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March 2008 Archives

Last year I put up a couple of posts to do with suggestions that taking fish-oil capsules would enhance exam performance. You might be interested in this latest comment from Ben Goldacre on the issue, following the Durham 'trial' of fish-oil supplements in the UK.

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The other day one of my students came by my office to ask about his essay. He'd found a book that suggested that the human species was split into 3 races (black, white, & oriental, in case you're wondering), & that these races differed in things like fecundity and birth rate. Should he include this information in his essay?

 

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On Monday night a newspaper article caught my eye - the reporter had picked up on a study suggesting that, if you're a female praying mantis, eating your partner during sex can actually be quite beneficial...

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Blogging on Peer-Reviewed ResearchThis one's been sitting in my 'good blogging material' folder for a while now: time to have a look at it, I think.

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There's been a discussion on various blogs about just what a science blog should be - why write one, & what should be in it? It followed the suggestion by one writer that if a blog didn't deal exclusively with peer-reviewed research, then it wasn't a science blog. Everyone else that I've read was pretty much against that proposition, but it did get me thinking - why do I write the bioblog?

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I've just found a really excellent site called "Ask a Biologist" - just the place if you can't get those burning biology questions answered anywhere else. (They won't do your homework for you, though!) There are some big names there behind the answers, & some great links - well worth a look.

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On that post on the non-random nature of natural selection, Keith says: "evolution cannot prepare them for some future change in that environment." Remind me how this applies/interacts with regards to preadaptations.

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Yesterday one of the students in our 'Evolution' paper commented that those of us teaching the course were 'deifying' Darwin, which he felt was not a good thing. And if we were, it wouldn't be. To deify someone (or something) means to set them up as a god and worship them. And I can't think of any biologists who do that.

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Evolution is often characterised - particulary by those who argue against it - as a random process which could not possibly give rise to the complexity and diversity of life on Earth. How true is this?

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Here's a question for you. In 2006 scientists announced the discovery of a new hominin fossil: a juvenile Australopithecus afarensis. The media quickly dubbed it "Lucy's child" (well, it was a catchy name, even though the underlying implied relationship had no evidence to support it!). So, tell me, how could scientists be sure that this individual was an infant at time of death, from an examination of the skull and jaw?

(Use the 'questions & comments' button - yes, I know comments aren't enabled yet, & I'm hoping we can change this for 2008, but anything submitted through that link does get through to me.)

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Blogging on Peer-Reviewed ResearchAt the moment I'm lecturing to our first-year biology class about plants. In my lecture about algae, there were a couple of slides about malaria. You might well ask 'why'; I know my students were thinking that. Well, I did have a reason - & today I found a brief summary paper (Keeling, 2008) on just that very topic.

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The new Science curriculum has the 'nature of science' right up there at the top. And why? Because it's so important for people to learn, not just science facts and concepts, but also about what science is: how it's done, the tools and methods scientists use, how they communicate, its history, & how science is a part of everyday life.

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Some clever person out there has written a programme that checks a blog's reading level - I guess I've got it about right... (though I'd be glad to hear what you think about that!)

                                   blog readability test

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Orac's just blogged on a new study that seems to show that heavy cellphone use contributes to male infertility. No doubt this will be all over the headlines in a day or so - so I thought I'd get in first & give you some practice in critical thinking while I'm at it.

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Recent Comments

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