Science & Society


                                                         
Sniffer Rats

Sniffer Rats

Feb 24 2011 | 2 comment(s)

CLICK HERE for some pictures showing how giant African pouched rats are being used to detect land mines and tuberculosis in Tanzania and Mozambique.

Their noses are very sensitive to TNT, and they are proving to be much easier to train than dogs.
We all do it: we define things from our own perspective. One example I see over and over again is the idea that autism is whatever it looks like in our own kids, or own experience of it, not someone else's. If autism is accompanied with other problems, it's those problems, too.

Our natural tendency is to define things based on our personal experience. Even parents who argue they don't define their children by their autism will have the same tendency to define all symptoms and issues their children have as part of their autism. It's Gregory House writ small: the need to find one cause for all symptoms. The reality is that there are often multiple causes for the myriad of symptoms we may experience.
One of the fairly common things out of the "pro-safe" vaccine crowd insists is that there's inadequate research on vaccines. What better way to look at how information has grown over time than to look at the evolution of a vaccine textbook and how it has grown over five editions.

In 1988, Vaccines was one third the size of the present edition, published 20 years later.

Product Details (from Amazon)
"Hardcover: 656 pages 
Publisher: Saunders (W.B.) Co Ltd; 2nd edition edition (August 1988) 
Language: English 
ISBN-10: 0721619460 
ISBN-13: 978-0721619460"

“Yesterday night I was in my office in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge packing my stuff, resolved to not go back to research again …”


This sad story is another warning to all those enthusiastic about getting into science. One more outtake:

Science comedian Brian Malow has made a video containing neither comedy nor science:
Yesterday I wrote about journalist and science blogger Ed Yong's unfortunate run-in with the kind of anachronistic journalism dinosaur that will be extinct one day soon - a PIO who resents blogging.
This a double whammy, a two-for-the-price-of-one, a joint review (for some value of the word review) of two books with the same title: Kraken.



China Miéville's Kraken is a New Weird novel that tracks the adventures of London Natural History Museum curator Billy Harrow. The inexplicable theft of his prize Architeuthis specimen forces him into an other-London of magical knacks, squid cultists, gangsters, and impending Armageddon.


I'll tell you flat out, I love Public Information Officers - PIOs in journalism parlance.  Without them, I would never get anywhere near the good stuff I get to write about.   I would much, much rather deal with PIOs directly than through paid clearinghouses like AAAS Eurekalert, which seems to be run by sub-literate pygmies bent on keeping science from being written about.   PIOs, on the other hand, love to get more coverage for their researchers without having to bribe AAAS.
Online dating is mainstream big business, we all see television commercials for any number of sites catering to any number of interests - but do they work?