Scientia Pro Publica: The Blogodiversity Edition

Welcome, welcome to the latest edition of Scientia Pro Publica, here at Deep Thoughts and Silliness. This year is the International Year of Biodiversity, so in honour of that I’ll declare this the International Post of Blogodiversity!
Grrlscientist, the carnival’s ringmaster, has developed a taste for lattes, which also have their own biodiversity. So what better to punctuate my drivel? After all, you’re only here for the links.

By the way, the large number of entries meant that I only included one per blog. So you should poke around the blogs on offer here to see what else they’ve written – I had to leave a couple of really nice posts out. Sorry.

OK, now on with the show…


Starting at the top, John (who is KindOfCurious) expands on the work of God to explain how spiders got their lungs. This reminds me of a friend who did his undergraduate project on spiders’ circularitory systems, which meant he had to shave tarantulas. GrrlScientist is more interested in birds, and explains how
Darwin’s Finches can develop immunity to alien Parasites.

Going to the bottom (no, not there), Henry (of this parish) gets all excited about feet. He also claims that there’s no such thing as a missing link, a claim that is disproved here. Zinjanthropus looks further up the Great Chain of being to apes, and explains how to become a knuckle-walker.
And right at the bottom of the modern Scala Naturae, Andrew’s evolving mind has decided it doesn’t where the life/non-life line is. Which is fair enough, prions don’t either.

Person, non-persons and the like

Whilst we’re looking at apes, Eric Michael Johnson (formerly of this parish) muses on personhood. I think the inevitable conclusion is that white mice should be called persons too (although they may consider it beneath them).

Michellespidermonkey has been defending anthropomorphism. Perhaps an argument where both sides are right – Michelle’s technical point is that anthropomorphism is a route to identifying behavioural homology, but she also recognises its importance for communication:

“We scientists are privy to a rare and precious opportunity when we come to know intimately nonhuman animals living in their own worlds. We have a responsibility to these animals to show other people who they really are–sentient beings who matter to one another, living lives as full of drama and emotion and poetry as our own. To perceive the planet as populated with billions of such creatures staggers the imagination, but it is true, and if we want the world of the future to retain this richness, we need to become ever more conscious of this reality before it is too late.” –Barbara Smuts

Bec, though, has the killer argument for anthropomorphism. It’s much easier to the problems faced by venomous dinosaurs.
Meanwhile, Mary, the geographile, rants about people’s explanations for sea lions leaving San Fransisco. It’s not because they wanted to avoid an earthquake 3 months later.
Over in the heavy duty psychology enclosure, Romeo Vitelli describes how a fire in a nightclub provided the spark (sorry) for work in grief counselling, Livia describes some recent work about how we identify mirror images, and Scicurious explains why we use the musical scales we do.


Emily has been thinking. And acting. She’s been trapping lions in the Grand Canyon National Park. They may not be venomous, but they’re still dangerous. And their cubs are cute

This is not really part of the carnival, but they’re too cute to leave out now
For those of you who don’t want to venture out anywhere dangerous on safari, Helen Fields has some good news – your mouth is a jungle. Dentistry has never been so appealing.
John at A DC Birding Blog looks at which species are on the endangered species lists of US states, and how endangered these are globally.
Over at the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog, Luigi blogs about his mother-in-law, who is planting native Kenyan trees on a plot she has cleared, rather than just replanting with Eucalyptus.

Life in the Lab

Jonathan Eisen describes how his latest big paper came about, and why they submitted it to Nature, and not a PLoS journal. And for those of you who want to know about the details of the actual work, the Lab Rat explains how yeast two-hybrid systems can be used to see if jigsaw pieces fit together. I never learned much about this protein stuff, so it was nice to find out what sneaky techniques they use to work out what’s going on.


Poor Schrödinger always ended up drinking his coffee cold
Chad Orzel (who has a new book out) compares basic and applied science

The Beast is not impressed why would a stupid dog chase bunnies when it has manservants?
Over in Britain, they’ve been having trouble with snow. So Brian Derby describers how snowflakes form, but not what the right kind of snow looks like.


Revere “starts a series of posts exploring the randomized clinical trials, and other medical data, whilst Zuska worries about what motivates people to take part in clinical studies

And did you know that alcohol screws up the body clocks of hamsters, as well as humans? Dirk Hanson reports, whilst the irresponsible amongst us may wonder if that’s a good excuse for drinking on trans-atlantic flights.
Avril explains a recent development in understanding how the growth of blood vessels in cancer cells is controlled.

Not Physics or Biology. Or Medicine

Denius DuBay learns some Carbon dioxide lessons, whilst James Hrynyshyn describes some recent work that suggests its effects may be worse than we thought
And, last but not least Brian Clegg (sometimes of this parish) has some problems with nutty clusters that aren’t really there. It’s not well appreciated that chance is lumpy, which is why the world needs statisticians. Just don’t ask us to make a fancy shape on the top of your latte.
I wasn’t sure where to put this, but it’s fascinating anyway. Jeremy tells us all about the history of couscous. Absolutely fascinating.

Hm, t=0, so no different from nothing
The next edition of Scientia Pro Publica will be hosted by KindOfCurious, and will appear in 2 weeks time, on the first of February. If you want to submit a post, you can use the automated form, or email it directly to Scientia Blog Carnival at gmail. Be sure to include the URL or “permalink”, the essay title and, to make life easier for the host, please include a 2-3 sentence summary. If you wish to read the archived issues to see those contributions that were included previously, visit the Scientia website for links to archived carnivals. Please note that all essays must be written for the purpose of communicating with the public and non-specialists, and all submissions that qualify as either advertising or pseudoscience will be sent to the spam mines.

About rpg

Scientist, poet, gadfly
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9 Responses to Scientia Pro Publica: The Blogodiversity Edition

  1. Anna Vilborg says:

    Hmmm, I’ll get a coffee before reading any of those, maybe…

  2. Bob O'Hara says:

    Try an espresso.

  3. Heather Etchevers says:

    That was beautifully illustrated, and a great collection of posts. I will have to pay more attention to these carnivals for pleasure reading. Thank you for all the hard work compiling and putting them on display.

  4. Alyssa Gilbert says:

    Wonderful group of posts – something to keep me busy this week. Plus, those pictures almost converted me to a coffee/espresso/latte drinker.

  5. Lou Woodley says:

    Yes, thanks Bob for compliling this and I’m seriously impressed with the coffee art…I’m assuming you made them on different days or you can’t have slept for a week?!

  6. Lou Woodley says:

    Just realised they’re not yours! At least now I don’t have to fret about your caffeine intake 🙂

  7. Bob O'Hara says:

    I just heard the coffee machine working, so I’ll update you on the state of the coffee surface in a moment…

  8. Bob O'Hara says:

    Damn, nothing special on the coffee. But it tastes good, which is the important thing

  9. Katherine Haxton says:

    Oh! I didn’t realize one of those was a video and wondered what the strange noise was when the computer started growling/purring at me! Doh!
    Nice carnival, but now you’ve made me want coffee 🙂

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