Here’s a visualization of the challenges that women in science face. I feel we need to move beyond numbers and beyond family/motherhood/children as a primary hurdle, this is a great springboard for conversations regarding women and academia today.
The Rubber Hand Illusion—Horizon: Is Seeing Believing? - BBC Two
Learned about this sensory perception illusion in class today! The subject’s arm is hidden from view and a rubber hand is placed in view. The experimenter strokes both the rubber hand and the real (but hidden) hand with a paintbrush….and the subject will start to perceive the rubber hand as part of her body! Pretty darn cool.
Courting the Octopi
The mating behavior of the Abdopsus aculeatus octopus, noted here for its sheer oddity. That’s a male up there, joined to the female by his spermatophore-delivering leg, being pulled along the sea floor as he continues to deliver his genetic information for as long as he can hold on. The slightly adorable/slightly pod-people result is in the bottom photo, a set of growing octominis attached to the mother.
Check out a step-by-step explanation of this unique dance and more photos from Dr. Roy Caldwell at Tonmo. It’s truly rare and remarkable that something like this was captured in such detail. Bravo.
Cephalopod love! I can’t wait to study these little guys in the spring. Octopus birth is truly fascinating—whereas humans and many birds, for example, give birth to very few young and have high post-natal parental investment in them, octopuses give birth to a TON of young and have low parental investment (if you don’t count dying as parental investment). They’re also fucking brilliant and true scientific mysteries and I love them
Between 1968 and 1987, Cornell professor William T. Keeton and his colleagues released thousands of homing pigeons from different points in upstate New York and then tracked them to see if they could find their way home.
Homing pigeons are famously good navigators, and, for the most part, the pigeons set sail in the right direction. But there was one route that caused them trouble: A 74-mile stretch from the Jersey Hill fire tower back to their loft at Cornell. Only 10 percent of the pigeons trying to make that journey ever made it home. The rest — about 900 pigeons — disappeared completely.
Except, that is, on August 13, 1969. On that date, the pigeons released at Jersey Hill flew right back to Ithaca with no problems. Down on the ground, Keeton and his team took meticulous notes about the weather and whatever else they could notice. Nothing seemed different from any other day. They were mystified.
Read more. [Image: William T. Keeton (Cornell University)]
oh my globbb I remember learning about this in Intro to Behavior. pretty darn cool.
Recently I received the book How to Succeed in Academics from a mentor following a conversation in which I expressed to her the undue difficulties that I and other PhD students have had with a certain adviser. She said this book offered insight into choosing good mentorship, and I believe that’s probably true. I flipped through the book yesterday, though, and came upon Chapter 7, “Underrepresented Groups”, which is all of 4 pages and includes a subheader called “A Positive Attitude Goes A Long Way.” Here’s the intro to Chap 7:
“Just as women have faced discrimination in academics, so have members of underrepresented groups. If you feel you are experiencing discrimination because you are a member of such a group, you should discuss this with your mentors and decide upon a course of action. If your mentors do not feel that this is a case of discrimination, you need to reevaluate the situation. Everyone has disappointments. Those who succeed have been able to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and continue with more resolve than ever.”
and Chap 6, “Gender Issues”:
“While those of us who are women have come a long way, we may occasionally confront situations in which it would appear that our gender is holding us back. When these arise, it would be wise to consult one or more mentors to determine is this is truly the case. Should your mentors confirm your suspicions, you and your mentors should determine whether to confront the individual or to address these issues with your university ombudsperson. If your mentors disagree with your perception, you need to ask yourself if you are viewing all aspects of your career through gender-colored glasses. Do you interpret every bump in the road as being due to prejudice against women? If so, you need to step back and take responsibility for your own behavior and not consistently misinterpret the responses of others.”
Oooooookay. Well so here’s the thing, McCabe & McCabe: gender and minority prejudice are institutionalized in academics. It’s not one “individual” or one “situation” that reproduces violence, it’s the whoooole thing. The whole of academics. So, I’m not going to refer to someone else for a second opinion on whether I feel discriminated against or not. I’m not going to subject my experiences to peer review.
I cannot believe this book was published in 2010 by a husband-and-wife duo in the sciences. The rhetoric is straight out of Life magazine circa 1950. It is so naive, like there’s nothing at stake. If this is how “successful” academics think of major problems in the university, then I consider it a call to arms.
A team of scientists have finally photographed the creature thought to have inspired the myth of the “kraken.” The team went to depths greater than 3,000 feet and came face-to-face with the the giant squid. It is described as having eyes the size of dinner plates and razor sharp suckers. Footage of the massive predator will premiere on Discovery Channel’s “Monster Squid: The Giant Is Real” on January 27 at 8 p.m. ET. - Read Discovery’s press release for more information.
Photo by: AP Photo / NHK / NEP / Discovery Channel
Ed note: Why the giant squid is the dragon of the deep.
When we learned about the studies of Hodgkin and Huxley in Cell Neuro, my professor Dr. Phillip Lloyd (who writes on the blackboard in chalk, which I think is honestly the best way to teach science), made it very very very very clear that they didn’t study the giant squid axon, but the squid giant axon. The importance of modifiers, my friends.
“Both Cajal and Sherrington were artists, imaginative, widely read, charismatic, hugely energetic, enormously fluent with prose and poetry…..Anyone browsing through the early scientific literature that is the foundation of modern neuroscience will soon discover that in the formulaic, bland, and often semi-literate writing of contemporary science, we have lost an undeniably human presence. The passionately engaged, literate author, in energetic pursuit of nature’s secrets, is now an endangered species.”
::Rodney J. Douglas and Kevan A.C. Martin, 2007 from their review, “The Butterfly and the loom” published in Brain Research Reviews (emphasis mine).
A well-written, captivating read—inspirational to me not because it briefly recounts the discovery and and controversies of the basic tenets of neuroscience (which it does), but because it exalts the kind of scientist that I aspire to become.
The Scientific Hangover Cure
I know it’s only Wednesday night, but for many people the weekend starts tomorrow evening. I wanted you to get a head start on preparing.
The smart guys at ASAPScience put together this video of the hows and whys of hangovers, and how science says you can avoid them (or cure them, because face it, sometimes they just happen, even to the best of us). Great video from a YouTube channel I think you’ll want to keep your eye on.
ermahgerrrrd hahaha “Men/Women/Asian”. Yo, know your limit, ASAP Science! Thank you for drawing my eyes in the anatomically correct fashion. It is incredibly vital to the pointers in this video that I will remember when I am busy nursing the hangover that I DIDN’T get.