Kersey Sturdivant • biology, Fun Science Friday, Physics • November 17, 2017 •
One of the most basic things that we learn when growing up is that water can exist in 3 different states of matter: as a gas (water vapor), as a liquid (water… water), and as a solid (ice). This basic and fundamental concept has recently been turned upside down as scientist have discovered that water might also exists in a fourth state; liquid water it appears might actually come in two different states. A collaborative team of researchers led by Dr. Laura Maestro at Oxford University, found that the physical properties of water changed their behavior between 50 and 60℃ potentially changing to a second physical state of water.
(Photo credit: Pixabay/Public Domain Pictures via CC0 Public Domain)
David Shiffman • Dear Shark Man • November 15, 2017 •
Welcome to volume #2 of Dear Shark Man, an advice column inspired by a ridiculous e-mail I received. You can send your questions to me via twitter (@WhySharksMatter) or e-mail (WhySharksMatter at gmail).
Dear Shark Man,
I know how you feel about sandbar sharks (even though I’m still #teamgoblinshark), but can we agree that Ninja Lanternshark is the best common name for a shark? Also, if you had an opportunity to name a shark, what would you name it? I’d name mine Storm Shark, not because of the meteorological event, but because Storm is Aquaman’s mighty seahorse steed.
La Requin in Lake Buena Vista
Dear La Requin,
Ninja Lanternshark is a pretty sweet common name. My friend Vicky Vasquez was involved in the discovery and description of that species, which also has a cool scientific name (benchleyi, named after Jaws author and eventual shark conservationist Peter Benchley). If you haven’t read the great Hakai magazine story about this species, you should.
As an ecologist and conservation biologist, I am unlikely to get the opportunity to name a shark, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about this. I’d love to see shark species named after influential shark conservation advocates, particularly those who engage in science-based conservation advocacy. If a new species of cownose ray is discovered, I hope that folks will consider naming it after Shark Advocates International President and frequent Southern Fried Science guest blogger Sonja Fordham, for example. And I certainly wouldn’t turn down a species named after me, if any taxonomists are reading this, though there are certainly plenty of more deserving people.
Incidentally, I have a colleague who studies marine mammal parasites. I’ve told her that I will donate to a conservation charity or her choice if a parasite that significantly annoys (but does not kill) dolphins is named after Southern Fried Science.
Amy Freitag • Academic life, Focus on Nuance, Science publishing • November 14, 2017 •
This morning, I sat down at my desk to clear out my morning emails, make my to-do list, and go about my day. Through several of these channels, I was pointed to a new article in Nature detailing the top 100 articles every ecologist should read. There were already critiques of it flowing through social media, mainly about the representativeness of the list. Depending on which kind of professional hat I’m wearing at the moment, I tend to agree with these assessments. While I recognize – and have read – most of the papers on the list in my early ecological education, I think it misses the mark on defining ecology. (more…)
Andrew David Thaler • Monday Morning Salvage • November 13, 2017 •
Fog Horn (A Call to Action)
- Ocean policy news breaking this week. We’ll have a comment template ready to go when it does. Please check back. We can’t announce until we know exactly what we’re dealing with.
- Still time to register for OceanDotComm! Science Communication folks! Are you ready for OceanDotComm? Register now!
Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)
Wine bottle found in the deep North Atlantic. Laura Robinson, University of Bristol, and the Natural Environment Research Council. Expedition JC094 was funded by the European Research Council.
My wife, on the other hand, is a social scientist who works on development here in Mexico. When we first started dating, I used to tease her for being a soft little scientist in her soft little science. I now understand that helping a community pull itself out of poverty is more complex than brain surgery or quantum physics.
There is no magic equation for community organizing but she begins by understanding that “the community” isn’t some monolithic creature that thinks as a unit. There are complex politics and power dynamics at work that can either aid or destroy all her efforts.
I now understand why the vaquita is going extinct. They sent too many people like me into the region and not enough like her.
- Would you like to play a game? Last week David and I unleashed Twitter Ocean Chess upon the internet and the results are in: it’s the only valid use of 280 characters.
Chuck Bangley • biodiversity, Conservation, Public perceptions of wildlife, sharks • November 12, 2017 •
I’d like to take a moment rant about a particular pet peeve of mine, which involves the seemingly-dull subject of species common names. As you may have learned in biology class, all identified and described species are assigned a Latin scientific name, which is intended to be a universal identifier of that species regardless of where it’s coming up in conversation. However, scientific names are not typically very familiar to non-scientists, so common names remain the most, well, common way to refer to a species.
David Shiffman • Dear Shark Man • November 8, 2017 •
Welcome to volume #1 of Dear Shark Man, an advice column inspired by a ridiculous e-mail I received. You can send your questions to me via twitter (@WhySharksMatter) or e-mail (WhySharksMatter at gmail).
Dear Shark Man,
Have you seen this New Scientist article (“Sharks now protected no matter whose waters they swim in?)
Is this good news? It seems too good to be true.
Skeptical in Seattle
You are correct to be, um, skeptical. At best, this article is an oversimplification of a very complex problem. Many shark species migrate through the territorial waters of multiple nations, which complicates any conservation and management plans for these species. The Convention on Migratory Species, which is what the New Scientist article is about, is an attempt to help. However, a CMS listing is only the first step, and it does not inherently require any legal protections. Thus far, CMS listings for sharks have not resulted in any concrete legal protections for these species. The World Wildlife Fund’s shark expert, Ian Campbell, has written a great summary of why this CMS news is not the be-all end-all solution that many seem to believe, check it out here:
Andrew David Thaler • Academic life • November 6, 2017 •
Feed your committee.
At the very least, make sure your committee is fed. A hungry committee is a grumpy committee. A grumpy committee is just a little bit less likely to let you pass your defense. Sure, you can prep, polish your thesis to perfection, run through a half-dozen practice defenses. You can even invest in some serious snake-fighting lessons. But all of those solutions are practical, pragmatic, and belie a commitment to success that suggests a work ethic, expertise, and discipline. All of which you need, but don’t ignore the obvious, easy stuff, either.
Wait, Andrew, you’re serious?
If you’ve learned anything from reading this blog for the last 9 years, it’s that I am always serious. Humor is anathema to me. Let’s talk about the science.
In a 2011 paper, Danziger and friends looked at extraneous factors in judicial decisions. In short, they looked at how often judges granted parole to inmates as a function of when the decision was made. Parole judges often hear dozens of cases in a day with few breaks. What Danziger and friends found was that, immediately after a judge had eaten, favorable parole outcomes were much more frequent and that, as parolees got further and further from mealtime, their chance of getting out plummeted. Those whose hearings fell right before a meal break had a 0% chance of parole. The pattern was clear: never appear before a hungry judge.
Proportion of rulings in favor of the prisoners by ordinal position. Circled points indicate the first decision in each of the three decision sessions; tick marks on x axis denote every third case; dotted line denotes food break. Because unequal session lengths resulted in a low number of cases for some of the later ordinal positions, the graph is based on the first 95% of the data from each session. Danziger and friends, 2011.
Well, not quite.
Guest Writer • Personal Stories • •
Heather Cooke graduated with an environmental science degree from George Mason University and studied marine biology. She is now a dive instructor and runs Culebra Divers on Culebra Island. This article was written during brief moments of power on Culebra Island.
As General Manager of Culebra Divers in Culebra, Puerto Rico for the last 2.5 years, I have enjoyed our semi-arid island with its brief storms. Known for one of the safer harbors in the Caribbean, my husband and I watched tropical storm after tropical storm and hurricane after hurricane pass us by. What I am writing is based on our experiences and what others around me have experienced or shared from their families on our sister islands.
Culebra the smallest of 3 islands that make up what you know as Puerto Rico (the “mainland”, Vieques, and us) and we’re 17 miles from the mainland itself. To get here you fly from San Juan or take a ferry from the mainland’s east coast. We get all our food and fuel via that same ferry system. Our water and power travel under the ocean from the mainland through Vieques and then to us so if anything happens to either of those islands, we are screwed. The island has a rag tag rental generator and no desalination plant.
As I write this, it has been 34 days since Maria and 48 since Irma and we still lack non-generator power, reliable daily water, and cell service not provided by some other island.