April 4, 2013, 2:13 pm
Prepare yourselves, dear readers: The United States of North America is coming.
Writing in the newest issue of Dædalus, two historians of science, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, have taken on a quixotic task: imagining a future historian looking back at our time, in an effort to tease out how we failed to avert a climate-caused collapse. Or, as they put it, how it came to be that “a second Dark Age” fell “on Western civilization, in which denial and self-deception, rooted in an ideological fixation on ‘free’ markets, disabled the world’s powerful nations in the face of tragedy.” (The full version of the article is online here.)
Known for their 2010 book Merchants of Doubt, which examined the role of industry in casting doubts on the findings of scientists on cigarettes, climate change, and other topics, Oreskes, a professor at the University of California at San Diego, and…
September 11, 2012, 5:00 pm
[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?
The answer, according to an analysis published on Tuesday in the journal PLoS Medicine, is neither. Instead, according to one …
July 3, 2012, 11:11 am
The ecological effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill are still largely unknown. Josh Fischman, a senior writer at The Chronicle, is on the research vessel Endeavor in the Gulf of Mexico with a team of university scientists seeking answers. He is filing reports from the ship.
This oil slick was spotted from the deck of the Endeavor this weekend. (Courtesy of Kai Ziervogel)
About one mile from Deepwater Horizon’s former site—Gallons and gallons of chemicals called dispersants get poured onto oil spills, including the one that started here. It’s tempting to view dispersants as chemicals added to chemicals. But they really may be aids to biology, working hand in glove with microbes to break apart slicks. An experiment now running aboard the Endeavor is starting to show how this happens.