Science & Society

If depictions of animals in ancient Egyptian artifacts are an accurate climate record, they have helped scholars assemble a detailed record of the large mammals that lived in the Nile Valley over the past 6,000 years.

They then determined that species extinctions, probably caused by a drying climate and growing human population, made the ecosystem progressively less stable. 



Dora grows up. Credit: Lisa West Photography, CC BY-NC-ND

By Bruce Fuller, University of California, Berkeley


Critical mass of editors could help solve the puzzle.Credit: bastique, CC BY-SA

By Mark Graham, University of Oxford

Scientists can be victims of sexual abuse from their peers just as in any institution. Credit: Minerva Studio

By Margaret C. Hardy, The University of Queensland

The life sciences have come under fire recently with a study published in PLOS ONE that investigated the level of sexual harassment and sexual assault of trainees in academic fieldwork environments.

By Helen King, The Open University

It wasn’t that long ago that it was believed that regular periods were essential for women's health and in their absence, a loss of blood through another orifice was a fair substitute.

In a classical Greek text linked to Hippocrates, the Aphorisms, it was written that “a nosebleed is a good thing if the menstrual period is suppressed”. So too was vomiting blood. And these beliefs lasted in western Europe until the middle of the 19th century.

But what was the theory behind what now seems a pretty alarming set of beliefs?

1. A build up of blood caused illness

Should scientists handle retractions differently?

Peer review cannot catch everything. In many papers, there is no peer review at all, it is editorial review that checks off a few boxes and relies on post-publication peer review to find flaws. That makes retractions more common.


It's the home stretch of the professional baseball season and that means players are more likely to be tired or sustain an injury. New research suggests that a stronger core might help.

In the study, 347 pitchers were assessed for lumbopelvic control during spring training. Pitchers with more tilt in their pelvis as they raised a leg to step up were up to three times more likely to miss at least 30 days – cumulative, not consecutive – during the season than were pitchers who showed minimal tilt in their pelvis.  They found that professional baseball pitchers with poor core stability are more likely to miss 30 or more days in a single season because of injury than are pitchers who have good control of muscles in their lower back and pelvis. 


Why would anyone bake bread and then turn around and toast it?

I lived in a Pennsylvania house heated by wood. The idea of using our manual labor, in the form of wood, to toast bread was silly - but we owned an electric toaster. Somehow, being removed from the direct labor equation made toasting more acceptable, though our ancestors thought it a pastime for the idle rich.
Spend any time in American science media and you may find some of them are pretty far out of the political mainstream; so far out, they may not even be friends with anyone who has not always voted the same way as them.

So it's unsurprising that much of science media once perpetuated the claim that 'science votes Democrat.'  Humans are fallible and confirmation bias is sneaky. As was apocryphally attributed to New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael after the 1972 Presidential election and a Richard M. Nixon landslide victory, "I don't know how Nixon won. No one I know voted for him." (1)