Of Schemes and Memes Blog

Best of Nature Network: 13 – 20 February


Nature Network is pleased to welcome our newest blogger Graham Morehead, whose blog A Mad Hemorrhage, a cunning anagram of his name, got off to a flying start. His first post Could Quantum Physics be the ‘magic’ behind consciousness? raises many questions:

Despite the many definitions, we do not have a scientific way to confirm the existence of consciousness. I know I possess consciousness. I assume that you do. We all make this assumption. How else could we genuinely treat each other with respect and equality? For the sake of discussion, let’s agree that we all have consciousness, and that it is integral to who we are as people — it is one of the things that differentiates us from impulse-response creatures such as insects. Let’s also agree that there is something unexplainable about consciousness, a certain intangible quality, which is what I refer to as the “magic” behind consciousness.

On a more down-to-earth topic, in the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi, Linda Lin has been keeping us updated on the state of affairs. In her latest post, she reveals an unusual victim of the storm – the banana industry. "Crikey, We Have No Bananas Today 🙁

Or rather, it will be a little less mellow yellow for Aussies. One of the unusual, but unfortunate victims of Cyclone Yasi is the banana industry. Most of Australia’s plantations were in the direct path of the tropical storm, whose gale force winds of up to 200 km/hr simply leveled crops.

Barbara Ferreira, who has also been blogging from Down Under, discusses her latest adventure, encouraging those in Auckland, New Zealand to go and see a documentary called Donated to Science. Hosted by the Edge Festival, she reveals that this documentary aims to help people understand what happens to a body when it is donated to science. The film enters the world of medical students at the University of Otago, following their first encounter with a donated body, to their first incisions, and finally their goodbyes.

In other news

At 4pm on Friday 25th February, Nature News will be running their first ever, hour-long Live Question and Answers event on Animal Research. It will give people an opportunity to ask questions about the results of a poll conducted by Nature on animal researchers, their experiences with animal rights groups, and how they feel about their work. If you want to be reminded of this, make sure you sign up to receive an email alert.

In the run up to 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day held on Tuesday 8th March, Angela Saini, the group moderator of our Women in science forum, and the UKRC invite everyone to name names. If you wish to celebrate women in science, engineering and technology then please name your favourite females, famous or not – including colleagues, teachers, students and role models.

Nature Network would also like to congratulate GrrlScientist whose post how the seahorse got its shape was rewarded with an editor’s choice award by researchblogging.

Entertaining Editorials

This week’s guest blogger is John Farndon who studied earth sciences at Cambridge University and has written more than 300 books on science and nature. In his post, Common sense? he discusses familiar assumptions, such as whether we automatically assume that intelligence declines slowly with age.

Meanwhile in the second post in our mini-series on science museums, we talk to the staff working behind the doors creating the exhibits and carrying out valuable research. The post illustrates how important it is to remember a museum is nothing without the people who work hard to make it an engaging place for freedom of thought.

Hub News

squid.jpgFollowing on from our museum interviews, Matt Brown, our London blogger encourages us to go down to the Natural History museum and meet The Stitched Squid. Known as Plarchie, the 8-metre-long giant squid is made entirely from Sainsbury’s carrier bags.

Tinker Ready, our Boston Blogger, has also been jumping on the museum band wagon informing us that the MIT museum has started a special vacation week program. The museum is offering the opportunity to to visit some of their newest robots and even participate in a scavenger hunt.

In our San Francisco blog, Joanna Scott has been keeping us up-to-date on local news and events. She uncovers in her latest post that UCSF has opened two new buildings, an Alternative Medicine building and a Stem Cell building.


Continuing on the topic of alternative medicine, Kausik Datta, in a follow up to his posts on homoeopathy asks What’s the harm? clarifying the distinction between herbal remedies and homoeopathic preparations. He explains that herbal remedies may contain high levels of active ingredients that can be toxic. In comparison, homoeopathic preparations are harmless, by virtue of being devoid of any trace of the original active substance. Kausik says, “I hope you, dear folks, appreciate this distinction; I cannot over-emphasize its gravity.”

This week the blogosphere has been swarming with discussions about Ed Yong’s rather unpleasant exchange with a Press Information Officer. The event spurred Bob O’Hara to give us all some Top tips for dealing with the press, or more like tips on how not to behave:

Wow. Top tips if you come face to face with a journalist. Will it include “insult them, and then threaten to excommunicate them from science communications”? Or how about “don’t worry – your press officer will make sure you never have to communicate with them”?

Onto another controversial topic Tom Webb in his post EVERYONE’S A WHINGER!!!! considers the peer review system. His growing comment thread discusses the pros and cons of the system, revealing where improvements could be made.

Working 9 to ….2am

Richard Williams is asking in his post, I have a Project Plan, if PhD students and researchers use plans to manage their workloads. In a similar vein of thought, Linda Lin reveals that Nothing Good Happens after 2 am, a post about her poor sleeping habits and increasing reliance on caffeine. Some creative solutions are provided in his comment thread and Wang Yip has suggested using a computer programme called f.lux:

Basically it dims the light so that at night, you aren’t exposed to too much light (when it gets dark out, it signals to your brain from your eyes that you should be heading to bed and when there’s sunlight out, it signals to your brain that you should be awake – it’s the reason why you would wake up in the morning if you accidentally didn’t close your shades)


100% natural is Viktor Poor’s latest cartoon. If something is natural and organic, it must be healthy, right?

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