World Cup and Concussions

The USA vs GER game was indeed a nail-biter, but also quite the head-basher as well.  Clint Dempsey with another jab to the face, and Jermaine Jones bonking heads… definitely cringeworthy.  

There’s been a lot of news lately about head injuries in sports such as football.  But the other football, or soccer, needs to take this issue seriously too.  

We mentioned this in a previous post, and a nice article by The Washington Post details the extent of head injuries in soccer and what must be done about it.   Specifically, FIFA needs to take this issue more seriously!

“It’s barbaric. The way FIFA has turned an eye to head injuries, it’s 1950s-ish,” said ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman, the former University of Maryland and MLS star whose career was cut short due to concussions. “It’s just mind-boggling. . . . FIFA acts like it doesn’t exist.”


A handful of star players, such as Twellman and former D.C. United star Alecko Eskandarian, have had promising careers cut short by head injuries”

This is a real issue y’all.  A lot of head injuries lead to mental illness, neurological disorders, and sometimes death.  I’m a huge fan of soccer…but I’d rather see Jones and others sit out for a game to recover from head injury then to continue playing and potentially risk their health and lives.  It’s time to start acting on it, FIFA.

Science Quotable: Suzanne Ffolkes from Research!America #DefenderofScience


In fact, many americans are still not aware of where research is conducted in our country, and largely scientists are invisible to the public. Our public opinion polling shows that many americans cannot name a living scientist, which is a great concern.


They’re (scientists) the best spokespersons for science. If they can’t defend science, who can?  … its really up to the scientists to describe the importance of their research and how it connects back to public health, human health, and also the economic benefits through job creation.

– Suzanne Ffowles interview at 2014 BIO international conference


Criminal charges and possible jail time for scientific fraud and research misconduct #abouttime


Federal prosecutors are filing charges against Dong-Pyou Han after a major case of disgusting research misconduct having to do with a breakthrough AIDS vaccine. Great news article here.

Investigators say former Iowa State University laboratory manager Dong-Pyou Han has confessed to spiking samples of rabbit blood with human antibodies to make an experimental HIV vaccine appear to have great promise. After years of work and millions in National Institutes of Health grants, another laboratory uncovered irregularities that suggested the results — once hailed as groundbreaking — were bogus. Han was indicted last week on four counts of making false statements, each of which carries up to five years in prison.
To me, it is about time that researchers who waste American taxpayer money by committing obvious scientific fraud be held accountable. Not only is this type of fraud a gross waste of research money (that could have gone to someone who was not making up data), it also has the bigger problem of encouraging public mistrust of scientists. Ivan Oransky, of Retraction Watch (definitely check out his blog), gives his opinion on the case:
“It’s an important case because it is extremely rare for scientists found to have committed fraud to be held accountable by the actual criminal justice system,” said Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch, which tracks research misconduct.
I completely agree, and it is nice to see that scientists will be held accountable for wasting money and destroying the credibility of scientists as a community. Retractions of papers due to intentional fraud are increasing, and this will be the topic of my next “Problems in Science” post. What drives scientists to lie and make up data? How can we stop this? How will the scientists be held accountable (looks like some might serve jail time)? Check out my first post in the series (Part 1: The broken economics of academic publishing)

Like the World Cup? Like Volcanoes? 2014 Volcano World Cup! #GroupH


Don’t forget that the Volcano World Cup from ERUPTIONS blog is still going on. Now onto Group H. My previous post about this super fun take on a new competition involving the 2014 World Cup countries.

ERUPTIONS blog, by Erik Klemetti, at has put together an informative and interactive group of posts that pit volcanoes of the world against each other (from countries in the actual 2014 FIFA World Cup) . Check out the posts and start voting for the 2014 Volcano World Cup winner!!

What is the Volcano World Cup? I’m going to take each of the participating countries in the real World Cup and have all of you vote on which are the most volcanically excellent. It will be set up exactly the same as the World Cup – group stage, round of 16, quarter-, semi- and finals – except it will be your votes that move nations forward.

For Groups B, C, etc of the Volcano World Cup, go to ERUPTIONS here

Teddy Roosevelt is great, but the most epic USA fans of the 2014 World Cup are in SPACE #CauseScience

Everyone who has been watching the 2014 World Cup USA games has probably seen the amazing fan that dresses up like Teddy Roosevelt. If you haven’t, or can’t get enough of him, see below tweet from Buzzfeed.


See, as epic as Teddy Roosevelt was historically, and as epic as this fan is now, in my own humble opinion, the most epic fans at the World Cup are these guys. I guess you can argue that they aren’t AT the World Cup, but then again, they are right above it sometimes.


They are watching and supporting ‘Merica from SPACE… that’s right: SPACE. How can you be more epic than space? SO my vote for the most epic fans for team USA are the astronauts, who have taken time from doing science and being astronauts, to watch and play the games in space. Follow them on twitter to get more awesome updates from the International Space Station (@astro_reid @Astro_Alex ).


Women who have children later, may live longer… maybe #scienceclarification


While this correlative study should certainly not be used to justify pushing back having children, it might be nice to hear for women who do make that decision (like those in STEM fields that require years and years of education and training). The study, published in Menopause, is a bit odd and looks at subgroups of women from the Long Life Family Study for cases and controls. The study concludes that there is a positive association between older maternal age and having greater odds for surviving to an older age. However, the study does not distinguish if the women who lived longer were just amongst women who were able to conceive later, perhaps indicating slower aging processes.


Lara Salahi has a written a news article about the study for

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Menopause, looked at data from 462 women who were part of The Long Life Family Study, which included families with members who had lived long lives. The researchers compared the ages at which these women had their last child and how long they lived. Those who got pregnant naturally and successfully birthed their last child after age 33 were twice as likely to live to age 95 compared to those who had their last child by age 29.

Science Quotable: Kamran Kahn on spread of Ebola #outbreak

“The chance of Ebola spreading out of West Africa is very, very low,” says infectious disease specialist Kamran Khan, from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. “But if it did spread, Paris is probably the first city on the list.”

“The volume of travel in the Conakry airport (The major city affected by the Ebola outbreak) is low,” Khan says. “Most of the flights are local. But 10 percent of the traffic goes to Paris.” That would make Paris the likeliest place for Ebola to arrive.

NPR article by Michaeleen Doucleff on whether the Ebola virus outbreak is likely to spread to Europe or USA.