The Opposing Thumb

An opinionated digit leafs through the biological literature
Media Roundup

Monday Morning Smörgåsbord

“Why do we fall, Bruce?” Stephen Curry at The Guardian reminds us that “negative results matter. Their value lies in mapping out blind alleys, warning other investigators not to waste their time or at least to tread carefully. The only trouble is, it can be hard to get them published.” Includes a case study from his own lab.

Projects that would never get funded today: “Barnett Rosenberg wasn’t trying to cure cancer. He wasn’t working on cancer. He wasn’t working on any disease-related problem. He wasn’t even working with human cells.” You can probably see where Gregory Petsko is going with this at Genome Biology.

As The Onion might put it, ‘Area man does local history’: “In my spare time, I enjoy reading about the history of science, and since arriving at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory last August, I have been particularly interested in the role of CSHL in the history of genetics and molecular biology“. Quantitative biology at Cold Spring Harbor (Long Island) by Adam Siepel.

H. Allen Orr at the NY Review of Books. “Wilson, who has written several books on evolution, does something unexpected in his new book. He announces that the problem of altruism has been definitively solved and that the levels-of-selection debate has been finally resolved. In fact it’s so resolved, he tells us, that it remains of interest only to historians of science. Does Altruism Exist? aims to present this “postresolution” view of how natural selection acts to the general reader.”

A fantastic gallery of 19th century microbiology at Berlin’s Naturkunde Museum that I found via The Finch & Pea.

He views the goal of neoliberalism, by contrast, as cultivating education that prepares the student to be a reflexive supporter of the status quo, take orders uncritically, and accept consumerism as a major desire and goal in public and private life”Gordon Fellman at the LA Review of Books on neoliberalism’s assault on higher education.

Insects have been celebrated in Japanese culture for centuries. ‘The Lady Who Loved Insects’ is a classic story of a caterpillar-collecting lady of the 12th century court; the Tamamushi, or ‘Jewel Beetle’ Shrine, is a seventh century miniature temple, once shingled with 9,000 iridescent beetle forewings. Andrea Appleton on insectophilia at Aeon.

I need to work on getting more comics in these links. Here’s a start. Real science: not as much fighting Nazis in a volcano as you might expect, says Benoit Leblanc at People in White Coats.

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