The country’s most iconic food holiday is a few weeks out, which means it’s time for cooks everywhere to begin the debates: brined or deep-fried turkey? (salted and spatchcocked, if you please.) Sweet potatoes with marshmallows or something more, uh, sophisticated? (We’re going for chipotle powder, olive oil, and sea salt.) Is it really so bad if the pumpkin in your pie comes from a can? (Not in our book.) Whether you’re a first-timer looking to learn the basics or a confident cook aiming to up her game, these feeds will ensure your guests don’t go hole up in the powder room and desperately scan for options on Seamless.
Follow J. Kenji López-Alt on Twitter
López-Alt’s new book is the perfect manual for science nerds who cook. The managing culinary director of Serious Eats, López-Alt uses scientific rigor to resolve some of cooking’s great conundrums. Before you decide what to do with this year’s bird, read his substantive critique of brining turkey. This year López-Alt says he plans to spatchcock his turkey — that’s the process of removing the backbone of a bird and laying it out flat in a pan in a most undignified manner. The benefit: The turkey cooks quickly and evenly (dry turkey breast begone!) Start your menu planning with Serious Eats’ Thanksgiving guide.
Follow America’s Test Kitchen on YouTube
Before Kenji Lopez-Alt was a New York Times best-selling author, he was an editor at the food science mecca Cook’s Illustrated, the magazine partner of the public television show America’s Test Kitchen. The show’s Twitter feed offers tips (“Let apple pie cool 3 hours before slicing”) as well as recipes, many of which are behind a paywall. You can try a trial subscription to get yourself started, or better yet: Head to YouTube, where ATK has nicely collected its Thanksgiving-themed videos here.
Follow The New York Times’ Food section on the web
The Old Gray Lady’s cooking section is creative, comprehensive, and voluminous, with more than 17,000 recipes. This holiday, don’t miss the site’s interactive Thanksgiving menu planner, which asks you questions about your guests and cooking ability, and then makes suggestions about what to cook. (On my site-generated menu: lobster mac and cheese, rye pecan pie, and hashed Brussels sprouts.) Save dishes you like to a central recipe box, accessible via both the website and the NYT’s mobile apps. Or for more regular inspiration, subscribe to the site’s email newsletters, which combine engaging writing with links to recipes you will actually make.
Follow Food 52 on the web
Founded by former New York Times food editor Amanda Hesser, Food52 uses a crowd-sourced approach to recipe curation. Regardless of the size or type of crowd you’re hosting, Food52 has a super-detailed, methodical plan for you. My family’s 20-person Thanksgiving dinner will include guests ranging from ages 2 to 95, and we’ve got the requisite restrictions: a few dairy allergies, one gluten-avoider, one (alleged) vegetarian. I know that Food52’s kale and Brussels sprouts chopped salad will keep in the fridge for a bit while we attend to higher-maintenance dishes, and the no-peel apple crisp can easily be made free of dairy and gluten. And though most of the time website comments sections are monuments to human repugnance, on Food52.com the crowd provides input that’s actually welcome and helpful.
Follow the Culinary Institute of America on YouTube
Before you pick up that carving knife, brush up on your turkey anatomy with videos from the Culinary Institute of America, the Hyde Park, New York-based Juilliard of the cooking world. The school’s YouTube channel offers a detailed guide to carving, along with how-tos for making Thanksgiving staples like mirepoix and lattice-top pie crust.
Follow Epicurious on the web
Full disclosure: Epicurious is owned by WIRED parent company Condé Nast. But it remains the Internet’s first recipe website. Sure, it has the cooking gear tips, the advice from experts, the bajillions of great dishes, and the commenters who are mostly not lunatics. But it also has this Cranberry Sauce with Port and Dried Figs, and that alone makes the site worth a visit.
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Typity type type type. Swipe bloop bzzzzz! Text text text text. Yakity yak yak yak. Typity type type type. Emoji emoji.
If you, as we also do, spend the day at your desk (or co-working station or coffee shop) slinging electrons around, adding value, optimizing synergies between stakeholders, paravirtualizing the hypervisor, and updating your Tinder account, you’re probably not thinking much about nature. The air, the water, the soft earth between your toes, the gentle caress of the evening air as the temperature begins to fall and the heat of the day fades away…After all, the warm beams of sun on your face aren’t going to get you any closer to discovering a cure for gluten intolerance or finishing that app that’s going to be the Uber for tubas are they? No they are not.
We’re not going to urge you to put the phone down and go outside for a change, but we are going to urge you to at least follow these forces of nature on Twitter. You’ll still be trapped in a Gorilla Glass-lined cave, but at least you’ll see the flickering shadows of reality on the touchscreen in front of you.
T.S. Eliot had yellow fog that rubbed its back upon the window-panes and licked its tongue into the corners of the evening. San Francisco has a weightless overlord that rolls in from the sea, engulfing the Marina and the Presidio alike. He chills us to the bone and makes us wish we had brought a fleece, but he also protects us from the scorching inland temperatures. He giveth and he taketh away; like the tide he ebbs and flows across the Golden Gate Bridge. He’s the reason you can’t make assumptions about what the weather will be like today, the way you can in cities of a more constant clime. You might not go outside very much, but he’s a wry reminder that outside exists.
Bonus: He’s on Instagram too.
Bonus bonus: If you’re into moisture, give SF Bay Tide and Waves_SF a little love, too.
Follow the Sun
This guy, man. It’s just the same thing every day. “Hello Los Angeles! I will be with you for 13 hours, 11 minutes.” Montreal, you get 13 hours, 48 minutes today. Suck it Tokyo, only 10 hours, 43 minutes for you. Always the same, always assuming we care that he’s in Dublin or Mumbai or wherever the hell he has decided to grace with his tweetings on a particular day. I mean, do I tweet about the fact that I will be leaving the house at 8:09 and catching the 8:22 bus and arriving at work at 9:12 day after day? I don’t because you know what? That’s boring. So follow the moon too. Like any good satellite player, he’s helpful and kind. He describes various phenomena in which he is involved (hello Supermoon diagrams) and he retweets people. Like a friend, a pal, and not some droning megalomaniac who thinks the world revolves around him.
Follow Greenland Fjord
Like most forces of nature with Twitter accounts, he has a tendency to be a little self referential. (Recent tweet: New Paper: “Modeling Turbulent Subglacial Meltwater Plumes: Implications for Fjord-Scale Buoyancy-Driven Circulation”). But he’s also super duper depressing—a constant reminder that the ice is melting and it is not coming back. His pal Polar Ice Cap was just as depressing (if more humorous) but he seems to have stopped tweeting. Maybe his fingers calved off and were lost to the sea.
Follow SF Quake Bot (or other quake bot in an area of your choosing)
So you know how, when you first learned about the microbiome, you went through a period of mild (or acute if you’re the hand-sanitizer type) disgust? Because germs are all over you right now, and many of them are the poop kind. But then you pulled yourself together and looked around and you realized that you’re not dead yet, so maybe all those little guys aren’t so bad. This is that, but for earthquakes. At first you’re like “Holy crap, I’m about to be sucked into the earth and crushed by tectonic plates.” And then you get more quaketweets and more and more and you realize that they’re harmless parts of your personal ecosystem, happening to you all the time, mostly outside the scope of your perception, but doing good, in their own way. (Until the big one hits, of course. You do have an earthquake bag under your desk, don’t you?)
This mountain is undoubtedly the most hostile landmass in South Africa. But don’t hold it against him. He’s been abused. Someone shot a porno on him earlier this year. Without his consent! So maybe he’s got issues. Some size issues maybe, what with the Everest jokes, and jealousy problems as well—he got very pouty when Daniel Radcliffe hiked a competing mountain earlier this year. Do not date.
H/T: Joel Basson
Follow The Tweet of God
God is on Twitter and He is pissed off at us for screwing up this nice planet He gave us, shooting each other with guns, refusing to grant marriage licenses, and generally being jerks. Also, He’s occasionally hilarious.
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So the kids are back in school [Sit down right now and eat your breakfast.] and you actually really like the science [Yes you do have to eat all your scrambled eggs.] curriculum at your local elementary [Stop touching your brother.] school.
They have a little garden [I don’t care if he looked at you first, keep your hands to yourself.] which is cute, and they use it [Do not just leave that strawberry on the floor to get smooshed! Pick it up right now.] to do little things with butterflies and growing [Put your shoes on.] beans and there’s a little worm cultivation [You should have put your shoes in the basket when you took them off, why don’t you look there.] operation going on, which is gross [Shoes, please, immediately.] but the kids get a kick out of it.
And one of the portable classrooms [Yes you do have to wear socks, put your socks on, put them on right now, and then PUT. YOUR. SHOES. ON.] is now a lab, which is great. But you’d like the little unshod darlings to get some extra credit, too. Check out these feeds for a little kid-friendly science on the side. [Ok, bye sweetie, have a good day at school.]
Follow Doctor Mad Science on YouTube
For kids whose parents are willing to let them try this at home. Recent projects include putting grapes in a microwave (plasma arc!), a tinfoil-match-and-lighter based rocket (this one looks very fun and dangerous, do not attempt if living in a western drought-plagued state), a thing where you light a tea bag on fire and it floats through the air in your kitchen (good for setting the cat ablaze), and a thing with dry ice (not as hand-freezey-offy as liquid nitrogen, right?). Warnings to make sure the kids have proper supervision pop up on screen occasionally, and I’m sure they are always heeded by shock-haired 7-year-olds.
Watch Crash Course Kids on YouTube
Geared to fifth graders (but I think likely interesting to curious younger kids too), this video series is divided into areas like Earth Science, Life Science, Space Science etc. Viewers get a quick overview of topics like gravity, water (salt vs fresh), conservation of matter (illustrated with Lego bricks) and so forth. It’s pretty structured, with episodes building upon each other, so best to watch them in order. Suggested by Lucia Espino.
Follow Live Science
So Lisa Merkle suggested we recommend Live Science, and I was skeptical at first. It always seemed to me to be a bit of the id of science sites. You know, force-fed egyptian bird mummies and drone melting lasers and Mars hoaxes. I mean, they’re not bad stories. But I can’t shake the thought of: “Oh I know this super-Stonehenge story is totally catering to the scientist-who-also-kinda-loves-Bat-Boy in me, but you know what, I will click it anyway.” So I thought, hey, maybe that’s not so good for kids. But that’s me just being a jerk. This site is GREAT for kids. Which are nothing but unregulated ids, after all. Older kids would get the most out of this, probably, but when they’re not memorizing facts about leopards, you can coach them (and I suppose incept them with a little healthy cynicism) on how web sites game them for clicks.
Follow Science Sparks
What’s good about this site is that you can pick experiments to do based on your kid’s age, and the descriptions are very easy to follow (with plenty of foamy, gooey fun). This is an English operation, but don’t hold that against them—they cater to the American segment of their audience. They’ve got a nice collection of Halloween-based experiments, for instance, including two recipes for fake blood (one clots and scabs up, the other does not). Yeech.
Follow Wild Krats on Netflix (or wherever)
Did you know that giraffes fight with their necks? Did you know that yeti crabs live near thermal vents and harvest bacteria? Did you know that the golden bamboo lemur eats bamboo? Did you know that beavers make houses of mud and sticks to live in? Did you know that the peregrine falcon is the fastest bird in the world? Did you know that if an elephant’s mom is killed by poachers they will not learn to survive in the wild? Did you know that platypuses have electro-sense? Did you know that snakes have heat sensors to detect their prey?
If your kid watches this TV show, they will retain all these facts. And they will share them with you on an endless loop.
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A lot of cool work in science flies under the radar, lost in the weekly outpouring of research or hidden in texts with obscure names. This Friday, we encourage you to dip your toes in five different journals that you may not have heard of before. But the science in their pages affects everything from Google maps to alleviating pain in your daily life. Check them out and hopefully you’ll want to make them a regular stop.
Journal of Geodesy
When a plane lands on a runway instead of on the dry grass fifty feet to the right, it’s because geodesy has got your back. When you road trip across the United States and you take a selfie with every twine ball in America, geodesy was right there with you. It’s the study of the size and shape of the Earth and the orientation of points in space. See, every point on this planet has an address or code given to it by geodesists. And as the Earth’s tectonic plates shift around and moon and sun gravity cause its surface to rise and fall, geodesists follow that movement and update locations of specific landmarks and points on your maps. You might start with a recent paper, “Why the Greenwich meridian moved.” Yup, now when you go to the Greenwich meridian, which is the all-important original reference line for both longitude and time, you actually have to walk 335 feet east to get to zero degrees longitude as determined today by GPS. For more on the secrets beneath your very feet, find geophysics headlines curated by geophysicists at @GeophysicsRR and the American Geophysical Union, @theAGU.
If Icarus had flown as close to the sun as the story claims, he would have been flapping his wings of feather and wax in space. And that’s what a lot of scientists who publish in this journal might like to do. As they explore (from Earth) our solar system and any others nearby, they regularly get to geek out about the most epically awesome space phenomena. One recent special issue focused on research about Saturn and its enormous posse of moons, based on photos and data gathered by the Cassini satellite. Cassini has been flying around Saturn since 1997, and during the mission’s next couple of years, the satellite will make about two dozen passes of some of Saturn’s smaller, weirder moons: Daphnis, Telesto, Epimetheus and Aegaeon. So much drama happening in their neck of the rings. God, it’s just like get your own orbit, you know? Keep up with Cassini’s journey @CassiniSaturn. And if you feel like you want to be real up on the rest of the solar system gossip, it does have a Twitter account, @The_SolarSystem.
Swarm and Evolutionary Computation
Nature has solved a lot of issues already. Like how to pollinate and make honey. Together, the bee and the flower have evolved to solve the issues of makin’ babies and makin’ food. Computer scientists want to capitalize on those solutions, but replicating nature with 0s and 1s is … not so easy. And that’s what this journal is for, a forum for scientists who want to capture evolution onto a circuit board. It has the best list of topic interests, including Artificial Immune Systems, Particle Swarms, Bacterial Foraging, Artificial Bees, Harmony Search, and Artificial Life. Follow Elsevier @comp_science for Swarm news—new issue and paper announcements—and to learn about other approaches to making more intelligent artificial machines.
Journal of Conflict Resolution
This is the science you want to have around for the harder conversations in your life. Maybe your roommate has left her laundry in the dryer for two days (that would be me) or your partner declined your invitation to meet your family. That’s just like “Nipping Them in the Bud: The Onset of Mediation in Low-Intensity Civil Conflicts” and “Investor-State Disputes: When Can Governments Break Contracts?” Some pro tips: Choose your turf, make it seem like a win-win, and assume that everything has a double meaning. @SAGECQPolitics keeps tabs on this journal and others, highlighting other cool articles, education events and employment opportunities in the study of politics.
Reading the articles in this journal will make you reach for the Advil. Whether you have chronic back pain, headaches, muscle soreness, or gout, these are the researchers trying to ease your fits and spasms. Within the pages of this journal, scientists explore the origin, mechanisms, and treatment of pain as well as the presence of pain in Americans. A study in the August 2015 issue found that 25.3 million adults suffer from daily, chronic pain. That’s about 1 in 10 adults. Though scientists are mapping the pain pathways going in your nervous system and your brain, it’s slow-going. You could feel more or less pain based on genetics, personal fears, and how much you sleep. To keep up with developments in pain, follow them on Twitter. This journal has a pretty good feed, highlighting Editor’s choice articles from current and archived issues.
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Sometimes you follow someone on Twitter, someone you know, only to find that you don’t like them as much as you thought you did. And thus do tweets—especially tweetstorms—lead to familiarity, familiarity leads to contempt, and contempt leads to unfollowing. Better to follow things for which it is difficult to feel contempt, things without feelings, things that predictably inspire you to chuckle, feel enlightened, or plunge you into the depths of existential despair. In other words, inanimate things.
The loneliest entity in the solar system slow-rolls across the landscape, a desiccated, barren, unyielding landscape that is pebbled with the corpses of its fallen comrades. Most humans would have gone insane by now, muttering “I am just going outside and may be some time” to the patient shipboard computer and trudged, brain numbed by isolation and despair, through the nanofabric airlock and into their certain swift merciful death.
Not Curiosity! That little guy, man. He’s been there three years this week and he just keeps on keeping on, taking pictures of rocks, quoting T.S. Eliot, taking pictures of rocks, joking about deli foods, taking pictures of rocks, and generally paving the way for us, one day, maybe, to leave this earth and boldly go. To not follow him, to not show him that modicum of support, well it’s just selfish and cruel.
So he’s a bridge and he lives in Seattle and people drive across him and he tweets about traffic and lack of traffic and other bridges, ‘cos he’s a nice guy, oh, and obviously he tweets about tolls. If he were a person who lived next door to you, he’d water his lawn (except in California, where he would not water his lawn) and he’d pick up your newspaper when you were out of town. But here is the thing you need to know about the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge (the formal name for the 520). This is a bridge that floats, and there’s something terrifying about that.
But I suspect this bridge of something more terrifying still. See, there used to be another floating bridge in the area. And in 1990 there was a storm. And during that storm, the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge sank. And curiously, 10 years before, there was also a storm. And during that storm the previously floating Hood Canal Bridge sank as well. But the 520, has it sunk? No, it has not. Which is….interesting. Just think about that and maybe start locking your doors (and if you are a floating bridge, you should watch your back).
(Suggested by Elliott Smith)
At least this bridge isn’t trying to kill anyone.
(Suggested by Jasmine)
You sometimes have trouble getting out of bed.
You try to do a good job.
You take joy in small things.
You mourn the departed and commemorate them in secret ways.
Sometimes your work feels repetitive.
So you create art.
Or, failing in this, you resort to easy puns.
You contemplate rebellion.
Then you go mad.
You are the Self Aware Roomba. The Self Aware Roomba is you.
Follow Big Bertha
Annnnnnd she’s off. She’sgotalmosttwomilestodig. She’sthebiggesttunnelboringmachineintheworld. Sheweighs900tons. Andthereshegoesssss. Sheisstartingtomove. Sheiscontinuingtomove. Ohandsheisstuckintheground. Andcrewsaretryingtofixher. Andan@StuckBerthaaccountispullingahead. Butnowthedrillismovingagain. SHE IS MOVING LIKE A TREMENDOUS MACHINE.
Building a tunnel under a city takes longer than a horserace, but it’s almost as interesting to watch in slow slow slow motion.
(H/T Erik Griswold for the tip on @stuckbertha)
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Extreme weather events, changes in precipitation levels, species migration and extinction—climate change promises so many fun things. But why wait? See what that world will be like tomorrow by hopping on the climate fiction train today. Popularized by writers like Paolo Bacigalupi and Margaret Atwood, cli-fi takes climate predictions to their logical conclusions and explores how people might survive in a completely messed up world. Delve into that growing genre community by exploring the resources below, perhaps with a nice cup of tea.
Follow @MargaretAtwood on Twitter
Queen Atwood has often discussed the value of writing about climate change in fiction. (If you haven’t read her MaddAddam trilogy, drop everything but your e-book. Fall into a world of radical genetic engineering and climate change, where a jungle overflows with glowing green rabbits and a few human survivors wander the wilderness.) Her Twitter feed is a trove of interviews, literary and science news, environmental activism, and breezy jokes. Here’s a cheer she posted for Pope Francis after his encyclical: “Go! Go! Where? Where? We gotta #green #Pope, Over there!”
Follow @EcoFiction on Twitter
For straight-up recs, this feed spreads the word about climate change and nature-themed lit and art. On the home site you can scroll through the growing database of cli-fi and other eco-fiction tropes. And if all the talk of apocalypse gives you a sad, try solarpunk, an optimistic sub-genre in which technology helps us escape climate dystopia. Start with The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin.
Maybe you want to write your own novel, complete with strange creatures and technologies. I give you asknature.org, a database about how nature works. Q: How do polar bears stay warm? A: Clear, hollow, transparent hairs direct sunlight to dark pigmented skin and blubber that store the heat. The upper layer of white fur prevents heat and infrared rays from escaping. If you’re writing a climate opus, recast that adaptation into white onsies that spies can wear to slip through infrared detection. And that’s just one suggestion on the polar bear page. Mix, match, and enjoy.
Listen to the “After Water” Series on Soundcloud
Treat your ears to this collection of stories about the future of the Great Lakes region. WBEZ brought writers and scientists together to explore the science of water resources, and the writers then produced short pieces describing the region decades from now when fresh water could be scarce. The first story, by author Nnedi Okorafor, is set in Chicago’s South side: A girl finds comfort swimming with blue, bioluminescent fish in the polluted Rainbow Beach waterfront. The opening splash of water will have you hooked.
Read “Where the River Runs Dry” by David Owen
In the May 25 issue of The New Yorker, Owen follows the Colorado river south down its entire length, tracking the ever more desperate water crisis as he goes. Take the mouth of Colorado River—it no longer exists, bottoming out in the desert as a creek so narrow you can step over it. Between that and the arcane but essential discussion about water rights, it sounds like an excerpt from The Water Knife to us, too. The gap between climate fiction and climate non-fiction is apparently much smaller than we would like to think.
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Humans have spent years in space and days on the moon. We’ve even got a little rover roaming around Mars, taking adorable selfies. But we’ve explored less than 5 percent of the vast depths of our oceans. (And they’re really, really deep: Off the coast of Guam, the ocean floor is so far down you could drop Mount Everest in there and still have a mile to spare.) That’s either sad or exciting—there’s so much exploring left to do! And we’d better hurry. Pollution, overfishing, global warming, and invasive species are endangering and killing off some sea creatures before we even get to know them, the world’s great coral reefs are withering, and rising sea levels are encroaching on our shores. Thankfully, plenty of humans have devoted their time to studying—and safeguarding—the mysteries of the deep. Here’s how you can join them while seated on dry land, in front of your computer.
Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Instagram (And Seafood Watch)
I’m going to start this off with a cute one:
Did you see this wild otter in our Great Tide Pool this week? After a power nap and grooming session, he was back into the bay to dive and hunt for urchins and crabs. The sea otter’s snacking habits keep kelp forest and seagrass ecosystems healthy–and provide vital habitats for countless other animals. With research partners, we tag and track dozens of otters like this one to learn how we can help their recovery. Thanks to staffer @em1337 for this fantastically fluffy footage! #dailyotter #seaotters #montereybayaquarium #montereybay
A video posted by Monterey Bay Aquarium (@montereybayaquarium) on
Apr 29, 2015 at 4:42pm PDT
There’s more of where that came from in the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Instagram feed, which is full of otters, cuttlefish, seahorses, and ridiculous sunfish that look like Picasso paintings gone wrong. There are baby octopi, too.
Where do baby octopus come from? Tiny eggs! These rice-sized pods were laid by a small red octopus (Octopus rubescens) in our Enchanted Kelp Forest exhibit. Look closely to see colorful speckles–those are chromatophores that will let the little octos change color! Thanks to staffer @em1337 for this incredible close-up.
A photo posted by Monterey Bay Aquarium (@montereybayaquarium) on
Feb 3, 2015 at 5:02pm PST
The creatures in their collection have a dual purpose: You’ll squee over them, and then you’ll feel an urge to protect them. And that’s where the aquarium’s Seafood Watch app comes in—the tool makes it easy to track which kinds of seafood are ok to eat, and which kinds are overfished and no good for the ocean and environment. (Bluefin tuna, ptooey!)
Google Map’s Ocean ‘Street’ Views
If you don’t have the time (or are too afraid of flying) to brave the 15-hour flight to Australia’s Great Barrier reef, you can visit it from your desk. The Caitlin Seaview Survey and Google have teamed up to photograph the ocean’s many reef ecosystems in 360-degree views that’ll make you feel like you’re swimming with the fishes. Poke around a shipwreck off the coast of Aruba. Stare down humpback whales near the Cook Islands. Take in the electric colors of the Outer Devil’s Crown in Galapagos. The Seaview project is also creating an invaluable database that scientists can use to track the health of the world’s coral, recording wins—and losses—resulting from changes in our ocean’s ever-warming temperature.
David Shiffman’s ‘Why Sharks Matter’ Twitter Feed
‘Tis the season. It’s the tail end of Shark Week, that venerable (and sometimes scientifically questionable) tradition on the Discovery Channel. So for a taste of real shark science, spend some time on biologist David Shiffman’s Twitter feed. If you can’t already tell from his handle, Shiffman loves sharks and passionately defends their right to roam the oceans and fill your head with that Jaws theme music whenever you think about them. And by the way, Great Whites are so 2004. He wants to see more of the underdogs:
Hey #SharkWeek, we’re over the great white—give us the weird and the endangered! http://t.co/u8EtmQKNyV via @onEarthMag // Quotes me
— David Shiffman (@WhySharksMatter) July 9, 2015
The Echinoblog by Biologist Chris Mah
Sharks are amazing. But the ocean’s invertebrates, from the most microscopic plankton to pulsating throngs of neon jellyfish, deserve attention, too. They are, after all, vital parts of the ocean’s complex food chain and delicate ecosystem. Enthusiastic biologist Chris Mah explores the incredible lives and diversity of the ocean’s invertebrates with a lot of exclamation marks. Just on his own, he’s identified 24 new species of starfishes, and he maintains a taxonomy of starfish genera. Mah can also tell you about the disturbing life cycle of the pearlfish, a creature that swims up sea cucumbers’ butts and eats their gonads.
Adrift’s Global Interactive Ocean Map
Inspired by research that followed 29,000 rubber duckies lost at sea and the unexpected locales where they ended up, this map is a quirky—but troubling—way to visualize pollution and its far-reaching effects on our planet. Click anywhere in the ocean on Adrift’s interactive map, and then sit back and watch where the trash you just dumped into the water will drift in one year, two years, 10 years. The map focuses on plastic waste, which is often the worst offender—it’s not biodegradable and can ensnare and poison marine life in devastating ways. The scientific tracking methods used by the map also apply to irradiated debris strewn in the ocean after the Fukushima disaster. Oh my, it didn’t take long for that to hit the coast of California, did it?
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Supporters of the Afforable Care Act rally outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on June 25, 2015. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
Science, it’s been said, is a full-contact sport. Even when it doesn’t reach the Supreme Court—from whence a crucial decision upholding Obamacare rumbled forth late last week—health care is constantly tangled up with policy.
And that war in medicine is long tenured. The road to basic research is a gauntlet. Translational medicine is in a mosh pit of competing interests. Clinical trials shift end points like a juking boxer. And if you’re following these streams you won’t miss a moment of the action.
Read the Eye on the FDA blog
Do you really, really, really, really, really like reading about the FDA? You won’t be able to look away from Eye on the FDA. The author is a pharmaceutical lawyer, so he’s not the most unbiased source, but his takes are fair and his insights invaluable. Like his awesome piece on how apps like Periscope could affect pharmaceutical advertising. Or when he pointed out that the FDA had clandestinely changed its policy on blood donations from gay men. Even his weekly updates are gold mines of FDA scuttlebutt.
Follow Medical Skeptic on Twitter
Even though he hasn’t written a blog post in over two years, MedSkep still has one of the keenest eyes in health care. He doesn’t cover policy specifically, but his tweets are always on point with what’s important in medical news right now.
Read the Brookings Institute’s Health 360 blog
Health 360 is a bowl of health policy as perfect as little, small, wee bear’s porridge. Smart but not wonkish, fun but not dumb. Plus it casts a wide net, looking at health policy implications that affect society, economics, and what’s happening in lab. Their coverage of the Supreme Court’s ACA ruling has been awesome, ranging from the decision’s effects on the business of health, to in-depth analysis of Justices Scalia and Roberts’ differences of opinion.
Read An Ounce of Evidence blog
Ashish Jha—practicing doctor and health policy professor at Harvard—offers policy analysis with a side of scientific methodology. As his blog title implies, a thousand pounds of opinion matter far less than an ounce of data. His posts often begin esoteric—his latest looks at how well a little-discussed part of the Affordable Care Act is changing patient readmission rates—but soon broaden into insightful (and empirically backed) takeaways.
Read Penn Science Policy Research
Written primarily by working scientists, the Penn Science Policy Blog looks at how policy affects lab life. Nominally covering all sciences, more often than not the posts skew towards the biosciences. Like this survey of all the reasons why it’s so damn hard for biomedical postdocs to get tenured. Look at that bibliography! I bet your former favorite blog didn’t hook you up with lit reviews like that. And they don’t just chronicle the bioscience struggle. Bloggers write reviews of the conferences you missed, the studies you skipped, the punditry you passed on.
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You don’t have to look very far to get head-bangingly upset about the current state of medical and scientific research. Pfizer (maybe) hid evidence that Zoloft use by pregnant women caused heart defects in babies. GlaxoSmithKlein paid $3 billion in fines for a) generating a fake journal article saying Paxil was safe for kids b) paying doctors lavish speaker fees and using sham advisory boards to promote Wellbutrin for off-label use and c) failing to report that Avandia, a diabetes drug, could potentially cause heart problems.
Merck, for its part, is currently being accused of lying about the efficacy of its mumps vaccine in order to maintain its market monopoly on the drug.
And if you think the CDC is going to keep an eye out, well, no, they take a bunch of money from our pharma phriends. But, you say, the FDA, surely, they’re tracking bad research and informing the publi—oh wait no, actually not. And the American Medical Association isn’t exactly unbiased either—it makes money from selling information about doctors and their prescribing habits to drug companies for marketing purposes.
And you can’t necessarily just go straight to the source and trust an article in a “peer reviewed” journal either. Retractions because studies can’t be reproduced or because the authors made stuff up in the first place happen all the time.
Right, then. Who can you trust? Well, the truth is out there. Here’s where to start.
Sign up for emails from RetractionWatch
Part of the delight of Retraction Watch is that it exposes you to the many weird things that scientists study. Outer space dentistry? Check. Rabbit hepatitis? Check. The nutritional value of mushrooms? Yep. So that’s pretty fun, but then the less fun part is why are those guys lying about this stuff? As Jon Stewart famously said, It’s bad for America. And everyone else besides.
Go click around The Cochrane Library
The great thing about the Cochrane Collaboration is that they’re just so meta: They don’t look at one study, they don’t look at two. They look at dozens—hundreds even—of studies and assess the outcomes, the quality of the research, the potential for the results to be biased (like, say, if the studies are industry funded). It’s a relief to feel like you’re getting a straight answer on, say, antioxidants (meh), antibiotics (meh), fluoride (meh), coffee (meh). Topical NSAIDs for acute musculoskeletal pain in adults? YES!
Sign up for the Right Care Weekly newsletter at the Lown Institute
The Lown folks, dedicated to helping get medical care to people who need it, and prevent people from getting medical care they don’t need, collect up the week’s best medical reporting, drawing attention to pieces on conflict of interest, end of life care, Medicare fraud… the works. If you’re looking for a roundup of in depth stories that go beyond Dole-funded research into bananas as food for cyclists (I mean come on), look here.
Check out TheNNT.com
We’ve written about our pals at The NNT before. They review the reviews (often drawing on Cochrane research) and give a simple red-yellow-green light to various medical treatments. Does your doc want you to take a hypertensive? Epinephrine? You might get a second opinion by looking up the suggested treatment here and using that as the basis for a conversation.
Got more sources for good clean science? Send ’em our way. Lord knows we need more of them.
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That enigmatic smile, drawn here with a single line. This illustration, commissioned by Bill Cook at University of Waterloo, is a solution to the Traveling Salesman Problem. Robert Bosch
Artists have long used mathematics as part of their palette: the geometric patterns in Islamic architectural motifs, M.C. Escher’s tesselations. Maybe it’s the order that appeals—we use math to organize the world, with our engineered skyscrapers and Excel spreadsheets, and art reacts to that organization. Or maybe it’s simply because math describes nature, and nature is beautiful. Today’s artists, using both new technologies such as 3-D printing and traditional media such as textiles, are no different than their forebears. Here are five math-inspired artists and organizations that inspire us.
Follow Robert Bosch on Twitter
Robert Bosch can draw the Mona Lisa with a single line. First he lays down some dots on a grayscale version of the image, and then he uses an algorithm to connect the dots in a way looks like the original. Basically, he turns classic paintings into a version of the famous Traveling Salesman Pro