CauseScience weekly roundup of science news and goings on!!

This week was busier than usual and CauseScience didn’t get to post all of the awesome science-y things we wanted to. Here is a roundup of cool science news and happenings to check out!

The NIH has awarded $31 million to enhance diversity amongst biomedical researchers!

President Obama’s moratorium on controversial research about certain viruses is stopping some scientists research in its tracks.

A video in the world’s largest vacuum chamber confirms that a feather and bowling ball will fall at the same rate.

New study finds that the urban legend that NYC has 1 rat per person is wrong. It’s actually more like 1 rat for every 4 people.

Citizen science contributed to a groundbreaking air quality study published this week!

While GMO labeling measures in Colorado and Oregon failed at the polls, apparently Bill Nye is still on the fence about GMO‘s.

Body Horrors blog posted a great piece on the history of miners and their unknown nemesis… the hookworm.

Can you tell when New Yorkers are slacking off based on twitter?? (gif: Carl Engelking)?

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ScienceCareers posted an terrific article about Postdocs ‘speaking up’ for themselves featuring findings from the ‘Future of Research Symposium

Young student scientists are doing their part to help fight Ebola!

Wired.com‘s Absurd Creature of the Week is a beautiful sea slug with a secret weapon!

NPR fills us in on what the election results will mean for Environmental Policy.

A climate triptych: This is what the melting arctic ice cap looks like!! @wiredscience

Nick Stockton at Wired.com has put together a compilation of 3 different ways to visualize the melting arctic ice cap. Above is one example:

The gallery of strange figures you see above represents the outlines of Arctic sea ice extent month by month from 1979 to the present.

… generated from National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) north pole sea ice extent. The images are arranged in a grid with the years across the top from 1979 to 2014 and the months running down the image from January to December. Click image for full resolution. NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

Check out Stockton’s article for other awesome animations of the melting ice cap.

A climate triptych: This is what the melting arctic ice cap looks like!! @wiredscience

Nick Stockton at Wired.com has put together a compilation of 3 different ways to visualize the melting arctic ice cap. Above is one example:

The gallery of strange figures you see above represents the outlines of Arctic sea ice extent month by month from 1979 to the present.

… generated from National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) north pole sea ice extent. The images are arranged in a grid with the years across the top from 1979 to 2014 and the months running down the image from January to December. Click image for full resolution. NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

Check out Stockton’s article for other awesome animations of the melting ice cap.

Iceland volcano eruption update @eruptionsblog

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Update from Erik Klemetti on Eruptions blog on Wired.com!

Quick post today, but RUV is reporting that three small explosions occurred in the area just north of Vatnajökull. The nature of the explosions are unknown at this point, but from the rough translation of the article in Icelandic, they sound an awful lot like a phreatic explosion — that is, explosions driven by steam. If magma is directly involved, they would then become phreatomagmatic. In both cases, it could be a case where intruding basalt is interacting with saturated sediment at the edges of the Vatnajökull.

Vote in the Absurd Creature of the Week Competition @wiredscience

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Matt Simon at Wired.com is taking the Absurd Creature of the Week to a new competitive level by having viewers vote between different absurd creatures. Check out this weeks competition between animals for the title of ‘Most Horrifying Mouth’ and ‘Most Badass Weaponry.’

We’re coming up on one whole year of Absurd Creature of the Week! So to celebrate, we’ve used a super-secret, super-complex algorithm to choose the most absurd of the absurd—to pit them against each other in mortal combat. For the next week and a half, we’ll present you with matchups. The first round is split into categories like Battle of the Freaky Sex and Battle of the Mind-Controllers, but after that, it’s every creature for itself.

History of science: plants used to treat disease based on appearance #wrong

simonEver wonder about how we figured out that some plants can treat certain disease conditions? For example, that the foxglove contains a compound that can treat heart issues (wiki post on digoxin here). Well, Matt Simon has written a terrific piece for wired.com that explains why some of the plant medicines we use, and a lot of the plant medicines we don’t use, were first tested. It is based on using plants that resemble an organ to treat problems with that organ.

Such thinking, known as the doctrine of signatures, actually developed with remarkable frequency all around the world from culture to culture. Plants meant to heal certain organs and body parts, like the liver or the eye, must show a certain “signature” by resembling the thing they treat.

Check out Simon’s article for a fun history lesson about some early science of medicine! Turns out that the doctrine of signatures was’t such a good one.