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June 2008 Archives

Over the weekend the Dominion ran an internet poll, accompanying this article. It posed the question:  Should schools be allowed to teach 'intelligent design? The two options given were a) yes, all theories should be taught, & b) no, it doesn't belong in science class. (I might be a bit off in the wording, as the poll's no longer on line, but that's the general gist of it. By the time the poll closed the 'yes' vote was ahead by a margin of 2:1.

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Further to the previous post: Prof Callaghan has sent me a couple of links that you might like to follow. They're both for streamed & downloadable videos.

The first one is a lecture he gave round the country in December last year: Beyond the farm & the theme park. And the second link is to a TV series that he's fronting on the same topic - the idea that we need to look at expanding our investment in high-end value-added science & technology: Paul Callaghan presents.

See what you think. I haven't watched all of the video series yet, but I found the December lecture stimulating & thought-provoking.

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I've just watched TV One's interview with Robert, Lord Winston, who was here to open the new Fertility Associates buildings, receive an honorary degree from Auckland University, & probably much else besides. And he had some important, provocative things to say about the state of science in New Zealand, and the country's attitudes to science.

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On the new blog format. Which includes.... COMMENTS.

So, go ahead - ask questions, make comments, tell me what you think...


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I'm marking exams at the moment & this has made me think I should revisit an earlier item on writing an extended (essay-type) answer to a question.

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Thank a friend for this - she commented that she liked my reading list :-)

Anyway, I've just started reading David Mindell's book The Evolving World: evolution in everyday life. Still in the intro, actually, but it's shaping up to be another worthwhile addition to my shelves.

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Nothing to do with biology this time - I've joined Technorati & needed a post to establish the link. Technorati Profile And why have I done this, you might ask?

Well, it's all ERV's fault. She's written a blog on blogging, which I read with interest (it's always nice seeing what other people think about things) & one of the points that's being discussed is the value of Technorati & other such sites in looking at how many people read your site, where they're from, & so on. (OK, the Uni tells me this as well - but once a month, & I like instant gratification in some things!) And while I write for fun, & to tell about things that excite me, & all the rest of it, I must confess to a certain sneaking interest in whether anyone actually reads it!

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I was just re-reading a paper (Gregory, 2008) that discusses the meanings of these terms, & thought I'd share it with you. As I'm sure you're aware, they're words that have quite specific meanings in science, and meanings that generally differ from everyday usage - 'theory' and 'hypothesis' are distinctly different terms, for example. Here's what Ryan Gregory has to say about them.

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Hi folks - service has been restricted this week as I've been flat-out with Fieldays. We had a big stand there highlighting some of the agriculture-related research we do at Waikato, & I've been out there every day.

So I thought I'd do a shameless bit of promotion: as part of the uni's relationship with Fieldays, we've developed a website that links ongoing research to the year 11-13 science curriculum. It's called Science on the Farm - grab your virtual gumboots & check it out :-)
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I've just finished reading Your inner fish (Shubin, 2008) - honestly, I can't recommend it highly enough. But for anyone who hasn't bought the book yet, let's look at what another part of our anatomy - our ears - has to tell us about our evolutionary past.

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At the moment I'm reading Neil Shubin's book Your inner fish. It's a wonderful walk through the evolution of life, taking various aspects of our own biology & tracing their evolutionary history. Over lunch I was reading the chapter on the sense of smell, & some of the ideas there really excited me & I thought I'd share them.


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Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research And what's a placoderm, you ask? It's an ancient armoured fish. The placoderms were a group of fish that were common during the Devonian (410 - 360 million years ago), but then became extinct. The reason for the title of this post? A group of Australian researchers (Long et al., 2008) have just reported on a placoderm fossil that contained embryos - far and away the oldest mother known.

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