quick google search only gave me the above header which I know is hardly a peer reviewed journal article. I do have respect for the scientific method and quality of information. I also agree we should see both sets of evidence. Not, however, some random punter posing as the voice of normal people.

Your right though, why can't they quote the original source? I suspect because they never read it themselves either.

I have Bad Science as an audiobook to listen to soon. Was prompted to read from Derren Browns recommended reading list which is a fine collection in my humble opinion. Trying to brave 'The God Delusion" again soon. It all got a bit heavy going for me so I buckled and read some fiction for a while ( sorry gang )

Don't know if it's strictly "science" but

read an interesting piece on the BBC website this morning about the housing of the smallpox virus and if the current storage of it should continue, and how studies of it have been developing.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-13360794

BigPoppa wrote:

I agree totally Alicia. I wish I knew the guys name. A quick google search only gave me the above header which I know is hardly a peer reviewed journal article. I do have respect for the scientific method and quality of information. I also agree we should see both sets of evidence. Not, however, some random punter posing as the voice of normal people.

Your right though, why can't they quote the original source? I suspect because they never read it themselves either.

I have Bad Science as an audiobook to listen to soon. Was prompted to read from Derren Browns recommended reading list which is a fine collection in my humble opinion. Trying to brave 'The God Delusion" again soon. It all got a bit heavy going for me so I buckled and read some fiction for a while ( sorry gang )

It is an utterly fantastic read - Goldacre has a knack of stating things that afterwards seem so common sensical without chastising you for not having realised it before! He gives some wonderful examples of when bad science has a huge impact and writes with a style that makes reading enjoyable. Plus he informs you of things you would never have thought of or didn't realise happened especially some of the goings on in journalism!

If you're super interested in this sort of thing - digging into the Skeptical (with a K) community is a great place to get great stories from a whole host of different sources. Tim Minchin and Dara O'B (I'm not going to try to spell his name) are fabulous, brainy skeptics and there are loads of bloggers who are in on the act not to mention Dr. Ben Goldacre and Simon Singh. Good podcasts to start with include "Skeptics with a K", "The Pod Delusion" and "The Skeptics Guide to the Universe".

Oh and I really recommend the audio version of the God Delusion - it's much easier to grasp the concepts without it feeling like hard work

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