I’ve been haunting the Nature Network for a few months now, and haven’t seen any other carnivals hosted here in that time. I may have missed a carnival post somewhere along the way, but in an effort to be the hostess with the mostest, I’d better make the pertinent introductions to make sure that we all play nicely and everyone has a good time.
Nature Network, meet the Tangled Bank . One of the broadest blog carnivals around, it is named after Charles Darwin’s famous metaphor1 and features articles from across the fields of science and medicine. Reading a carnival gives you access to posts you might never stumble across by yourself; contributing to a carnival brings your work to a whole new audience. Submit your posts to the next edition, why don’t you!
Tangled Bank, meet the Nature Network – it’s like a sensible, grown-up Facebook for scientists, with the added bonus that your workplace probably hasn’t banned it. Use the headings above to find people you know, groups and forums of like-minded scientists, and a whole heap of excellent blogs. If you live in London or Boston , you get even more features to play with. If you live in Canada, you get to join my group .
Let the tangling begin!
Appropriately enough, our first post at SharpBrains discusses the cognitive benefits of social networking – although not necessarily of the online variety.
Evolved Rationalist’s brain is doubly sharp this week with two carnival entries. From the latest alarmist attempts to derail scientific progress, to a plea to rethink the validity of eugenics , you may not agree with these posts, but you should definitely read them. They’ll get those stubborn neurons firing for sure.
Meanwhile, Tangled Up in Blue Guy posts about a subject on which we’re much more likely to reach consensus; the value of teaching and communicating the process of science, as well as the facts.
The good folks over at the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog were obviously paying attention in science class, and have put together a meta-meta-analysis of genetic diversity in crop plants and their wild relatives.
Diversity of another kind from Podblack Cat, who has compared the abilities of computer algorithms and macaque monkeys to write a staggering range of books, or a whole load of gibberish (guess which is which). I sympathise with the monkeys’ supervisors, having just deleted a whole row of //////s that one of my cats decided to contribute to this week’s carnival.
Hopefully the world’s oldest known tree isn’t destined to become paper for the world’s crappiest novels. Martin Rundkvist brings us this story of some Norway Spruce trees in Sweden (how confusing) whose roots have been dated at up to 8000 years old.
Is that a Louisiana Waterthrush in that spruce tree, or a Northern? Whatever it is, it’s lost. This week’s entry from 10,000 Birds tells us how to tell these two very similar species apart ,information which will probably be more useful to you in the US than in Sweden.
Birds not your thing? More interested in ancient diseases? Archaeozoology’s Know Your Pathology series describes the hallmarks of Spina Bifida in modern humans and archaeological remains.
Meanwhile my pal Mad Hatter just sneaks her post in on time through unofficial channels (it’s not when you post, it’s who you know), with a discussion of a possible viral mode of infection for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (mad cow disease and the like).
After all those beautiful birds, trees and all, it seems like such a shame to end this carnival with two posts on nasty diseases, regardless of how interesting they are. So here’s a post of my own in which you can laugh at my lab-based misfortunes , as well as those of others. Send ‘em away smiling, that’s what I say.
OK, that’s all folks! The next edition will be hosted by Dammit Jim! on April 30th. You have two weeks in which to write your own submission…
Edited to add: a late submission from the Beagle Project Blog tells the story behind a recent paper on a new technique for the analysis of plant evolutionary relationships – by the author herself .
 It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life and from use and disuse: a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms.