# ORiginals – Videos About Research

ORiginals is a YouTube channel co-hosted by Dr. Banafsheh Behzad (@banafsheh_b) of CSU Long Beach and my colleague Dr. David Morrison (@drmorr0). They present short (five or six minute) videos featuring researchers describing their research to a general (non-expert) audience. Their tag line is “Outstanding research in everyday language”, and I think the first two installments …

More

# A Living Place of Education

Tree in the Botanical Gardens at Michigan State University   The places we inhabit habituate us. The virtues they cultivate are grounded in the values they embody. In 1855, a natural opening in the oak forest of the Burr farm was selected as a fitting site for the creation of the Michigan Agricultural College (M.A.C.) …

More

# Grave Guns, Coffin Torpedos and Other Methods of Protecting Your Bones From Thieves

Grave robbing isn’t always about stealing artifacts or grave goods, nor is it just a thing of the past. A couple weeks ago, police discovered that the crypt of F.W. Murnau was being used for occult ceremonies. Wax drippings confirmed that the crypt was being used by the living, and the cemetery caretaker confirmed that it had been …

More

# What Teach for America Truly Values

[Note: All information in this post, unless otherwise cited, was drawn from Mercedes Schneider’s excellent blog post, Teach for America Seeks Help Promoting Itself on Capitol Hill.] Recently, Teach for America posted a vacancy for the Director of their Government Affairs operations in Washington, DC. Interestingly, the job announcement includes the following information about the experience …

More

# The quest for panda poo (first day in the field)

Yesterday was my first day venturing into the field to collect fecal samples for later genetic analysis. I hope to conduct a non-invasive genetics survey of Wolong Nature reserve and the surrounding areas to determine movement patterns and population structure at a reserve-network scale and determine some of the effects of human development and protection …

More

# Silence is Acquiescence

In Studs Terkel’s last book, Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith, he’s once again collected many moving first person accounts from a wide range of people. They are all moving reflections well worth sitting with should you get a chance.I was particularly taken the other morning by …

More

# Emissions &

So I’m afraid that this is one of those weeks when I’m going to send you backwards to catch up. Like to last week when I couldn’t get started because the whole thing was just too confusing, or to a few weeks ago when we were all giving out a big shout-out to Pope Francis. But while it would …

More

# Shiny Hack: Vertical Scrollbar

I bumped into a scrolling issue while writing a web-based application in Shiny, using the shinydashboard package. Actually, there were two separate problems. The browser apparently cannot discern page height. In Firefox and Chrome, this resulted in vertical scrollbars that could scroll well beyond the bottom of a page. That’s mildly odd, but not a …

More

# Go see Ant-Man. Right now.

Photo courtesy of imdb.com Another Marvel blockbuster, Ant-Man, has come out this summer. With polite nods to previous Avengers and Shield storylines, this is the tale of a good guy, a super-cool shrinking suit, and a pretty amazing scientist with an affinity for ants. Not to give too much away about the plot, I’ll just leave …

More

# Happy Day of Archaeology: Revealing Lost Stories and Hidden Voices

Today is the Day of Archaeology. The goal of this day is to provide insight into the daily lives of archaeologists around the world, including professors, contract professionals, volunteers, students and more. It demonstrates the wide range of work that we do, from excavating to lab work, public outreach to research. Being an archaeologist, to …

More

# Drone Art

I saw this video at one of the Scifoo sessions on drones. Beautiful stuff! I find this much more pleasing than fireworks. The amount of waste and debris generated by a big fireworks display is horrendous. Tweet

# Histriomastix: The Player’s Scourge (1633)

Histriomastix: The Player’s Scourge (1633) This ponderous work by Puritan author William Prynne is essentially an extended argument against the perceived sins of the theater.  For over 1,000 pages, the work viciously rails against the immorality of acting, dancing, and other such pursuits. A handwritten note in the front of our copy quotes Prynne’s infamous …

More

# That which doesn’t kill you…

I am learning how to fail honorably. I traveled half way around the world to study the Chinese language and make connections that would be helpful throughout my graduate research. Much to my surprise and a little to my dismay, the most applicable skill I am learning from this journey is how to fail. Like …

More

# Don’t craft student loan policy based on Governor O’Malley’s experience

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley recently declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president, challenging front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Among his key proposals as a candidate are to offer students in public colleges and universities “debt-free college” and for states “to immediately freeze tuition rates.” While these may sound like good ideas to address …

More

# Rankings galore

College rankings have become big business.  There are numerous media and other organizations that have jumped in to create their own rankings, each with a unique methodology.  In 2013 President Obama announced that the federal government would get into the college ratings business as well.  After almost two years of effort, and the release of …

More

# HaploSNPs and missing heritability

By constructing haplotypes using adjacent SNPs the authors arrive at a superior set of genetic variables with which to compute genetic similarity. These haplotypes tag rare variants and seem to recover a significant chunk of heritability not accounted for by common SNPs. See also ref 32: Yang, J. et al. Estimation of genetic variance from …

More

# Caregiving: The pluses and the not-so-pluses Part 1

I recently came across an article from 2013 by a whole host of authors associated with the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys. (Twenty-six, to be exact! I wonder what that collaborative process was like and how they negotiated the order of authors.) I was interested in this article because it looks at caregiver …

More

Important update 7/21-15: Please see comments below on the really low quality of the data. I was originally serious about this analysis taking the IQ data at face value, but now want to state that while I do find the aspect of the flag colors amusing, I totally do not trust the IQ data. If …

More

# What is medicine’s 5 sigma?

Editorial in the Lancet, reflecting on the Symposium on the Reproducibility and Reliability of Biomedical Research held April 2015 by the Wellcome Trust. Offline: What is medicine’s 5 sigma? … much of the [BIOMEDICAL] scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and …

More

# Climate Ethics

Are you confused about the climate ethics of your diet? Me, too. I don’t doubt that humans are having a significant impact on global climate systems, but I have some limited sympathy with the climate-change skeptics. It’s going a bit too far when you claim that this is all something that Al Gore (remember him?) …

More

# Technically Sweet

Regular readers will know that I’ve been interested in the so-called Teller-Ulam mechanism used in thermonuclear bombs. Recently I read Kenneth Ford‘s memoir Building the H Bomb: A Personal History. Ford was a student of John Wheeler, who brought him to Los Alamos to work on the H-bomb project. This led me to look again …

More

# An Achievement School District Primer

17 Jul 2015 “Achievement School Districts” are a recent phenomenon in the corporate education reform movement. These “school districts” are designed to guarantee “rapid improvement in the state’s low performing schools”, although specific methods, techniques and strategies to accomplish this goal are rarely mentioned. ASDs have sprung up all across the nation, under various names …

More

# A 4th Grader’s Excitement Renewed – New Horizons

When I was in 4th grade, we studied the solar system. As part of that unit we had to pick a planet and write a report. I chose Pluto.   A Hubble image of Pluto. This was our best photo before New Horizons and it mostly shows some color variation. At the time, Pluto didn’t …

More

# 2015 Weed Tour Success

-E. Hill This year’s Weed Tour may have been one for the record books. There were upwards of 300 participants! When I wasn’t driving tractor or visiting with participants I managed to grab just a few photos to share…please enjoy! Also, if you were at the tour and did not receive a tour book because …

More

# On quantum measurement (Part 6: The quantum eraser)

Here’s to you, quantum measurement afficionado, who has found their way to the sixth installment, breathless (I hope), to learn of the fate of the famous cat, eponymous with one of the great ones of quantum mechanics. Does she live or die? Can she be both dead and alive? What did this kitten ever do …

More

# Productive Bubbles

These slides are from one of the best sessions I attended at scifoo. Bill Janeway’s perspective was both theoretical and historical, but in addition we had Sam Altman of Y Combinator to discuss Airbnb and other examples of 2 way market platforms (Uber, etc.) that may or may not be enjoying speculative bubbles at the …

More

# New advice to benefit muskies and pike

I was fishing on a northern Wisconsin lake, and had just casted my Mepps spinner too far onto the bank. As I thrashed my lure back out through the sedges in water less than a foot deep, the glassy surface erupted. There was no “hook set” on my first musky, just holding on for dear …

More

# Enter Title Here

I might as well start out today by just admitting up front that it’s not really proving to be particularly conducive to blogging. I mean, what is this blogging thing, anyway? (Sounds like the start of a Seinfeld monologue, doesn’t it?). There was a particular idea to it back in the stone age years of …

More

# Magnetism and Mysticism

The Pedvale Open Air Art Museum lies in a magnetic field. The magnetic force lines of this field interact with the large granite and iron sculptures to create some unusual magnetic effects. The lifting ring on my sculpture, Sekimori Ishi attracts the north pole of a magnetic compass. On the other side of the park, …

More

# MAETEL1: Day 1

Michigan State University’s summer MAET program in East Lansing welcomed 22 students from across the globe today who were ready and eager to learn and play. The instructors were excited — and so was Sparty! After a warm video welcome from Galway by Dr. Leigh Graves Wolf, the #MAETEL1 cohort started our first day by …

More

# Reformer Myth #27: It’s not all about the kids…

It’s a common refrain among the reformer Illuminati whenever they experience any push-back against their anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-public education, anti-motherhood-apple-pie-and-hot-dogs agenda. You can bet your bottom privatization dollar that as soon as these edu-tourists hear any reasonable, evidence-based rationale refuting their radical positions on teacher evaluation, tenure or the use of Value-Added Measures, they will …

More

# July 4th Library Water Leak

Books that got wet as a result of the leak on July 4th have been fanned out to dry in areas around the basement. Some have been frozen until we can get to them. We estimate that 3,500 to 4,000 books were affected by the flood. Some will be able to return the stacks in …

More

# Climbing back on the yoga mat. Poses of the day – The Dogs

I’ve been stalking my dog Loki with the camera to catch her doing Ahdomukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose) and Urdhvamukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose) because she does them so well. Sadly, I’m not quick enough with the shutter. Of course, her poses don’t look exactly like the bi-pedal versions (or maybe that’s the other way …

More

# Cookbooks are among the most heavily annotated modern books

Cookbooks, we have found, are among the most heavily annotated modern books.  Previous owners often modified recipes, made comments on their favorite (or least favorite) entries, or left food stains behind – sure signs of (repeated) use!Notes in cookbooks are often very personal, revealing a great deal about the tastes of the former owner – but …

More

# I call this progress

The tail of the (green) 2000 curve seems slightly off to me: ~10 million individuals with >$100k annual income? (~$400k per annum for a family of four; but there are many more than 10 million “one percenters” in the US/Europe/Japan/China/etc.) Via Roger Chen. Tweet

# Astrophysical Constraints on Dark Energy v2

This is v2 of a draft we posted earlier in the year. The new version has much more detail on whether rotation curve measurements of an isolated dwarf galaxy might be able to constrain the local dark energy density. As we state in the paper (c is the local dark energy density): In Table V, …

More

# Ehtookoto: Client-centered and how!

Ehtookoto provides housing and support services to older adults and adults suffering from mental health problems in the municipality of Lempäälä, Finland. It was founded in 1965 and embodies the principles of empowerment and client-centered services that we often talk about, but sometimes struggle to put into practice. It is also situated in a lovely, …

More

# Not Knockwurst

Topic for an American holiday weekend: How did the Vienna sausage come to be associated with a person who performs dangerous or showy stunts? Or, for that matter, with a general exclamation of excitement or appreciation? The Vienna sausage I’m talking about is, of course, better known as a wiener, which, I’ve explained with extreme …

More

# Directional dominance on stature and cognition

Interesting results in this recent Nature article. The dominance effect is quite strong: the equivalent of first cousin inbreeding (homozygosity ~ 1/8) results in a decrease in height or cognitive ability of about 1/6 or 1/3 of an SD. That means the effect from alleles which depress the trait increases by significantly more than 2x …

More

# DH 2015: Coalescing Frames

The main program of DH 2015 has come to a close. My thanks to the organizers for an intellectually challenging conference. My thanks especially to the brave individuals that forcefully problematized DH as community – who is in, who is out? | who is named, who is not named? | global, really? | inclusivity on whose …

More

# Tabulating Prediction Intervals in R

I just wrapped up (knock on wood!) a coding project using R and Shiny. (Shiny, while way cool, is incidental to this post.) It was a favor for a friend, something she intends to use teaching an online course. Two of the tasks, while fairly mundane, generated code that was just barely obscure enough to …

More

# Being a guest scientist is weird, but fun

I was recently invited to serve as a guest scientist for ISB202 (Applied Environmental and Organismal Biology), a nonmajors class teaching the basics of science. The modules of this course are set up so that students learn to think and speak like scientists, and to develop critical thinking and logical skills to analyze the validity …

More

# Entry #29: Giving Legal Rights and a Voice to Mother Nature

Should we give rights to trees, rivers, and other entities of nature?  Indigenous people in, Ecuador, Bolivia, and New Zealand have convinced their governments to pass laws designed to protect Mother Earth. I was introduced to the movement to protect Mother Earth through law by indigenous friends in Ecuador when I did research on sustainable …

More

# The Edge of the Oak Opening

Old illustration of Linton Hall at Michigan State University As I begin my tenure as Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University I find myself thinking of these lines adapted from Deuteronomy 6:10-12 by Peter Raible: “We build on foundations we did not lay. We warm ourselves at fires we …

More