Category Archives: Items of Interest

A Lab of Their Own

The sciencing of A League of Their Own  (#ALabofTheirOwn) reminded me a bit of the sciencing of Conan the Barbarian (#ConanthePostDoc). Both films have great scripts, with great lines; but most people only remember one or two. People other than me do not have the scripts burnt into their souls.

That is ok. In fact, it is better than ok. As Jimmy Dugan says to Dottie Hinson:

It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.

It was not easy, but I think we found a few gems that speak honestly to the practice of science now.

Screenshot 2014-12-14 20.58.18

Some of the lines were so relevant that observers mistook them for actually commentary.

One would hope that a movie about women playing baseball in the 1940s would not be relevant to science today.

The #ALabofTheirOwn storify makes up for its lack of quantity with some real quality, but I’m biased.

Spirography

Created by Josh Witten using Inspirograph (by Nathan Friend)

Created by Josh Witten using Inspirograph (by Nathan Friend)

For folks of a certain age (ie, approximately my age), set your “Nostalgia” dial to 11. Nathan Friend has created an addictive, online version of the spirograph called Inspirograph. Enjoy.

According to Friend, a mobile app is in the works.

HT: Brian Kelly and Sheila McNeill

Scientific American and Blogs

Today, the editors of Scientific American published a post announcing a new vision for the Scientific American blog network. It is not exactly clear how that new vision is going to play out. It does seem to mean that many excellent blogs on the network, including those written by friends, will go away.

Blog editor Curtis Brainard’s discussion of controversy surrounding one of their blogs reads like a prelude to today’s announcement.

We are currently revising guidelines with our blogging community with the aim of preventing missteps.

The new “Blog Network Guidelines” are strict, and appear specifically geared to preventing controversies like a blog posting racist and sexist arguments.

It is too early to comment on whether this is the “right” approach. Frankly, I am hopelessly conflicted as a number of friends doing excellent work will be losing a gig. It is, however, telling that Scientific American is recognizing that they have to take responsibility for everything that appears under their brand:

Among other things, people expect a higher level of accuracy, integrity, transparency and quality from media organizations, and that expectation applies as much to blog content as it does to more traditional content such as news and features—especially because many readers do not differentiate between the two types of content.

On a lighter note, this booilerplate disclaimer is ridiculous:

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those ofScientific American.

If the views of “The Editors” do not necessarily reflect the views of Scientific American, whose do? In this case, it seems obvious that the only resolution is to conclude that Scientific American as a publishing company is incapable of holding “views”, which may be upsetting to certain members of the Supreme Court.

Science for the People: Science Up Your Holidays 2014

sftp-square-fistonly-whitebgThis week, Science for the People observes its annual holiday tradition, helping you find gifts for the science lovers on your list. Brian Clegg, John Dupuis, and Rachelle Saunders share their most-treasured science books from 2014, as well as classics to help fill out anyone’s science library. And they speak to writer/illustrator James Lu Dunbar about “The Universe Verse,” a scientifically-accurate rhyming comic book about the origins of the universe.

Visit the Science for the People blog for more information and links to the books mentioned in this episode.

*Josh provides research help to Science for the People and is, therefore, completely biased.

Survey Says

Paige Brown Jarreau is a graduate student at LSU. Her PhD thesis is on the science of science blogging. To collect data for her project, she has setup an online survey for science bloggers, which you should be taking if you are a science blogger.

As the role of science blogging expands and diversifies in today’s science news ecosystem, the practices and routines of science bloggers remain under-studied.

The goal of my project is to survey science bloggers about their blogging practices. Please take this survey if you consider yourself to be a science blogger.
-Paige Brown Jarreau

I have taken the survey and found the self-reflection inherent in the process rewarding in its own right.