Science & Society

When Elise Andrew, the creator of the phenomenally popular social media site I F***ing Love Science, shared her personal Twitter account in 2013 with the site's fans, she said the Internet “lost its mind.”

At first, the influx of comments might have seemed benign enough. People commented that they were surprised she was female; some added they also thought she was attractive.

A statistical analysis determines that in India’s agriculture sector following the liberalization of the nation’s economy during the 1990s,  suicides among small, debt-ridden farmers - who are clinging to tiny holdings, less than one hectare - and are trying to grow cash crops, such as cotton and coffee, that are highly susceptible to global price fluctuations - have been the result.

By contrast, areas such as Gujarat, in which cash crops are mainly cultivated on large-scale farms, have low suicide rates. Wealthy cash crop farmers have the resources to weather difficult economic periods without falling into debt and ruin. It's rare to see academics arguing for giant farms over small, family-owned ones.

If you were a blonde girl or boy captured in a raid a few hundred years ago, you were an exotic luxury item so valuable it was worthwhile to transport you to far-away markets in Asia.

Slave-trading was so common the routes stretched from Finland, the Russian Karelia and the Baltic Countries all the way to the Caspian Sea and central Asia.

Finland to Asia? Rarely, of course. Only the largest merchants, with a buyer already in place, would hire gangs from the Volga to capture people and then hazard that journey. Writing
in Russian History, University of Eastern Finland
Professor Jukka Korpela

Earth Day is fast approaching and, let's face it, if you celebrate Earth Day you probably hate science. And you really hate chemists. 

But there has never been a reason for it, it is simply modern chemophobia. If you ask an environmentalist if they should use a chemical solvent or baking soda to clean, they will say baking soda - but baking soda is a toxic synthetic chemical (NaHCO3) unless it is used properly, where it is harmless and biodegradable. 

Home can sometimes literally be in the kitchen.

A Puerto Rican community - in Connecticut of all places - creates cuisine authentic it has caught the attention of scientists.

Like immigrants throughout history who ventured forth with their favorite plants in tow, the Puerto Ricans of Hartford maintain cuisine as an important component of their identity. But this strong relationship to food has had a profound impact on human health by reshaping environmental biodiversity, influencing the diets of neighbors, and preserving elements of culture, according to botanists David W. Taylor and Gregory J. Anderson.

Until university leaders can supply politicians with better approaches to accountability, they're just going to count. In Norway right now, we're in the midst of counting season. And because of the sharp folks at Current Research Information System in Norway, we have detailed numbers. (Disclosure: I'm the head of the board at CRIStin.)

Along with counting, comes comparison. So, here's a little teaser from the high north and, sure, I'd like to know how it stacks up against your university.

In 2013, the 18,709 academic staff members at Norwegian colleges and universities were (co)authors on a total of 17,493 research articles, for an average of just less than one (co)authorship per academic employee.
Professional forester and writer Norm Benson recently got a healthy dose of anti-science environmentalism, because he wrote an article endorsing a vitamin-enriched bowl of rice that, nonetheless, is protested by Greenpeace, Union of Concerned Scientists and everyone else who hates science more than they love children.

A cosmetic surgical procedure to alter women's genitals is rising in popularity thanks in part to the porn industry, even as many questions loom about unknown medical and social consequences.

Labiaplasty involves “trimming” or reshaping the labia minora, usually to make them smaller or more symmetrical.

Before 1940, Nobel Prizes were a reflection of the rapidly evolving state of science. It was uncommon for an award to happen for a discovery 20 years or more after the research happened, it seemed more like a concession prize because nothing had happened recently - in physics, chemistry and medicine, delayed awards only occurred 11%, 15% and 24% of the time.

By 1985, those percentages were 60%, 52% and 45%. This is only a problem that has cropped up in science and medicine, other prizes are quickly awarded on pop culture status; President Obama was apparently given one, based on when nominations happen, for his first inauguration speech.

To a high degree, newspapers mirror the viewpoints of the political elite, a bolster to the 'elite-driven media' theory about editorial viewpoints, according to a new analysis in thejournal Media, War&Conflict.

The scholars from the University of Copenhagen elite-driven media theory may explain why support for the war efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have been remarkably consistent in the small, non-belligerent nation of Denmark.