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Planet Earth

Saturday links

Not Exactly Rocket ScienceBy Ed YongMay 29, 2010 9:00 PM

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Listen to a fascinating debate between Alan Rusbridger of the Guardian and John Witherow of the Times about whether paywalls with save journalism. These photos of Saturn and its attendant moons from the Boston Globe are astronomically beautiful. Male topi antelope scare females into staying for sex by feigning alarm calls. This will features in a sex advice column somewhere within months. Baby sloths. Like adult sloths, only smaller and younger. British poll shows declining interest in climate change, supposedly due to Climategate, indecisiveness at Copenhagen, and a spate of cold weather. Dr Petra gives us a thoughtful analysis of a new “abortion ad” causing controversy in the UK, and dissects a lot of the media myths around abortion. There’s more on Craig Venter’s synthetic life breakthrough. Venter himself debunks some of the hype around the study at the Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, Charlie Brooker wins the internet at the Guardian. “Bits of yeast and E coli... eventually knitted the strand into a complete million-letter-long DNA sequence, which you're probably incorrectly picturing right now.” And more superb satire here: journalists create world’s first artificial news story. Science journalist Christine Ottery has started a new blog called Women’s Mag Science that analyses science coverage in women’s magazines and tries to better it. “It's not quite as easy as putting thermometers under their tongues and waiting 30 seconds, but scientists have discovered a way to measure the average body temperature of animals that lived millions of years ago.” Michael Price at ScienceNOW describes a new palaeothermometer. A wonderful report by the Pew Research Center showed that between January 2009 and January 2010, science accounted for 10% of news stories on blogs but just 1% in traditional press. Science was the 3^rd most popular news topic on blogs and the 23^rd most popular in traditional press. Carl Zimmer describes the world’s ultimate ultra-marathonner – the bar-tailed godwit, which flies 7,000 miles non-stop without a single pretzel. I love how his NYT piece and his blog post complement each other (and have slightly different writing styles). In the NYT, Andy Revkin discusses a study claiming that a warming world won’t have more malaria in it. The author of the paper responds in the comments. “My name is DarWIN, not DarLOSE.” Dana Carvey actually made me laugh. 10% of sharks are luminous, and some can effectively use their lights to turn invisible, according to Discovery News. An awesome feature by Steve Silberman in Wired, on the problems of human tissue storage. Science writers take note: this is how you do it. Schoolchildren review the UK’s science curriculum. Worth a read. XKCD has a legendary survey about how people perceive and name colours. The list of disproportionately popular colour names by gender is hilarious, as is the final list of colour descriptions.

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