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Money matters.

It's fair to examine and question the sources of journalists' paychecks, whether they cover science, politics, or Edward Snowden. But it's not fair to build something up as an exclusive when the news has already been released elsewhere.

By these precepts, a recent...

Money matters.

It's fair to examine and question the sources of journalists' paychecks, whether they cover science, politics, or Edward Snowden. But it's not fair to build something up as an exclusive when the news has already been released elsewhere.

By these precepts, a recent article in PandoDaily raising questions about the Ukranian connections of Glenn Greenwald's publisher, the billionaire Pierre Omidyar, is both fair and unfair.

On Feb. 28, PandoDaily ran a story under the headline, "Pierre Omidyar co-funded Ukraine revolution groups with US government, documents show."

The article began with a description of a reporter at one of Omidyar's blogs, The Intercept, digging into the developing story in Ukraine and...

In the current issue of Nature Genetics, researchers report that they've found mutations in genes that seem to protect against the development of Type 2 diabetes. They are called loss-of-function mutations, because they disrupt the genes enough so that the genes no longer work.

This is a big deal for two...

In the current issue of Nature Genetics, researchers report that they've found mutations in genes that seem to protect against the development of Type 2 diabetes. They are called loss-of-function mutations, because they disrupt the genes enough so that the genes no longer work.

This is a big deal for two reasons: The mutations offer a lot of protection--a 65% reduction in risk of Type 2 diabetes--and because loss-of-function mutations are usually harmful, not helpful. The study suggests that it might be possible to develop a drug to mimic the action of these loss-of-function mutations. Such a drug would be a blockbuster.

Gina Kolata at The New York Times took this opportunity to launch a kind of...

Quanta, Wired, etc: How a bright spot in a distant galaxy might be a shout-out from his royal invisibleness, Dark Matter. Plus: femme astrophysicists
Charlie Petit
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Hmmm. Anybody else ever notice like I just did that the unseen hand of the material universe, Dark Matter,  has a certain nominal consonance with Darth Vader, aka the Dark Lord? Cloaked from view, deploying invisible forces. Take your pick: they rule. (Hmm, answer is yes, as I just looked up. See for just one...

Hmmm. Anybody else ever notice like I just did that the unseen hand of the material universe, Dark Matter,  has a certain nominal consonance with Darth Vader, aka the Dark Lord? Cloaked from view, deploying invisible forces. Take your pick: they rule. (Hmm, answer is yes, as I just looked up. See for just one example this story from nearly four years ago by Ron Cowen back when he was filing about a scoop per week for Science News Magazine).

   To start over. The last few days has seen a few news stories on the arcane topic of dark matter and more specifically on the search for ways to detect its presence by ways more direct than gravitational anomalies in galaxies, galactic clusters, and other cosmically large arenas. The popular wisdom among cosmologists is that dark matter, whatever it is, accounts for roughly 85 percent of all matter. Recently users of the Fermi Gamma-...

A documentary film on the discovery of the Higgs boson, which promises to capture the excitement of scientific research on an unprecedented scale using the world's largest machine, opens tonight in New York.

At a press briefing at Google's New York headquarters...

A documentary film on the discovery of the Higgs boson, which promises to capture the excitement of scientific research on an unprecedented scale using the world's largest machine, opens tonight in New York.

At a press briefing at Google's New York headquarters, David Bradley, a theoretical physicist who participated in the discovery and helped make the film, called Particle Fever, said that despite knowing what was likely to happen when scientists turned on the Large Hadron Collider, he was surprised by his reaction to the discovery.

"Now we've seen the Higgs," he said. "I felt much more emotional about that than I expected to." Nima Arkani-Hamed, another theorist who stars in the film, said of the Higgs boson, "We've never seen anything like it before anywhere in physics." Fabiola Gianotti, one of the key experimental physicists on the project, said the search for...

Maybe it’s just me, but if a source told me that NASA used whale oil to lubricate parts of the Hubble, or if I read such a statement in a book, I’d want some sort of documentation - some hard evidence.

Right off the bat, the claim raises some questions: Does NASA employ a secret whaling ship, or...

Maybe it’s just me, but if a source told me that NASA used whale oil to lubricate parts of the Hubble, or if I read such a statement in a book, I’d want some sort of documentation - some hard evidence.

Right off the bat, the claim raises some questions: Does NASA employ a secret whaling ship, or does the stuff stay fresh long enough that they can use a supply left over from the days of Moby Dick?  

I first heard about this incredible rumor in the most recent issue of the Chemical Heritage Foundation Magazine. In an enlightening piece called Whales in Space, an intern, Jacob Roberts, examines and debunks the rumor. According to Roberts, the whale story raised some eyebrows in 2010 when it was repeated on The History Channel. The show, America: The Story of Us included the claim that, “Even today, whale...

Sherwin Nuland, the Yale surgeon whose most well known book suggested that "the good death" was something only a lucky few could achieve,...

Sherwin Nuland, the Yale surgeon whose most well known book suggested that "the good death" was something only a lucky few could achieve, died Monday at his home in Connecticut. He was 83.

Ivan Oransky, a doctor, journalist, and the global editorial director of MedPage Today, wrote on his Facebook page that Nuland  was "a role model for physician-journalists and others writing about medicine." The physician-writer Atul Gawande tweeted...

La vanguardia exagera diciendo que Massagué descubre el origen de la metastasis
Pere Estupinya
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(English intro to Spanish lang post) Spanish scientist and director of the Sloan-Kettering Institute Joan Massagué published in Cell a key mechanism used by cancer cells to establish metastatic brain tumors (eurekalert...

(English intro to Spanish lang post) Spanish scientist and director of the Sloan-Kettering Institute Joan Massagué published in Cell a key mechanism used by cancer cells to establish metastatic brain tumors (eurekalert). The research showed specific proteins involved in the overcome of tissues defenses against metastatic invasion, and the clinging of cancer cells to blood capillaries. It’s a significant achievement that could lead to new strategies to fight against metastasis. But it’s still in its early stages. Nevertheless, an important spanish newspaper published a front page story saying that “Massague discovered the origin of metastasis”. This exaggeration spread immediately to TV stations and other newspapers. Reporters who followed up the story had to reduce expectations and to point out that this basic research is still far from a clinical application...

John Fauber of MedPageToday and The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that about 1,000 people have sued Medtronic over its bone-protein Infuse, used in spinal surgery.

Fauber has...

John Fauber of MedPageToday and The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that about 1,000 people have sued Medtronic over its bone-protein Infuse, used in spinal surgery.

Fauber has gone after Medtronic like a bulldog, and the lawsuits suggest that his articles might be having an effect.

"The patient lawsuits, which were detailed in a recent securities filing by the company, are the latest development in a decade-long saga of a product that has been at the center of investigations, both scientific and legal, as well as a long list of conflict-riddled research done by physicians who received millions of dollars in royalties from Medtronic, while publishing highly favorable articles about Infuse," he...

Behemoth on line outlet LiveScience. Or, frozen bugs, original reporting, and original rewrite.
Charlie Petit
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   Perhaps it is becoming old fashioned but seems from here that a byline on a story ought to identify the person responsible for not just writing the exact assembly of words but reporting or verifying first-hand the pieces more important elements. The by in byline should mean reported by.

 ...

   Perhaps it is becoming old fashioned but seems from here that a byline on a story ought to identify the person responsible for not just writing the exact assembly of words but reporting or verifying first-hand the pieces more important elements. The by in byline should mean reported by.

    That's the point of this post. To back up and go through a chronological arc, last week in conversation with a few experienced colleagues the topic of how to inspire more and better science news coverage came up. One idea was to impress upon editors of small, local daily papers the rewards to readers from frequent doses of science-related news. Their segment of the old line media is among the few still doing well. I cracked that such editors already have that covered - they use Live Science. It's lots cheaper than hiring somebody.

   That was hardly meant as a slam against this news service. And anyway, I do not know how many small...

First, the art. The Wellcome Trust has gone live today with the first issue of its new weekly publication, Mosaic, "dedicated to exploring the science of life."

From the About page:

...

First, the art. The Wellcome Trust has gone live today with the first issue of its new weekly publication, Mosaic, "dedicated to exploring the science of life."

From the About page:

Each week, we publish a feature on an aspect of biology or medicine that affects our lives, our health or our society; we tell stories with real depth about the ideas, trends and people that drive contemporary life sciences.

All Mosaic’s articles can be reproduced or distributed free of charge – in fact, we encourage you to share or republish our content. All that we ask is that you attribute the work to Mosaic and link back to our website. In turn, we will seek out and republish the most interesting comments and conversations that our features provoke.

The Wellcome Trust, based in London, is an...

In a six-minute segment last week on CNN, the anchor Brooke Baldwin was so excited to talk about "designer babies" and playing God that she couldn't let go, even when her guests tried to...

In a six-minute segment last week on CNN, the anchor Brooke Baldwin was so excited to talk about "designer babies" and playing God that she couldn't let go, even when her guests tried to tell her to.

The story was prompted by an FDA meeting on the scientific issues concerning a new technique to prevent mitochondrial disease. This occurs when genetic mutations arise in the cellular energy factories called mitochondria. These are spread throughout the cytoplasm of a human egg--not in the nucleus. And their genomes are separate from the genes found in the nucleus, which are responsible for most of our genetic attributes and most genetic ailments. (Sperm are almost all nucleus and contain very little mitochondrial DNA.)

The idea considered by the FDA's panel was that in a woman carrying mitochondrial mutations, the nucleus of her egg might be...

The executive editor of the Sacramento Bee, Joyce Terhaar, said today she will review how the paper's website displays and identifies press releases, and that some changes might already be in the works.

Her comments came in response to...

The executive editor of the Sacramento Bee, Joyce Terhaar, said today she will review how the paper's website displays and identifies press releases, and that some changes might already be in the works.

Her comments came in response to a Feb. 24 post on the Tracker suggesting that press releases were not always clearly identified as such and that searches of the site brought up a mix of news stories and press releases.

In an email, Terhaar said that PR Newswire has been running its releases on the Sacramento Bee's website "for as long as I can remember, though in recent years we've worked to improve the header identifying the content more clearly so readers clearly understand they are reading press releases." She said she did not know that searches would produce a mix of news stories and press releases, "and I don...

"Content partnerships have been quite the vogue lately," writes Rick Edmonds at Poynter, as he takes note of a new one between...

"Content partnerships have been quite the vogue lately," writes Rick Edmonds at Poynter, as he takes note of a new one between The Atlantic and what is probably not the first news organization that comes to mind: The Deseret News.

Edmonds writes that this would appear to be a "a long-distance odd couple — the church-owned newspaper in Salt Lake City and the venerable Boston-bred monthly, now based in Washington." An odd couple indeed. He goes on to say that the partnership makes more sense if we acknowledge an "affinity--each is recognized as a leader in digital business model transformation. New approaches to content are part of the innovation formula."

That's a bit too much jargon for me, but I think I get the point...

Looks good, but where are the data?
Faye Flam
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If Poynter blogger Andrew Beaujon had been a science writer, he might have noticed something fishy about the graphs he posted in Why Journalists Drive Scientists Crazy, in Graphs. The...

If Poynter blogger Andrew Beaujon had been a science writer, he might have noticed something fishy about the graphs he posted in Why Journalists Drive Scientists Crazy, in Graphs. The graphs do not appear to be based on any data. There is not a data point to be found.

If data were involved in any way, there’s no mention of where this data came from or how it was obtained. A science writer would ask about the data, and the error bars, for that matter. Are these even really graphs, or just illustrations? Whatever they are, the purpose seems to be to express how one scientist, Sabine Hossenfelder, feels about science journalists. In a blog post, she expresses some frustration.  

And Beaujon seems to agree:

...

A study in the journal Bipolar Disorders two weeks ago found that the children of fathers 50 or older had three times the risk of having bipolar disorder compared to children of fathers 30-34 years old.

Bipolar disorder afflicts...

A study in the journal Bipolar Disorders two weeks ago found that the children of fathers 50 or older had three times the risk of having bipolar disorder compared to children of fathers 30-34 years old.

Bipolar disorder afflicts about 1 percent of the general population, so, in very rough terms, the risk of bipolar disorder in the children of these older fathers is about 3 percent.

That's about one in every school classroom with 30 kids. it sounds frightening.

But turn it around and put it this way: The children of those older fathers have a 97 percent chance of not having bipolar disorder. Suddenly the risk sounds quite different.

It's not easy to convey these risks properly to readers, and reporters often get it wrong.

In another study this week on older fathers, researchers found...

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