Monday, February 1, 2010

Scientia Pro Publica Blog Carnival #20

Welcome to the Scientia Pro Publica (Science for the People) blog carnival #20! This carnival celebrates the best science, nature and medical writing published in the blogosphere within the past 60 days.

I am just pleased as punch to be hosting this edition at Kind Of Curious. This is the very first carnival I have hosted. I was really excited by the high turnout of 33 submissions. The publicity that Grrl Scientist has been doing for the carnival has certainly paid off. I enjoyed reading all of the posts, and as a new blogger, I learned a lot from the experience. I hope you enjoy the carnival, and don't get any cotton candy on your good shirt!

Space Science Posts

I am starting off with space science because this category contains "the post I love the most". I am not alone here. One of the commenters on this post opined, "an early contender for 'best post of 2010' methinks". Another commenter seconded that motion. Stephen Curry of Reciprocal Space has discovered Jupiter. In the process, he has re-discovered his inner child.

Alyssa Gilbert summarizes a discussion that took place with the readers of her blog Way Oort West, on the topic of the pros and cons of manned space missions. Whenever I think about this subject my opinion bounces back and forth, and this time was no exception.

Ecology/Conservation Posts

Eric Johnson at The Primate Diaries discusses how land use policies in Haiti have been unsuccessful in halting deforestation and soil erosion, and offers some alternatives.

Neil Kelley at Microecos provides a fascinating comparison between the Swahili concept of zamani and sasha (dead vs living dead) and the conservation biologist’s concept of extinct vs. functionally extinct.

The "fry-entists" at Southern Fried Science have been busy. First, David pans an Australian plan to tag great white sharks with satellite transmitters, so the sharks can send text messages to lifeguards as they approach their beach. Then, David picks a fight with fellow fry-entist Andrew about whether scientists should be advocates for conservation. David says yes, and Andrew argues no. Fry-entist Amy did not submit her views to Scientia, but I invoked editorial privilege and decided to include them anyway. Amy provides a more nuanced answer, saying that "the answer depends on many factors".

Lab Rat suggests we head over to Thomas’ Plant-Related Blog, where Thomas Kluyver explains some recent research which disputes the common notion that the ancient Mayans caused their own extinction through deforestation.

Jeremy at The Voltage Gate reminds us that the Taco Bell spokesman is not the only dog from Chihuahua that provides a vital service. Human agriculture has disturbed a major architect of the grasslands of Chihuahua - the black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus).

John at Kind Of Curious (yours truly) submits a blog about the work being done at The Wetlands Institute in southern New Jersey to prevent terrapins from becoming road pizza.

Evolution Posts

Dr. Jim at Mental Indigestion also has an intriguing question for us - since "the number of bacterial cells on your body out number your own cells 10 to one, … to what degree [do] you consider yourself to be human?" Learn more in his post Your Microbiome and You (Part I): Gut.

Henry Gee at iEditor explains three recent papers in Nature. These summaries are from what I would call a "reputable source" - Henry is the Senior Editor at Nature who shepherded these papers into the journal. The first paper is about footprints left by ancient tetrapods (four-legged land vertebrates). As Henry explains, "a fairly complete picture of tetrapod evolution, built up over the past twenty years, has been replaced by a blank canvas overnight".

The other two papers summarized by Henry were widely reported in the mainstream news media. One explains how humans are better-suited for running barefoot (notwithstanding the broken glass and bottle caps they are running through), and the other describes a method for discovering the color of dinosaur feathers through fossilized color-bearing organelles.

Grrl Scientist asks, "what do migratory monarch butterflies and jet-lag in humans have in common?" We share a photoreceptor with monarch butterflies that they use to read the earth's magnetic field while they migrate, and to help maintain their circadian clock function. Read more about this research and its applications in improving human health at Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted).

Climate Science Posts

Kelsey at Mauka to Makai describes a dystopian future in which Nemo's dad Marlin, from the Disney film Finding Nemo, would never have been able to survive his epic search for his son. Nemo's future may be filled with predators made more aggressive by global warming, aided by Nemo's decreasing ability to avoid the predators due to changes in his own body induced by ocean acidification.

Denis DuBay at This View of Earth explains research on ancient foraminifera shells, whose composition can indicate the concentration of carbon dioxide when they formed. These shells have enabled scientists at UCLA to extend the correlation between carbon dioxide and global temperature back to 20 million years, farther than ever before.

Plant Science Posts

Chris Clarke at Coyote Crossing explains why Joshua trees are shaped the way they are. The descriptive imagery combined with the supporting science explains why Coyote Crossing often leads the Blog Toplist at Nature Blog Network.

Eric Aldrich writes the blog Making Owls Cool (Since 1986). He has now succeeded in making cacti cool, by interviewing cactus expert Peter Breslin. One of the things you will learn is that not all cacti live in deserts - some spend 10 months of the year under snow, and some live in rainforests!

DNLee at Urban Science Adventures brings us on an adventure to find beauty at an abandoned factory site. This commenter on the post says it best … "Love how nature butts up against our industrial encroachment and prevails in the end".

Neuroscience/psychology posts

Since my wife is an aide in an autistic classroom, I am attuned to news about developmental disorders. I found Livia Blackburne’s post at Reading and Word Recognition Research to be very hopeful. She explains recent research indicating that color and object naming speed in pre-readers helps predict their future risk for dyslexia. Livia has another, eponymous blog, where she has written a very interesting summary of three ways neuroscientists learn about the brain.

Grrl Scientist advises a visit to the Neuronarrative blog of David DiSalvo. Here, David explains a recent study suggesting that common methods of motivating people to succeed may backfire if the method is not matched to the subject’s personality. What motivates one personality type may discourage another.

Ifat Glassman writes a blog with the intriguing name Psychology of Selfishness. She explains that envy, which is rooted in self-doubt, is a result of an irrational standard of judging one's worth. The article discusses this subject and how such a mistaken standard is formed.

Medical Posts

Andrew Bernardin provides a thought-provoking piece at The Evolving Mind, reminding us that despite what we may hear during the health care debates, Big Pharma is not always Bad Pharma.

Eva Amsen at Expression Patterns gives us a short but inspiring post about medical writing on the internet, which educated a young mother to seek out an H1N1 vaccination for her child.

Cath Ennis at "rENNISance woman" provides a post about the joys of being behind the scenes in a department doing some really cool work on cancer genomics.

Mary Jones recommends we head over to the Forensic Scientist Blog and learn about 8 Body Parts Forensic Scientists Use to ID a Body. You better not read this right after lunch.

Baily Hayden directs us to the blog of the Medical Career Database, to check out their 50 Free .Gov Resources for Health, Fitness and Medicine. As the post points out, "getting up off that couch never hurts" ... they have obviously never met my bum knee!

Miscellaneous Posts

Henry Gee at iEditor provokes two heated discussions. The first has generated 144 comments so far by asking whether ground rules regarding language in science forums are inherently discriminatory (e.g. you must write in English, you must be civil, etc.). The second one is bringing in the comments almost as quickly. The title alone tells you there will be controversy - Science, Faith, Scepticism, Belief and The Great Unknown.

Julie at Mama Joules provides an inspiring post on the importance of getting everyday citizens involved with science. As she entreats, "please come back to the table of science. We need you here. All of our futures depend upon it".

Lisa Taylor submits for our approval The 100 Coolest Science Experiments on YouTube, located on The X-Ray Vision-aries Blog.

Thank you for coming to the carnival! I hope the Tilt-A-Whirl wasn't too much after all that cotton candy.

Please come back in 2 weeks!


  1. Thanks for your efforts, and I hope you had fun herding these posts. You're now officially allowed to ignore the scientific blogosphere for 3 full days whilst you recover.

  2. Thanks very much for including my posts (I am Dr H. G. of Nature) - and I agree, Stephen Curry's post about his rediscovery of Jupiter was wonderful, and deserves the top spots.

  3. Great work on the carnival, and thank you for including my post. I'm happy that it was lumped in the same category as Stephen's Jupiter post, which was wonderful.

  4. Thanks for including my post! Interesting list. I'll have plenty of good new sites to read!

  5. Thank you for including my post! Great job on the carnival (they're quite a bit of work, eh?), and best of luck for your bike-a-thon. I'm doing the BC Cancer Foundation's Vancouver to Seattle ride in June to help raise money for my department's really cool work on cancer genomics, and other cancer research! I've added you to my Google Reader feeds so we can compare training notes :)

  6. Stephen Curry's post about his rediscovery of Jupiter was wonderful, and deserves the top spots.
    Including the big red spot?

  7. Cool! I've come across some fun and interesting posts, thanks for all the hard work!

  8. Thank you all for your encouraging words. Putting the canival together was a lot of work, but I really did enjoy seeing such a wide variety of blogs and writing styles. This will help me become a better writer myself (no pain no gain, right?). And the increase in readership of my blog didn't hurt either. I plan to do more hosting in the future, so that proves I really loved it!

  9. I just came on your blog, it was amazing for me to get alot of good stuff from here.Global Health and Fitness

  10. Great Listing!

    Keeping us updated with science and medical posts!

    Great thinking!

    Keep up the good work!

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