Science Highlights – May 11, 02018

My dad passed away from glioblastoma two years ago, so I was especially interested in the “Anatomical transcriptional atlas of a human glioblastoma” research report.  While the paper describes a fantastic new resource for researchers, I did note that they found “… insufficient statistical power for analysis of this mutation…” and “We did not identify any mutation … that predicted overall survival better than..”  However – “This atlas and the associated database .. will serve as a useful platform for developing and testing new hypotheses related to the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of glioblastoma.”  Great work of building a foundation to move forward!

The cognitive psychology report (“Efficient coding explains the universal law of generalization in human perception” was a good piece about a new approach to understanding how generalization is done – with measurable predictions about how this approach is better.)

In a great, pure awesome geology piece (quite readable!), Myrow et al describe “Rapid sea level rise in the aftermath of a Neoproterozoic snowball Earth” in which they analyze thoroughly a sedimentary structure in Australia to determine sea level rise rates of 20 -27 cm / years.  YOWZA!  The detailed description of the geological analysis to determine that is amazing.

Finally, the plasma physics analysis of waves modes in an insterstellar cloud in “Magnetic seismology of interstellar gas clouds: Unveiling a hidden dimension” was really cool.  I mean, who doesn’t love some good magnetohydrodynamic analysis of a ~10 parsec structure that is about 150-200 parsecs away from us, to determine that it isn’t actually a cylindrical cloud as had been assumed – but because of the observed plasma wave normal modes, it must be a flat sheet like cloud.  Awesome!

And of course, the better measurement of the neutron lifetime done here at LANL is reported in this issue.

Also, there is really depressing news that NASA is canceling the carbon monitoring research program.

A packed issue with plenty to read.

Science Highlights – May 4, 2018

The challenge of privacy and personalized medicine was the highlight this week – and it is a thorny problem with no easy resolution.  The editorial “Global data meet EU rules” and the Policy Forum on “Scrutinizing the EU General Data Protection Regulation” were the most compelling articles this week.  Others were interesting, but didn’t grab my full attention.

The data/privacy issue was also recently highlighted on NPR’s Science Friday.

NYT Obits: 1 male, 1 female

On May 13, 2018, NYTimes obits write-ups features one male (David Pines) and one female (Dr. Davida Coady).  And for faces featured it was 5 white men to 2 white women.

Ever since I started reading the NYT, I noticed the secret to women’s longer lifespan – men just die more, at least based on the evidence in the NYT obits.  I’ve kept tabs off an on and usually take note of the daily tally.  I decided to start tabulating it here (especially since NYT started the “Overlooked” effort, which started off admitting “Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. Now, we’re adding the stories of other remarkable people.”)

High Country News: May 14, 2018 especially good!

I always enjoy High Country News (HCN) but for some reason I found the May 14, 2018 issue especially good.  Probably I’m a bit biased – a great shout out to the Bathtub Row Brewery here in Los Alamos (Get thee to a brewery article, with special focus on co-op breweries),  the look at Zozobra’s complicated culture, history, and celebration of remembering and freeing oneself from the past (Entrada complicada), and Ethan Linck’s great essay “Your stoke won’t save us” – a great issue as always, but I found it especially thought provoking.  (Maybe it was also better because I read it while camping at the Great Sand Dunes National Park!)