Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Scientific Integrity Relies on Transparency and Open Communication

Sign seen at #WomensMarchOnWashington
The National Park Service Won't be Silenced and Rogue Scientists Race to Save Climate Data... are just two of recent headlines that indicate a growing unease and distrust between the new administration and the scientific community.  Another indication of strained relations is this list of recommendations for protecting yourself as a whistleblower, from Inside Climate News (no. 6 is especially chilling: "Consider buying a burner phone. Use cash.").

The second story was, in part, about researchers, computer scientists, librarians (yeah!), archivists and students at Van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania.  Listen to this story, which aired today, beautifully crafted by Susan Phillips of Here and Now.  It is reassuring to hear professional colleagues explaining the need for metadata and archiving.  Find the "bagged data" at  This sort of vigilance will be needed to keep scientific data and reports accessible - especially those funded by the government, at taxpayer expense.

The following comes from the "Rogue Scientists" story in Wired:
"But data, no matter how expertly it is harvested, isn’t useful divorced from its meaning. “It no longer has the beautiful context of being a website, it’s just a data set,” Allen says. [Laurie Allen, the assistant director for digital scholarship in the Penn libraries and the technical lead on the data rescuing event]
"That’s where the librarians came in. In order to be used by future researchers—or possibly used to repopulate the data libraries of a future, more science-friendly administration—the data would have to be untainted by suspicions of meddling. So the data must be meticulously kept under a “secure chain of provenance.” In one corner of the room, volunteers were busy matching data to descriptors like which agency the data came from, when it was retrieved, and who was handling it. Later, they hope, scientists can properly input a finer explanation of what the data actually describes."

Thank you, librarians and archivists.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Physics major Stella Ocker publishes in Astrophysical Journal

Congratulations to Stella Ocker, junior, for her publication in Astrophysical Journal, co-authored with Gordon Petrie of the National Solar Observatory (NSO).  Ocker's research took place in Boulder, Colorado as part of the NSO Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Spatial maps of solar active region NOAA 11158
Ocker, Stella Koch and Gordon Petrie. 2016. The effects of spatial smoothing on solar magnetic helicity parameters and the hemispheric helicity sign rule. Astrophysical Journal 832, no. 2: 162.

Partial abstract:
"The hemispheric preference for negative/positive helicity to occur in the northern/southern solar hemisphere provides clues to the causes of twisted, flaring magnetic fields. Previous studies on the hemisphere rule may have been affected by seeing from atmospheric turbulence. Using Hinode/SOT-SP data spanning 2006–2013, we studied the effects of two spatial smoothing tests that imitate atmospheric seeing: noise reduction by ignoring pixel values weaker than the estimated noise threshold, and Gaussian spatial smoothing."

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Sociability and GABA receptor: implications for schizophrenia and autism

A new publication from Tracie Paine, Associate Professor of Neuroscience, and former students Nathan Swedlow '15 and Lucien Swetschinski '15, concludes that "changes in GABA signaling observed in conditions such as autism or schizophrenia may mediate the social withdrawal characteristic of these conditions. Moreover, they suggest that social withdrawal may be treated by drugs that potentiate GABA transmission." (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Paine, TA, Swedlow, N and Swetschinski, L. "Decreasing GABA Function within the Medial Prefrontal Cortex Or Basolateral Amygdala Decreases Sociability." Behavioural Brain Research 317, (JAN 15, 2017): 542-552.

View the full article on ScienceDirect (subscriber access only).

Thursday, December 22, 2016

"Science Helps Squeeze Out Every Last Drop" - from Inside Science

Inspired by the lotus leaf.  Who would have thought?
 I have bottles standing upside down at my sink at this moment... 

(from Inside Science) -- "Sometimes science solves longstanding mysteries like gravitational waves, or finds one of the fundamental building blocks of the universe called top quarks.

"Or sometimes science just helps with some of life’s little frustrations -- like getting the last drop of shampoo out of the bottle. There’s just no getting around it -- no matter how much you squeeze or shake a shampoo bottle -- there’s always going to be some left behind.

"Now scientists have invented a coating for the inside of bottles, so getting every last drop out is finally achievable.

"The lotus leaf's bumpy surface, which lets liquids roll right off, led the researchers to create a coating for the inside of bottles made of tiny nanoparticles. If you could look at the coating under a microscope, you would see a tiny "y” that cradles droplets of shampoo, which are balanced on top of a tiny bubble of air. This minimizes the contact between the shampoo and the inside of the shampoo bottle.

"The video shows shampoo and laundry detergent sticking to an uncoated surface and then as shampoo and detergent slide off a surface treated with the new coating. 'We can create a structure which will repel liquid but we’d like to make sure it does it for a long period of time,' said Bhushan. Once the coating is perfected it will be several years before we can buy products that use the coating in their bottles. So, until then, keep storing bottles upside down or give them a good shake."
© 2016 American Institute of Physics    --Emilie Lorditch, Staff Writer, Inside Science

Friday, December 09, 2016

Open until 10pm, Reading Period Day #1

We are nearly through the last day of classes - reading period and exams are totally in sight.  Science library hours are extended on Saturday, December 10 until 10pm, so plan on spending your Saturday evening in the science library.  Yeah!  We are doing our best to shed light on your study space, with seasonal lights draped around the new book display and some of the larger potted plants.  The tree of lights with snow avatars, created by staff and library users, lends a cheerful presence.  Take a look!
Snowscape at library entrance
Tree of lights and snow avatars
We have room for many more snow avatars.  Have a bit of fun at the circulation desk, where there is still a healthy supply of craft supplies.  Check out a new book for Winter Term reading while you're at it.
Looking into the library through the window at the new book display.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Create a "snow avatar" for our tree of lights

If you haven't seen Frozen you must borrow or rent or buy the film now.  This December, at least.
We are interjecting light and shiny things into dark December and the last week of classes with some old-school crafty fun. Stop by the circ desk to get instructions and add your avatar to the tree of lights.

We need more happy faces.  Yours would be oh so welcome.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Professor Emeritus N. C. Craig publishes in Journal of Molecular Spetroscopy

A recent paper by Norm Craig, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry:

Craig, Norman C., Peter Groner, Andrew R. Conrad, Ranil Gurusinghe, Michael J. Tubergen.
Microwave spectra for the three C-13(1) isotopologues of propene and new rotational constants for propene and its C-13(1) isotopologues.
Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy, 328 1-6; 10.1016/j.jms.2016.07.002 OCT 2016.

Subscriber access at sciencedirect (post-publication).  Access the pre-publication HTML version at
The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System.