Bell uses the key technique that denialists use in debates, dubbed by Eugenie Scott the "Gish gallop", named after a master of the style, anti-evolutionist Duane Gish. The Gish gallop raises a barrage of obscure and marginal facts and fabrications that appear at first glance to cast doubt on the entire edifice under attack, but which on closer examination do no such thing. In real-time debates the number of particularities raised is sure to catch the opponent off guard; this is why challenges to such debates are often raised by enemies of science. Little or no knowledge of a holistic view of any given science is needed to construct such scattershot attacks.To me, the picking apart of the various assertions that Bell presents is the best part. Not only does it show how easy it is to form such careless arguments, but it also provides a highly readable science primer on some of the more recent research in climatology, all in an effort to inform on the current trends in cyclonic activity, ocean cooling, sea levels, polar snow fall, ice melting, etc. Read the rest
Quite a few biology and psychology teachers already use the rap songs in their classes to introduce evolutionary concepts to their students, and these videos will make an even more potent vehicle for communicating science in an entertaining manner. The initial funding from the Wellcome Trust allows us to shoot live footage for each video with a professional film crew, edit it, and set up a website to distribute the videos. This phase of the project will be completed by mid-December. The additional funding from Crowdfunder will allow us to produce original animation and digital effects and license high-quality nature footage from the BBC, to make the vision of each video really come to life.In any event, check out the songs, the video above and also the link below if you want to help out. Read the rest
Just so you know, Ben and Hannah are my children. You've might have seen them in this previous post, and like any parent, I love them dearly. Nevertheless, traveling with very young children is an interesting experience, as it is by turns wonderful, exhausting, memorable, frustrating, and (just to be clear) exhausting. You are, after all, interacting with a tourist that would most likely rank the playground or the cat that they saw by a tree, far above the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum. Also, if you're lucky enough to be staying somewhere where there is indoor swimming, then you can rest assured that you will hear of nothing else. Read the rest
Many important medicines and public health technologies are developed in academic laboratories. Their accessibility in poor nations is profoundly affected by the research, patenting and licensing decisions made by universities. We are a group of university students who believe that our universities have an opportunity and a responsibility to improve global access to public health goodsThis is important for a number of reasons. One example is that it recognizes that almost all therapeutics have their humble beginnings at some lab bench at some university. This isn't necessarily the finished product, but it is often the "eureka" moment that can start the path towards a medicine with real life benefits. Because of this, that academic lab and its researchers, have this opportunity to lay down some ground rules when the discovery is ultimately marketed out to some company. For instance, they can dictate that licensing is different (amenable to generics) when circumstances compel the drug to be sold in markets that simply can't afford the usual prices set by pharmaceutical companies (think HIV medicine in developed versus developing countries). Unfortunately, this amazing opportunity is usually a missed opportunity: which is why UAEM members stay up nights thinking about ways, to advocate, educate, and guide universities to do the right thing. Read the rest
I had a great experience here at Boing Boing, and want to send on a big thanks to Mark, Cory, Xeni, David, Rob and the rest of the crew for letting me spend some quality time here. I'm also grateful to the many museum folks who let me chat with them, and so graciously showed me their projects. Kudos especially to Bob Bloomfield for the warm welcome and the many discussions on biodiversity advocacy. Hopefully, my posts didn't dilute the overall awesomeness here at Boing Boing, and at the every least, I hope a few more people are interested in Nagoya COP10. Also, it was fun to do my part to increase the Chewbacca quotient (even if only slightly) here at the site.
With that, I'd like to end with two last requests. Both related to biodiversity: one is kind of worthy, the other a little goofy. One requires folks of the artistic bent, the other maybe a more scientific approach. Read the rest
So what should be done at Nagoya? This is the 20 million species plus question. And for all of the criticism that I've (and others) have proffered, we should appreciate that the task at hand is going to be quite the challenge. If nothing else, this is immediately clear from the often anthrocentric (humans rule the Earth and are just playing our role on the evolutionary front, so deal with it!) commentary left on biodiversity pieces throughout the internet.
There is a somewhat official Strategic Plan document out there, one that (with a remarkable lack of brevity) highlights 2020 goals and attempts to identify the process and partners to be involved. It's worth a look, although probably best absorbed by taking in the tables shown on page 19 on. It involves a list of some 20 different target statements. Some of which are short, bouncy, although still vague like a twitter tweet:
1. By 2020, everyone is aware of the value of biodiversity and what steps they can take to protect it.
Others are more to the point:
11. By 2020, At least 15% of land and sea areas, including the most critical terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats, have been protected through effectively managed protected areas and/or other means, and integrated into the wider land- and seascape.Read the rest
Reeves was an English tea inspector, but also amassed a wonderful collection of Chinese drawings of plants and animals during his time in Canton.
A few weeks back, I had a great conversation with Judith Magee, Library Special Collections Curator at the Natural History Museum. From this conversation, as well as others (thanks Peronel, Martha, Bergit), it soon became clear that there were many individuals within the museum that had a passion for things pertaining to the humanities and the arts (see also this previous post).
In particular, the museum happens to house a vast collection of illustrations and paintings, many of which were originally produced as a way to scientifically document new species, new cultures, and other things observed during expeditions. However, it's also clear that apart from their historical value, these pieces of artwork also have immense aesthetic value. They. Are. Beautiful.
And speaking to Judith, you can literally feel the enthusiasm and affection for such pieces. Judith talked to me about writer/artists such as Alexander von Humboldt, John Bartram, as well as the wonderful drawings collected by John Reeves. Read the rest
So far, it's been a very interesting experience in the month and a bit into my sabbatical at London's Natural History Museum. First off, there was that element of giddiness: coming back to an iconic institution that takes me back to my time as a kid in awe of dinosaurs, blue whales and all the sparkly stuff in the mineral exhibits. Next came, a weird sort of pride - like as if being in the museum's great hall, looking up at the beautiful ceiling, and standing in between a Diplodoccus skeleton and a statue of Darwin, made me feel privileged to be a scientist. I felt as if I was in the best-club-ever: one that carried on the work of so many pioneers whose efforts are housed in this museum. But then a strange feeling of discomfort settled in. This was because the science that goes on here, by and large, is quite foreign to the medically genetic driven projects of my own background. In other words, the bench tops here do not always require pipettemans and overpriced electronics. However, after having had the privilege of meeting some lovely people at the museum and viewing a few of these collections, I've come to really appreciate the importance of biological curation.
1. The collections serve as the physical and open portal to specimens needed for biodiversity research. Read the rest
Take a look at this art project entitled, "Spontaneous City in the Tree of Heaven"
In the sought-after London boroughs of Chelsea and Islington, inner city birds often have to claim their nesting space quickly! However, birds that are open to changing their wild ways might be convinced to try out the innovative bird-housing concept developed by the artists at London Fieldworks. The "Spontaneous City in the Tree of Heaven" opened recently as part of the Secret Garden Project by UP Projectsand hopes to develop into a haven of biodiversity and create a new public awareness of the ecological and cultural value of urban green spaces. (via Inhabitat)
These look very pretty, although I am curious as to how they fare when the tree moves or when it grows.
As an added layer of biodiversity speak, there's a bit of irony in the title of the project. Turns out the "Tree of Heaven" or Ailanthus altissima is actually a tree species of much botanical interest in London, and elsewhere in England generally. Essentially, a lot of folks are quite concerned that this ornamental turn invasive species is poised to rocket in numbers. It's one of the fastest growing trees around, it's allelopathic (meaning it produces a chemical that inhibits the growth or other plants), and its seed production capabilities are almost unmatched. In fact, the female tree is capable of producing upwards of 30,000 seeds per kilogram of tree! That would be akin to a small tree as heavy as me (at about 160 pounds), being able to produce 2.2 million seeds! Read the rest
I'm surprised I didn't catch this earlier, but James Hance has recently released a series of lovely images. Here, he re-imagines Han Solo as Christopher Robin, Chewbacca as Pooh Bear, R2D2 as Piglet, and even (this is cool) an AT-AT as Eeyore.
Definitely go to his Cartoon page to see the images in their full glory. Also this just in - James writes:
The first Wookiee the Chew book gets published today (September 1st) and will be available from either my website or comic stores in Jacksonville. My main hub is at Cafe 331, downtown Jacksonville. I'm there every Saturday with prints, paintings and books.Link Read the rest