Ebola Protective Gear Rules Were Vague

“Even a single health care worker infection is one too many.  We may never know exactly how that happened, but the bottom line is that the guidelines didn't work for that hospital," said Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Recently the CDC changed their personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines for health care workers treating Ebola patients. The old guidelines did not make it clear that medical staff should cover every inch of skin when caring for patients with... Read more


The Oscar Pistorius Verdict and Theory of Mind

On 19 August 2013 Oscar Pistorius was officially charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The Paralympic champion admitted shooting her on Valentine's Day but denied murder, saying he believed she was an intruder. On 12 September 2014 the judge ruled out murder by dolus eventualis – that is, that Pistorius foresaw his actions in firing four shots into the door could have led to the death of the person behind it but went ahead and fired anyway:... Read more


Personalized Medicine Changes the View on Disease – and Ourselves

When anyone of us is confronted with a cancer diagnosis, we want the best possible care. Nowadays, doctors often test the tumor’s genome, its receptors and its sensitivity to antibody treatment. Forty years ago, there were only ‘one size fits all’ cancer treatments – some patients survived, many died. Today doctors can not only treat the tumor, but can also predict which drug will be most likely to prevent the cancer from coming back; for this, the patient’s genome needs... Read more


Climate Change Communication: Taking the Temperature (Part 9) with Scott Mandia

Editor's Note: This is a guest blog post by Kirk Englehardt (@kirkenglehardt). Kirk is Director of Research Communication and Marketing for the Georgia Institute of Technology. He blogs about strategic communication & #scicomm on LinkedIn and The Strategy Room.  He also curates and shares #scicomm content, which can be found on Flipboard, Pinterest, Google+ and Facebook.  Introduction In this series of interviews, prominent climate scientists share how and why they communicate, the risks they are taking by publicly engaging in the climate discussion, and how... Read more


A Case for Anonymous Open Review

Posted by Tom Webb in Mola Mola

I recently reviewed a manuscript for the pioneering journal PeerJ. This presented me with a quandary. PeerJ’s experiment in open reviewing is nicely outlined in their recent post, and includes two steps: reviewers can sign their reports, and authors can publish the review history alongside their accepted paper. My quandary was this: I love the second idea, and think it is an important step forward in opening up the peer review process; but I don’t like to sign my reviews.... Read more


No, Drinking Your Own Urine Will Not Cure Ebola (Or Anything Else)

Fear does strange things to people. The fear du jour currently permeating the US is, of course, the Ebola virus disease. Despite the august efforts to reassure and educate from CDC and the WHO, there has spread a modicum of panic (often with tragic results); we have seen Ebola response become a political issue, and as pointed out recently by that redoubtable scienceblogger, Orac, a ghastly profusion of conspiracy theories and quackery has crawled out of nooks and crannies, feeding... Read more


IUCN Red List Marine Species Evaluations This Week

Most of us agree that humans shouldn't drive other species to extinction. Millenials (like me) grew up watching Captain Planet and FernGully, worrying about endangered pandas, sea turtles, and whales. We know that problems like pollution and poaching put species on the endangered list, and that zoos, aquariums, and universities work mightily to study and save animals on the brink. But who defines the brink? Who writes the list of endangered species? Meet the IUCN. The International Union for the... Read more


Moral Time: Does Our Internal Clock Influence Moral Judgments?

Does morality depend on the time of the day? The study "The Morning Morality Effect: The Influence of Time of Day on Unethical Behavior" published in October of 2013 by Maryam Kouchaki and Isaac Smith suggested that people are more honest in the mornings, and that their ability to resist the temptation of lying and cheating wears off as the day progresses. In a series of experiments, Kouchaki and Smith found that moral awareness and self-control in their study subjects decreased... Read more


Paul Dirac: The Quiet Genius Died 30 Years Ago

He is considered to be an important founding father of modern quantum physics, his books are still standard reference works, and many people have heard of one of the technical terms named after him. But who is the person behind these terms – who was Paul Dirac? First of all, he was one of the youngest Nobel laureates ever: he received the prize in 1933, together with Erwin Schrödinger, at the age of only 31, “for the discovery of new... Read more


Raw and Uncut 4: The Glow-Worm

Jean Henri Fabre (1823-1915) is considered by many to be the father of modern entomology. Last week I came across an English translation of his “Souvenirs Entomologiques” a series of texts on insects and arachnids. The translation is called “Fabre’s Book of Insects” and was done by Mrs. Rodolph Stawell in 1926. After reading I understand that much of his enduring popularity is due to his manner of writing about the lives of insects in biographical form, which he preferred... Read more


Birdbooker Report 343

SUMMARY: Books, books, beautiful books! This is a list of biology, ecology, environment, natural history and animal books that are (or will soon be) available to occupy your bookshelves and your thoughts. “Words in leather and wood”. Bookshelves in the “Long Room” at the old Trinity College Library in Dublin. Image: Nic McPhee from Morris, MN, USA. 2007. (Creative Commons.) Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them!... Read more


The chemical map of otoliths

It's about the size of a diamond and comes from the inner ear of a fish. This tiny construction holds a treasure trove of information, a calcium carbonate microchip made of bone and accessed by a laser. Let's take a look at the science of otoliths. An otolith is a fish ear bone (from oto- ear and lithos- stone). From every population of fish Heidi Golden finds, she preserves a number of otoliths to take back to the lab. These... Read more


Morsels For The Mind – 17/10/2014

Every day we provide you with Six Incredible Things Before Breakfast to nibble away at. Here you can fill your brain with the most intellectually stimulating “amuse bouches” from the past week – a veritable smorgasbord for the cranium. They’re all here for you to load up your plate – this week’s “Morsels for the mind”. Enjoy! If you do nothing else, make sure to check out the “Reads / views / listens of the week”. **** Feather, fur &... Read more


Outbreak Abroad: Jennifer Yang, Toronto Star

“It was a mixture of being totally inspired and totally devastated.” “I've covered a lot of crimes and deaths, and nothing has really moved me to the point of this.” “Everyone involved with Ebola research is fully engaged or in the field, and very hard to access or too busy to talk, so it's been one of the more challenging stories to cover for sure.” Welcome to the first installment of Outbreak Abroad. During this #OpenSciLogs series, we’ll explore how... Read more


Beyond The News Release – How PIOs Can Connect With The Public

Public information officers (PIOs) at research institutions are responsible for helping their employers connect with the public. Often this is through conventional media relations and social media efforts. But sometimes PIOs can find other ways, unconventional ways, of connecting with various audiences. To explore these issues, Karen Kreeger, senior science communications manager at Penn Medicine, organized a session for this year’s National Association of Science Writers meeting at Ohio State University. The session, “Beyond the News Release Grind: Connecting with... Read more