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Paul Raeburn's Tracker

Has the "Spaceship of the Imagination" on FOX 's Cosmos been reduced to rubble on the tombstone of Giordano Bruno?

Cosmos: A Spacetime Oddysey, as anyone living in any of the universe's 11 dimensions must know ( or 5 or 6 or whatever), is a reboot of Carl...

Has the "Spaceship of the Imagination" on FOX 's Cosmos been reduced to rubble on the tombstone of Giordano Bruno?

Cosmos: A Spacetime Oddysey, as anyone living in any of the universe's 11 dimensions must know ( or 5 or 6 or whatever), is a reboot of Carl Sagan's legendary 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. Its pedigree is impeccable: The executive producers are Ann Druyan, Sagan's widow, co-writer of the original series, and part of the writing time on this one; and Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the FOX show Family Guy. And the well known science popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson takes over Sagan's role as host.

And yet, and yet...

At his blog Out There at Discover magazine, the veteran space writer (and former editor of...

Thomas Edward John Jr., born May 22, 1943, was a major-league pitcher whose 288 victories make him the seventh-winningest left-hander in major league history, says Wikipedia.

He's also known for what's called Tommy John surgery, or ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction. The surgery was created for...

Thomas Edward John Jr., born May 22, 1943, was a major-league pitcher whose 288 victories make him the seventh-winningest left-hander in major league history, says Wikipedia.

He's also known for what's called Tommy John surgery, or ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction. The surgery was created for him in the middle of the 1974 season when he damaged the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm. It was performed by Dr. Frank Jobe on Sept. 25, 1974. Although it seemed John would never pitch again, he went on to win 164 games--more than half of his total wins.

On Tuesday, a release on Eurekalert reported that major league pitchers "win more games following Tommy John surgery." The release describes a report at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and published in the American Journal of Sports medicine in 2013.

If you quit there,...

The viral site Upworthy, which knows how to attract an audience (last year, Fast Company called it "the fastest growing media site of all time...

The viral site Upworthy, which knows how to attract an audience (last year, Fast Company called it "the fastest growing media site of all time"), has asked its tens of millions of followers what they would like it to focus on in 2014.

Here are the results:

1. Climate change and clean energy.

2. Income inequality and poverty.

3. Human rights.

I guess this shouldn't be surprising, given Upworthy's socially-conscious tilt. Still, it's interesting to see how different this agenda is from anything you might hear out of Washington, for example.

And Upworthy...

"For the first time, a test that detects 10 types of lipids, or fats, circulating in a person's blood has been shown to predict accurately whether he or she will develop the memory loss and mental decline of Alzheimer's disease over the next two to three years," Melissa Healy ...

"For the first time, a test that detects 10 types of lipids, or fats, circulating in a person's blood has been shown to predict accurately whether he or she will develop the memory loss and mental decline of Alzheimer's disease over the next two to three years," Melissa Healy writes at the Los Angeles Times.

The question, of course, is: How accurately?

And how soon will it be ready? Healy writes--we're still in the lede here--that "a screening test based on the findings could be available in as little as two years."

I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I'd take all comers: If you think this will be available in two years, slap your cash on the barrel, pal.

It's not until her seventh graf that Healy reports that the test could "sort the...

Andrew Solomon, the author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, has done what I think is the first interview with the father of Adam Lanza since the December...

Andrew Solomon, the author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, has done what I think is the first interview with the father of Adam Lanza since the December, 2012 day when Adam killed his mother, 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and himself. The interview appears online at The New Yorker.

Solomon elicits some riveting admissions and observations from Peter Lanza, who ultimately tells Solomon he wishes Adam had never been born. "That didn’t come right away. That’s not a natural thing, when you’re thinking about your kid. But, God, there’s no question," he said.

Peter showed Solomon a picture of himself with Adam and his brother, Ryan, who was initially suspected to be the killer. "One thing that struck me about that picture is that it's clear...

On Tuesday, March 18th, the National Press Foundation is sponsoring a webinar entitled "Tips for High-Fidelity Science Reporting."

"Any journalist who wants...

On Tuesday, March 18th, the National Press Foundation is sponsoring a webinar entitled "Tips for High-Fidelity Science Reporting."

"Any journalist who wants to improve her or his work on scientific topics will benefit from this webinar. It will highlight common challenges in communicating science and offer specific tips to enhance the fidelity and richness of scientific reporting," says the announcement.

Do not sign up for this. Better yet, send the National Press Foundation an email and tell them to cancel it.

The webinar is not intended to boost science journalism. It's intended to boost the fortunes of The Coca-Cola Company, which needs little help from us.

I'll give the press foundation a score of 50% on transparency. The announcement for the webinar says, prominently, "This program...

Here are a few items from the past week or two that I'm not going to get to, but that I couldn't entirely let go:

  • Why do people who convulse over the bogus science at Kentucky's Creation Museum tolerate the pseudoscience marketing at Whole Foods? "From the probiotics aisle to the...

Here are a few items from the past week or two that I'm not going to get to, but that I couldn't entirely let go:

  • Why do people who convulse over the bogus science at Kentucky's Creation Museum tolerate the pseudoscience marketing at Whole Foods? "From the probiotics aisle to the vaguely ridiculous Organic Integrity outreach effort (more on that later), Whole Foods has all the ingredients necessary to give Richard Dawkins nightmares," writes Michael Schulson in The Daily Beast. Jerry A. Coyne comments on Schulson's article at The New Republic...
Paul Raeburn
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Which countries are coming closest to achieving gender parity in scientific research and development?

You might be surprised.

Women are vastly underrepresented in the sciences around the world. To find the countries that lag the most, click on this interactive graphic from UNESCO's Institute for...

Which countries are coming closest to achieving gender parity in scientific research and development?

You might be surprised.

Women are vastly underrepresented in the sciences around the world. To find the countries that lag the most, click on this interactive graphic from UNESCO's Institute for Statistics.

And once you see the results, see if you can try to explain them.

-Paul Raeburn

UNESCO - Women In Science Interactive

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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