Of Schemes and Memes Blog

Best of Nature Network, NPG staff blogs and Scitable: 6 – 12 August

Earthquakes in New York?

A rare 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook the east coast of the United States this week. Our Boston blogger, Tinker Ready, explains how Boston and the surrounding areas were affected:

It was the East Coast’s most powerful earthquake in 67 years. Because of the solidity of the earth’s crust on the eastern seaboard – unlike California, where there are networks of active faults – earthquakes tend to be felt over longer distances here, according to Thomas Herring, a geophysics professor at MIT.

Check out her post for a seismogram of the quake.

The News Blog has also been discussing the earthquake and in their update, Earthquake shakes eastern United States, they present a video where you can see how seismometers from the EarthScope Project Transportable Array measured the up-and-down motion of the ground:

You can see the waves move across the country – red is upward motion; blue down.

The great ape program


This week, GrrlScientist has been asking how you study a species which is so rare that it will likely become extinct in a few short decades. In her post you can find a video which tells of a new program designed to address that issue for those who study chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, in the wilds of Liberia:

In 2010, the Max Planck Institute for evolutionary anthropology (EVA) in Leipzig, Germany, teamed up with the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (headquartered at the EVA), andConservation International, based in Arlington, Virginia, to launch the Pan Africa Great Ape Program. Using motion-sensitive cameras, they aim to conduct nationwide surveys in 15 countries to estimate how many chimps are left in Africa.

Find out more about the program by watching her video.

Fun and games

Bob O’Hara has reignited his blog this week and suggests that people should check out the Met. Office’s new game.

They want to find out how best to present uncertainty to the general public (the ones who aren’t banned from the web for instigating non-riots, anyway) and have come up with this game, where you can help sell virtual ice creams by interpreting the weather report. When you play the game, you get the information presented in one of a couple of ways, so they’re testing how well people do at understanding these. And you can enter a draw to win a met. office t-shirt!

Keep your eyes peeled for Bob’s update on the game.

London riots

In a follow up to his post on the London riots, Scitable’s blogger Taylor Burns is asking this week what psychology can tell us about these riots. His post includes his informal interview with Professor Stephen Reicher, a social psychologist:

It’s always been an instant response to riots to say that they are the marginal in society, they are people who are already violent in society. Those studies that have been done – and the biggest study was the Kerner Commission after the American riots of the 60s – which showed that the average ghetto rioter was not marginal.

london riots.PNG

You can hear more about Stephen Reicher’s views in Taylor’s interview.


On Wednesday evening, the fourth installment of the monthly Science Online NYC discussion series took place at Rockefeller University. The topic for debate this month was “Reaching the niches: connecting underrepresented groups with science.” To read what people on Twitter were saying about the event, check out our Storify of tweets. The next event will be held in September and will focus on Enhanced eBooks & BookApps: the Promise and Perils. Keep an eye on the SoNYC twitter account for more details and/or watch the #sonyc hashtag.

To coincide with the conversation, on Of Schemes and Memes we have been exploring the world of the minority scientist and, over the last week, have hosted a series of guest posts. Our final post of the series was from Amanda Adeleye, a medical student, who discusses how the glamorous world of cheerleading can mix with science.

Overall, cheerleading has been an incredibly rewarding experience, as has completing bench research on breast cancer, graduating college, and working my way through medical school. Each activity is a part of me, a part of my identity but in no way completes me. I am often asked what its like to have been in both worlds, what is generally considered the very glamorous world of cheerleading, and the world of science. Truthfully, I could not imagine it any other way, and more importantly, why it would be any other way.

You can read more about Amanda and the Science Cheerleader imitative in her guest post. If you have a suggestion for a future SoNYC panel or would be interested in sponsoring one of the events, please get in touch.

Mosaic Marie

Tying in well with SoNYC’s Stem theme, this month Nature Chemistry September issue has come up with an intriguing way of marking the International Year of Chemistry, which happens to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Marie Curie receiving her second Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The cover is a picture of Curie as a mosaic made up of photos of real life female scientists:


Can you spot anyone you know?


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