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Why we should all be excited about water on Mars!

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Michelle CollinsOct 01, 2015Comments
I know, I know. You've heard it before. NASA announces water on Mars! Didn't they do that years ago? Don't we already know all about water there? What's the big deal? Well, my friends, this time things are a little different. It's true: we did already know there was water on Mars. But the water that's been discovered in the past is ancient, locked up in ice caps or in the atmosphere, and not ~  read more

The Decline of Pseudoscience?

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Lenny TeytelmanSep 04, 2015Comments
Yesterday, I asked on Twitter whether there are more real scientists or pseudoscience charlatans. To be specific, on Twitter itself, more real or fake scientists? The consensus response was that Oz-like quacks dominate by a lot. Moreover, there was a sense in this thread that pseudoscience power is on the rise. On twitter, do pseudoscientists or real scientists have more reach/following? Who is ~  read more

Plague and anthrax - now you see them, now you don't! (on correcting published errors)

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Lenny TeytelmanAug 06, 2015Comments
A study that erroneously suggested presence of bubonic plague and anthrax in NYC subways has been corrected, as reported at Retraction Watch. This is a terrific demonstration of the power of post-publication peer review to catch errors in a way that pre-pub review simply can not (See Ed Yong's excellent There’s No Plague on the NYC Subway. No Platypuses Either). At the same time, the ~  read more

Goodbye #TimHunt discussion

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Lenny TeytelmanJul 28, 2015Comments
We have clearly reached the end of any productive conversation around the Tim Hunt remarks. The whole discussion is now in GamerGate land. We have good journalists being accused of a conspiracy. A former politician Louise Mensch is on a campaign against those who were offended by Tim Hunt's remarks, pretending to be an unbiased journalist. My personal rule of thumb - once a topic on Twitter is ~  read more

Not everyone/everything can adapt...

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Timothy SaundersJul 16, 2015Comments
A particularly annoying argument I've heard over the past few years regarding global warming is the fatalistic "there's no changing things so we should adapt to the new environment".  James Lovelock and others have pushed such a line. Unsurprisingly, many right-leaning governments have happily brought into this narrative of basically screwing the next generations (i.e. they'll have to adapt) ~  read more

WE WENT TO PLUTO AND IT WAS AWESOME!

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Michelle CollinsJul 15, 2015Comments
Humans, rejoice! Because yesterday was an historic day! For it was at 7:49 AM EDT that we finally explored the only unexplored world* in our Solar system: PLUTO! The dwarf planet everyone loves to talk about :) NASA's New Horizons spacecraft successfully completed its flyby of the Pluto system, and now we will get the clearest, bestest images of Pluto and its 5 moons (4 of which we've never been ~  read more

Yes, postdocs are underpaid

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Lenny TeytelmanJul 08, 2015Comments
A few days ago, Justin Kiggins wrote Postdocs will be getting a raise (based on Obama's proposed rule change for overtime exemptions, it's likely postdoc salaries will increase to $50,000). This prompted a vigorous discussion with many faculty complaining that they are already struggling and any such increase is going to harm them and their postdocs. Yesterday, the key question in this ~  read more

Postdocs will be getting a raise

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Justin KigginsJul 05, 2015Comments
President Obama just published details on proposed changes to rules defining which employees are exempted from receiving overtime pay. Obama's justification? Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve. That's partly because we've failed to update overtime regulations for years -- and an exemption meant for highly paid, white collar employees now leaves out ~  read more

Botanists and their collections both under threat

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Erin Osborne NishimuraJul 02, 2015Comments
Across the globe, botanists and their specimen collections are in decline. Consolidated, cut, and pushed aside by a combination of budget cuts and a lack of respect for their work, many herbariums and specimen colletions have closed over the last few decades with an uptick in the last few years. The latest word on this trend is a front page article in Nature reporting the closure of an 119 ~  read more

Scientist skeptics, please help innovation instead of stifling it.

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Lenny TeytelmanJun 17, 2015Comments
An integral part of becoming a scientist is learning to be skeptical. We often do not believe our own results and we hardly ever believe the published papers of others. If I'm not mistaken, there is a verb in Hebrew which means "to journal club" - that is to shred someone's research presentation. Skepticism is healthy, but we often forget that not everything proposed by someone else is stupid and ~  read more

The robot we landed on a comet just woke up!!!

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Michelle CollinsJun 14, 2015Comments
Hello everyone, and happy Sunday! And what a Sunday it is! Everyone, get ready for more awesome science to be performed on the surface of a comet because the ESA Philae lander is AWAKE!!!! Philae touched down (3 times) last year onto the surface of comet 67P, as part of the Rosetta space mission. However, it found itself far from its intended landing position, jammed under a cliff like feature. ~  read more

Sacking Tim Hunt - what about tenure and academic freedom?

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Lenny TeytelmanJun 13, 2015Comments
Fiona Fox just wrote Call off the hunt, a post questioning whether the firing of Tim Hunt from important positions in any way advances the cause of women in science. And yesterday, Claire Lehman made an interesting argument: @lteytelman No. I think a better way to deal with bad ideas is to publicly debunk them, not fire people for holding them. — Claire Lehmann (@clairlemon) June 12, ~  read more

Want to be ethical in science? Speak up.

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Lenny TeytelmanMay 31, 2015Comments
What is the etiquette for disclosing an anonymous review that you wrote? It’s not a trivial question because all of us have the natural sense that an anonymous review is supposed to stay anonymous. Even I, an advocate of non-anonymous open peer review, see the problem of going public with something that was written in private at the request of an editor, with the understanding from the ~  read more

#GirlsWithToys

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Michelle CollinsMay 16, 2015Comments
This morning, NPR featured an interview with a senior astronomer from Caltech, titled "'Playing Around With Telescopes' To Explore Secrets Of The Universe". So far, so fun! The goal of the piece seems to be to communicate a little bit about the science we astronomers do, the telescopes we use, why we do astronomy, and how we're more than just scientists (for example, it points out that its ~  read more

Don't stress over your thesis; no one will read it.

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Lenny TeytelmanMay 05, 2015Comments
Writing the dissertation is hard. I particularly found the two months of procrastinating and staring at the blank first page painful. That time when you suddenly feel compelled to cook a lavish meal, put together the Ikea shelf that was lying there for five months and generally do anything that gives you an excuse not to stare at that blank page. The 30-second procrastination clip in Adaptation ~  read more