New movement to achieve scientific reproducibility

Highlighted in the Washington Post, a new movement aimed at ensuring scientific reproducibility- primarily by making data more publicly available.  Unfortunately, some amount of fraud and irreproducibility have been plaguing the current scientific system for some time (as mentioned in previous posts), and now there’s a drive to fix these issues.

And so there’s a movement afoot, and building momentum rapidly. Roughly four centuries after the invention of the scientific method, the leaders of the scientific community are recalibrating their requirements, pushing for the sharing of data and greater experimental transparency.

Top-tier journals, such as Science and Nature, have announced new guidelines for the research they publish.

“We need to go back to basics,” said Ritu Dhand, the editorial director of the Nature group of journals. “We need to train our students over what is okay and what is not okay, and not assume that they know.”

The pharmaceutical companies are part of this movement. Big Pharma has massive amounts of money at stake and wants to see more rigorous pre-clinical results from outside laboratories. The academic laboratories act as lead-generators for companies that make drugs and put them into clinical trials. Too often these leads turn out to be dead ends.

Some pharmaceutical companies are now even willing to share data with each other, a major change in policy in a competitive business.

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Rate of sea level rise is “worse than previously thought” #nogoodnewshere #climatechangeisreal

Water is seen on part of the glacial ice sheet that covers about 80 percent of Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Water is seen on part of the glacial ice sheet that covers about 80 percent of Greenland. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A new study finds that the rate of sea level rise is actually worse than was previously thought. In a letter to Nature, scientists re-examine previous studies, and determine that previous values may have been underestimates of the rate of sea level rise. Summarized in the Washington Post, the group of scientists from Harvard and Rutgers have developed a new method for determining the rates of sea level rise using advanced statistical modeling that can analyze ALL factors contributing to sea rise.

“What this paper shows is that the sea-level acceleration over the past century has been greater than had been estimated by others,” lead writer Eric Morrow said in a statement. “It’s a larger problem than we initially thought.” Co-author Carling Hay added in an interview with BBC: “The acceleration into the last two decades is far worse than previously thought. This new acceleration is about 25 percent higher than previous estimates.”

Rising sea levels are a result of man made climate change and pose numerous problems for the future (see our previous posts).  Let’s hope our newly appointed Tea Party committee chairs will actually take this information into account when making policy decisions concerning climate.

China making a supersonic submarine… in the distant future perhaps. #CauseScience

Apparently Chinese researchers are hoping to make a submarine that can travel near the speed of sound, as reported in many places including this article in The Washington Post.


Researchers at the Harbin Institute of Technology in northeast China tell the South China Morning Post that they’re hard at work on a submarine that the newspaper claims could travel the 6,100 miles from “Shanghai to San Francisco in 100 minutes.”


The reported plans for the super-fast Chinese submarine draw on research that reaches back to the Cold War on “supercavitation,” a technology that creates a friction-less air “bubble” around a vessel that allows it to “fly” underwater, facilitating incredible speeds. The Russians have developed torpedoes that travel faster than 230 mph using that approach.

The theory and physics behind supercavitation are super cool, and not completely unrealistic. However, the feasibility of making a submarine that utilizes supercavitation in the near future is highly unlikely. Ryan Faith has written a terrific article for that describes cavitation, supercavitation, and the reasons a supercavitation submarine is not only unlikely, but also not all that attractive of an idea. 


Sadly, all of this — supersonic submarines and supercavitating angels — is, from a technical engineering point of view, complete bullshit.


Is supercavitation cool? Absolutely. Is it useful? Sort of. It’s not ready for primetime, though it might become so if enough people science and engineer at it. But right now, all the clever folks at Harbin have is a strange phenomenon with which to work. The real engineering work hasn’t even gotten fully underway. So let’s hold off on breaking out the bubbly.

How do AMERICANS feel about reducing carbon emission?

So, I’ve briefly discussed how Al Gore feels, how I feel, and how medical experts feel about the new EPA proposal to reduce carbon emissions.  But how does the rest of the country feel about this?!?

Well, the Washington Post has asked the same question with this detailed poll!  Responses are broken down by party ideology, race, sex, education, and more.  Of note:

Poll results that are NOT surprising:

  • As education level increased, so did agreement with limiting green house gas emissions
  • Same thing goes with age, as age decreased, so did agreement with the proposal
  • 78% of non-religious responders support vs only 49% of white evangelical protestants

Poll results that ARE surprising:

  • 68% of MODERATES support it
  • 51% of REPUBLICANS, support it!!!!!

My conclusions: There seems to be quite a bit of support for the EPA proposal… much more than some of the media is letting on.  And, NO SURPRISES HERE, the educated and the youth are the most supportive!!