Representative Jackie Speier (CA, 14th District) has taken Science Magazine to task (PDF of full letter here) for their controversial cover and controversial response to criticism of that cover.
The July ll issue of Science Magazine featured a lurid cover photograph of transgender women in tight dresses and high heels with their heads cropped out of the frame.
Last year, I wrote a post about the potential link between autoimmune dysfunction and narcolepsy. Today, a major study published in Science Translational Medicine linking narcolepsy and autoimmunity targeted at hypocretin expressing neurons has been retracted. Ed Yong wrote about the original study when it was released and posted this update on his blog at National Geographic.
Sometimes, even things in big journals (especially big journals?) turn out to be not quite true.
The Finch & Pea has, from its inception, been a labor of love by Mike and myself. The labor of that love has been spread to several other individuals over the past few years.
In some ways, Mike & I are very good bosses. We don’t yell. We don’t ask for reports to be filed. We understand that life is more important than deadlines. We are also pretty crappy bosses, in the sense that no one makes any money directly and there are no benefits. We don’t claim to provide “exposure”. We claim to offer fun and creative freedom. We also offer really nice beer glasses*.
Earlier this year, I teamed up with Matthew Cummings, the glass artist behind The Pretentious Beer Glass Company, to create a custom The Finch & Pea beer glass for the staff. Together with his colleague Lisa Wulf they came up with this beautiful (but amateurishly photographed, by me) imperial glass. Continue reading
Doing it right. UC Davis microbiome researcher Jonathon Eisen not only turned down an endowed lectureship because the series was too male dominated, but also engaged the lecture series leadership and suggested replacements (hat tip to Evelyn Padilla).
For a more journalistic account, check out Elizabeth Case (hat tip to Jonathon Eisen).
One reason for my recent absence was a work trip to Portland, Oregon. While I was there, I suddenly found myself in the most science-inspired light rail station I’ve ever seen.
Washington Park station serves a few attractions: the zoo, the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden, the World Forestry Center, and other locations. It’s the deepest subway station in North America, and one of the deepest in the world overall. But even cooler: The entire station is inspired by science – mainly geology.
Along both platforms (in each direction) is a platform-length core sample, taken during construction, and above and below it are little science tidbits or illustrations. Continue reading
One of the most important ideas ever is the distinction between genotype and phenotype – between our genes and the traits they influence. It seems obvious to us now, but scarcely more than 100 years ago it wasn’t, which led to a lot of confusion.
The scientist who really clarified the distinction between genotype and phenotype (and who, along with the word gene, coined these terms), was Wilhlem Johannsen. I recently wrote about Johannsen for Pacific Standard, in the context of the recent discovery of the molecular basis of a European blond allele. Here I want to show why Johannsen’s key insight dispelled so much confusion.
Johannsen summed up his views in a 1911 paper, “The Genotype Conception of Heredity.” He starts out by saying that scientists have been confused because they are thinking about apparent heredity, or the “transmission-conception” of heredity. This transmission conception, which had been around since Hippocrates and Aristotle, was that “the personal qualities of any individual organism are the true heritable elements of traits!” Continue reading
Jean-Baptiste François Xavier Cousin de Grainville’s The Last Man (1805)
Long-time readers know I’m a fan of post-apocalyptic science fiction, because it reveals so much about our feelings toward science and its place in civilization. Science mediates between us and nature; in modern civilization, we rarely encounter the raw power of nature without science’s buffering effects.
But are we like the sorcerer’s apprentice, putting the world at risk by playing with powers that are out of our league? Have we used science to truly transcend nature’s casual brutality, or are we just kidding ourselves? How much does our own human nature depend on the scientific underpinnings of civilization, and what happens when science’s support is yanked away — will it be Mad Max-style battling warlords, or pastoral communities in tune with nature’s rhythms, as in Earth Abides?
In End of the World fiction, the answers to these questions are all over the map, and that’s why this genre is so awesome.
I’ve already covered post-apocalyptic SF from the 40’s and 50’s, but it’s time to go back to the beginning of the genre, with the very first book that you could call a Dying Earth science fiction novel: The Last Man, by the French priest Jean-Baptiste François Xavier Cousin de Grainville. Published in 1805, it’s a bizarre rewrite of the Book of Revelations as futuristic Gothic novel, filled with temples, spirits, visions, and trans-Atlantic airships. Continue reading