Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yet one more reason to thank industrious microbes

This delectable collection comes from
Malley's of Cleveland, Ohio.  And,
closer to home: Suzin L. Chocolatier
Improving some of the world's best chocolate by optimizing a microbial starter culture is sweet research, as reported in December 1,  2010 issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.  The article is nicely summarized on the ASM news site (Researchers Select Microbes to Improve Chocolate). Fine chocolate is most definitely the product of careful science and creative culinary art!

Read the full article:
T. Lefeber, M. Janssens, N. Camu, and L. De Vuyst. Kinetic analysis of strains of lactic acid bacteria and acetic acid bacteria in cocoa pulp simulation media toward development of a starter culture for cocoa bean fermentation. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 76: 7708-7716.

Food microbiology is well-represented in each issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.  For a general introduction, try Food microbiology / Martin R. Adams and Maurice O. Moss.  Royal Society of Chemistry, 2008.  Human diets were be very boring, indeed, without the myriad types of food we enjoy only through microbial action (not discounting the essential role of microbes in the gut!).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Good Luck on Exams! Check out a new book when it's all over...

Exam Day 1 is looming, and every table is occupied here in the science library - though some chairs are still free, if you're willing to share space at the big reading tables.  Good luck to everyone; may your short-term memory perform brilliantly and solidify into long-term knowledge.

More than a dozen new books were delivered today, which could entice you to explore a new subject once this semester's exams are behind you.  The potential disaster of a world without bees is explored in-depth by Allison Benjamin and Brian McCallum.  Nothing like the prospect of world famine due to the loss of these amazing pollinators to redirect your attention from whatever you are studying so madly at the moment.  There are, coincidentally, two more books focused on bees on the new book display right now: Why do bees buzz, and Honeybee democracy.  Check out all three and you could find yourself taking the first step toward apiculture!

There are plenty of other options, including a compilation of this year's best science and nature writing, so take a break and browse our display.

Alumna Felisa Wolfe ('00), now Wolfe-Simon, and her work on arsenophiles

Felisa Wolfe, when she was an Oberlin College
Science Library student assistant

MSNBC's Cosmic Log has been attentive to the research of Felisa Wolfe-Simon and her colleagues, and the response from other researchers to their provocative findings, published in Science, that a bacterium can utilize arsenic rather than phosphorus ['Weird life' researchers answer critics].  Before heading off to graduate school and her present position with the U.S. Geological Survey, she was Felisa Wolfe of the science library student staff!  A little known fact of her life at Oberlin, no doubt.  As a 2000 grad, Felisa was one of many science majors who lived through the upheaval of Science Center construction, without reaping any of the benefits  - we moved to the new science library in August 2001 and the rest of the center was completed the following year.  Felisa was also among the last group of students given the Metcalf Student Assistant award when that award was based strictly on merit, rather than longevity of employment.  She was one of the best, providing excellent service at our combination reference/circulation service desk.  It is always great to see scientific publications of former students, and especially exciting when novel research findings challenge long-held assumptions.

Faculty and Student Publications

The following articles, published last month, were just indexed in ISI Web of Knowledge.  Three former students (Mauck, van den Heuvel, and Hull) are named as co-authors of the first paper,  with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Catherine Oertel.

Synthesis and Structures of Pb3O2(CH3COO)2·0.5H2O and Pb2O(HCOO)2: Two Corrosion Products Revisited.
Catherine M. Mauck, Titus W. P. van den Heuvel, Michaela M. Hull, Matthias Zeller, and Catherine M. Oertel
Inorganic Chemistry 49 (22): 10736–10743 Nov 15, 2010. [access at ACS Publications]

Low luteinizing hormone enhances spatial memory and has protective effects on memory loss in rats.
Shira G. Ziegler, Janice E. Thornton.
Hormones and Behavior 58 (5): 705-713 NOV 2010.  [access at OhioLINK EJC]

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Extended Hours for Exam Period!

The Science Library has never offered so many hours on a weekend before.  To accommodate the exam schedule, we will stay open until midnight on Friday, and be open 8:30 am - midnight on Saturday and Sunday.  Come on in!  But leave your food outside, please.  More hours.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Media Oddly Silent on Climate Talks

This is a disturbing development, perhaps indicative that the American public has difficulty focusing on long-term, complex problems in competition with WikiLeaks, tax cuts, the economy in general, and a lame duck legislative body focused on other issues.  Climate change waits for no lawmaker or policy wonk, however.  As one of the "most serious challenges facing us today" (Union of Concerned Scientists), media coverage needs to be accurate, thorough and accessible to all.

"At last year’s climate meeting in Copenhagen, the room was buzzing with thousands of reporters. However, today climate change seems to be a forgotten story. Democracy Now! reviewed the transcripts of last week’s evening news broadcasts on ABC, CBS and NBC in the United States. The Cancún talks were not mentioned a single time." (Democracy Now!, Dec. 6, 2010).

National Public Radio, however, provided good coverage of the talks on All Things Considered.  Thank you, NPR. 


Roger Pielke, Jr. writes with clarity and insight about climate change policy in his new book, The Climate Fix. There are nearly 200 books on similar topics in the same section of shelving; it is an excellent place to learn the facts regarding climate and global warming.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Just ordered: When a billion Chinese jump

Spurred by today's interview between NPR's Steve Inskeep and author Jonathan Watts, journalist for The Guardian, I've just requested purchase of his book "When a billion Chinese jump: how China will save the world - or destroy it."  The interview provided a glimmer of hope for solving China's enormous environmental problems, as well as the challenge of balancing economic progress and environmental responsibility. "I think China is moving very, very quickly on renewable energy and clean tech," Watts says, "precisely because its environment is so bad that they have to take extreme actions."  Until Oberlin's copy is here and ready to be borrowed, request a copy from another OhioLINK libraryRead an excerpt from the book at NPR's Morning Edition.

Mountain Top Removal Road Show & Deepening Our Connections

I am posting these event announcements on behalf of Oberlin Earth First! and Students for Carbon Neutrality.

Tonight 7:30pm Oberlin College Wilder Hall [room location TBA]

The Mountaintop Removal Road Show
includes a stunning 20-minute slide show about the impacts of mountaintop removal on coalfield residents, communities and the environment, and features traditional Appalachian mountain music and shocking aerial photos of decapitated Appalachian mountains.

Tuesday 4pm OC Wilder Hall Room 112


Deepening Our Connections is a workshop linking the fields of deep ecology, ecofeminism, social ecology, environmental justice, and mysticism and showing how they can work together to fight oppression and move towards the collective liberation of all living beings. Integral theory is used in the workshop to show the importance of bringing different perspectives together. The workshop is very participatory, no prior knowledge of any of the subjects is required.Sponsored by Oberlin Earth First! and Students for Carbon Neutrality.

Call Your Legislator - ask for LSTA Funding!

A message from the American Library Association

Fund LSTA at $300 Million!

Please call your Congressional representatives and tell them to fund the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) at $300 million for FY 2011. LSTA funding is distributed to states by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through population-based grants. LSTA the only source of federal funding for public libraries, and with more and more public libraries facing state and local budget cuts, it is critically important that libraries receive this money.
Take Action

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Travel with a good book

Heading off for Thanksgiving break?  Take along some good reading!

Info @ Google books
Fragile web : what next for nature? / edited by Jonathan Silvertown, will give you a renewed interest in the biodiversity of whatever region you are visiting in the next few days.

From the publisher's summary:   [Fragile Web] "discusses the importance of the world's ecosystems and how directly or indirectly humans are responsible for the fate of nature. Crucially, it also examines what can be done to protect the natural world and why it matters. Although we cannot undo all that we have done, ignoring the current crisis facing biodiversity could fundamentally change the lives of future generations."

We have at least 50,000 other great books close at hand, so stop in before you leave campus.  Have a good break!

And, for those staying in Oberlin, the library will be open Friday afternoon as well as normal hours on Saturday and Sunday.  See our HOURS.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Paleobotany text a hefty addition to new book shelf

Paleobotany: the biology and evolution of fossil plants, 2nd ed., by Thomas N. Taylor, Edith L. Taylor and Michael Krings (Academic Press, an imprint of Elsevier, 2009) is by far the heaviest book on the new book shelf, and may have on average the most images per page, so it caught my attention in our most recent shipment of new books.  What a treasure of authoritative text, illustrations, photographs and other visually presented data!  Far more than a simple compendium of fossil data, the authors provide historical context of the interpretation of systematics and classification, and photographs too numerous to count of cited authors.  The photographs and other illustrations of researchers easily span 180 years, and give a human face to the history and ongoing story of paleobotany.  This is a delightful feature in such a comprehensive tome, and will be appreciated by anyone interested in the history of science.

Understanding climates of the past is essential for understanding current climate change, and paleobotany is an vital tool for the study of ancient climates.  The Encyclopedia of paleoclimatology and ancient environments is an excellent resource for more on this subject [view at OhioLINK EBC or Springerlink.com].

Entropy and Rust [Letter], D. F. Styer

New publication from Daniel F. Styer, J&M Schiffer Professor of Phyics, as indexed in ISI Web of Knowledge.

Styer, D. F. 2010. Entropy and Rust [Letter].  American Journal of Physics 78: 1077-1077.

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's Open Access Week! Celebrate with PLoS, DOAJ, SPARC, and more.

See Reading Girl Speaks for more information about Open Access at Oberlin.  For a great overview on Open Access and its impact on scholarly communication, see this video from the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC):

Open Access Week 2010 from SPARC on Vimeo.

Don't have time for the whole presentation? Take a peek at this animated short from McGill University.

How else can you celebrate your freedom to read scholarly works, made accessible without payment from you, the reader?  Search the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and enjoy immediate access to everything found there.  Browse the extensive collection of articles at Public Library of Science (PLoS): you are certain to find something remarkable among its seven journals.  Even traditional scientific publishers offer a public access option for certain articles, based on contractual agreements with authors and payment of a public access fee by the author(s) or funding agency (e.g., the Author Choice program at American Chemical Society Publications and Springer's Open Choice).  PubMed, the public access database incorporating Medline, offers "free full text" as a limiting option in the Advanced Search, and also as a refine option from the search results screen. 

There is no doubt that increasing public access to scholarly research benefits members of the public as well as students and scholars - so maximize your use of open access materials!

Friday, October 15, 2010

New Publications by Elrod, Birdsall, Andreoni, and Stinebring

As indexed in ISI Web of Science, recent publications by Matthew Elrod, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Daniel Stinebring, Francis D Federighi Chair in Physics and Astronomy:

Birdsall, AW; Andreoni, JF; Elrod, MJ.  2010.
Investigation of the Role of Bicyclic Peroxy Radicals in the Oxidation Mechanism of Toluene
JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY A 114 (39): 10655-10663 OCT 7 2010 [access at American Chemical Society Publications]
Co-authors Adam Birdsall and John Andreoni are seniors at Oberlin College, anticipating graduation in May 2011.

Hobbs, G; et al. [including Stinebring, D.] 2010.
The International Pulsar Timing Array project: using pulsars as a gravitational wave detector.
CLASSICAL AND QUANTUM GRAVITY 27 (8): Art. No. 084013 APR 21 2010 [access at OhioLINK EJC]

Open Access Database of Breast Cancer Publications

In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, ebrary recently announced availability of an open access database of breast cancer publication, created in collaboration with librarians from other organizations.

ebrary's Breast Cancer Searchable Information Center is just one of a growing number of open access collections created by ebrary staff and customers. See the list of additional databases.

In related news, NPR's Talk of the Nation aired "Sorting Through Mammogram Confusion" yesterday [October 14, 2010], following a Morning Edition story on October 11 (In Mammogram Debate, Differences Aren't So Big). 

Learn more at the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes for Health.

Friday, October 08, 2010

One-Two Punch: Virus/Fungus Found to Cause Bee Colony Collapse

This fascinating story comes from the New York Times front page (A1) on October 7: Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery.  The fate of honeybees is of critical importance for ecosystems generally and human food supply, specifically, as has been documented in countless other publications and news stories (search: CCD colony collapse honey bees in google and the result is overwhelming).  This book provides good background information: A world without bees / Alison Benjamin, Brian McCallum.

The U.S. House of Representatives held a Hearing to review the status of pollinator health including colony collapse disorder (hearing before the Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture of the Committee on Agriculture, House of Representatives, One Hundred Tenth Congress, second session, June 26, 2008), providing abundant evidence of the cost and effect of CCD on farmers nationwide and USDA's research efforts to date.

The NYT story addresses the mysterious nature of colony collapse, and the fortuitous result of academic/military collaboration to research the cause: 
"Human nature and bee nature were interconnected in how the puzzle pieces came together. Two brothers helped foster communication across disciplines. A chance meeting and a saved business card proved pivotal. Even learning how to mash dead bees for analysis — a skill not taught at West Point — became a factor.
"One perverse twist of colony collapse that has compounded the difficulty of solving it is that the bees do not just die — they fly off in every direction from the hive, then die alone and dispersed. That makes large numbers of bee autopsies — and yes, entomologists actually do those — problematic."
Now that the cause of CCD is more clearly understood, how can it be treated?  That remains elusive:
"Scientists in the project emphasize that their conclusions are not the final word. The pattern, they say, seems clear, but more research is needed to determine, for example, how further outbreaks might be prevented, and how much environmental factors like heat, cold or drought might play a role.
"They said that combination attacks in nature, like the virus and fungus involved in bee deaths, are quite common, and that one answer in protecting bee colonies might be to focus on the fungus — controllable with antifungal agents — especially when the virus is detected."
Published in NYT online September 6, 2010.
By KIRK JOHNSON

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Nobel 2010 in Chemistry: Palladium-Catalyzed Cross Coupling

The 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry is shared by Richard F. Heck, Univ. Deleware; Ei-ichi Negishi, Purdue Univ.; and Akira Suzuki, Hokkaido University, for their developments of palladium-catalyzed cross coupling, including refining the method and reagents used for synthesizing complex molecules. As noted on the Nobel Prize site, "the Heck reaction, Negishi reaction and Suzuki reaction are of considerable importance to chemists." Among the many applications of their work, their methods have led to the efficient synthesis of compounds used to treat cancer and other disease, to protect agricultural crops from fungi, to create new materials that benefit computer technology, and to advance research through the synthesis of naturally occurring molecules in test tubes.

A search of the phrase "Palladium-Catalyzed Cross Coupling" resulted in 1,406 references in ISI Web of Knowledge, in an amazing array of subject disciplines  - characterized as agriculture, allergy, immunology, genetics, ophthalmology, endocrinology, electrochemistry, materials sciences, and so much more (the refine by subject areas is such a useful option in ISI WoK!).  For a good overview of the chemistry, see Palladium in Organic Synthesis, available to OhioLINK users at SpringerLink.com as part of the Topics in Organometallic Chemistry series.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Graphene the Focus of 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics

Graphene was first described in this 2004 publication in Science, accessible to Oberlin users both in JSTOR. org and on the AAAS sciencemag.org site:

Novoselov, K. S.; Geim, A. K.; Morozov, S. V.; Jiang, D.; Zhang, Y.; Dubonos, S. V.; Grigorieva, I. V.; Firsov, A. A. 2004. Electric field effect in atomically thin carbon films. Science, 306, 666-669.

Since that publication, co-authors and 2010 Nobel Prize winners Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov have published together at least 63 times (as found through an author search in INSPEC).  The "Information for the Public" offered at the Nobel Prize website is wonderfully prepared to help non-physicists understand the significance of graphene's development and utilization:
"Graphene is a form of carbon. As a material it is completely new – not only the thinnest ever but also the strongest. As a conductor of electricity it performs as well as copper. As a conductor of heat it outperforms all other known materials. It is almost completely transparent, yet so dense that not even helium, the smallest gas atom, can pass through it.
"The list of possible applications for graphene is long. The relentless activity that began following its discovery will eventually most likely bear fruit. No-one can predict what the future might bring, not even this year’s Nobel Laureates."
 Take a look and enjoy the graphics.  The images give a much better idea of graphene's structure!  See also this book at SpringerLink:  Progress in industrial mathematics at ECMI 2006  / Luis L. Bonilla ... [et al.], editors] for a few chapters on graphene.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Big Read Kickoff! Saturday @ The First Church

After months (and months) of planning, we are at last embarking on our community read of Fahrenheit 451.  The kickoff event, long scheduled at the fire circle in Tappan Square, will instead be indoors at The First Church, in the Meeting House (Sat., Oct. 2, 4pm).  The forecast of rain and cold wind made the outdoor location less and less desirable (so unlike the brilliant blue sky, bright sun and fluffy white clouds visible from the science library windows at this moment).

Come hear readings of the book by Marvin Krislov, Eric Norenberg and Geoffrey Andrews, and remarks from Molly Raphael OC'67, President Elect of the American Library Association.  We'll still offer popcorn, cider and the opportunity to make a small facsimile of your favorite book, which will then be destroyed in some manner, in a dramatization of our abhorrence of book burning.  This is ultimately a celebration of the Freedom to Read and a fitting end to Banned Books Week.  Join Us!

The Big Read will continue through March, with more events and book discussion groups.  Stay informed at oberlinbigread.org

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Publication co-authored by recent grad Johanna Weaver

Johanna Weaver graduated in May 2009. Co-authors of this paper are from University of Oklahoma, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute of Panama, and Pomona College of Claremont, California.

Kaspari, Michael; Chang, Charlotte; Weaver, Johanna. 2010. Salted roads and sodium limitation in a northern forest ant community. Ecological Entomology 35:543-548.

Indexed in ISI Web of Science. Full-text access at the OhioLINK EJC or Wiley Online [subscribers only].

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ocean cooling linked to dip in global temperatures in 1970s

While exploring the redesign for Nature this news article (published online September 22) caught my eye: 
When the North Atlantic Caught a Chill - Surface cooling could have pushed down temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere 40 years ago."
"The sudden cooling event [of 0.3 °C ] that Thompson and his colleagues report1 on page 444 of this issue [September 23] could help to solve a mystery: a prominent drop in the global mean surface temperature record around the same time. The ocean cooling, which may have resulted from a shift in currents, also offers a reminder of the North Atlantic's outsize role in climate."

Excellent background information is available in this text:
Atmosphere, ocean, and climate dynamics : an introductory text / John Marshall and R. Alan Plumb. Elsevier Academic Press, c2008.  Science Library QC880.4.A8 A877 2007  [plus 7 other copies in OhioLINK]

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Achieving Scientific Literacy

A new edition of Robert Hazen and James Trefil's Science Matters: achieving scientific literacy is on the new book shelf.  "From plate tectonics to leptons to the first living cell, now you can understand the simple science behind our complex world," is the promise of this little book, and its purpose couldn't be more important.  The authors begin with convincing arguments of why scientific literacy is so crucial, including, "The threats to our system from a scientifically illiterate electorate are many, ranging from the danger of political demagoguery to the decay of the entire democratic process as vital decisions that affect everyone have to be made by an educated (but probably unelected) elite." 

I am especially struck by this section's conclusion: "If you expect someone to know something, you have to tell him or her what it is."  A scientifically "illiterate" individual may not readily pick up this book, if that person is unaware of or unconcerned about his or her lack of knowledge.  But it speaks directly to the reader who understands the need for scientific literacy, and provides a wonderful model of how to teach others essential scientific principles. 

Each chapter title is accompanied by a true statement elucidating the title, e.g., The Cosmos - "The universe was born at a specific time in the past, and it has been expanding ever since."  The subtitle of the final chapter, Ecosystems, says simply "All life is connected."  Indeed.

I hope this book is borrowed and read by many!

Friday, September 10, 2010

New publications from chemistry faculty and alumni

Here are the newest articles by Oberlin science authors, indexed in the ISI Web of Knowledge
  • Authors include Oberlin alumni Leyden, Moore, Patchen, and van den Heuvel:
A reevaluation of the assignment of the vibrational fundamentals and the rotational analysis of bands in the high-resolution infrared spectra of trans- and cis-1,3,5-hexatriene. Craig, Norman C (Emeritus Professor of Chemistry).; Leyden, Matthew C.; Moore, Michael C.; Patchen, Amie K.; van den Heuvel, Titus; Blake, Thomas A.; Masiello, Tony; Sams, Robert L.
JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SPECTROSCOPY 262 (1): 49-60 JUL 2010 [access at the EJC]
  • Authors include Oberlin alumni Cole-Filipiak and current senior O'Connor:
Kinetics of the Hydrolysis of Atmospherically Relevant Isoprene-Derived Hydroxy Epoxides.  Cole-Filipiak, Neil C.; O'Connor, Alison E.; Elrod, Matthew J. (Associate Professor of Chemistry)
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY 44 (17): 6718-6723 SEP 1 2010 [access at ACS]
  • The Oberlin author of the following paper is Catherine McKay (Katie) Mauck, a chemistry major who graduated May 2009.  She completed this work with researchers at the Art Institute of Chicago Department of Conservation.
Direct identification of early synthetic dyes: FT-Raman study of the illustrated broadside prints of Jos, Gaudalupe Posada (1852-1913). Casadio, F; Mauck, K; Chefitz, M; Freeman, R
APPLIED PHYSICS A-MATERIALS SCIENCE & PROCESSING 100 (3): 885-899 SEP 2010 [access at EJC]

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Craig lab publication, co-authored with Michael Moore (OC '06)

New publication from the lab of Emeritus Professor of Chemistry Norman C. Craig.  Michael C. Moore was a student in Professor Craig's lab, and this work reflects research completed in Oberlin.  Michael is now a graduate student at UC Berkeley.

Infrared Spectra of CF2=CHD and CF2=CD2: Scaled Quantum-Chemical Force Fields and an Equilibrium Structure for 1,1-Difluoroethylene.
McKean, Donald C.; Law, Mark M.; Groner, Peter; Conrad, Andrew R.; Tubergen, Michael J.; Feller, David; Moore, Michael C.; Craig, Norman C.
JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY A 114 (34): 9309-9318 SEP 2 2010
(access for OhioLINK subscribers, at the American Chemical Society web site)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Science News digital edition in Wiley Online Library

The complete digital edition for subscribers of Science News is now part of the Wiley Online Library.  Free content remains available at sciencenews.org, including Web-only multi-media enhancements, but the Wiley Online Library archive is our location for downloading pdf versions.
 
The September 11 issue includes an article of conflicting reports between scientific teams working in the Gulf of Mexico: 

Story one: Teams disagree over breakdown of BP oil in Gulf: Two studies offer confusing picture of deep-sea plumes [download pdf]
by Janet Raloff
Article first published online: 31 AUG 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Library Hours during Orientation Week

As we prepare to welcome new students to campus tomorrow, today is, figuratively, our last day of summer.  New beginnings!  Library hours are a bit extended this week to accommodate departmental open houses held in the library and course registration in the iMac lab.
  • Monday - Wednesday  9 am-noon, 1-4:30 pm
  • Thursday 9 am-7 pm
  • Friday 8 am-noon, 1-4:30 pm
15-minute orientation tours for new students will be offered continuously beginning at 1 pm on Friday.  The last tour starts at 2:30 pm.  Hope to see many new science-minded students on Friday afternoon!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cruz lab research in Developmental Biology

Three new abstracts of research by Yolanda Cruz, Professor of Biology, as indexed in Web of Science are included in the August 1 issue of Developmental Biology.  The abstracts summarize presentations made at the 69th Annual Meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology, held earlier this month in Albuquerque, NM.  Neils Bantilan, Jeremy Morrison, Vicki Wang and Joanna Johnson are (or were) Oberlin College students who conducted research with Professor Cruz.
  • Expression of Oct4, Cdx2 and Yap1 during blastocyst formation in the marsupial, Monodelphis domestica [access in OhioLINK EJC, for OhioLINK users]. 
Authors: Cruz, Yolanda P.; Morrison, Jeremy T.; Bantilan, Niels S.
Source:  DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY 344 (1): 425-425 37 AUG 1 2010
  • Expression pattern of E-Cad, Ocln and ZO-1 in cleavage-stage Monodelphis domestica embryos [access in OhioLINK EJC]
Authors:   Wang, Vicki N.; Cruz, Yolanda P.
Source:  DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY 344 (1): 440-440 75 AUG 1 2010
  • Pregnancy-related changes in progesterone receptor expression in the uterine glands of Monodelphis domestica [access in OhioLINK EJC]
Authors:  Johnson, Joanna M.; Lydon, John; Harder, John D.; Cruz, Yolanda P.
Source:  DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY 344 (1): 477-477 214 AUG 1 2010

Friday, August 06, 2010

van der Heide publishes in Journal of Cell Science

Dana van der Heide, a rising senior Biology major, is co-author of a paper published online June 22 in the Journal of Cell Science.  Unfortunately, Oberlin does not have a subscription to this journal, published by Cambridge Univ. Press, but the abstract is accessible at the publisher's site.  Congratulations to Dana on her research and scholarship.

Rollins, MF; van der Heide, DM; Weisend, CM; Kundert, JA; Comstock, KM; Suvorova, ES; Capecchi, MR; Merrill, GF; Schmidt, EE.  Hepatocytes lacking thioredoxin reductase 1 have normal replicative potential during development and regeneration.   JOURNAL OF CELL SCIENCE 123 (14): 2402-2412 JUL 15 2010 [print citation].  doi: 10.1242/jcs.068106
view this record in ISI Science Citation Index (Oberlin users only)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Whelan article in Tumor Biology on ovarian cancer biomarker

The most recent article published by a member of the science faculty, in collaboration with three undergraduate students, appears in Tumor Biology [online first].  Rebecca Whelan is Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Zach T. Berman, Lee J. Moore, Kathleen E. Knudson and Rebecca J. Whelan.  Synthesis and structural characterization of the peptide epitope of the ovarian cancer biomarker CA125 (MUC16).  Tumor Biology.  Published online Monday, June 21, 2010.    DOI  - 10.1007/s13277-010-0062-4
   http://www.springerlink.com/content/Q4740054V36410R6 [abstract and page 1 only are accessible to non-subscribers]

Whelan's research advances understanding of the structural characterization of CA125, particularly the amino acid sequence and oxidation state of the protein.  CA125 is acknowledged as the "best validated and most widely assayed biomarker" of ovarian cancer, and the "gold standard" against which other biomarkers are measured.  Understanding CA125 and its potential for simultaneous use with other biomarkers is an important step toward more reliable and earlier detection of ovarian cancer.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Science from Facts on File

Facts on File offers the database Science Online (not to be confused with Science, the premier journal from AAAS), which includes far more than simply a handy compilation of facts.  The Science in the News feature is well worth a daily visit, bringing together news articles from around the world in easy-to-browse subject categories.  A recent post in the "natural science" category, dated July 30, 2010, is of regional interest: New Research Examines Midwest Earthquakes. Melting ice sheets, rapid erosion from the Mississippi River, and stored stress from ancient mountain building in the Appalachians and Rocky Mountains once combined to produce mighty earthquakes in the middle of the country, where fault stress is longer a major concern.
Explore more at Science Online. [off-campus users: authenticate using VPN Client before following the links]

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cool & quiet in here, and plentiful summer reading. Check us out!

It never fails that we receive big shipments of marvelous new books just when there are so few people on campus to enjoy them.  And, with less competition for those great window seats, you have not only your pick of good reading but also a lovely, cool spot with a grand view of north campus and the tours of prospective students with family in tow.

Here are just a few titles to entice you to the new book shelf:
 ...and so many more!  See the entire list of books received in June and July.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Faculty/Student Publication, July 2010

Rebecca Whelan, Chemistry and Mary Garvin, Biology, collaborated on this recent publication, indexed in ISI Science Citation IndexTera Levin, the second author, graduated from Oberlin this year.

Whelan, RJ; Levin, TC; Owen, JC; Garvin, MC
Short-chain carboxylic acids from gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) uropygial secretions vary with testosterone levels and photoperiod
Source:
COMPARATIVE BIOCHEMISTRY AND PHYSIOLOGY B-BIOCHEMISTRY & MOLECULAR BIOLOGY 156 (3): 183-188 JUL 2010.  Access on OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center.


Friday, July 02, 2010

Latest Images of Gulf Oil Disaster

NASA provides images on its web site of the Deep Horizon Oil Disaster, using data from multiple cameras of JPL's MISR instrument on NASA's Terra satellite. The images show the spread of oil into Louisiana’s fragile wetlands early in June. More recently, Florida Governor Charlie Crist released data and images from NOAA, showing the oil plume at 50 miles away from Panama City and 271 miles from St. Petersburg.  This satellite image shows the extent of the spill today, as reported on The Gov Monitor along with pollution monitoring data.

Follow the oil spill trajectory at with NOAA's GeoPlatform, a "new tool that provides near-real time information about the response effort."

NOAA's response to the disaster is described in detail on their Office of Response and Restoration web site, one of hundreds of web sites and other resources listed in the NOAA Central Library's very thorough bibliography Resources on Oil Spills, Response and Restoration.

Photos of animals caught in the slick are all-too readily found on the web.  AP Photos by Charlie Reidel are particularly troubling, as icons of the catastrophe.

Science magazine is covering "five key issues" of the oil spill, with clear analysis of the effects on fisheries and food, coastal ecosystems, life on the sea floor, marine life, and the fate of oil.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

1960 Alumni Scientific & Medical Publications

In celebration of their 50th Reunion this weekend, I searched ISI Web of Science for papers authored by scientists and physicians among the 1960 alumni.  Through a combination of author and cited author searching, and utilizing the Web of Knowledge citation analysis feature, I found over 700 papers cited at least 26,400 times.

The papers were authored and co-authored by the following members of the 1960 class:
  • Ludwig Christian Balling
  • Michael Charles Klein
  • David L. Miller
  • Thomas Garrett Pretlow
  • Thomas Allen Queen
  • Lee Brodersohn Reichman
  • Wilmer Dean Rupp
  • Rolf Sternglanz
  • Stanley Mardon Swanson
  • Timothy F. Thomas
  • Garland Leigh Truitt 
  • Dudley Taylor Watkins
Twelve individuals generating over 700 papers and nearly 27,000 citations represents a significant impact on the scientific and medical community.  Dr. Reichman also authored and edited these books:
  • Timebomb : the global epidemic of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis / Lee B. Reichman with Janice Hopkins Tanne.  New York : McGraw-Hill, c2002
    Tuberculosis : a comprehensive international approach / edited by Lee B. Reichman, Earl S. Hershfield.  New York : Dekker, c2000
 It is a pleasure to welcome the entire Class of 1960 back to campus!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Oil Spill Disaster Grows: News from NPR, Science magazine

The news on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was very bleak this morning, one month after the oil rig explosion, as reported on NPR's Morning Edition:  "In Louisiana, thick oil from the April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig blowout has crept into delicate marshes, feeding and breeding grounds for much of the state's famed seafood, as well as for birds and other wildlife."  NPR's coverage of all aspects of the disaster is brought together here.

Science magazine is one of many sources keeping close watch on developments in the Gulf, you can follow the news at ScienceInsider.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Recent Publications, Science Faculty & Students

Publications by Jason Stalnaker, Physics Department, and Norm Craig, Chemistry and Biochemistry, were just indexed in ISI Web of Knowledge. Emeritus Professor Craig co-published this article with recent graduates Michael Brenner and Deacon Nemchick.

McKean DC, van der Veken B, Herrebout W, Law MM, Brenner Michael J, Nemchick Deacon J, Craig Norman C. 2010. Infrared spectra of (CF2)-C-12=(CH2)-C-12 and (CF2)-C-12=(CH2)-C-13, quantum-chemical calculations of anharmonicity, and analyses of resonances. Journal of Physical Chemistry A 114(18):5728-42.

Stalnaker Jason E, Mbele V, Gerginov V, Fortier TM, Diddams SA, Hollberg L, Tanner CE. 2010. Femtosecond frequency comb measurement of absolute frequencies and hyperfine coupling constants in cesium vapor. Physical Review A 81(4):043840.

Intel Science Fair Winners Announced Today

Winners at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in San Jose, held May 9-15, will be announced this morning. The list of finalists is lengthy: 1,500 high school students from around the country. If they are all like Rebecca Forcier of Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights, who was interviewed this morning on WKSU, the future seems promising for science and technology research. Listen to Rebecca describe her experiment investigating "a new way to control the focused release of anti-cancer drugs over time using polymer capsules and micro-bubbles injected into tumors." Thanks to WKSU Morning Edition Host Jeff St. Clair for his interview with Rebecca. St. Clair noted that one out of five projects at the Intel Fair typically results in patent applications. Inspiring ingenuity!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Neandertal Genome Sequenced - more at Science online

Exciting news just received from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS):

Neandertal Genome Sequenced

"Using pill-sized samples of bone powder from three Neandertal bones, a global team of scientists including Svante Pääbo, Richard E. Green, and Hernán Burbano has sequenced the Neandertal genome.

"Comparing the Neandertal genome with the genomes of five present-day humans, the researchers uncovered a variety of genes that are unique to humans, including a handful that spread rapidly among our species after humans and Neandertals split from a common ancestor. These significant findings may, in fact, hold the key to understanding our human identity.

Available now online, with public access articles, a podcast, and special visual presentation, and in the May 7 print edition of Science, "the research also suggests that modern humans and Neandertals most likely engaged in limited interbreeding, probably as modern humans encountered Neandertals after leaving Africa."

Our print copy of the May 7 issue has not yet been received, so please enjoy the public access materials online.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Climate-Friendly Gardener, from Union of Concerned Scientists

Just in time for spring planting and soil preparation! Check out this new guide from the Union of Concerned Scientists: The Climate-Friendly Gardener, as reviewed in the Garden Rant:

"Author Karen Perry Stillerman knows that gardeners are already in tune with nature and contributing positively to the environment.  Her guide helps us go beyond adapting to climate change to actually reducing the problem - by making sure our gardens are storing more heat-trapping gasses than they're generating." [download the Climate-Friendly Gardener]

The Union of Concerned Scientists also offers insight on the needed response to the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and an aerial photo showing the extent of the oil slick.  [read the UCS press release].

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Honors Students for 2011! Come to a Study Break for YOU.

Wondering how the library might help you with your Honors project next year?
The Library is hosting a study break for all juniors who are definitely (or possibly) doing Honors in 2010-11 ...   
Thursday, May 6
9:30 - 10 pm
Azariah Café - Mudd Center, Academic Commons
Snacks and friendly librarians await you!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Time Passes Swiftly For Us All... Generally

New faculty publication, indexed in Medline as searched in ISI Web of Knowledge [public access in PubMed] and archived in the OhioLINK EJC:

Friedman, William J.(Department of Psychology, Oberlin College) and Steve M. J. Janssen.  Aging and the speed of time. Acta Psychologica, Volume 134, issue 2 (June, 2010), p. 130-141.

Partial abstract:  "A total of 1865 adults from two countries, ranging in age from 16 to 80, reported how fast time appears to pass over different spans of time... Respondents of all ages reported that time seems to pass quickly. In contrast to widely held beliefs, age differences in reports of the subjective speed of time were very small, except for the question about how fast the last 10years had passed."

The experience of rushing, having many things to do and missing deadlines, correlated strongly with the feeling that time was passing quickly.  The authors compared that sensation with that of a musician who is unable to keep up with the tempo of a metronome.  I know that feeling all too well - and suddenly another 20 minutes has flown by!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What You Need to Know About Energy

The National Academies site What You Need to Know About Energy provides "dependable, objective, and authoritative energy information," in an engaging, interactive style. The source list, or library, gives quick access to dozens of technical reports accessible online for free. Try the quiz! My less than perfect score convinced me that I still have plenty to learn.

What You Need to Know About Energy has been nominated for a Webby Award, along with some other very sharp science sites. View them all, then vote for your favorite! Voting ends tonight at midnight.

Related to this, we have recently ordered this book for the science library:
Beyond the age of oil : the myths, realities, and future of fossil fuels and their alternatives / Leonardo Maugeri ; translated from the Italian by Jonathan T. Hine Jr..Santa Barbara, Calif. : Praeger, c2010. Borrow it through OhioLINK, while waiting for the Oberlin copy to be processed.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day! Get Outside, for Goodness Sake

On this, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, do what you can to appreciate the great outdoors and make a commitment to keep that spirit: respecting the natural world in all of its forms, working to conserve and preserve the corner of the world you inhabit, and supporting efforts of others worldwide who balance environmental, ecological, economic and social justice issues.  The U.S. National Park Service has enveloped Earth Day into National Park Week - if you can't get to a National Park this week in person, visit one online and make plans to enjoy our nation's natural heritage sometime soon.

Looking for the best environmental group to join or support financially?  This list of top-rated charities might help.  One of those top-rated groups, The Union of Concerned Scientists, does an excellent job of presenting complex scientific material in a manner helpful to citizens of any background, and covers a wide range of environmental issues.  This recent publication is an interactive anthology: Thoreau's Legacy: American Stories about Global Warming

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Amino Acids in Eye Lens Indicate the Age of Whales

A fascinating story on Pulse of the Planet aired today on WCPN ("IdeaStream!") - determining the age of Bowhead Whales by measuring the quantity of some types of amino acids in the eye lens nucleus  [listen to the story].  Marine chemist Jeffrey Bada, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, was interviewed for the story.
Beyond the immediate questions raised in my mind (how do researchers extract the material from the eye of a Bowhead Whale? Why do right-handed amino acids persist in just certain tissues?) was the surprising discovery that some animals are approaching 200 years old.  Wow.  A follow-up story is scheduled for April 23: Aging Whales--Underwater Advantage.

Get much more on the basic biology of the Bowhead from this special publication:
The Bowhead whale / editors, John J. Burns, J. Jerome Montague, Cleveland J. Cowles. Lawrence, KS : Society for Marine Mammalogy, c1993

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shred your stuff on 40th anniversary of Earth Day

A number of events on campus mark the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day this week.  One of the less glamorous but very useful is the Earth Day Shredding Event (gather those papers now!).  Oberlin College's Recycling Students, along with the college's Purchasing and Facilities Operations offices, have arranged for shredding service from Noon to 3:00 P.M on Thursday, April 22. Bring up to two boxes of personal or business papers for confidential shredding and environmentally-friendly recycling.  Extra boxes of papers can be shredded for a small donation.
  • Location: East Service Building Parking Lot (located between the Safety & Security and Service buildings, 173 West Lorain Street) 
  • Donations suggested ($3/small box, $5 for a box of 10 reams of paper, but any donation is welcome!) with proceeds going to support Oberlin College's Recycling Students programs, operations and activities. 
The shredding mobile comes from Shredding Network.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Health Effects of the Persian Gulf War: Read Online for Free at NAP






Authored by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and published by the National Academies Press, this volume updates information on the impact of the Persian Gulf War on surviving U.S. combatants. Find much more information, including dozens of reports from government agencies and legislative bodies, with this subject search in OBIS: Persian Gulf War 1991

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Paul Krugman on Building a Green Economy

Very readable and persuasive; take 10 minutes and give it your attention.
New York Times online
MAGAZINE
Building a Green Economy
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: April 5, 2010

"If you listen to climate scientists — and despite the relentless campaign to discredit their work, you should — it is long past time to do something about emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. If we continue with business as usual, they say, we are facing a rise in global temperatures that will be little short of apocalyptic. And to avoid that apocalypse, we have to wean our economy from the use of fossil fuels, coal above all.

"But is it possible to make drastic cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions without destroying our economy?"

Read more

Paul Krugman is a Times columnist and winner of the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science.

Books by Krugman in the Oberlin College Library.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

New publication: FitzGerald and Rowsell collaboration

Published online March 29, 2010:
Quantum dynamics of adsorbed normal- and para-H2, HD, and D2 in the microporous framework MOF-74 analyzed using infrared spectroscopy
S. A. FitzGerald, J. Hopkins, B. Burkholder, M. Friedman, and J. L. C. Rowsell,
Physical Review B, 2010, 81, 104305.


“Through an ongoing collaboration between the departments of Physics and Chemistry, we are gaining unique insights on how hydrogen molecules stick to the surfaces of energy storage materials. Symmetric molecules such as H2 only become detectable by IR spectroscopy when polarized by surface atoms, and we are one of the few research groups in the world with the capability to observe and study these interactions.”--jlcr

Stephen FitzGerald is Associate Professor of Physics and Jesse Rowsell is Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Oberlin College.  Thanks to Jesse Rowsell for bringing this article to my attention.

Friday, April 02, 2010

IUCN Red-List Species of the Day: the Lion Finch

Proving that conservation biologists have a sense of humor... the Lion Finch.

Once you've considered the plight of the lion finch, take a moment to review the Species of the Day Archives.  It is a remarkable photo essay of species that may not be with us much longer.

From IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, celebrating biodiversity and committed to education on the essential need to preserve biodiversity for human well-being.  Learn more.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Large Hadron Collider is at work!

The news is everywhere, and very exciting, indeed, as the world's largest atom smasher hurls proton beams at a mind-numbing energy level of 7 trillion electron volts.  I can't fathom what that really means. The announcement on NPR's Morning Edition was positively jubilant yesterday morning, and today's LA Times gives an account the day after. The discussion of dark energy, dark matter, Higgs Boson, and possibly teeny tiny black holes that will exist for mere fractions of a second is fascinating. 

If you'd like an easy to understand, very calm visual explanation of what is going on inside the 27 kilometer underground ring (big enough to encircle Chicago), take a few minutes to visit with Northwestern associate professor Michael Schmit [video]. 

We have books, too (of course!), that will teach much more.  Here are two to start with:
The quantum frontier : the large hadron collider / Don Lincoln ; foreword by Leon Lederman. Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009

Deep down things : the breathtaking beauty of particle physics / Bruce A. Schumm. Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring blooms outside the Science Center

Spring has arrived outside the science library south windows!  And nary a soul around to witness the cheerful blooms this week of Spring Break.

The laptop cabinet is full, the iMacs silent, the printer queues empty, not ONE reserve item checked out... we are well on our way to having the quietest day ever during an academic year.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Michael Moore publication in PNAS: phylogenetic analysis of plastid genes

A publication by Assistant Professor of Biology Michael Moore appeared in the March 9 issue of PNAS:
Moore MJ, Soltis PS, Bell CD, Burleigh JG, Soltis DE. 2010. Phylogenetic analysis of 83 plastid genes further resolves the early diversification of eudicots. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 107(10):4623-8
This is an Open Access article.

abbreviated abstract:
Phylogenetic analyses of 83 protein-coding and rRNA genes from the plastid genome for 86 species of seed plants, including new sequences from 25 eudicots, indicate that soon after its origin, Pentapetalae diverged into three clades... Molecular dating analyses suggest that the major lineages within both superrosids and superasterids arose in as little as 5 million years. This phylogenetic hypothesis provides a crucial historical framework for future studies aimed at elucidating the underlying causes of the morphological and species diversity in Pentapetalae.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

America's Energy Future: Technology and Transformation


  
The full content of this report is now available online from the National Academies Press.

Also visit the new web site from the National Academies: What You Need to Know About Energy.

The Great Squeeze: Surviving the Human Project

Just ordered for the Science Library. Contact us if you'd like to be notified when it is available.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More volumes in the Animal series received, covering art, culture, history, biology and more.

We received 13 more volumes in Animal, which is such a delightful series of little books.  Not strictly biological in focus, though most of them are classified within the zoology area of the collection, "each book in the series takes a different animal and examines its role in history around the world. The importance of mythology, religion and science are described as is the history of food, the trade in animals and their products, pets, exhibition, film and photography, and their roles in the artistic and literary imagination."

They are just the antidote for anyone who needs a break from midterms!  Take one with you for Spring Break.  It will fit in any corner of your backpack or suitcase.  Find them all on OBIS with the Title search: Animal (Reaktion Books).  [see all the new books on display]

Friday, March 19, 2010

Zeb Page publication in Chemical Geology

Recent publication by Assistant Professor of Geology Zeb Page, as indexed in ISI Web of Science:

Page, F. Zeb; Kita, Noriko T.; Valley, John W.
Ion microprobe analysis of oxygen isotopes in garnets of complex chemistry.
CHEMICAL GEOLOGY 270 (1-4): 9-19 FEB 15 2010  [download the pdf from the OhioLINK EJC]

This study began while Page was a post-doctoral fellow at Univ. of Wisconsin, and continued with the use of the scanning electron microscope at Oberlin College.  The data suggest that the diffusion rate of oxygen in garnet at 750 °C, as determined by this method, indicate that the "peak of regional metamorphism in the NE Adirondack Highlands was significantly faster than has previously been assumed."
Publisher:  Elsevier

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Publication from the Oertel Lab: faculty and student co-authors

ISI Web of Science has just indexed this article, by Assistant Professor of Chemistry Catherine Oertel and three of her research students (Iliff and Moore graduated in 2009):

Tian, HF; Iliff, HA; Moore, LJ; Oertel, CM.  Structure and Polymorphism in M(ethylenediamine)(3)MoS4 (M = Mn, Co, Ni).  CRYSTAL GROWTH & DESIGN 10 (2): 669-675 FEB 2010

Authors' full names:
Tian, Hengfeng; Iliff, Hadley A.; Moore, Lee J.; Oertel, Catherine M.

[Table of Contents for the February issue, at American Chemical Society Publications site]

Drought in China Continues

This arrived today in my inbox, from SCIENCE News This Week:

Severe Drought Puts Spotlight on Chinese Dams
Richard Stone
 

"Southwest China's monsoon-driven climate doesn't bring much precipitation in autumn and winter. But this year's dry season—coupled with a late start and early end to last year's rainy season—has left the region parched. Environmental groups in Thailand and elsewhere lay at least part of the blame on China's doorstep. They claim that China's management of a series of dams on the Lancang River has aggravated the unfolding crisis. Yet Chinese engineers and some other scientists say the criticism is unfounded."

The news article concludes:
"Things may get worse due to climate change. After examining weather and tree ring data, Fan Ze-xin, a tree physiologist at Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, has found that in the past 40 years Yunnan has grown warmer and drier—a trend that started long before the dams were built. In a nature reserve near the botanical garden, he grabs leaves from a seedling; dry as parchment, they disintegrate. "Some of these leaves are fresh," Fan says. "I haven't seen it as bad as this.""

Read more:
Science 12 March 2010. Vol. 327. no. 5971, p. 1311
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5971.1311
Sign up for the e-newsletter from Science.

Some relevant titles in the library's collection, each including information on drought or desertification in China:
Feb. 2009 News story from the BBC : Nearly 4 million people were said to suffer from water shortages in the prolonged drought, leading the government to declare a state of emergency more than a year ago.  More recently, 6 million people were reported as being affected by the drought [Straits Times, Singapore, March 3, 2010]

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Greatest environmental threat? Ocean acidification.

When asked what is the greatest single environmental threat worldwide, Director of the USGS Marcia McNutt paused for reflection and then answered unequivocally "ocean acidification."  Her response came after a thorough plenary address to the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting, during which she had recounted alarming trends in ocean shoreline retreat, rising sea level and the drowning of shoreline wetland areas, expansion of hypoxia or dead zones where rivers meet the oceans, and the deleterious effects of mercury in oceanic environments.  Rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are to blame for the increasing acidity of ocean waters, and the impact on living organisms is compounded by rising temperature, said McNutt. 

Why should you care?  The oceans cover 71% of earth's surface and are home to tens of thousands of species, a large percentage of which are still to be described.  The inter-dependencies of oceanic ecosystems make them especially vulnerable to negative inputs anywhere in the world's seas and oceans.  Scientists can hardly fathom the untold loss in biodiversity and the concomitant impact on species that rely on healthy oceans for food and breeding.  Increasing acidity has both biological and physical impacts, including altering sound and light propagation qualities of ocean water (Doney, et al., introductory essay to Oceanography, Dec. 2009)

Learn more with the freely accessible special issue of Oceanography (Dec. 2009).   For a compelling summary of why a healthy ocean matters, read Carolyn Thoroughgood's letter (The Oceanography Society President's Letter, a regular column of Oceanography).

More information:  The Ocean Acidification Network.
Recent book in the Main Library:  Seasick: ocean change and the extinction of life / Alanna Mitchell.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Interviews with Michael Mann and Judith Curry in Discover

The April issue of Discover includes personal interviews with Judith Curry, chair of the Georgia Tech School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Michael Mann, director of Pennsylvania State University's Earth System Science Center.  Most striking in my mind was Mann's observation, "Right now, there's the largest disconnect that has ever existed between the confidence that we have scientifically and where the public is, at least in the United States."  Ironically, just as public confidence in climatology is waning, Mann points out that climate scientists are now able to provide better assessments of current climate trends in perspective of what has happened in the past.  Scientists have more information on how climate systems are evolving in response to human impact, and more powerful supercomputers able to run more accurate climate models.  The science is more certain as public opinion swings toward uncertainty.

This is a frightening trend, says Mann, and reflects a reversal of significant factors that made 2006 a peak year in terms of public awareness in and acknowledgment that global warming was occurring and could be attributed, in part, to anthropogenic causes.  He noted, "Some people say that climate change became too closely associated with a partisan political figure and that polarized the debate.  We've had a cold winter.  We've got a bad economy.  It's a bad time to be talking about major changes in our energy economy that some argue could be costly."

Vacillating public opinion in matters of critical environmental threats presents a huge challenge for policy makers, scientists and those of us who want future generations to live peaceably in a healthy environment (and isn't that is all of us?).  As was emphasized in several sessions at the 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting, the cultures of scientific researchers, economists, politicians and lobbyists operate with different expectations and values.  The three-legged stool of "Science, Politics, and the Public" is mighty unsteady if the public lacks scientific literacy, and adopts a debate mentality rather than informed and reasoned dialogue.  Debate is intended to press one's own point of view, while dialogue in intended to increase common understanding.  We could use much more of the latter.

Read the interviews with Mann and Curry on pages 56-62 of the April issue, now in the Science Library or your neighborhood bookstore. [Text of the interviews is not freely accessible at the Discover web site although other comments from Mann are available in the Discover blogs.] Mann also gives important context to the leaked emails to and from climate scientists at the University of East Anglia [more at RealClimate].
Discover Magazine archives

Friday, March 05, 2010

International Women's Day : Focus on Women Scientists

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research,will observe International Women's Day (March 8) by putting women in charge of nearly all operations of the world's largest physics laboratory.  You can watch live action in the control rooms on Monday March 8, as CERN celebrates the "progress of women in particle physics."  This celebration developed out of a proposal from a physicist at Indiana University [read the IU Press Release].


UNESCO will celebrate International Women's Day with a Roundtable on Women in Science: Challenges Ahead.


The National Institutes of Health will offer a panel discussion titled International Women Scientists at NIH: Their Research and Career Paths.

You can celebrate the achievements of international women in science from a historical perspective with this online biographical dictionary: 

International Women in Science: A Biographical Dictionary to 1950 / Catharine M. C. Haines and Helen M. Stevens. ABC-CLIO, Inc.

and focus on just women scientists who were Nobel Laureates (as of 1998) with this title:
Nobel Prize women in science : their lives, struggles, and momentous discoveries / Sharon Bertsch McGrayne. Washington, D.C. : Joseph Henry Press, c1998.

The Nobel Prize web site offers biographies of all of the Nobel Laureates, and a compiled list of all women Nobel Prize winners.