Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Science News Sites

The question came up where to find accessible science news. Here are a few. Remember that some of these may be available via the Pratt's online services. Make sure to check with them or to ask a reference librarian about their databases.

New Scientist
Scientific American and Scientific American News

BBC Radio's In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg has very good background discussions that can be downloaded as MP3s

Take a look/listen to the other Science programs there
A bit more sensational at times are:
BBC World Service Science
New York Times Science
Perhaps the most respected, though not so accessible both in terms of the
publication and because of its cost, is Nature

Sunday, December 14, 2008

DNA pioneer's own genes raise questions about the meaning of race

Commentary from By Arthur Caplan, Ph.D. contributor
updated 8:36 a.m. ET, Fri., Dec. 14, 2007
"An Iceland-based genomics company, deCODE genetics, conducted an analysis of Watson's DNA, which Watson had allowed to be placed on the Internet, and found that 16 percent of his genes are likely to have come from a black ancestor.....
Indeed, the racial outing of Watson was quite a surprise — most likely to the 79-year-old Nobel-prize winner. This past October he was forced to cancel a tour promoting his new book in England after opining in a British newspaper that he felt “inherently gloomy about the prospects for Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really.” Jim’s fretting left him without a job at home — he retired from his job as chancellor at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York — and no longer especially welcome on the speaking circuit anywhere serious. Finding out one has black genes seems especially inconvenient for somebody proclaiming blacks to be genetically inferior."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

EU regulations to protect Great Apes

Tom Feilden reports on the EU providing protection for primates in medical experimentation and for banning experiments on the great apes all together. "Underpinning the draft directive is the principle of the 3R's -

reducing the number of animals to a minimum, refining experiments to alleviate suffering, and replacing animals with alternatives wherever possible.
It's an approach that has been pioneered here in the UK, and some are already referring to the plan as a Europe-wide adoption of "the British model"."

Listen here:

Tom Feilden reports

The proposals seem fairly consistent with those proposed by Darwin.

Fake photos --- the old fashion way

It was a staple of the regimes of the Cold War to doctor photographs. Winston's job at the Ministry in 1984 was rewriting history using such photographs. There is a good, though out of print, work by David King The Commissar Vanishes, which details Stalinist photo techniques.

See the online exhibit at the Newseum

Now the BBC has reported similar manipulations of recent photos of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in their story: 'Fake photo' revives Kim rumours

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Brian Lehrer Show on 2003 US Torture Memo

How High Up?

Philippe Sands, international lawyer, professor of law at University College London and author of Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values, discusses his Vanity Fair article on the Bush Administration and torture and whether any individuals might be in legal jeopardy.

Link to a 2003 memo from the Department of Justice saying torture of foreign nationals is lawful (pdf)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Online Exhibition of Ernst Haeckel's Art Forms in Nature

Check out this site, especially the bio and the plates available here:
Online Exhibition of Ernst Haeckel's Art Forms in Nature

Haeckel's illustration of the developing embryos are still standard in many text books, though the accuracy of some of the features has been called into question. Next to Huxley, Haeckel was Darwin's most important popularizer, though Haeckel's views would have been more aligned in general with Spencer than Darwin. Haeckel's Monists had connections with the German Thule Society, which will be mentioned later in the readings.

His illustrations are discussed in the evolution debate that we will be reviewing as well.