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 Post subject: from current journals as of 2017 11 08
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:18 pm 
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Journal of Paleontology Number 5 2017
The stalked filter feeder Siphusauctum lloydguntheri n. sp. from the middle Cambrian (Series 3, Stage 5) Spence Shale of Utah; its biological affinities and taphonomy
We had a thread discussing the “tulip beds” from the Burgess Shale; these were full of the organism Siphusauctum gregarium – which are absent from elsewhere in the Burgess Shale. Now a single specimen of the same genus (but given a different species name) has turned up in the Spence Shale of Utah. Nobody is quite sure what the “tulips” are; best guess so far is an entoproct, but if so it would be much larger than any extant entoprocts.

Science 6 October 2017
News in brief
James Webb launch delayed
As noted before, the James Webb Space Telescope is going to be launched from French Guiana on an Ariane 5. The original launch date has been pushed back 6 months (to March-June 2019); the devices that unfold the sunshade are giving problems, and there’s a conflict with the launch of the ESA BepiColombo mission to Mercury.
Reformulation spurs drug scare
After months of public complaint about a reformulation of the thyroid drug Levothyrox and a request from the French government, Merck returned to the original formulation. Ironically, the request to reformulate the drug also came from the French government. The reformulation had replaced lactose with mannitol and citric acid, to extend the shelf life. Since the formula changes involve inert ingredients and animal studies had found identical biological effects, Science suggests the “nocebo effect” – the expectation of harm will cause symptoms. However, it’s also conceded that there is evidence of sensitivity to very small changes in hormones.
News Features
Against the grain
Forestry biologist Jerry Franklin was one of the architects of the “old growth” forest concept; we had a discussion of the controversy back in the Archives. Environmentalist somehow got a hold of a draft copy of Franklin’s report and disseminated it widely, fearful that the Forest Service would “bury” it; an activist is quoted as saying “…it was like the Bible”. Now, as happened with Patrick Moore and Greendeath, Franklin is having second thoughts. What changed Franklin’s mind is regrowth in the aftermath of the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption; he notes that the devastated area has much higher species diversity than the surrounding old growth forest. This, in turn, leads him to call for “selective” logging in old growth forests. Needless to say, this has caused former friends to shun hum; activists erected a billboard near him home showing a clear-cut forest and camped out in trees to prevent a small logging experiment in BLM land.
Archaeology in a divided land
Since 1974 the island of Cyprus has been divided into the Republic of Cyprus, which is predominantly Greek, occupies the southern and western two-thirds of the island, and is recognized as the de jure government of the entire island by the United Nations (minus Turkey); and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is predominantly Turkish, occupies the eastern and northern third (basically the “handle of the pan”), and is recognized only by Turkey. This leaves archaeologists in a quandary; Cyprus seems to have been occupied in the Late Paleolithic – pretty interesting, since it implies seafaring capability at a very early date – and has a wealth of paleontological and archaeological sites. Unfortunately, the Republic of Cyprus government forbids any scientific work in the north, and boycotts any researchers who work there and publications or conferences that present results. Tentative results from the north (published by “a fluke”) suggest the island was very important in the early history of agricultural and animal husbandry; people seem to have imported wild animals and plants, then released them.
Insights
Nocebo effects can make you feel pain
Reports
Interactions between brain and spinal cord mediate value effects in nocebo hyperalgesia
Relevant to the reformulation of a thyroid drug, mentioned above. Test subjects were treated with creams that they were told relieved itching but might have the side effect of increased pain sensitivity (hyperalgesia) in the treated area. One group was given a cream which they were told was expensive, and which was presented in containers indicating an expensive product; the other group got a cream they were told was inexpensive and which was presented in “cheap” containers. Neither cream contained any active ingredients. The “expensive” group reported fewer side effects than the “cheap” group, and this was confirmed by fMRI. The note associated with the article comments a similar effect is seen in patients treated for various conditions, including postoperative pain, anxiety, and Parkinson’s disease; if treatment is openly discontinued they report an increase in pain, anxiety and Parkinson’s symptoms; if the treated is replaced by a placebo (without informing the patient) no such side effects occur.

Scientific American October 2017
Advances
Space Prospecting
The Outer Space Treaty prohibits colonizing celestial bodies or using them for military purposes. Several private companies are planning asteroid mining missions; the earliest could launch In 2020. Opponents – including Russia, Brazil, and Belgium – say this will constitute “national appropriation” and violate the treaty; other governments – including the United States and Luxembourg – counter that space is similar to the oceans; no one owns them but anyone can fish. Both countries have laws acknowledging private property rights to material mined from asteroids. Commenters note it’s unlikely the Treaty will be renegotiated or clarified until someone actually starts mining.
Article
Journey to Gunland
The author, a “writer”, visited Kennesaw, Georgia, and went shooting, noting “…a swift and strong emotional transformation…” after shooting a hole in a zombie target; she went from “…nervous, even terrified, to exhilarated and unassailable…” She then goes on to cite statistics showing having a gun in your home increases the odds of being a homicide or suicide victim. To be fair, the bar graphs also include a note saying the results were not corrected for possible confounding factors – but doesn’t give an example of what those confounding factors might be. It’s noted that the CDC is banned from studying gun violence (by a rider to the appropriations bill preventing any of the money from being used for that). The article cites statistics from both sides – notable the Lott and Kleck studies on the pro-gun side and the Stanford and Hemenway studies on the anti- side; the pro-gun studies are accompanied by a side warning about what might be wrong with them, but the anti- studies are not.
Message Control
One of three articles about “science denialism”; the usual message about listening to concerns rather than simply presenting facts. Of some particular interest was a series of three graphs plotting perceived risk versus scientific intelligence for climate change, private gun ownership, and fracking, with separate plots for “liberal democrats” versus “conservative republicans”. The graphs show the expected dramatic increase in concern about climate change for the liberals as scientific intelligence increased; surprising were a decrease in concern about private gun ownership and an increase in concern about fracking (for liberals; conservatives had decreased concern about everything). In a general article like this, you can’t go into the confounding factors; I suspect some motivation for liberal concern about fracking are the suggestions that it is benefiting “corporations”, but also the more nuanced concern that although the scientifically intelligent realize that the process is as safe as any industrial process can be, the cheap availability of petroleum products might not necessarily be a good thing in the long term.

Smithsonian October 1917
What Ever Happened to the Russian Revolution?
The 100th anniversary of the October Revolution passed with remarkably little fanfare. This article is sort of a travelogue, mostly set in St. Petersburg (which, of course, used to be Leningrad). Lenin is still safely ensconced in his tomb; his office is now preserved as part of the Museum of Russian Political History (it was once the mansion of one of the Tsar’s mistresses. There’s a monument to the “Fighters of the Revolution” as part of the Field of Mars memorials. The remains of the last Romanovs have been collected and interred in the Cathedral of Peter and Paul, where they are occasionally visited by die-hard Tsarists. In 2009, somebody tried to blow up the Lenin statue outside the Finland Station. Rather amazing, all things considered.

Nature 21 September 2017
World View
Statues that perpetuate lies should not stand
The statue in question is not a Confederate general, but James Marion Sims. Sims is across the street from the New York Academy of Medicine; he was supposedly “the father of gynecology”. Biographers have turned up some politically incorrect facts about Sims; in particular, he used enslaved black women for experimental surgeries, reportedly without anesthetic, because it was believed blacks didn’t feel pain as severely as whites. The author of the editorial, medical ethicist Harriet Washington, wants the statue removed.
News in focus
Ship name stirs up trouble
South Korea has launched a new oceanographic research vessel, Isabu. The ship was named by a public contest; the name honors a 6th-century Korean admiral. The catch is Admiral Kim Isabu supposedly conquered two islets in the Sea of Japan (known as Liancourt Rocks/Doktu/Takeshima, depending on which language you want). The islets are under South Korean control but claimed by Japan. As a result, the Japanese Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) has issued orders that its scientists are not to participate in any Isabu cruises or use any data collected by Isabu. The origin of this policy is cryptic; it apparently originated within JAMSTEC, since the Japanese government has made no protest over the name.
Comment
Look beyond technology in cancer care
The authors note that for certain cancers (prostate cancer is used as an example), higher spending on patient care is inversely correlated with patient life expectancy (at least in Europe); similar situations are seen in other countries. It’s suggested that the medical establishments in these countries are “seduced” by high-tech treatments and neglect basic care. A confounding factor is local custom; the authors comment that 5-year survival rates for breast cancer in Tunisia (as an example) are around 60%, while they are around 85% in Europe; Tunisian women are shunned by their family and neighbors, and often divorced by their husbands, after a cancer diagnosis and are thus supposedly reluctant to see a doctor until it’s too late.
Careers
Hidden in the past
A review article about researchers using various historical data sources. An Australia researcher went through newspapers looking for fishing articles and photographs, and used these to estimate historic stocks for various species. Vessel logbooks provide data for climate researchers, and old astronomical photographs have been interesting astronomers, especially now that many have been digitized. (It’s noted attitudes had to change; astronomers using old data were supposedly formerly looked down on as “second-rate scientists who couldn’t get telescope time”). It’s cautioned scientists using old data should solicit help from historians.

Science 15 September 2017
News in Brief
U.K. expands badger culling
Subject of an earlier thread; apparently activist women dressed as badgers did not influence the UK Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs as much as hoped. The cull allows up to 33841 badgers to be shot (maybe the odd number is due to the metric system) to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis; last year 29000 TB cows had to be killed.
DNA proves Viking warrior was a woman
Made the MSM. The occupant of tomb Bj581 was excavated 130 years ago but was always assumed to be a man. That he was a she had been suggested earlier, based on the skeleton, but is now confirmed based on DNA. I note that technically all that is proven is that the woman was buried with weapons and horses; it’s assumed that these imply she was a warrior. However, it’s also true that “shield maidens” turn up fairly often in Viking era literature.
Plant scientist sues over story
Kevin Folta has sued the New York Times and reporter Eric Lipton for “knowingly false” claims about Folta’s ties to Monsanto.
News in Depth
Bot-hunters eye mischief in German election
Twitter makes 1% of tweets available for research; you can get 10% if you pay for them. Researchers at UCLA claim about 19% of Twitter profiles – around 50 million – are automated, and almost all of these tweet political topics. In the recent German election, bot hunters compared messages from verified human users and verified bots, but noted you can never be 100% sure an account is a bot.
Pay up or retract? Drug survey spurs conflict
Public health specialist Donald Morisky of UCLA developed a questionnaire to measure patient adherence to drug regimens: the Eight-Item Morisky Medication Adherence Scale (MMAS-8). “Hundreds” of researchers have used the questionnaire. Unfortunately for many of them, the questionnaire is copyrighted and they neglected to pay for permission to use it before publishing; Morisky has been tracking them down and demanding fees. In addition to the fee – usually around $6000 – the American Psychological Association can expel people who use copyrighted material without permission. While on the surface this might seem like legal money-grubbing, in exchange for the fee Morisky scores the questionnaires using a proprietary algorithm; thus, manual scoring might be invalid and incorrect. Several researchers have withdrawn papers rather than pay Morisky; he has offered a compromise, stating he will no longer pursue individuals but go after institutions.
PETA targets early-career wildlife researcher
Christine Latin is a postdoc at Yale studying stress in birds; this involves feeding wild-caught house sparrows oil mixed in their diet, then using various techniques to measure stress hormones. She became interested in the topic when working as raptor rehabilitator, and hopes the results will eventually be of benefit in bird conservation. She was rather surprised and grieved when she began getting hate mail from PETA activists – 40 to 50 messages a day – and organized protests outside a conference she was attending, at the university research building, in downtown New Haven, and outside her home. Observers note it’s unusually for PETA to go after a relatively young researcher, and speculates their tactics may be changing – by going after graduate students and postdocs rather than senior researchers, they can make them “radioactive”, unhireable and unfundable.
News features
Keeping the faith
Mary Schweitzer came to paleontology by an interesting route. She audited Jack Horner’s class at Montana State, announcing to him that she was a young earth creationist and was going show him he was wrong about evolution. The amused Horner replied he was an atheist and allowed Schweitzer to take the course – and, as she put it, when Horner laid out the evidence it was Schweitzer that was converted – which cost her friends, her husband, and her church. But not her faith; she now sees evolution as God’s handiwork. She eventually got a PhD in vertebrate paleontology, but her research has taken her in an interesting direction – she’s trying to demonstrate the existence of preserved proteins in fossil dinosaur bone. She’s claimed collagen and eight proteins common to blood – what’s more, the proteins were found in what appeared to be preserved blood vessels. Needless to say, this has caused a lot of controversy – some paleontologists find her work “groundbreaking”, while others have failed to replicate her results and contend the supposed proteins come from modern contamination. (She counters by saying the failed replication attempts were due to improper technique). The Science article doesn’t mention it, but I suspect that there may be concern that Schweitzer is still a “deep cover” creationist; there have been, of course, several creationist claims of various soft tissues from dinosaur bones, with the implication that they therefore cannot be ancient.
Insights
The refrigerant is also the pump
Reports
Highly efficient electrocaloric cooling device with electrostatic actuation
I think I understand what’s going on here, but I’m not going to bet the farm on it. An electrocaloric device loses heat when an external electric field is applied, aligning dipoles; when the field is removed the dipoles revert to random orientation and absorb heat. Previous electrocaloric devices were mostly laboratory curiosities; the device had to be mechanically pressed against the heat source to absorb heat, then mechanically pressed against a heat sink and electrified to lose it. The subject device, however, is a polymer that flexes when electrostatically charged; the same applied field that causes it to lose heat can also cause it to flex and contact the heat sink – then revert to contact the heat source when the field is removed. The cooling is relatively minor – about 8 C – but the devices can be “chained”.

Nature 14 September 2017
News in focus
Experts pan study claiming DNA can predict facial traits
The study was published in PNAS, by Craig Ventner and colleagues. Ventner sequenced 1061 people and used AI to compare high resolution photographs of their faces to their genome; supposedly the AI was able to correctly match face and genome 74% of the time. The study raised fears that law enforcement would start using DNA to identify faces. Critics claim the study is overhyped; one noted in a group of people he examined he could correctly identify an individual from a photograph 75% of the time just by knowing the race, age and gender, without any reference to DNA.

Science 1 September 2017
News in Brief
Dance floor drug could treat PTSD
The FDA has approved 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, better known as “ecstasy”, for Phase III trials. It’s noted that stringent drug laws have made research difficult; it seems like regular drug companies are uninterested – I’m guessing for political reasons – and the research is being sponsored by a California nonprofit. The trials are estimated to cost around $25M and take four years.
Consider climate, courts say
In August, a DC appeals panel ruled that Federal approval of three natural gas pipelines had failed to consider future greenhouse gas emissions, and a district court in Montana blocked approval of a coal mine expansion because the environmental impact statement had failed to consider the climate effects of burning the coal.
News in depth
Science suffers as China plugs holes in Great Firewall
All Internet traffic to and from China is funneled through a few access points, where access to prohibited domain names is blocked. These include Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, but also Google Scholar, Google Docs, Dropbox, and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Science notes blocking JPL is “inexplicable”). Chinese users have been getting around this by using VPN software; however now the Chinese government has ordered all Chinese communication carriers to block VPN access for private citizens by February 2018.

Geology September 2017
Detrital zircon geochronology of sandstones of the 3.6-3.2 Ga Barberton greenstone belt: no evidence for older continental crust
A little explanation: “greenstone belts” are metamorphic volcanic and sedimentary rock, interpreted as being very old (Archaean) metamorphosed continental crust. The Barberton greenstone belt is a heavily studied one in South Africa. The question is “Was there even older continental crust?” The authors are looking at detrital zircons in sandstones from the Barberton greenstone belt. Zircons form in granite; continental crust is granitic, oceanic crust basaltic. If you find zircons in sandstone, it means they weathered from granitic rocks (ultimately; they could have weathered out of granite, been deposited in sediment which then lithified to rock, weathered out of that rock and deposited again, and so on). Zircons are pretty durable and thus can withstand repeated weathering events, and they also contain trace amounts of uranium that incorporated into their structure when they crystalized from the original melt. Uranium decays by spontaneous fission; the atom splits up into smaller atoms. This is violent enough to create little scars in the zircon crystal structure – fission tracks. The zircon can be etched to enlarge the fission tracks such that they are visible to an electron microscope, and then they can be counted. Since uranium fissions at a predictable rate, the number of fission tracks in a zircon tells how long it’s been since the zircon crystalized from a melt – its age. There are age measurements for the Barberton greenstone belt based on radiometric dating of volcanic beds – these are independent of the zircon-derived ages. Thus, what it all comes down to is, if there were a lot of zircons in the sandstones of the Barberton greenstone belt that dated older than the independently derived age of the Barberton itself, that would imply that they had weathered out of even older granitic crust. And there aren’t. Thus the authors conclude “large, thick, high-standing, highly evolved blocks of continental crust … were scarce in the early Archaean”.
Meteorite flux to Earth in the early Cretaceous as reconstructed from sediment-dispersed extraterrestrial spinels
“Spinels” are bimetal oxides with a characteristic crystal structure; the prototypical spinel is MgAl₂O₄, but there are lots of other possible combinations of metals, plus thiospinels with sulfur instead of oxygen. The spinel minerals form fairly deep down – but also in meteorites. The authors are looking at a limestone from northern Italy, the Early Cretaceous Maiolica Limestone. This is a pelagic limestone, formed well out in the open ocean, and is very “clean”, with little evidence of contribution from terrestrial sediment. Thus, the authors conclude spinel grains found in Maiolica Limestone are derived from meteoritic dust; confirmation comes from examining spinel grains for their oxygen isotope content. What’s more, spinels can be assigned to a particular “family” of meteorites based on their titanium content. It’s found that meteorites reaching Earth in the Early Cretaceous are basically similar to those reaching Earth today, but quite different from those in the Ordovician. This is hypothesized to be the result of the breakup of an asteroid (“the L-chrondite parent body”) in the Ordovician.

Nature 31 August 2017
News in focus
Legal threat raises stakes on climate forecasts
Two shareholders have sued the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, alleging that the bank failed to inform bank customers about the risks from climate change in its 2016 annual report, and seeking a court injunction to force such information in future reports. We’ve had some threads before about activists demanding that energy companies inform shareholders of risks from climate change, but the lawsuit discussed here seems to have a different flavor; it’s hard to tell from the article but apparently the plaintiffs expect a bank to be able to tell an individual borrower – in the example, a farmer – that he shouldn’t borrow money because climate change induced droughts will render his farm unproductive. Commenters note current climate change models are not accurate or precise enough to predict this on the time and space scales required.
Submarine mystery solved
Actually, this doesn’t seem to solve anything but just raises more questions. Background: on February 17 1864 the CSS Hunley sank the USS Housatonic outside Charleston harbor; this was the first successful submarine attack in history. The Hunley failed to return to base. The wreck of the Hunley was located in 1995, raised in 2000, and is currently under restoration in a museum in Charleston. The remains of the entire crew of 8 were found at their stations.
The original design plan for the Hunley (see Submarine Warfare in the Civil War) called for it to be armed with a towed explosive charge; the Hunley would dive under its target and pull the charge into contact. After the Hunley sank twice during trials, taking her entire crew with her each time, the armament seems to have been changed to a spar torpedo – an explosive charge mounted on the end of a long pole (a “spar”) projecting from the Hunley’s bow. (The books I’ve read don’t mention it, but I suspect this arrangement was to allow the Hunley to attack without submerging – she hadn’t exactly had good luck in her diving trials, after all).
I read several children’s books about submarines when I was growing up; they all mentioned the Hunley and all used the same story – the Hunley was lost when she was sucked into the hole she’d blown in the side of the Housatonic. (Note that this narrative implies the spar torpedo had a contact detonator). This should have been debunked relatively early on; the Housatonic sank in shallow water, had been salvaged piecemeal over the years, and no trace of the Hunley was ever found. In Submarine Warfare in the Civil War the story is different; the Hunley had been located by then and it was stated “she was on a course back to base”. Further, author Mark Ragan contends the spar torpedo was mounted on a sort of harpoon; it was supposed to be driven into the side of the target, the Hunley would back away and the spar and torpedo would detach, and when sufficiently distant the Hunley’s commander would pull a line still attached to the charge and detonate it. Ragan claimed witnesses on the Housatonic stated this is what had happened, and speculated that the Hunley survived the explosion but was swamped by a wave on her way back.
The subject Nature article claims instead that the Hunley’s crew was killed or incapacitated instantly by the pressure wave from the spar torpedo explosion. The evidence is copper “ribbons” found embedded in the spar, with the inference that these were attachments for the torpedo, that the torpedo was not designed to detach from the spar, and that it was so attached when it detonated. Investigators built a 1/6 scale model of the Hunley (dubbed the Tiny), outfitted it with pressure sensors, submerged it in a farm pond, detonated increasing larger explosive charges next to it, and concluded that the “blast wave” theory is correct. Presumably the Hunley was then carried away from the attack site by currents until its discovery.
I’m not entirely convinced; it seems to me that in order for the blast overpressure theory to be correct, the Hunley’s hatches would have to be open at the moment of explosion; this seems to be a singularly imprudent attack plan. The authors of the Nature article comment that the Hunley “…had a much thinner hull than modern submarines…”; this seems to suggest that blast effects were somehow transmitted through the water, then through the hull, then into the Hunley; I don’t know remotely enough about fluid dynamics to evaluate that. Not “solved”, as far as I’m concerned, until I get a better explanation.


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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2017 11 08
PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:04 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 10:45 am
Posts: 8222
setnahkt wrote:
Journal of Paleontology Number 5 2017
The stalked filter feeder Siphusauctum lloydguntheri n. sp. from the middle Cambrian (Series 3, Stage 5) Spence Shale of Utah; its biological affinities and taphonomy


Do the authors have a theory about what was stalking it?

---------------------------------->

Quote:
News Features
Against the grain
Forestry biologist Jerry Franklin was one of the architects of the “old growth” forest concept; we had a discussion of the controversy back in the Archives. Environmentalist somehow got a hold of a draft copy of Franklin’s report and disseminated it widely, fearful that the Forest Service would “bury” it; an activist is quoted as saying “…it was like the Bible”. Now, as happened with Patrick Moore and Greendeath, Franklin is having second thoughts. What changed Franklin’s mind is regrowth in the aftermath of the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption; he notes that the devastated area has much higher species diversity than the surrounding old growth forest. This, in turn, leads him to call for “selective” logging in old growth forests. Needless to say, this has caused former friends to shun hum; activists erected a billboard near him home showing a clear-cut forest and camped out in trees to prevent a small logging experiment in BLM land.


I don't know how important species diversity is in my neck of the woods, but old growth forest is highly inflammable forest. Controlled burns are a part of life here.

Quote:
Nocebo effects can make you feel pain
Reports
Interactions between brain and spinal cord mediate value effects in nocebo hyperalgesia
Relevant to the reformulation of a thyroid drug, mentioned above. Test subjects were treated with creams that they were told relieved itching but might have the side effect of increased pain sensitivity (hyperalgesia) in the treated area. One group was given a cream which they were told was expensive, and which was presented in containers indicating an expensive product; the other group got a cream they were told was inexpensive and which was presented in “cheap” containers. Neither cream contained any active ingredients. The “expensive” group reported fewer side effects than the “cheap” group, and this was confirmed by fMRI. The note associated with the article comments a similar effect is seen in patients treated for various conditions, including postoperative pain, anxiety, and Parkinson’s disease; if treatment is openly discontinued they report an increase in pain, anxiety and Parkinson’s symptoms; if the treated is replaced by a placebo (without informing the patient) no such side effects occur.


I've seen this discussed at other sites. I wonder if the nocebo effect explains "multiple chemical sensitivity" and the like.

Quote:
Article
Journey to Gunland
The author, a “writer”, visited Kennesaw, Georgia, and went shooting, noting “…a swift and strong emotional transformation…” after shooting a hole in a zombie target; she went from “…nervous, even terrified, to exhilarated and unassailable…” She then goes on to cite statistics showing having a gun in your home increases the odds of being a homicide or suicide victim. To be fair, the bar graphs also include a note saying the results were not corrected for possible confounding factors – but doesn’t give an example of what those confounding factors might be. It’s noted that the CDC is banned from studying gun violence (by a rider to the appropriations bill preventing any of the money from being used for that). The article cites statistics from both sides – notable the Lott and Kleck studies on the pro-gun side and the Stanford and Hemenway studies on the anti- side; the pro-gun studies are accompanied by a side warning about what might be wrong with them, but the anti- studies are not.


Because we all know they can't be wrong. :roll:

Quote:
Careers
Hidden in the past
A review article about researchers using various historical data sources. An Australia researcher went through newspapers looking for fishing articles and photographs, and used these to estimate historic stocks for various species. Vessel logbooks provide data for climate researchers, and old astronomical photographs have been interesting astronomers, especially now that many have been digitized. (It’s noted attitudes had to change; astronomers using old data were supposedly formerly looked down on as “second-rate scientists who couldn’t get telescope time”). It’s cautioned scientists using old data should solicit help from historians.


Hmm. My impression was that examining archival data, so long as you had a well planned program, was fairly well regarded in astronomy, or at least tolerated.

Quote:
Science 15 September 2017
Plant scientist sues over story
Kevin Folta has sued the New York Times and reporter Eric Lipton for “knowingly false” claims about Folta’s ties to Monsanto.


Probably about time.

Quote:
Pay up or retract? Drug survey spurs conflict
Public health specialist Donald Morisky of UCLA developed a questionnaire to measure patient adherence to drug regimens: the Eight-Item Morisky Medication Adherence Scale (MMAS-8). “Hundreds” of researchers have used the questionnaire. Unfortunately for many of them, the questionnaire is copyrighted and they neglected to pay for permission to use it before publishing; Morisky has been tracking them down and demanding fees. In addition to the fee – usually around $6000 – the American Psychological Association can expel people who use copyrighted material without permission. While on the surface this might seem like legal money-grubbing, in exchange for the fee Morisky scores the questionnaires using a proprietary algorithm; thus, manual scoring might be invalid and incorrect. Several researchers have withdrawn papers rather than pay Morisky; he has offered a compromise, stating he will no longer pursue individuals but go after institutions.


Not that there's anything wrong with money grubbing.

Quote:
PETA targets early-career wildlife researcher
Christine Latin is a postdoc at Yale studying stress in birds; this involves feeding wild-caught house sparrows oil mixed in their diet, then using various techniques to measure stress hormones. She became interested in the topic when working as raptor rehabilitator, and hopes the results will eventually be of benefit in bird conservation. She was rather surprised and grieved when she began getting hate mail from PETA activists – 40 to 50 messages a day – and organized protests outside a conference she was attending, at the university research building, in downtown New Haven, and outside her home. Observers note it’s unusually for PETA to go after a relatively young researcher, and speculates their tactics may be changing – by going after graduate students and postdocs rather than senior researchers, they can make them “radioactive”, unhireable and unfundable.


It seems to me that RICO was practically written with PETA in mind.

Quote:
News features
Keeping the faith
Mary Schweitzer came to paleontology by an interesting route. She audited Jack Horner’s class at Montana State, announcing to him that she was a young earth creationist and was going show him he was wrong about evolution. The amused Horner replied he was an atheist and allowed Schweitzer to take the course – and, as she put it, when Horner laid out the evidence it was Schweitzer that was converted – which cost her friends, her husband, and her church. But not her faith; she now sees evolution as God’s handiwork. She eventually got a PhD in vertebrate paleontology, but her research has taken her in an interesting direction – she’s trying to demonstrate the existence of preserved proteins in fossil dinosaur bone. She’s claimed collagen and eight proteins common to blood – what’s more, the proteins were found in what appeared to be preserved blood vessels. Needless to say, this has caused a lot of controversy – some paleontologists find her work “groundbreaking”, while others have failed to replicate her results and contend the supposed proteins come from modern contamination. (She counters by saying the failed replication attempts were due to improper technique). The Science article doesn’t mention it, but I suspect that there may be concern that Schweitzer is still a “deep cover” creationist; there have been, of course, several creationist claims of various soft tissues from dinosaur bones, with the implication that they therefore cannot be ancient.


Smacks of ad hominem.

Quote:
Science 1 September 2017
News in Brief
Dance floor drug could treat PTSD
The FDA has approved 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, better known as “ecstasy”, for Phase III trials. It’s noted that stringent drug laws have made research difficult; it seems like regular drug companies are uninterested – I’m guessing for political reasons – and the research is being sponsored by a California nonprofit. The trials are estimated to cost around $25M and take four years.


Phase III trials for what condition?

Quote:
Consider climate, courts say
In August, a DC appeals panel ruled that Federal approval of three natural gas pipelines had failed to consider future greenhouse gas emissions, and a district court in Montana blocked approval of a coal mine expansion because the environmental impact statement had failed to consider the climate effects of burning the coal.


:roll:

[quote]
[Geology September 2017
Detrital zircon geochronology of sandstones of the 3.6-3.2 Ga Barberton greenstone belt: no evidence for older continental crust
A little explanation: “greenstone belts” are metamorphic volcanic and sedimentary rock, interpreted as being very old (Archaean) metamorphosed continental crust. The Barberton greenstone belt is a heavily studied one in South Africa. The question is “Was there even older continental crust?” The authors are looking at detrital zircons in sandstones from the Barberton greenstone belt. Zircons form in granite; continental crust is granitic, oceanic crust basaltic. If you find zircons in sandstone, it means they weathered from granitic rocks (ultimately; they could have weathered out of granite, been deposited in sediment which then lithified to rock, weathered out of that rock and deposited again, and so on). Zircons are pretty durable and thus can withstand repeated weathering events, and they also contain trace amounts of uranium that incorporated into their structure when they crystalized from the original melt. Uranium decays by spontaneous fission; the atom splits up into smaller atoms. This is violent enough to create little scars in the zircon crystal structure – fission tracks. The zircon can be etched to enlarge the fission tracks such that they are visible to an electron microscope, and then they can be counted. Since uranium fissions at a predictable rate, the number of fission tracks in a zircon tells how long it’s been since the zircon crystalized from a melt – its age. There are age measurements for the Barberton greenstone belt based on radiometric dating of volcanic beds – these are independent of the zircon-derived ages. Thus, what it all comes down to is, if there were a lot of zircons in the sandstones of the Barberton greenstone belt that dated older than the independently derived age of the Barberton itself, that would imply that they had weathered out of even older granitic crust. And there aren’t. Thus the authors conclude “large, thick, high-standing, highly evolved blocks of continental crust … were scarce in the early Archaean”.
Meteorite flux to Earth in the early Cretaceous as reconstructed from sediment-dispersed extraterrestrial spinels
“Spinels” are bimetal oxides with a characteristic crystal structure; the prototypical spinel is MgAl₂O₄, but there are lots of other possible combinations of metals, plus thiospinels with sulfur instead of oxygen. The spinel minerals form fairly deep down – but also in meteorites. The authors are looking at a limestone from northern Italy, the Early Cretaceous Maiolica Limestone. This is a pelagic limestone, formed well out in the open ocean, and is very “clean”, with little evidence of contribution from terrestrial sediment. Thus, the authors conclude spinel grains found in Maiolica Limestone are derived from meteoritic dust; confirmation comes from examining spinel grains for their oxygen isotope content. What’s more, spinels can be assigned to a particular “family” of meteorites based on their titanium content. It’s found that meteorites reaching Earth in the Early Cretaceous are basically similar to those reaching Earth today, but quite different from those in the Ordovician. This is hypothesized to be the result of the breakup of an asteroid (“the L-chrondite parent body”) in the Ordovician.
[quote]

Interesting. How does this relate to the 4.4 GYr-old zircon grains from western Australia?


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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2017 11 08
PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:08 pm 
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I am still excited about the James Webb Space Telescope.

Quote:
The graphs show the expected dramatic increase in concern about climate change for the liberals as scientific intelligence increased,

Then why can't they articulate their concern? Why does it always devolve to because "science says so"?

"Isabu": better than Boaty McBoatface.

:? "apparently activist women dressed as badgers"

Agree, not solved.

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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2017 11 08
PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:38 pm 
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KGB wrote:
setnahkt wrote:
Quote:
News Features
Against the grain
Forestry biologist Jerry Franklin was one of the architects of the “old growth” forest concept; we had a discussion of the controversy back in the Archives. Environmentalist somehow got a hold of a draft copy of Franklin’s report and disseminated it widely, fearful that the Forest Service would “bury” it; an activist is quoted as saying “…it was like the Bible”. Now, as happened with Patrick Moore and Greendeath, Franklin is having second thoughts. What changed Franklin’s mind is regrowth in the aftermath of the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption; he notes that the devastated area has much higher species diversity than the surrounding old growth forest. This, in turn, leads him to call for “selective” logging in old growth forests. Needless to say, this has caused former friends to shun hum; activists erected a billboard near him home showing a clear-cut forest and camped out in trees to prevent a small logging experiment in BLM land.


I don't know how important species diversity is in my neck of the woods, but old growth forest is highly inflammable forest. Controlled burns are a part of life here.



The old growth forests Franklin is working with are in the Pacific Northwest, and the climate makes it just about impossible to get them to burn - they are essentially temperate rain forests. I've been in one in Alaska, and it was pretty impressive; there was an abandoned mining site that was now completely covered with moss - including, for example, the suspended steel cables for the ore trollies. In more normal climates, 200 years is about the age limit for a forest before the inevitable fire happens. Interestingly enough, I believe 200 years is also about the average time between volcanic eruptions in the Cascades, which thus may have roughly the same effect as fires for "opening up" the forest and promoting biological diversity.


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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2017 11 08
PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:37 am 
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KGB wrote:
setnahkt wrote:
Journal of Paleontology Number 5 2017
The stalked filter feeder Siphusauctum lloydguntheri n. sp. from the middle Cambrian (Series 3, Stage 5) Spence Shale of Utah; its biological affinities and taphonomy


Do the authors have a theory about what was stalking it?

---------------------------------->


The ancestor of paleontologists..?

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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2017 11 08
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:54 pm 
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Vitugglan wrote:
KGB wrote:
setnahkt wrote:
Journal of Paleontology Number 5 2017
The stalked filter feeder Siphusauctum lloydguntheri n. sp. from the middle Cambrian (Series 3, Stage 5) Spence Shale of Utah; its biological affinities and taphonomy


Do the authors have a theory about what was stalking it?

---------------------------------->


The ancestor of paleontologists..?


:lol:


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