A commercial vendor would sell this parametric automated filter wheel changer for $2,500. But a 3-D printer could fabricate one for less than $100, says Joshua M. Pearce, a researcher at Michigan Tech and co-author of a new study of the technology. (Photo from PLOS One.)
Somewhere in the middle, between ending low-wage labor and secretly arming felons, lies a host of practical applications. One of them, according to a new study from Michigan Technological University, could be a sharp improvement in the efficiency and capabilities of research laboratories.
One concerted attempt to replace commercially available lab equipment with items generated largely with 3-D printing technology…
Boston — Scientists have a hard enough time getting people to understand what they’re talking about.
Their thoughts can be complicated. Their sentences can be laden with jargon. And their conclusions can offend political or religious sensibilities.
And now, to make things worse, readers have an immediate forum to talk back. And when some readers post uncivil comments at the bottom of online articles, that alone can raise doubts about the underlying science, a new study has found. Or at least reinforce those doubts.
The study, outlined on Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, involved a survey of 2,338 Americans asked to read an article that discussed the risks of nanotechnology, which involves engineering materials at the atomic scale.
Of participants who had already expressed wariness toward the technology, those who…
The federal government reported on Friday that this year’s influenza vaccine appears to be cutting the risk of getting sick by about 62 percent.
That rate is about on par with vaccine-effectiveness rates in recent years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a weekly report describing epidemic levels of flu across the entire country.
The vaccine may not be perfect, but overall numbers show that it is working, the CDC and other experts said.
“It’s not a great vaccine in terms of preventing infection, or even mild to moderate symptoms,” said Paul A. Offit, a professor of vaccinology at the University of Pennsylvania. But, Dr. Offit said, “the goal is to keep people out of the hospital and out of the morgue, and I think this vaccine does that.”
Other researchers, however, have been sending a different message. A group led by Michael T. Osterholm…
In one of Dr. Seuss’s better-known tales of jealousy and prejudice, the Sneetches with stars on their bellies are considered superior to those without.
Now there’s more evidence that journals’ impact factors are similarly misleading.
A study published by three Canadian researchers has identified a two-decade-long trend in which the world’s top-ranked scientific journals are slowly losing their share of the most-cited articles.
The study, published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, found that in 1990, 45 percent of the top 5 percent of the most cited articles were published in journals whose impact factor was in the top 5 percent—publications like Cell, Nature, Science, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. By 2009, that rate had fallen to 36 percent, the authors found.
Research misconduct, rather than error, is the leading cause of retractions in scientific journals, with the problem especially pronounced in more prestigious publications, a comprehensive analysis has concluded.
The PNAS finding came from a comprehensive review of more than 2,000 published retractions, including detailed investigations into the public explanations given by the retracting authors and their journals.
The project was intended to explore the types of errors that typically lead to retractions, said one author of the PNAS paper, Arturo Casadevall, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
First there was the “impact factor.” Then came the “h-index.” Now, for those who believe that scientific prowess can be measured by statistical metrics, comes the Acuna-Allesina-Kording formula.
The formula, outlined on Wednesday in the journal Nature, is intended to improve upon the h-index—a tally of a researcher’s publications and citations—by adding a few more numerical measures of a scientist’s publishing history to allow for predictions of future success.
The idea, said the paper’s senior author, Konrad P. Kording, an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Northwestern University, is to help universities and grant-writing agencies “fund someone who will have high impact in the future.”
Kording readily admitted his method—tweaking the h-index by adding numbers such as years of publication and number of distinct journals—cannot…
[Updated on 9/12/2012 at 10:35 a.m. with a response from Isabelle Boutron.]
In recent years, newspapers have been full of articles touting the health benefits of coffee: It cuts the risk of heart attack, stroke, and various kinds of cancers. Yet some studies have also raised warnings, saying coffee can encourage overeating and, yes, even increase heart-attack risks.
Similar uncertainties—at least as reflected in newspaper articles and TV news reports—surround red wine, aspirin, estrogen supplements, prostate screening, and many other foods, pharmaceuticals, and medical procedures.
What’s going on? Are science reporters unable to make sense out of medical research? Are they overblowing minor fluctuations in study findings just to attract readers?
Barack Obama apparently cannot manage the U.S. economy because he never ran a lemonade stand. Mitt Romney presumably won’t ever understand the struggle of paying for college because his dad always covered his bills.
Such personal charges and countercharges in the past few days at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions are a reminder why it’s good that American universities are supplying the country with trained professional economists. Economists, after all, can be counted on for sober and dispassionate fact-based evaluations of what really works in the areas of taxes and government spending.
Or can they?
A new study from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln may be cause for doubt about how much of cold economic analysis is based on objective fact and how much is personal philosophy.
The study, led by Ann Mari May, a professor of economics, was based on…
Stanford University researchers scored hundreds of newspaper and broadcast reports on Tuesday with a study suggesting that expensive organic foods are no better for consumers than those produced through conventional farming methods.
The findings were compiled by a team led by Dena M. Bravata, a senior affiliate in Stanford’s Center for Health Policy, and Crystal Smith-Spangler, an instructor in the Stanford medical school’s Division of General Medical Disciplines, as evidence that the high cost of organics simply isn’t justified.
Their study may help affirm suspicions that organic foods are “a marketing tool that gulls people into overpaying,” The New York Times said, in one of many such reports describing the Stanford study as casting doubt on the wisdom of buying organic.
“It’s hard not to notice the press on it,” John P. Reganold, a professor of soil science at…
Wolfgang Rack has made nine research trips to Antarctica. Despite its dangerous and fast-changing weather, Mr. Rack says that researchers—especially those stationed along the coast—often can spend many days working in moderate and even comfortable conditions.
The Chronicle recently sat down in Christchurch, New Zealand with Mr. Rack, a native of Austria and a senior lecturer for glaciology and remote sensing at the University of Canterbury’s Gateway Antarctica program there. He discussed how his research could help determine how large sections of the Antarctic ice-pack break off and disintegrate. That process, he explains, is essential to understanding how quickly global climate change will contribute to a rise in sea levels worldwide.