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Cómo escribir sobre el alma y los transgénicos en una revista de ciencia
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(English intro to Spanish lang post) Today we comment on a terrific piece about GM corn in Mexico. With 7 print pages and nearly 10 different sources from industry, research centers, NGO’s and sociologists, it’s one of the most documented and balanced stories about GMO we’ve read in...

(English intro to Spanish lang post) Today we comment on a terrific piece about GM corn in Mexico. With 7 print pages and nearly 10 different sources from industry, research centers, NGO’s and sociologists, it’s one of the most documented and balanced stories about GMO we’ve read in the country. The aim of the story is not to give a clear conclusion, but to analyze the reasons for the controversy. It doesn’t even mention unfounded claims about health risks or severe problems for the ecosystems. But it explains that Mexico has hundreds of native varieties of corn varieties, which are part of the culture and identity of the country. Some are afraid that agricultural industrialization might affect this biodiversity, others point out that Mexico needs to import corn from the USA, others explain that GM varieties don’t improve significantly the yields of conventional ones, and local researchers complaint that the controversy is causing funding...

Médicos cubanos afirman haber devuelto movilidad y sensibilidad a discapacitados mediante trasplante de células madre
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(English intro to Spanish lang post) The Cuban newspaper Juventud Rebelde published an extensive story claiming that 17 from 25 complete spinal cord injured people restored motor function, sensitivity and sphincter control after an adult stem cell transplantation clinical trial which started in 2009....

(English intro to Spanish lang post) The Cuban newspaper Juventud Rebelde published an extensive story claiming that 17 from 25 complete spinal cord injured people restored motor function, sensitivity and sphincter control after an adult stem cell transplantation clinical trial which started in 2009. Medical doctors that presumably conducted the study didn’t publish the details in any peer reviewed scientific journal. The story includes a video of the transplant recorded from inside the surgery room, and testimonies of several patients stating they’ve achieved significant improvements. The story even says that a quadriplegic was able to move his arms after the trial. Of course we have serious doubts about these results, which if true, would be the most remarkable ones in the history of cell transplantation for SCI (we’ve checked recent scientific...

Poco caso al repetitivo reporte sobre adaptación del Grupo de Trabajo-2 del IPCC
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(English intro to Spanish lang post) Yesterday the IPCC issued the report “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability” from its Working Group-II. Last September WG-I presented its report concluding that human influence in climate change is absolutely established, next week...

(English intro to Spanish lang post) Yesterday the IPCC issued the report “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability” from its Working Group-II. Last September WG-I presented its report concluding that human influence in climate change is absolutely established, next week WG-III will present its report on mitigation, and finally next October, the 5th Assessment Report will be issued after the previous ones in 1990, 1995, 2001 and 2004. This 5th Assessment report is supposed to be the basis for the negotiations in Lima-2014, and for the expected global agreement in 2015.

The report presented yesterday adds more scientific data, and is more specific about the real risks of different regions in the world. It also mentions adaptation practices that are giving good results. But it doesn’t offer new views about the problem. We all know that it’s not date what the planet needs now, but actions. Maybe for...

Buenas notas sobre innovación o retorno de cerebros, y horribles sobre gravedad repulsiva o astrología médica
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(English intro to Spanish lang post) The first story we highlight today argues that entrepreneurship in Mexico is high but it has low impact, because it’s not connected enough with research and innovation. Some experts comment on what’s needed to change this tendency. We track also about...

(English intro to Spanish lang post) The first story we highlight today argues that entrepreneurship in Mexico is high but it has low impact, because it’s not connected enough with research and innovation. Some experts comment on what’s needed to change this tendency. We track also about Colombia’s ambitious plan to bring back colombian scientists who are making remarkable research abroad. A brazilian reporter published a good analysis of scientific fraud in Latin America, and we found a very nice story about the decline of Monarch butterfly. Unfortunately when searching for good stories one always finds very bad ones, like the profile of a young mexican physicist claiming that he has modified Einstein’s laws, or a detailed description of the basis of “medical astrology” to figure out which diseases you’ll suffer, based in your sign. Both stories are not published in tabloids, but in important newspapers of Chile an Mexico....

Detección de ondas gravitacionales confirma inflación cósmica tras Big Bang. Diferente cobertura en prensa latinoamericana
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(English intro to Spanish lang post) The detection of gravitational waves confirming the cosmic inflation received very diverse coverage in the newspapers of the spanish speaking countries. In Spain, all the national ones covered it in great detail and published supplementary stories explaining...

(English intro to Spanish lang post) The detection of gravitational waves confirming the cosmic inflation received very diverse coverage in the newspapers of the spanish speaking countries. In Spain, all the national ones covered it in great detail and published supplementary stories explaining different details of the announcement. In Latin America, the main newspapers of Argentina, Brazil and Chile published good reporting too, which included opinions of local cosmologists. We found a very nice story in Colombia. Also in Costa Rica. But other than that, in countries like Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, central-american ones… and even in Mexico! (big disappointment), we’ve only read short informations directly copied from wire services. It’s difficult to believe that in a whole country there’s no single science reporter willing to sign such an important scientific achievement.  

El anuncio...

Periodistas explican muy bien la compleja asociación entre el gen IRX3, el FTO, y la obesidad
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(English intro to Spanish lang post) Mutations in the FTO gene have the strongest association to obesity in humans, but the mechanism of action remains unknown. Now, researchers from Chicago and Spain publish in Nature that FTO interacts with a distant gene called IRX3, which seems to be the one...

(English intro to Spanish lang post) Mutations in the FTO gene have the strongest association to obesity in humans, but the mechanism of action remains unknown. Now, researchers from Chicago and Spain publish in Nature that FTO interacts with a distant gene called IRX3, which seems to be the one that directly controls differential weight gain. Mice with altered IRX3 function are 30% slimmer than conventional ones. This distanct gene regulation is quite a complex topic to write about, but some journalists in Spain made a great effort to explain it clearly and in detail. In fact it’s the most read story in today’s elpais.com

Buen ejemplo de información científica compleja que ha sido tratada en exquisito detalle, especialmente por Javier Sampedro “Sí, el gen de la gordura existe”...

"Planeta": Bonito espacio sobre medioambiente en Ecuador
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(English intro to Spanish lang post) Today we comment on a weekly ecuadorian publication called Planeta, which is part of the newspaper El Comercio. Planeta publishes only a few stories per week, but it deals with environmental and conservation issues affecting the country. It’s very well...

(English intro to Spanish lang post) Today we comment on a weekly ecuadorian publication called Planeta, which is part of the newspaper El Comercio. Planeta publishes only a few stories per week, but it deals with environmental and conservation issues affecting the country. It’s very well illustrated, and we’ve noticed a good amount of scientific contents. This week reporters from Planeta talk about a study by local researchers showing the changes in diet and habitats of the spectacled bear, effects of ocean acidification, and the delicate situation of the pink iguana from Galapagos. From previous weeks we’ve read stories about mangroves, colibries, a description of the beautiful ecuadorian cloud forest, biodiversity in Yasuni, a new strategy to clean rivers, and even audio files from different natural areas in the country.   

Descubrimos una publicación semanal de El Comercio (Ecuador) llamada...

La vanguardia exagera diciendo que Massagué descubre el origen de la metastasis
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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...

Nueva sección "Ciencias" en El Comercio (Perú)
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(English intro to Spanish lang post) The main newspaper in Peru (El Comercio) launched a daily science-news section, in both print and online versions. It’s very good news because it might contribute to the readers perception that science is important and deserves an specific section in...

(English intro to Spanish lang post) The main newspaper in Peru (El Comercio) launched a daily science-news section, in both print and online versions. It’s very good news because it might contribute to the readers perception that science is important and deserves an specific section in the biggest newspaper in the country. The stories we’ve read are varied, well written, and well illustrated. But we think there’s still too few content talking about local researchers. By including more stories about local science, the section “Ciencias” could make an even better contribution to the development and public engagement of science and technology in Peru.

Semanas atrás el diario peruano El Comercio (el de más tirada del país), inauguró una sección específica de ...

Peces muertos en Venezuela: pregunta a google, no sólo a expertos
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(English intro to Spanish lang post) A massive fish kill along the coasts of Venezuela generated lots of speculations in the press but few solid scientific analysis. Last Friday tons of dead sardines and mackerels appeared on the beaches of a region called Vargas. First hypothesis suggested that...

(English intro to Spanish lang post) A massive fish kill along the coasts of Venezuela generated lots of speculations in the press but few solid scientific analysis. Last Friday tons of dead sardines and mackerels appeared on the beaches of a region called Vargas. First hypothesis suggested that cold ocean currents coming from the northern hemisphere concentrated the fishes and killed them. A source mentioned climate change, and inmediately headlines said that “Climate change could be the cause of fish kill in Vargas”. After that, environmentalist groups said contamination was the key, and headlines changed. Only after a few days people started talking about oxygen depletion, that seems the most plausible cause. We think this is a clear example case where the only reporting journalists did was to ask sources and reproduce their opinions. That’s ok, but fish kill is something that has happened several times in the past, and one can find very...

Izpisúa abandona la ciencia española sin dar explicación pública (UPDATED)
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(English intro to Spanish lang post) Stem cell world leader Juan Carlos Izpisúa resigned without any statement the cutting-edge Barcelona Regenerative Medicine Center he created and directed since 2004. He owned the intellectual property of 18 of the 21 projects in the center. He’ll...

(English intro to Spanish lang post) Stem cell world leader Juan Carlos Izpisúa resigned without any statement the cutting-edge Barcelona Regenerative Medicine Center he created and directed since 2004. He owned the intellectual property of 18 of the 21 projects in the center. He’ll probably take them to his lab at Salk Institute in California. Scientific sources consider it “a huge loss for spanish science”, and speculate that the reason is the lack of financial and political support. Everybody’s buying this explanation. But the fact is that Izpisúa hasn’t yet explained why he took his decision. The only direct declaration he’s done to the press is an email to an spanish tv reporter saying that “he hasn’t commented on his decision because it would harm spanish science, and that he will speak “loud and clear” in the future. Authorities deny the funding cuts to the Barcelona Regenerative Medicine...

“El despegue de la ciencia latinoamericana”, en Muy-México
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(English intro to Spanish lang post) An excellent long story in Muy Interesante México reviews 10 of the most important scientific projects and research areas in Latin America. The story features the astronomical observatory in Chile, paleontological sites in Argentina, particle...

(English intro to Spanish lang post) An excellent long story in Muy Interesante México reviews 10 of the most important scientific projects and research areas in Latin America. The story features the astronomical observatory in Chile, paleontological sites in Argentina, particle accelerators in Brazil, ecological stations in the tropics, biotechnology developments in Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, Uruguay and several other countries, a plasma engine in Costa Rica, seismology in Peru, scientific stations in Antarctica… The 7-pages story explains some more examples in detail, but also provides a great context of the past, present and future of latin american science. It mentions the contempt suffered from EEUU and Europe, the paralysis that military dictatorships caused in many countries several decades ago, the reasons and cost of brain drain (especially in Mexico), the need of a better scientific dissemination... but it also shows the clear signs of...

ONU y prensa criticaron a Uruguay por legalizar la marihuana, pero no a Colorado-EEUU
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(English intro to Spanish lang post) When 4 weeks ago Uruguay became the first country to legalize the growing, sale and smoking of cannabis, the United Nations sent a tough press release saying...

(English intro to Spanish lang post) When 4 weeks ago Uruguay became the first country to legalize the growing, sale and smoking of cannabis, the United Nations sent a tough press release saying that the decision violated international laws, and that “Uruguayan policymakers failed to consider the negative impacts on health” (English). Many reporters -also from Uruguay- wrote very critical stories based on the UN press release. On the contrary, when January 1st the state of Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana, the UN said nothing (although in March it had said US would violate international law), and some newspapers who had criticized Uruguayan government...

Conflictos de interés influyen en resultados de estudios sobre bebidas azucaradas. Costo de fuga cerebros en Honduras, cristalografía, censura franquista a evolución, y potencial de la bioeconomía en América Latina
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(English intro to Spanish lang post) Financial conflicts of interest may bias conclusions from systematic reviews on soft drinks consumption and weight gain, according to a study published by spanish researchers in...

(English intro to Spanish lang post) Financial conflicts of interest may bias conclusions from systematic reviews on soft drinks consumption and weight gain, according to a study published by spanish researchers in PLOS Medicine journal. The study found that reviews which authors declare a potential conflict of interests are 5 times less likely to find a link between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity compared to reviews without conflict of interests. A good story in El Mundo explains all the details of the study, but doesn’t look for the opinions of any author of a review with conflict of interests.

A study conducted in Honduras put numbers to the economic loss of brain drain: the education of the 1.650 honduran professionals that each year leave the country costed $18 billion between 1996-2010. SciDev published a story about it, but included...

Resumen del Tracker 2013
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(English intro to Spanish lang post) A review of the spanish language KSJ Tracker during 2013 shows colombian reporters denouncing the misconduct of local scientists, big environmental stories like Yasuni-ITT in Ecuador or illegal mining in Peru, a science writer association denouncing the excessive...

(English intro to Spanish lang post) A review of the spanish language KSJ Tracker during 2013 shows colombian reporters denouncing the misconduct of local scientists, big environmental stories like Yasuni-ITT in Ecuador or illegal mining in Peru, a science writer association denouncing the excessive pseudoscience in a national newspaper, lots of coverage about the funding cuts in Spain, better science stories in general from latin america, but also excessive copy-paste from wires, and an increase of unreliable studies published online without any filter.

No soy gran fan de las recopilaciones tipo “los 10 mejores mejores xxx” o “lo más importante” del año. Me parecen más interesantes los pronósticos sobre “lo que será noticia”, y si acaso más auténticas las revisiones de “lo que a uno más le ha gustado/impactado”. Puestos a subjetividad, as...

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