Archive May 2012

Thoughts on, and for, those trying to choose to vaccinate or not Grant Jacobs May 20


I’d like to blend two general lines of thought: what those seeking information about vaccination on-line want but might be unable to (easily) find on-line and what the science (writing) community might do to meet that.

Recently I wrote a comment on the Facebook page of local documentary programme Close Up, suggesting that people might be better ask rather than argue or ’say ‘how it is’’ over something they don’t have the background to to judge in the end.[1] I wrote this in part because many internet ’debates’ seem to degrade to something that seems pretty pointless to me.

Surely the sensible thing for those sincerely wanting to make a decision is to talk with an appropriate background, what typically happens for other things in daily life. But how do you do this for vaccine or other health issues – particularly on-line?

Before I dip into this, let’s distinguish three groups of people.

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Stuffing more science into the New Zealand media Grant Jacobs May 07


New Zealand on-line news outlet Stuff has elected to present a science section. Yay!

Some might even say ‘about time’.

In a modest promotional effort, they’ve offered the first of what are to be daily science pictures.

It’s great to see support voiced in the comments. (Sharp readers will notice I have given a heads-up to readers there about our forum.)

’Finally a blokes version of your ridiculous fashion section…’ says Peter (comment 10). Excellent sentiment, but I’ll oppose that science should be ‘for blokes’ – science is for everyone.


Image Credit: NASA / Tony Landis

Tony (in comment 8) writes:

’Great stuff! Looking forward to reading it, but please, no editorials on what you think is right/wrong, harmful/beneficial, just pure science please! For example, I’d hate to read about how someone “thinks” WiFi radiation is bad…’

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Science PhD career preferences surveyed Grant Jacobs May 05


One of the most oft cited quotes on twitter is drawn from this passage from the abstract of Henry Sauermann and Michael Roach’s paper:

’We also show that the attractiveness of academic careers decreases significantly over the course of the PhD program, despite the fact that advisors strongly encourage academic careers over non-academic careers.’

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Free eBook – A Planet of Viruses by Carl Zimmer Grant Jacobs May 03

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Free for this month (May, 2012) is an e-Book version of Carl Zimmer’s popular science book, A Planet of Viruses.

To get your copy, go to the University of Chicago Press website for the book and enter your email address in the space provided. You will be sent an email with a link from which you can download a copy. The book is displayed using Adobe’s Digital Editions software, of which I have little experience (but see first Footnote).

Carl Zimmer is a long-time science writer and author of several books including The Tangled Bank, (evolution), Parasite Rex (parasites), Science Ink (a collection of tattoos with scientific themes and their stories), Brain Cuttings, More Brain Cuttings (the working of the mind) among others.


I have to admit my initial impressions of Adode’s book presentation isn’t the best. Perhaps on other platforms it’s better? In any event other’s mileage may vary. Illustrations looked low-resolution and were not present in the flow of the text. I wasn’t too happy with the lack of good control of paging through the book by the application either. (These are not be the author’s fault! The text I am sure will be Carl Zimmer’s usual excellent effort and be worth reading despite this, but I like good presentation – it’s part of the full package.

I hope to have this blog back into more regular activity next week.

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