Monday, November 30, 2009

World AIDS Day, Tuesday Dec. 1

Support World AIDS Day Looking ahead to World AIDS Day, skim a bit of this book in the OhioLINK ELectronic Book Center: Denying AIDS : Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, and Human Tragedy / Seth C. Kalichman, Foreword by Nicoli Nattrass. Copernicus Books, an imprint of Springer, 2009. The introduction includes this observation:
"Denialism – like stigma, sexism, and homophobia – undermines the fight against AIDS. At the very least, denialism diverts attention and resources from the global AIDS disaster. At its worst, it disinforms affected populations about the importance of prevention, the necessity of HIV testing, and the availability of life-prolonging treatments. At its core, denialism is destructive because it undermines trust in science, medicine, and public health."
AIDS denialism should not be dismissed as the baseless opinion of a small, misinformed minority. Kalichman stresses that the rhetoric of denialism is quite harmful, especially to those who are HIV-positive:
"There are now countless HIV infected people who have avoided getting tested for HIV, rejected their HIV positive test results, ignored safer sex practices, failed to disclose their HIV status to sex partners, and refused HIV treatments for themselves and their children because they have believed denialists. Health decisions that are disinformed by denialist rhetoric are why we must care about denialism."
Be informed. Rely on factual sources, based on expert peer-reviewed medical research.
HIV Facts from:

Saturday, November 28, 2009

UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhangen: Prospects for Progress?

Living on Earth's Steve Curwood chatted with U.N. Foundation President, Tim Wirth, a former U.S. Senator and Under-Secretary of State for Global Affairs, as the Copenhangen Conference looms closer. Wirth stressed the urgency of the global warming, and the opportunity for China-US relations to make the biggest contribution worldwide in reducing carbon emissions saying, "we're the biggest developed world, they're the biggest developing country; between the two of us we have about 50 percent of the world's carbon emissions. So, if we can figure out together a joint program for moving toward a greener and ultimately low-carbon economy, then we have an opportunity together to really salvage the world."

Listen to the entire interview or read the transcript online.

COP15 Copenhagen
. Denmark's host country web site on the convention. news on the Copenhagen conference.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving Afternoon of Reading: Great Shopping Alternative!

The library is open a few hours this fine day after Thanksgiving, from 1-4:30 pm only. Spend a few hours catching up on reading, with very little competition for the required texts on reserve, or take advantage of easy access to one of the many computers in the library. There is plenty of space in the window seats overlooking north campus, where the first real hint of winter has finally arrived. Enjoy the quiet before heading into the home stretch of the semester. Thank you, Cordelia, for keeping the library open today! May at least one printer work flawlessly all afternoon and through the weekend.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

150th Anniversary Today! Darwin's On the Origin of Species

It has been a year of celebration and remembrance of Charles Darwin (born 200 years ago last February 12) and his pivotal work, On the origin of species by means of natural selection... but this is THE day! November 24, 1859, marked the beginning of a great new direction in the understanding of natural history, despite resistance to the implications for human origins that continues today.

The library's copy of an early edition is in Special Collections, but there many facsimiles and later editions to browse in the science library, including volumes 15 and 16 of Charles Darwin's Works.

On our new book shelf is one of the many books purchased this year that relate to Darwin directly or evolution more generally: The Origin then and now: an interpretive guide to the Origin of Species. Author David Reznick's begins his preface with: "Darwin's Origin of Species has been described as one of the books that is most widely referred to, but least likely to be read." You can buck that trend and read at least a bit of Origin at the Darwin Online site, or peruse the Darwin Correspondence project to commemorate the day, and enjoy letters between Darwin and his publisher John Murray.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Deconstructing Global Warming: Richard Lindzen on Campus

If you are unaware of MIT Professor Richard Lindzen's role in the community of climate change skeptics, this New York Times story [March 8, 2009] on the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change is a good introduction. Skeptics Dispute Climate Worries and Each Other, by Andrew Revkin, included these paragraphs:
  • In a keynote talk Sunday night, Richard S. Lindzen, a professor at M.I.T. and a longtime skeptic of the mainstream consensus that global warming poses a danger, first delivered a biting attack on what he called the “climate alarm movement.”
  • There is no solid scientific evidence to back up the models used by climate scientists who warn of dire consequences if warming continues, he said. But Dr. Lindzen also criticized widely publicized assertions by other skeptics that variations in the sun were driving temperature changes in recent decades. To attribute short-term variation in temperatures to a single cause, whether human-generated gases or something else, is erroneous, he said.
  • But several climate scientists who are seeking to curb greenhouse gases strongly criticized the meeting. Stephen H. Schneider, a climatologist at Stanford University and an author of many reports by the intergovernmental climate panel, said, after reviewing the text of presentations for the Heartland meeting, that they were efforts to “bamboozle the innocent.”
The Third International Conference on Climate Change sponsored by the Heartland Institute, took place June 2, 2009, in Washington, D.C., with the stated purpose "to expose Congressional staff and journalists to leading scientists and economists in the nation’s capital." Proceedings of that conference online include Professor Lindzen's keynote address (with options for PowerPoint, pdf, audio, and video). counters Professor Lindzen here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Recent Publications, Science Faculty & Students

New publications by Oberlin College science faculty and students include the following:

Murphy, Troy G., Malcolm F. Rosenthal, Robert Montgomerie, and Tarvin, Keith A. 2009. Female American goldfinches use carotenoid-based bill coloration to signal status. Behavioral Ecology 20: 1348-1355.

Download the pdf at the publisher's site. It will also be loaded on the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center in the near future.

Scofield, John H. 2009. Do LEED-certified buildings save energy? not really ... Energy and Buildings 41, (12) (DEC): 1386-90. [full-text at OhioLINK EJC).

Minerath, Emily C., Madeline P. Schultz, and Matthew J. Elrod. 2009. Kinetics of the reactions of isoprene-derived epoxides in model tropospheric aerosol solutions. Environmental Science & Technology 43, (21) (NOV 1): 8133-9. [full-text at publisher's site]

Oertel, Catherine M., Shefford P. Baker, Annika Niklasson, Lars-Gunnar Johansson, and Jan-Erik Svensson. 2009. Acetic acid vapor corrosion of lead-tin alloys containing 3.4 and 15% tin. Journal of the Electrochemical Society 156, (12) (OCT): C414-21. [no full-text online access for Oberlin users; read the abstract]

Find more recent publications by science faculty and students by searching for "oberlin college" as an address in Web of Science, limiting to publication year 2009 and the database Science Citation Index.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Was T-Rex Hot Blooded? PLoS ONE News

PLoS ONE published this article online on November 11, 2009:

Pontzer H, Allen V, Hutchinson JR, 2009 Biomechanics of Running Indicates Endothermy in Bipedal Dinosaurs. PLoS ONE 4(11): e7783. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007783

It has been viewed nearly 1900 times in two days, and downloaded 450 times as of this moment. Open access has obviously benefited a great number of readers interested in this topic!

Here's a bit from the authors' methodology and results summary:

"Here we describe two new biomechanical approaches for reconstructing the metabolic rate of 14 extinct bipedal dinosauriforms during walking and running. These methods, well validated for extant animals, indicate that during walking and slow running the metabolic rate of at least the larger extinct dinosaurs exceeded the maximum aerobic capabilities of modern ectotherms, falling instead within the range of modern birds and mammals... Our results support the hypothesis that endothermy was widespread in at least larger non-avian dinosaurs. It was plausibly ancestral for all dinosauriforms (perhaps Ornithodira), but this is perhaps more strongly indicated by high growth rates than by locomotor costs."

Read Peter Ward's Out of Thin Air for a helpful review (as of 2006) of the evolution of endothermy, and access a very brief discussion of dinosaur endothermy written for the general public at the University of California Museum of Paleontology DinoBuzz.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Grzimek's online!

Grzimek's Animal Life is a fantastic re-creation of Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, which we have long had in different editions in our reference collection. Give it a try! It leads you to current news about individual species, as well as academic journal articles, videos, sound clips, gorgeous photos and extensive bibliographies, in addition to the trusted in-depth reference information for which Grzimek's is known. Use the Advanced Search to find endangered, threatened, extinct and near-extinct species, or to limit your search to certain types of sources, including websites.

Far more than simply an encyclopedia, you will find this a great launching site for zoological research. Go to Grzimek's online.

From Gale Cengage.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Writing Study Ties Autism To Motor-Skill Problems

NPR Morning Edition aired this story by Jon Hamilton this morning, observing that severe problems with handwriting is "indicative of a much larger problem with motor skills." Amy Bastian, a neuroscientist who directs the Motion Analysis Laboratory at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, found that many children with some degree of autism "have trouble holding a fork, buttoning a shirt, or tying their shoelaces."

"And these problems with motor skills may carry over into social interactions," Bastian says. "These are the kids that are going to get picked last for kickball... who are clumsy, who already have difficulty relating to other kids. And the motor component probably makes things worse."

From Jon Hamilton's story: Bastian says a lack of motor skills can also make it harder to communicate through subtle gestures and facial expressions. And people who can't make these gestures and expressions themselves often have trouble understanding what they mean when other people use them. The inability to read faces and gestures is a hallmark of autism.

The research findings were published in yesterday's edition of Neurology. Read the authors' abstract at the publisher's web site:
Christina T. Fuentes, Stewart H. Mostofsky, and Amy J. Bastian
Children with autism show specific handwriting impairments.
Neurology 2009 73: 1532-1537.

The full-text of this article will be available for open access in one year, archived at PubMedCentral. For quicker access, request it on interlibrary loan.

Access a recent review of autism research at the OhioLINK Electronic Book Center:
Title Autism : current theories and evidence / Andrew W. Zimmerman, editor
Publish Info Totowa, NJ : Humana Press, c2008

Monday, November 09, 2009

Carbon Capture and Storage: Essential or Insane?

The Geology Department is hosting Dr. Beverly Saylor, Associate Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, on Wednesday evening at 7 pm (Severance Hall, 1st floor lecture room). Dr. Saylor will present a talk entitled Carbon Capture and Storage: Essential or Insane?

Dr. Saylor researches the feasibility of carbon capture both in Ohio and beyond. Her research has been funded by many agencies including the NSF, the EPA, the DOE, the Ohio Coal Research Consortium, and the Lake Erie Protection Fund. [more about Dr. Saylor's research interests]

Find transcripts of U.S. Senate hearings regarding carbon capture with a keyword search in OBIS. The most recent hearing listed in OBIS took place before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on May 14, 2009, and can be borrowed from the Main Library government documents collection: SuDocs number Y 4.EN 2:S.HRG.111-50.

A Fact Sheet by Eric Sundquist from the U.S. Geological Survey gives an overview of carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change [access online]. GeoRef gives access to hundreds of more papers and abstracts of presentations on carbon capture and storage; search carbon sequestration as a subject in GeoRef.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Bioethics and Stem Cells Considered Tonight

One of the many events this Parents Weekend in Oberlin is a presentation tonight with Dr. Andrew Trew, Lecturer in the Philosophy Department, John Carroll University on "Stem Cells: Promises and Pitfalls"
King Hall, Room 106, 7-8:30 p.m.

This presentation focuses on clarifying the issues raised in the current ethical and scientific debates surrounding stem cell research and its commercial potential [from the OC Events calendar].

Gain some background information with any number of books in the library's collection, found with a subject search on Stem Cells - Research - Moral and Ethical Aspects, including these titles:

The human embryo research debates : bioethics in the vortex of controversy / Ronald M. Green
The human embryonic stem cell debate : science, ethics, and public policy / edited by Suzanne Holland, Karen Lebacqz, and Laurie Zoloth [also available online]
Monitoring stem cell research [electronic resource] : a report of the President's Council on Bioethics
Sex, science, and stem cells : inside the right wing assault on reason / Diana DeGette, with Daniel Paisner
Stem cell research : new frontiers in science and ethics / edited by Nancy E. Snow

Monday, November 02, 2009

Chemistry's Turn to Shine: Year of Science Theme for November

The Periodic Table is featured prominently on the Year of Science web site this month, to kick off November's celebration of chemistry. For what is life without chemistry? Not life, that's for certain. As just about any introductory chemistry text will tell you, the six most abundant elements in living systems are oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur. How can just 6 elements do so much of the work in the human body? Ah, that's part of the fascination of molecular science. [Encyclopedia Britannica overview]

Interdisciplinary research at the molecular level has led to the creation of a great number of specialized journals, many of which can be found in the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center by browsing Molecular... or Journal of molecular... as the first part of journal titles. Browse other chemistry related journals in OhioLINK EJC.

Whether you sailed through p-chem with flying colors and completely understand the relationship between Gibbs free energy and entropy, or barely made it through high school chemistry and have forgotten the difference between moles and grams, you can have fun with chemistry. Have fun with science in the lab of Dr. Shakahsiri.