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A handy app for your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad Ken Perrott Dec 21

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If you often find you read articles on the Richard Dawkins’ Foundation web site, watch videos or listen to audio on the site you might find the iPhone app useful. And it’s only NZ$1.19.

It provides access to all that useful material direct from your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. With it you will be able to read articles, watch videos or listen to interviews while filling in time at the dentist’s waiting room.

For those who don’;t normally look at that site – why not try it. it’s not a Richard Dawkins fan site. More a collection of material of interest to people interest in science, reason and atheism.

The screen shots below give an idea of the material the app makes available.

RDEF 2

See: Richard Dawkins for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad on the iTunes App Store.

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Check out your ancestors Ken Perrott Sep 27

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Here’s a handy little resource of anyone interested in evolutionary science – The Timetree of life.  It enables you to find the last common ancestor of two species. Or, as the website describes it:

“TimeTree is a public knowledge-base for information on the evolutionary timescale of life. A search utility allows exploration of the thousands of divergence times among organisms in the published literature. A tree-based (hierarchical) system is used to identify all published molecular time estimates bearing on the divergence of two chosen taxa, such as species, compute summary statistics, and present the results. Names of two taxa to be compared are entered in the search window and the results are presented on a separate page.”

You can try it out at the search page. Just enter two names and click on search. This is the summary of what I got for humans and onions. Yes, we diverged 1408 million years ago.

Summary Information

Query Taxa: Homo sapiens/Allium cepa
Result Comparison Fungi/Metazoa group/Viridiplantae
Study Weighted Average (#genes) Simple Average
All (14) 1407.8 Mya 1457.8 Mya
Nuclear (14) 1407.8 Mya 1457.8 Mya
TimeTree Expert Result
Time Publication Year PDF Link
1628.0 2009 Bhattacharya et al.

Mobile application

An iPhone application of Timetree was also  recently launched (see TimeTree for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad).Very handy for those with and iPod or iPhone (or iPad) who wish to check out common ancestors while on a bus or in a cafe. Here are a couple of the screenshots from the app.

There is even a short video demonstrating the application

youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxmshZQciwo&fs=1&hl=en_US

But wait, there’s more. The information is available as a book The Timetree of Life, edited by S. Blair Hedges and Sudhir Kumar and with Foreword by James D. Watson.

And a lot of the information can be downloaded as pdf documents from the Timetree website.

See also: The great tree of life

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Get your climate change science on the run Ken Perrott Feb 11

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Skeptical Science available on Itunes Iphone App StoreSomebody said that “lies are half way around the world before truth gets its boots on.” An underestimate, I would say.

With the current hysterical attack on climate science and climate scientists this is so true. It takes time to marshal the evidence needed to counter some of the claims being made. And most likely the perpetrator has moved on, in a Gish gallop, to a new issue and avoids facing up to the facts about the old one.

The internet is a great resource for people checking out some of the wild claims being made – providing you use reliable websites. One reliable site is Skeptical science, which has a byline of “Getting skeptical about global warming skepticism.” This site provides the actual scientific facts relevant to most claims made by climate change sceptics and deniers.

Now they have produced an application for the iPhone and ipod Touch. This will bring the much needed scientific information about climate change to your mobile device. Just imagine being able to check out a speaker during a lecture or debate – maybe even obtain the information of a sensible question.

Here’s a description of how to use the application taken from Skeptical Science now an iPhone app. at Skeptical science:

When you select one of the 3 main categories, a list of sub-categories pop up. You can then select any category to see the skeptic argument, a summary of what the science says and the full answer including graphs plus links to papers or other sources.

A novel inclusion is a feature that lets you report when you encounter a skeptic argument. By clicking on the red ear icon (above left, shown to the left of the skeptic arguments or above right, next to the headline), the iPhone adds another hit to that particular skeptic argument. At the moment, which arguments you report are only available in a My Reports page, shown below. Shine Tech are hoping to play around with the Reports meta-data in future versions of the app – the phrase “heat-map” gets mentioned often.

So if you have an iPhone or iPod, be sure to download the app and post any feedback or suggestions here. If you have friends with iPhones, be sure to let them know of the app. The more people use the app, hopefully the more versions will be developed in the future with snazzy extra features. If anyone encounters any technical problems with the app, please let me know.

UPDATE 11 Feb 2010: Thanks for the feedback so far (I’ve passed it onto Shine Tech who I’m sure will be reading this thread also). One other thing I forgot to ask – for those who are able to use the app, please be sure to post a review on iTunes :-)

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