The 103rd edition of the Tangled Bank

Welcome!
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 .
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[1] 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.

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
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16 Responses to The 103rd edition of the Tangled Bank

  1. Henry Gee says:

    Hi Cath – sorry to be thick, but please would you explain what a blog carnival is? And what (and where) is the platform where the NN will Tangle with the Bank? All I can see is the links in your post to various blogs – is that it? Or is there something more that I’ve missed? Bora took time to explain to me, physically and in person, what a blog carnival was, and I thought I understood it. But now I’m lost again.

  2. Cath Ennis says:

    Hi Henry – no worries! A blog carnival is just what you described – a collection of links to posts from across the blogosphere that share a common theme. In this case it’s science and medicine, but there are as many carnivals out there as there are blog post subjects! This site compiles a list and manages submissions for many of them.

  3. Maxine Clarke says:

    We had quite a discussion recently about blog carnivals, including Tangled Bank, in the NN bloggers forum.
    NN users seem to have gone more for the syncrhoblogging (everyone agrees to post on one topic on the same day) approach than the carnival (one post collecting links) approach. Be that as it may, there are some suggestions for carnival/synchro topics at the NN bloggers link at the start of my comment — maybe you can mention your carnival post there, Cath, and stimulate another one.

  4. Bora Zivkovic says:

    Here is is in brief (and follow the links within for more detail):
    http://scienceblogs.com/clock/2006/09/convergesouth05_blog_carnivals.php

  5. Niranjana Nagarajan says:

    Lovely reading, thank you!

  6. Cath Ennis says:

    Thanks all for joining in! Synchroblogging is an interesting concept – but are the related posts interlinked and “well-archived” like carnivals? These are very important aspects of Bora’s excellent description.

  7. Richard P. Grant says:

    The concept of carnivals seems a little self-indulgent, to me (sorry peeps, that’s just how it feels). I like the synchro-blogging idea (Help! I need HyphenGirl!) – seems a little less “look at us, aren’t we clever?” in a cliquey way and a little bit more actual, well, clever.

  8. Cath Ennis says:

    What, and the concept of writing a blog isn’t at all self-indulgent in itself? 😉

  9. Karen James says:

    As instructed by Further Thoughts, host of Tangled Bank 102 two weeks ago, I sent my submission for Tangled Bank 103 to “host@tangledbank.net”. Alas, I do not see my post here in your carnival. This is either because 1) you read my post and didn’t like it very much (fair enough) or 2) my email submission did not make it to in the first place.
    So, 1 or 2? If 1, fine, your choice as carnival host. If 2 then there is a problem with the TB submission system.
    Anyways, my submission was:
    http://thebeagleproject.blogspot.com/2008/04/genomics-and-plant-evolution-blogging.html

  10. Cath Ennis says:

    Karen, I’m sorry to hear that. All submissions were forwarded to me by PZ Myers, to whom they are originally sent. I just double checked my email, and yours wasn’t there in either my inbox or my spam folder. Everything that got sent to me is in the carnival, even though I thought a couple of posts were marginal according to the carnival’s guidelines. I would never have excluded your post – I ordered a Beagle Project t-shirt and everything! (It got delivered while I was on vacation and the post office returned it to the vendor, but you still got my cash!).
    Looks like a problem at the carnival’s end. Mad Hatter’s didn’t come through from PZ either, but I included it after I received a personal communication from her saying she’d tried to submit it…

  11. Cath Ennis says:

    p.s. I edited the post and added your link. On my way to Pharyngula to find out what’s going on!

  12. Richard P. Grant says:

    @Cath. Absolutely. 🙂

  13. Mad Hatter says:

    Excellent carnival! And hey, what can I say? It’s good to have friends in high places! 🙂

  14. Henry Gee says:

    Thanks Cath (and Bora!) I think I understand now (nearly)

  15. Karen James says:

    Thanks, Cath! Too bad about the t-shirt. I’d phone the vendor and try to get them to send it back. Either way, thanks for the donation: every little helps!

  16. Cath Ennis says:

    @MH: I’m not that high. Officer.
    @Henry and Karen: you’re very welcome!

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