Friday links: holiday caRd, best podcasts ever, American words vs. British ears, and more (UPDATEDx2)

Lots of great stuff this week! The color of time, beer taxonomy, the tides > lava lamp, Daphnia salesmanship, Fourier transformation vs. the Beatles, REF results, the dark side has cookies, #bakeyourstudyorganism, and more.

From Meg:

What time color is it? This page computes the hex color of the current time.๐Ÿ™‚

I love the image in this post, showing Margaret Hamilton, lead software engineer for Project Apollo, standing in front of the printouts of her code. What a great image and story!

A couple of weeks ago, Terry McGlynn linked to this post on 45 Things Iโ€™ve Learned about Science since I was a Student by Rob Dunn. One of the postโ€™s points really struck me: โ€œMost real challenges scientists have to deal with have nothing to do with science.โ€ This is true of our students, too. Most of the serious things our students and colleagues are dealing with have nothing to do science or our class. Maybe theyโ€™re worried about how to pay rent. Maybe they have an ill relative. Maybe they are dealing with depression or anxiety. . . . There are also lots of other good thoughts in that post.

Slate had a list of the 25 best podcast episodes ever, which relates to my earlier post on what to listen to in the lab.

Wired has a story featuring the winners of the Olympus Bioscapes competition, which features gorgeous micrographs.

From Jeremy:

Here’s Caroline Tucker’s annual holiday caRd!๐Ÿ™‚

UPDATE: Just found this, didn’t want to wait until after the holidays to share it. Computer science places a lot of weight on presenting at top conferences (as opposed to publishing in top journals). A top computer science conference just did an experiment in which they randomly assigned some of the submissions to each of two evaluation committees working in parallel. Each committee was asked to accept 23% of submissions, so fairly selective but not extraordinarily so. The result: 57% of the submissions accepted by one committee were rejected by the other. The linked post discusses various models that are consistent with the data. Reinforces other lines of evidence that referees disagree with one another a fair bit about what work is most interesting. But before you use the results as the basis to complain about selective journals or pre-publication peer review, remember: those disagreements don’t go away or become less important if you do away with selective journals and pre-publication review. The effects of those disagreements merely get manifested in some other way. (ht Marginal Revolution)

The results are in from the British REF (an evaluation of the scholarship of British universities and their departments, the results of which dictate future funding). A bit of commentary, focusing on the absurdities resulting from allowing British universities to count star American academics on token “0.2” appointments among their academic staff, and allowing them to count towards the REF work performed by newly-hired faculty at their old jobs.

The New Yorker has noticed the ongoing–and increasingly unedifying and personal–fight within conservation biology on why nature should be conserved.

Related: the New Yorker on efforts in New Zealand to rid the entire country of non-native mammals (i.e. all mammals other than a few bats).

A scientific detective story: what’s the chord that begins A Hard Day’s Night? Includes the following dare-to-dream line:

If anyone with the security clearance to work with the Beatles master tapes is reading this, then I can be on the train to Abbey Road with my laptop at very short notice!

Retraction Watch got a $400,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation to develop a comprehensive, freely available database of retractions.

This is very cool: explorable explanations. Basically, interactive text that’s partway between plain text (an author saying “here’s how it works”) and an interactive simulation (an author saying “figure it out for yourself”).

Thomas Lumley uses a mock interview to entertainingly dismantle a ridiculous study that was reported as showing that wearing cosmetics while pregnant lowers the IQ of your children. Could be good fodder for an undergrad stats class, or really any course that touches on how to do and report science. (ht Simply Statistics)

Not an explorable explanation, but still hypnotically cool: an animated map of the earth’s tides. (ht Thomas Lumley)

The taxonomy of beer, in the form of a sharp-looking wood engraving.

#bakeyourstudyorganism: wildfire cake and highly-accurate sympatric paper wasps!

A while back, ecologist-turned-data-scientist Ted Hart did a guest post for us on his new career. Via Twitter, he’s now summarized the follow-up conversations he’s been having with students looking to follow in his footsteps:

This week, I learned that “bio-encapsulated” is fish food manufacturer marketing-speak for “inside Daphnia.” Now I’m rooting for Meg to incorporate “bio-encapsulated” into her next paper. Somebody needs to write the manufacturer a letter demanding that they stop “bio-encapsulating” the vitamins and provide them in a natural, healthy pill form instead. Meanwhile, I’m off to “bio-encapsulate” a sandwich.๐Ÿ™‚

And finally: a handy phrase book for British graduate students who need to interpret feedback from American faculty. Sample entry:

What they say: Let’s have lunch Tuesday after next.

What you hear: He is brushing me off.

What they mean: Let’s have lunch Tuesday after next.

There’s also a phrase book for American students who need to translate feedback from British faculty, to which I’ve linked before.๐Ÿ™‚

Hoisted from the comments:

The comment thread on our post on ecologists who are awesome at things besides ecology revealed musicians, a wildlife artist, a historian, novelists, a top kite surfer, an elite fencer–and an astronaut! Also an excellent Boggle player.๐Ÿ™‚ UPDATE x2: AND THE INVENTOR OF CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH ICE CREAM!!!11!1!

4 thoughts on “Friday links: holiday caRd, best podcasts ever, American words vs. British ears, and more (UPDATEDx2)

  1. Re: Margaret Hamilton. Actually, the early days of computer science had a lot of women — beyond the standard “women ran the punch cards” thing, which everyone gets hung up on. When digital computing was a new field, there weren’t entrenched ideas of who should be in it or that it should be linked with geek culture or any of that. Both my parents were (separately) involved from the early years — my mom via working for the telephone company, my dad via a physics background. (Also, my dad worked with MH on the Apollo program on the guidance computer, which is awesome. He’s got a bunch of those code books lying around at his home. It is super amazing to me that we put a man on the moon in the 1960’s having looked at them!)

    Re: computer science field. Minor correction: presenting at conferences IS publishing. You submit a paper to a conference and they select who’s going to present their papers at the conference. You then get feedback and have to revise your paper. Then you present your paper at the conference and it gets published as the “proceedings of” such and such conference. I’m actually just going through the process as a coauthor on a CS paper/presentation. It’s kinda weird, and really sucks for people like moms with young children who can’t easily travel to present. (Of course CS has bigger issues for women than just difficulty attending conferences…) Also, with my n=1, it seems like the rigor of review for CS conferences is a bit lower than publishing in ecology. Because there’s a time limit (the CS conference date is already set!) reviewers have to review more quickly. And my impression is that they review a lot more papers each.

    Re: British REF: I just talked to a British PI yesterday who also commented that the whole thing is ridiculous. He followed up by saying that it looks like there’s no funding this year so everyone had to go through the circus hoops for nothing.

    Re: my prolific comments: I’m waiting for some code to finish running. (I’m working!)

    • That’s really interesting about your folks! You are on fire with comments drawing from your own experiences lately!

      “Re: my prolific comments: I’m waiting for some code to finish running. (I’m working!)”

      I vaguely recall an old Dilbert cartoon in which Dilbert uses “my code is compiling” as an unanswerable excuse to goof off.๐Ÿ™‚

  2. To my surprise, Caroline Tucker’s caRd is only today’s third most popular link, albeit in a near-tie with the New Yorker story about why to conserve nature and the American-British phrasebook.

  3. As a Brit who has also just gone through the REF (and indeed coordinated our department’s submission) I thought I’d add a couple of things to Margaret’s comment:

    1. The situation with regard to funding is unclear, we simply don’t know how the REF results will be used to allocate research money across departments and universities, so it’s a little early to say “there’s no funding this year”.

    2. Yes, the whole thing is ridiculous, time consuming, prone to game playing, costly in time and resources, and stressful, particularly for staff who were not included in submissions. But there are also some positive aspects, including the fact that it allows smaller, non-research intensive universities (like my own) to demonstrate to funders that we are capable of producing world-class research. Over 40% of our research outputs were rated in the two highest classes of “World leading” and “Internationally excellent”, the remainder being “Internationally recognised”. There is no other mechanism for sending such a message to funders. And to the top universities which, yes, produce much more world class research, but also enjoy the vast majority of the funding. That’s not a defence of the REF of course and I hope the next one (due in 2020) is more streamlined. But it there are some positives coming from it – HTsmallpondscience

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