Midges and cholera

Just when we think we’ve got a disease covered, a serendipitous discovery reveals that humans may not be the reservoir for Vibrio cholerae at all, and that it may exist between pandemics in the non-biting midge. A recent paper on the subject explains in detail how important this discovery could be for controlling this devastating disease: Adult non-biting midges: possible windborne carriers of Vibrio cholerae

Writing about cuneiform

It never ceases to amaze me what visitors to my science news site will ask about. Latest question just in: “Did you ever learn about cuneiform if so can you tell email me some facts?! Please I need some facts!”

Now, is it just me, or would searching for the word “cuneiform” not be the best way to start? It took 2 seconds to find: Cuneiform on Wikipedia, with all the info you could possibly need!

The Taxonomy of Daftodils

No sooner had I blogged my daftodils photo than answers to my species query started to arrive. Science librarian Rebecca Hedreen, of the Buley Library (presumably digging deep for useful horticultural information for her readers), was first in, suggesting that the plant in question is actually Narcisssus photoshopia. Apparently, this species comes in a variety known as Narcisssus photoshopia elementis, which is available to the virtual gardener on a budget!

A Berry good explanation

I once met the inimitable Adrian Berry (he took me and my wife to a fantastic seafood restaurant in Boston when we were guests of the Telegraph at a AAAS meeting). Anyway, his blog is fascinating and his views and understanding of science are tipified by one of his articles that explains why fixing the Hubble Space Telescope with robots is “preposterous”: Baffled Computers.

At that meeting, I was trying to enthuse about chemical chirality and a feature article I’d written for the paper’s science editor Roger Highfield on enantiomerically selective chemical syntheses. Unfortunately (for me), Adrian didn’t mince words and put me on the spot to explain chirality and quickly knocked the wind out of my intricate and long-winded molecular explanation with one word – handedness. Which is chirality in a nutshell. For more on chirality check out my cyclo-octatetraene molecule of the month

Jonathan Goodman

My chemical colleague Jonathan Goodman was kind enough to allow me to syndicate Chem Inf Letts on the Sciencebase site, so I thought I’d give him another plug in the SciObs blog and see if we can knock the “other” JG off the search engines’ top slot for the Prof’s name. After all, a chemistry professor, in my humble opinion, is a far more relevant character for the search engine’s to list at number one than the other guy (even if he is a maths professor!)

…of oysters and mussels

It’s great that an old client of mine, The Scotsman, sees fit to cover recent happenings at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society regarding oysters and mussels being the food of love, but did they have to reinforce the negative image of chemistry by using the phrase “the unromantic-sounding annual meeting”? It’s bad enough that the chemophobes make constant digs at the subject, but those reporting on science don’t need to reinforce the stereotypes, surely. Anyway, something that might appear unromantic ain’t necessarily so…who knows what goes on in between lectures and behind those poster displays…

Decoded language

Sexism is thriving in Washington science apparently. According to an article in the Post referrring to recent research on Chromosome X: “She was slow to reveal her secrets, but the X chromosome has
now bared it all”. The article, Human X Chromosome Coded, itself is interesting, but why employ such a lewd opening…? It’s certainly got people talking about it on the science journalist discussion groups, maybe that was the aim, but surely there were stronger metaphors they could have used.

You can read a past article by 雷竞技官网 on women in science here. Hopefully, sexism is kept to a minimum in it!

The New Faces of Science

Forget American Idol, Fame Academy, Big Brother and X-Factor, FameLab is the one to watch. FameLab is looking for the new face of science! Ever since Einstein poked out his tongue for photographers and probably well before that, science, like every other field of human interest, has needed its icons. As part of the Cheltenham Science Festival, FameLab hopes to put a face to science. Science for the people is more about engagement than PUS these days, so check it out and watch out for those science idols…

Each of this year’s finalists has now done a showreel. This includes footage from the regional heats and the grand final, as well as clips filmed at a residential masterclass. You can view them all here

Cornell university researchers

Cornell University researchers are working hard to ensure P2P systems work as they should. Assistant professor in Computer Science, Emin GÜ® Sirer, for instance is working on various programs such as Credence, which he hopes will counter P2P pollution.

He’s also spotted a serious vulnerability in the Limewire P2P program, which runs on the Gnutella file sharing system and triggered Limewire to send out a patch to its approximately 35 million users.

Maybe this is a naive question, given the sheer number of users out there, but what are Cornell researchers doing improving systems that are commonly used to propagate copyright material illicitly across the net? Are there actual legitimate reasons why people would be using Limewire and other P2P software? Presumably, business users and academics wishing to share their information would do so through an intranet, ftp, or by email, rather than allowing all and sundry to access their files through a P2P network.

I could understand it if the academic community were working with the copyright holders on techniques to prevent copyrighted materials being propagated in this way, but this seems to be an odd way to spend research funds, or am I missing something here?

Trumpet Blowing

Ever since I first brought to Western attention the problem of arsenic in groundwater on the Indian sub-continent through my article in The Guardian a decade ago, I’ve tried to keep up with developments. Now, researchers have discovered that the dried roots of the water hyacinth can remove arsenic from contaminated water. This could provide a simple, effective and, most importantly, cheap method of removing arsenic from the water supply in some of the poorest regions of the world.