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Regarding antibiotics, which I always need in May/June and in October (spring and fall) due to sinus infections, is there anything else science can tell us about other remedies? (I do the other stuff too, sprays, spray steroids, sinus rinsing, but ultimately the infection often appears anyway. The case for wiping out microbiomes is a better case for taking them sparingly than just “getting too used to them”, then they don’t help.

BTW, are you planning something special for Earth Day/March for Science? I am still looking for local marches and I thought it could be interesting if others went to local or state marches, we could post reports on a thread.


I know for a fact that short term memory weakens as we age. …….Now if i can remember what else I was going to write.


My wife will agree about my memory loss 🙂


At almost 79, I can remember my childhood and my kids childhoods like the were yesterday but yesterday, that is a fog that I have to work hard on to remember.

Don midwest
Don midwest

Insights from Bruno Latour from a review of one of his books

Regular readers have noticed that I have a thing about Bruno. But it is a big mountain to climb.

Here is a review of one of his books,”Science in Action” This scientist points out what he has learned by reading the book.

In particular, the reason that scientific papers are hard to read is that they are hardened, ready for battle. A scientist’s work must stand up to attacks so they structure their arguments and bring in supporting evidence to fight the battle.

Latour undertakes this investigation by not listening to what philosophers say about Truth, not listening to what sociologists say about Society, and not listening to what scientists say about Nature, but instead to observe the scientists at work. Find out what they do, and not what they say. And some of his interpretations of their actions are quite surprising.

Latour starts with analyzing technical papers, as those consume a great portion of most scientists’ time. He decomposes the dense tangle of references, citations, and figures and explains how this tangle is necessary as a defense against those who would attack the paper. By referencing and citing others, the scientist mobilizes an army against those who would attack him. “Aha!” he says. “To attack my claim, you would first have to disprove all of these other claims!” Figures serve a similar purpose, except that they connect him to the laboratory. To disprove the figures requires having a similarly equipped lab to run a similar experiment.

It was really interesting to me to see this take on papers. I had never really thought about why technical papers were so hard to read, but it makes sense if one thinks of the scientist as being hunkered down in a bunker ready to defend their claim against all attackers. And this was just the first chapter, so I looked forward to the rest of the book.

Science in Action, by Bruno Latour

The man who reviewed the book has a background in Physics and spent a year at CERN but didn’t want to spend a lifetime in particle physics. His recent home page says that he is Eric Nehrlich, Unrepentant Generalist


I had meant to post this over the weekend but was not able to get on. Hope its not too late (and thanks for these bebimbob!) I know I suck at commenting and need to get better at that as I appreciate these posts a great deal. Quite informative.

Happy feet: why a 61m-year-old penguin foot has researchers dancing for joy

A recent paper by a team of bird paleontologists from the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt, Germany, describes a penguin fossil foot from the mid-Paleocene Waipara Greensand location in New Zealand. This locality is dated to about 61 million years ago. The fossil foot belongs to a new species of penguin. The specimens were found at the same locality where another species of large penguin was found as well, Waimanu manneringi (Slack et al. 2006), which is considered the oldest penguin known to date.

Tarsometatarsi vary tremendously from one group of birds to another, and are therefore a very useful bone to identify birds. In penguins, the tarsometatarsi is very distinct; it is extremely short and broad, as if someone took a heron’s tarsometatarsus, cut out the long bit in the middle and glued the top and bottom together again. But even within penguins, the shape of the tarsometatarsus varies. The new fossil foot differs from Waimanu, and looks more like modern penguins, in its proportions and the shape of the hypotarsal canals, a set of ridges on the plantar side of the bone that keep the tendons for the foot in place during locomotion.

The finding of this new fossil penguin foot alongside more primitive species of penguins indicates that penguin diversity early after the Cretaceous – Palaeogene extinction event was larger than expected. Moreover, the penguin foot shows characteristics that we are used to seeing in much younger penguins. This shows that the typical penguin tarsometatarsus morphology evolved more rapidly than we thought. The difference in tarsometatarsus morphology between the new specimen and Waimanu likely reflects differences in locomotion both in the water and on land.

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