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A collection of links and comments on articles and discussions elsewhere that might interest my readers. I hope there is something here for everyone.

This post has been overtaken by the massive earthquake in Japan last evening, hitting with over 1000 times the force of the Feb. 22nd Christchurch earthquake. An early collection of images can be seen on the LA Time website (who also brought an excellent photo collection for the Feb. 22nd Christchurch earthquake); another can be found at the Boston Globe. The tsunami is clearly a major disaster, and has breached whatever tsunami walls were present. Japanese rescue workers assisting at Christchurch are travelling back to Japan to assist.

For New Zealand, Civil Defence statements on television are that the tsunami will hopefully only have an impact in upper Northland and mainly on boaties (e.g. strong currents). Advice is to stay away from beaches and rivers near coastlines, not to go swimming (etc.) and not to go sightseeing. The full advisory is available at the Civil Defence website.

ScienceInsider explains that the event was larger than was expected to occur. (‘And Japan’s latest national seismic risk map gave a 99% chance of a magnitude-7.5 or greater quake occurring in that area in the next 30 years, Geller says.’) John Horgan writing at Scientific American offers a few words on earthquake prediction and warning.

My thoughts and best wishes for all those in Japan.

The remainder of this post was written prior to the Japan earthquake.

Drawing the map of life - cover

The Human Genome Project celebrated it’s tenth anniversary a little while ago. Michael Morgan’s review of the Victor McElheny’s book, Drawing the Map of Life, has itself a potted history of the early stages of the project, one well worth reading. (I admit to a slight vested interest: I was a student at the institute that John Sulston worked at, at the time.)

Still on the subject of genomes, Emily Willingham writes about her and her partner’s experience of personal genomics.

Discussions You could try an interactive involvement and encourage those uncertain about Ken Ring’s earthquake ‘predictions’ to look more closely at his claims on his Facebook page. (Be warned, though, that this Facebook group has an element of a ‘fan’ scene with a few individuals thinking it their job to muscle out those who offer constructive criticism or point to sources of information.)

While we’re on the subject of earthquake predictions, the US Geological Survey has a page of articles about earthquake predictions, including a ‘web’ copy of the Geller and colleagues letter to Science and a seven-week long debate through the letter column of Nature.

I previously posted a few photos of stunning places to read. This series shows more libraries, with more of a focus on architecture. The first in the series has similarities to the interior of the University of Otago main library. Columbia’s Biblioteca España (photo 3) looks like, well, a geometric rock. (But where are all the windows??) The interior of Brazil’s Real Gabinete Português de Leitura with it’s four story room (below, photo 13) looks like a set for Harry Potter.

brazil library

Apple Mac-owning readers might want to read Martin Fenner’s review of the reference manager / bibliography software Papers 2. I’ll be looking into this application myself. I don’t want to get ahead myself–I haven’t looked at the program first-hand–but in addition to PDFs, you can apparently manage all your other documents too – on-line articles and emails as well as your off-line word processor files, graphs, etc. There is an accompanying iOS application.

A virus that gets viruses with transposon-like genes ArsTechnica has alerted me to an interesting finding via their brief account of research reporting a virophage that infects the CroV virus. The Cro virus is a large marine virus with a more than 700,000 base pair genome. That’s more DNA than in some bacteria, a whopper of a genome for a virus. The new study reports that this virus itself is apparently infected by a virus, a virophage, that’s been named Mavirus (’Maverick virus’). What’s interesting is that the virophage genes more closely resemble those of a transposon, the classic mobile genetic element, than those of a virus. (There’s more to this than meets the eye, I think. I’d write this research up in more detail myself if I had time (and motivation!), in the meantime these pointers will have to suffice; unfortunately for readers the original paper is paid access only.)

Regular readers will know that I have previously (two links!) touched on career issues for science graduates. There has been on-going discussion on-line about post-doc careers for some time, with recent contributions from Jennifer Rohn, writing at Nature–with extensive commentary that follows–Steve Caplan and ‘Mike’.

Bora Zivkovic has recommended that all those interested in science read Polanyi’s The Republic of Science (1962) once a year. I have to confess I haven’t read this through myself yet–it’s long piece, but thus far while a little abstract it looks one worthy of a quiet day in the weekend.

(Edited to remove some blank lines the WP editor has somehow entered. It’s like that sometimes…)


Other articles on Code for Life:

On alternatives to academic careers and ’letting go’

Deleting a gene can turn an ovary into a testis in adult mammals

Map shows New Zealand with lowest death rate on earth in 1856, over 11 in 1000 dying

Bibliographies-why can’t research papers self-document what they are?