- This week, at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! The life-history evolution behind basketball players' styles.
- And at The Molecular Ecologist: A new way to look for genetic targets of natural selection.
- Endless forms and whatnot. Here's an insect species in which females have stick an organ inside the males. But don't call it a penis.
- The future looks hungry. Famine in the age of global warming.
- "I have a hobby that can kill people." And that hobby is running.
- The first step towards Hulk-based power generation? Why Captain America's shield is basically a capacitor.
- "I found friendships had actually strengthened due to my trust. " On being trans* among academic biologists.
- Frequency-dependent fashion, yes. Selection ... ? It turns out beards are most popular when they're rare.
- Or, as we used to call them, "seeds." A new movement for open-source (or un-copyrighted, anyway) seeds.
18 April 2014
11 April 2014
It was probably about as easy to find photos of bears as it is to find research papers about them. Photo by Barbara.
- This week, at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! Do sloths benefit from carrying around poop-eating moths?
- And, at The Molecular Ecologist: Readers explain their views for and against anonymous peer review.
- Because non-monophylly. Manta rays aren't a thing anymore.
- Wow. Actually, Americans are pretty strongly agreed on climate change.
- But mostly: big garbage is still garbage. An itemized list of problems with big data.
- With a little help from William Hamilton's aunt. A look back on the kin selection controversy.
- And training. Reflections on the biology of marathon running.
- Welcome to Global Change. The North American Plains are being converted to farmland like never before—just as farmers in Minnesota are discovering they need irrigation for the first time.
- Makes sense. The gut microbiome of tropical forest ants shifts with their diet.
- Scientists are people too. And people like bears, apparently.
10 April 2014
Photo by Duke University Libraries.Over at The Molecular Ecologist, we're continuing last week's examination of anonymity in peer review with comments from our readers. A number of folks sent in thoughtful remarks in favor of anonymous peer review:
I’ve actually done an entirely open review [for Faculty of 1000] and I found the whole experience rather jarring; I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t already like the software in question, and I think that could be unethical. Scott’s a nice guy and a good scientist; I’m not certain I would have been viewed very favourably being one of the first people to criticise the work of another in the open, despite the fact I think such a system has a number of benefits.
And likewise, in favor of signed reviews:
I do think reviewers should be disclosed on publication in order to get credit for their job, but also to take responsibility of it. In general, I also think signing makes the process more transparent and helps engage in a constructive conversation.
There are some excellent points made on both sides, and I recommend reading the whole compilation of views for and against anonymity.◼
08 April 2014
Is it easier, being green? Photo by Bas Bloemsaat.This week at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! I'm discussing a new study that purports to demonstrate that three-toed sloths are in a nutritional mutualism with specialized moths, fueled by algae and poop:
Sloths’ coarse, shaggy fur accumulates its own little microcosm of living passengers. (If you move that slowly in a tropical forest canopy, you’re going to get some hop-ons.) Among these are an assortment of algae, and moths in the genus Cryptoses. It’s been known for a long time that Cryptoses moths lay their eggs in sloth dung, and that their larvae eat it.
To find out why it isn't completely crazy to think that these poop-eating moths might be helpful to sloths, go read the whole thing.◼
04 April 2014
Image via.(Update: Cross-posted.)
First snowfall: Romantic comedy. You meet cute when you feel the first flakes against your cheek. The fresh snow cover makes everything look new and crisp and innocent. You take a long evening walk through the park, watching the falling snow dance in the light of the street lamps. You stop to make snow angels. There is a snowball fight, but afterwards everyone is still friendly. Towards the end, adorable children come out to play.
The cold snap: Heist. Going outdoors requires careful planning, and if you don't have the right equipment, things could go pear-shaped in an instant. You have many of your most important conversations over the phone—or via Skype, if you want to look particularly tech-savvy. If you're going to take I-94, you'll need a really good driver.
Vintage theaters: charming. Vintage attitudes about women's roles: unprofitable. Photo by Minette Layne.
- This week, at The Molecular Ecologist: Results from a reader survey on peer review and anonymity.
- And at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! The science-y joys of Twitter.
- Well, barring massive global environmental changes. Hummingbird diversification is still going strong after 22 million years.
- Ow. A graduate student studying bees has run a side project on the worst parts of the body to get stung.
- Preach. "The words 'in my opinion' are not themselves some kind of rhetorical vaccine. They can, instead, be the pathogen."
- Remember that chemical spill in West Virginia? People nearby are still drinking bottled water.
- Role, modeled. Why queer scientists need to come out already.
- Well, the females are, anyway. Trilobite beetles are the freaky critter of the week.
- It adds up. Movies that pass the Bechdel Test for inclusion of women make more money.
- Oops. Two multi-million dollar, decades long studies of longevity don't replicate each other's results.
- Apparently it's the K-Pg boundary now. An up-close look at the the geological remnants of the dinosaurs' destruction.
28 March 2014
- This week, at The Molecular Ecologist An interview with Charles Goodnight, and a poll about peer review.
- And at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! A brood parasite that can actually help its hosts.
- Charming! A new dinosaur species is nicknamed "the chicken from Hell".
- Folks, we're really serious this time. The American Association for the Advancement of Science issues a sharply worded new report on the dangers of climate change.
- Hundreds of millions of dollars. What South Florida communities are spending to stay above water for another fifty years.
- It's kind of a big deal. The original paper that differentiated between consent and informed consent in human-subjects research.
- Neat. Interactive comparisons of human and (simulated) non-human vision.
- Lots of lousy data is still lousy. Why Google's search-based influenza prediction is failing.
- Or, yeah, both. Was Robert Hooke another Leonardo DaVinci or just history's greatest scientific asshole?
- It's not just the parasites' fault. How malaria is defeating our efforts to eliminated it.
- The signal and the hype. The "data-driven" journalism at FiveThirtyEight isn't really all that data-driven.