19 February 2010

Science online, Neo-Fisherian whale snot edition

Chad Orzel, over at Uncertain Principles, is giving up blogs (reading, not writing, anyway) for Lent. He has a good point w/r/t the echoic effects of political blogs and political-ish posting on science blogs* – it's tempting to follow suit, if only for the blood-pressure benefits. Fortunately, there's also plenty of online writing about new knowledge, and that's what I aggregate on Fridays:

Gesundheit. Photo by erikogan.
  • Collecting whale snot: It is, improbably, even more complicated than it sounds. (The Thoughtful Animal)
  • We have seen the population bomb, and it is us: The solution to unsustainable birthrates in developing countries is to develop them, right? Maybe not: while birthrates decline as development improves, highly developed countries often see their birthrates increase. (Tomorrow's Table)
  • Yes, there's a blog dedicated to spirochetes now: The bacterium that causes Lyme disease takes days to move from the gut of a newly-infected tick to the salivary glands, apparently because it stops moving when it hits the gut. (Spirochetes Unwound)
  • So far, no saber-toothed dentures found: Analysis of a large sample of broken fossil teeth of Smilodon fatalis suggest that saber-toothed cats frequently resorted to chewing on bones. (Laelaps)
  • Who doesn't already do this? Seriously: Scientists should report p-values, rather than just calling results "significant." (i'm a chordata! urochordata!)
  • Well, that's unexpected: Bacteria growing in the fungus gardens cultivated by leafcutter ants are capable of nitrogen fixation. (Laura's Animals/Wildlife Blog)
  • Your (great-to-the-nth-grand) mother was a crab: A new reconstruction of the arthropod evolutionary tree, employing 62 nuclear genes, suggests that the common ancestor of insects was a crustacean. (Palaeoblog)
  • Malaria and degenerative bone disease: Extensive analysis of Tutankhamen's mummy (and others) suggests that it was not, in fact, all that good to be the Pharaoh. (NPR, NY Times)
  • Here be dragons: Teeny-tiny, adorable dragons. (SciencePunk)
  • OK, this is a little bit political: The Obama stimulus package was pretty good for NSF-funded researchers. (dechronization
*Why, yes, I'm currently re-reading David Foster Wallace's Consider the Lobster. Why do you ask?

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