Friday, March 26, 2010

Earth Hour is a link to more information on Earth hour in the United States. Blog readers from through out the world are invited to share their links, experiences and ideas.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Trees of Namibia: A Reader's Request

If there is a reader from Namibia who is knowledgeable about trees and herbaceous plants in Namibia, a reader from New Jersey, who has been to Namibia, is interested in learning more. Please send photos and information to post and I will include it in the blog posts so we can all learn more.

In particular, the New Jersey reader has interest in tree legumes, one with red and one with white pods. If you can recommend a resource, that would be great also. Are these trees used for anything special?

All readers are welcomed to participate in this science education blog. Please e-mail me your requests and posts. shipmanjs at g mail dot com

Improving Science Literacy through the Science News and Reach Reading (TM)

Today's news on bird size caught my attention because of an exhibit I had seen once at the Museum of Science in Boston. The exhibit there was on comparing sizes of male and female animals (across genders). As I recall, though the exhibit covered all animals, the ones exhibited were birds. There was a reason for females to be larger, the exhibit suggested. Since I know many women in the USA feel badly when they are larger after having children (and some men help foster that by leaving, "mothers who have born their children," for thinner women), the exhibit stayed in my mind...biologically childbearing needed bigger bodies...Hmm! That was a thought. I didn't look into the research behind the exhibit at that time, however, when I saw today's, "In the News," I remembered the exhibit and thought we could use the concept of bird size as another example of using Reach Reading TM to improve science literacy. Here is a quote from the article and a link to the related post.

Birds Getting Smaller as Temperature Warms

A study of over 100 species of birds has shown that many are getting smaller and lighter, and climate change is believed to be behind the shift.
Source: In the News,; Accessed 3-16-2010.

1. The first step is to look over the, "In the News," article, reading what you can without struggling.

2. Highlight or circle or underline or list on separate paper (or computer file) the words you do not know, or, do not know in this context, or just happen to like. Let's just pick some for example, though you may be familiar with all these words:

Birds Getting Smaller as Temperature Warms

A study of over 100 species of birds has shown that many are getting smaller and lighter, and climate change is believed to be behind the shift. According to Bergmann's rule, a biological principle formulated in the mid-19th century, animals tend to become smaller in warmer climates. Data collected in Pennsylvania between 1961 and 2007 indicate that many species of North American birds, mostly songbirds, are obeying this rule and gradually becoming smaller. Though the birds themselves are getting smaller, their populations appear to be unharmed. More ... Discuss


3. Define the words. Note: At the bottom of the blog, there are links to several dictionaries. You can also search for definitions of words in a search engine (For example, Google). Of course, you can also use dictionaries (as books). Remember to note down all the information you need to reference the definition's source.

  • species
    • In biology, a species is: a taxonomic rank (the basic rank of biological classification) or a unit at that rank (in which case the plural is "species". This is sometimes abbreviated: "spec." or "sp." singular, or "spp." plural). [A] common definition is that of a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing [...] fertile offspring of both genders, and separated from other such groups with which interbreeding does not (normally) happen. Other definitions may focus on similarity of DNA or morphology. [S]pecies [may be] subdivided into subspecies[.]

  • (Source: Accessed 3-16-2010.)
  • climate change
  • Bergmann's Rule
    • It's [...] a matter of basic physics that the larger a sphere, the less is its surface area relative to its total volume. Therefore, large balls lose heat more slowly, relative to their size, than small ones. You might guess, then, that animals tend to be larger in cold areas than in tropical ones. In fact, Bergmann's Rule asserts that geographic races of a species possessing smaller body size are found in the warmer parts of the range, and races of larger body size in cooler parts
4. Check for understanding. See if you can paraphrase the meaning of the word, that is, define the word using your own words, rather than exactly repeating the quote. Can you explain the word?

5. Re-read the passage again once the words you've selected are defined.

6. Next, read a few more general publications like tests, newspaper articles, and magazines that are not, "original source."

7. Then, search in the technical literature (where you will find original source laboratory reports). You might start by searching for birds and Bergmann's Rule.

  • We find,, an editorial, more key words, and a scientist contact. At PNAS September 9, 2008 vol. 105 no. 36 13492-13496, "Ecological responses to on-going climate change are numerous, diverse, and taxonomically widespread. However, with one exception, the relative roles of phenotypic plasticity and microevolution as mechanisms in explaining these responses are largely unknown. Several recent studies have uncovered evidence for temporal declines in mean body sizes of birds and mammals, and these responses have been interpreted as evidence for microevolution in the context of Bergmann's rule—an ecogeographic rule predicting an inverse correlation between temperature and mean body size in endothermic animals." That's a great start, but, we haven't found, "lab reports," yet.
  • Let's keep looking. But there are more tasks to do: Oh, yes, there are more vocabulary words to check on... I've gone ahead and indicated them in orange-red. As we Reach Read TM, we will discover more and more words. Like finding treasure in a computer game, these words hold the secrets to great discovery and winning! Now, back to our search.
  • Gardner, J. L., R. Heinsohn, and L. Joseph. Shifting latitudinal clines in avian body size correlate with global warming in Australian passerinesProc R Soc B 2009 276:3845- lpage">3852, is one we can check.
  • Try this one: Science 4 September 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5945, pp. 1212 - 1213 DOI: 10.1126/science. 1179326
Is it a, "story about science," a review article covering several laboratory reports, or, is it a laboratory report itself? Is the journal refereed?

patent pending

--Post Under development--

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Science in the News: Penicillin 1942...Bridging to Drugs used Today and How they are used

This Day in History

Because the box for, "This Day in History," changes every day, a quote is provided below:
First Patient Successfully Treated with Penicillin (1942)Penicillin was the first antibiotic agent successfully used to treat bacterial infections in humans. Penicillin's effect on bacteria was first observed by biologist Alexander Fleming in 1928, but it was not until 1941 that scientists purified the substance and established that it was both effective in fighting infectious organisms and not toxic to humans. The first successful treatment occurred the next year. Where did scientists find the mold that allowed them to mass produce the drug?
Source:; Accessed 14 March 2010

I remember taking penicillin pills about the size of a pin head when I was small and had ear infections. They tasted so terrible...two small pills. Even buried in a, "spoonful of sugar," those penicillin pills tasted so badly. Just thinking about that taste is enough to cause me to grimace. If you had penicillin pills around the same time, you know what I mean!

My mother explained to me at that time that people used to die from ear infections if the infection spread to the nearby brain, and, how penicillin was a miracle for all the lives it saved.

How far we have come since the day in March 1942 when a patient was first treated with penicillin! Now we need to be reminded to use soap and water (and not antibiotic-based soaps and dish detergents). We need to be reminded what putting antibiotics into our cows and chickens does to our ability to get rid of infections. We don't want to get germs resistant to all of the drugs we have available and go back to the days when an ear infection was life-threatening. Therefore, it is a good idea to understand some of the underling biology.

First there is the idea that some, "germs," are...good. Can you believe it? Yes, good. Your body has on it (and in it) populations of bacteria. In fact, you can think of it as a bit like a football field with teams (of germs) battling each other to win. The idea is that you want to have enough good germs to win the game (of life). Live cultures help: pickles, sauerkraut, yogurts, cheeses, all with live cultures...not sterilized and sealed in a can, jar, or bag. A healthy diet and sleep and exercise also help. So does washing your hands frequently with a bar soap and water. By the way, did you know that the foamy alcohol-based hand cleaners in hospitals do not kill all the supergerms (VRE, C-diff, MRSA, etc.:That takes soap and water and sometimes chlorine bleach.)?

Second of all is the idea that we are organisms like germs are organisms. We have the same chemicals in our DNA, our genetic material, as the bacteria do. Hmmm! That means some things bad for them are bad for us, too! Lets use fungi for an example here. Do you know anyone with toenail fungus? It sure is hard to get rid of that organism without hurting the person, too. The pills for eliminating the fungus adversely affect the human. Liver and kidneys work overtime. Bacteria, too, share the same kind of DNA chemicals: the ones we need for life.

This brings us to the third and major point: To battle germs, we need to remember and use the concept of the unity and diversity of life. The unity comes about when we reflect on how the genetic chemicals the adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine that link in A-T and G-C pairs to form, "the steps on the twisted ladder," that is the DNA molecule. This molecule is similar in all organisms, of course, each bearing its own sequence of nucleotide base pairs. That is the, "unity," of life part. We and bacteria use the same types of metabolism or body chemistry. Of course, you don't look like a bacterium, or for that matter, you don't look like a fungus, either. That is the diversity part. It is the play between the unity and diversity of life that enables us to use drugs like penicillin to get rid of the bacteria. For fungi, because their chemistry is closer to our own than bacterial chemistry is, it is harder to eliminate the fungi.

Let's look at drugs in our food and water supply. I can't do all the thinking for you. Use Reach Reading<^>TM<^> and get into the journal articles. Each of us needs to form our own opinions based on data, and then, we can inform public policy. In the United States, we can inform our Senators and Congressional Representatives. In other countries, use the mechanisms in place there. We can wash our hands with soap and water. We can eat kimchee, yogurt and other healty-bacteria laden foods. We must work together globally to stay ahead of, "bad germs," and enhance populations of, "good germs." Each of us has an important role to play. The reminder on penicillin in today's news item is a good place to start.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Recent Popular Pages on this Blog

Sustainability portal:

How To Contact (Earthman@Earthman.TV) and Support The Earthman Project
E-Mail:Earthman@Earthman.TV - 954-536-7888. We are a 501( c )3 Not-for-profit organization. Get more information about us, and our innovative programs here.

Source: Accessed 8 March 2010

Math for Children---Link to News about a Program

Keeping Open Spaces is a Good Deed

Here is an example of one reason science literacy is so very important: Keeping open spaces is a good deed. It takes scientifically literate people.

When a state park is made, people living on the land are uprooted. It feels terrible. Now, though, those people can truly feel they have saved a piece of the Earth. For example, Highland Park,, on an Old Valley Central School bus route, displaced many families.

The wetland woods area is a touch of wilderness as the megalopolis that is Boston-New York-Washington-Miami has spread to, "Upstate," as that part of New York one-hour north of New York City is called. After nine-eleven events, so many moved from The City that farms costing 80K went up to 4 million as land parcels were rapidly gobbled up and farms and woods disappeared. The water table was adversely affected, too.

As macadam and cement replace wetland woods and farms in the Wallkill (kill = river; Dutch origin), flooding can occur. The State Park staying wild will alleviate damage to homes and businesses by protecting them from floods' worst damages. Extra water has a place to go. (Similarly, Boston's waterfront park on the Charles River, helps alleviate flooding.) Leaving the New York State park wild helps to alleviate the rampant temperate deforestation in the area.

Sometimes we like to pay attention to tropical deforestation, and, that devastation, but, we ignore the temperate devastation in our own neighborhoods. People in the tropics as well as the temperate regions see deforestation as, "progress." Jobs, money, and short-lived gains capture our minds...both in the tropics and in the temperate zones.

Education on wetlands and deforestation can help us realize the value of the park as it is. The trees and shrubs, the herbaceous plants, the microbes, the fungi, the animals...all organisms are a valuable part of our ecosystem. We need them. Keeping open spaces is a good deed. Thank you to those who gave up their homes and farms leading to the safekeeping of a treasure from our environment. (These people did not get mch money for their land,. The children had to change schools. Everything for them was uprooted. But, the treasure resulting from their sacrifice is phenomenal.)

Guido Dingerkus diligently tried very hard to preserve more lands as malls, hospitals (irradiation?) and businesses went up. He wrote many letters to the editor of the local paper (Guido was an active 4-H-er. He had a terrific insect collection. He knew how to handle snakes, even as a child. Guido published in Science (the journal) as a teenager. He knew fishes. He taught at the Sorbonne. Politics of saving lands became a passion for him. But, he can't be the only one.

Politics does overlap with science. We need to speak out to keep treasures of wilderness. The plants, fungi, and other organisms in wild areas hold hopes for new medicines, for example. Oxygen and water renew themselves in such areas, supporting life (including ours). Yes, we need the treasures of wilderness, plants and all. Please speak out on behalf of wilderness regions in your own areas. Like Guido, you might be the next, "Marjory Stoneman Douglas."


In memoriam: Guido Dingerkus 1953-2004
Dingerkus, Guido, 51, of Goshen,
died July 21, 2004 in Goshen.
Flynn Funeral & Cremation Memorial Centers.
Source:; Accessed 3-7-2010

Read more on and by Guido Dingerkus:
(Please e-mail any stories or additional information on Guido to Dr. J)

Read more on Marjory Stoneman Douglas:
Read more on Highland Lakes State Park:

Read more on Boston parks:

Read more on megalopolis (coined by Jean Gottman):
under development

(c) 2010 J S Shipman

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Think before Snacking...Look at all the research being done...

Between 1977 and 2006, children increased their caloric intake by an average of 113 calories a day, and more of these calories are coming from salty snacks and candy. The childhood obesity rate, meanwhile, has risen to more than 16 percent. More ... Discuss
Source: In the News( on; Accessed 7 Mar 2010.

Sometimes people think America has tons of food so everyone should be healthy. What do you think? Rules governing the food supply differs in different countries. We have a lot of high frucose corn syrup in our food supply that in the 1970's wasn't there. Could there be a cause and effect situation?

I have done laboratories with students both at four-year colleges and community colleges in which students analyzed their own food intakes. The data from these analyses over 20 years shows the same trend as the, "In the News," article shows today. But at the community college, there are many recent immigrants, and their data is different than the average data acquired. Students from Ethiopia, for example, ate very little ate very little when compared to the other students, yet, the nutrients they acquired were at a low level but where there were no deficiencies. Students who had grown up in the Northeastern USA, however, typically showed very high values of some nutrients and below survival levels of others. The high values were typical of things causing diabetes, heart disease, obesity among others. The low levels were in nutrients affecting fertility and mood.

Students valued this experiment. They could compare there, "before" data to their, "after" data, after learning some nutrition. They could compare how they ate now to a diet they wanted to go on. They could compare what swapping junk food for fruit would do. In essence they could be the scientist and design the experiment. This exercise engaged many students in further pursuit of science, rather than stiooing with the one, "terminal" science course required of non-majors in biological sciences. (Such courses are called, "terminal," because many students stop their science education with the required course, It benefits society if students learn to ant to keep up with science, or, at least appreciate spending their tax dollars on research.) Some became science majors, but, many took two more science courses. Others took no more, but, at least now liked science and understood the value of good experimental design. The students were adults and the treatments were still regular foods that they would have eaten anyway.

Science literacy is helped by discussing current events like this with students. It is news that affects them. It can lead to more in-depth science reading if students are deeply interested. Can you get into the journal articles?

Other resources:


Author's aside:

1. There was a typographical error when first posting this article that is funny. I'd like to share it with you:
The title is, "Think before Snacking...Look at all the research being done...," but, with the typographical error it was,

Thin before Snacking...Look at all the research being done...

2. The, "In the News," story was based on, a story about science in Reuters which mentions researchers Piemas and Popkin. I did not yet find a journal article by Piemas and Popkin, the researchers mentioned in the Reuters article. It doesn't mean it's not there, but, I didn't find the research mentioned published yet. I put a link to Popkin. I did not find Piemas. is a post linking to Dr Frieden at the CDC, also mentioned in the Reuters news story.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Please read this article

eHealth Literacy:
Essential Skills
for Consumer Health
in a Networked World
Cameron D Norman, PhD1 and Harvey A Skinner, PhD, CPsych2
(Click here to read now)

J Med Internet Res. 2006 Apr–Jun; 8(2): e9.
Published online 2006 June 16. doi: 10.2196/jmir.8.2.e9.
PMCID: PMC1550701

Copyright © Cameron D Norman, Harvey A Skinner. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (, 16.06.06. Except where otherwise noted, articles published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, including full bibliographic details and the URL (see "please cite as" above), and this statement is included.
  • Traditional Literacy
  • Information
  • Media
  • Health
  • Computer
  • Scientific

    more coming.... Under development--- (meanwhile read the article directly, if you like)

    1Centre for Clinical Epidemiology & Evaluation, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and Department of Health Care & Epidemiology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada; and Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
    Cameron D Norman, Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, 190 Elizabeth Street, Toronto, ON M5G 2C4, , , Canada, Phone: +1 416 854 3805, Fax: +1 416 340 3595, ; and, 2Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Friday, March 5, 2010

Symposium on Sustainability at Iowa State University (ISU)

Symposium on Sustainability draws campus crowd
Iowa States' second annual "Symposium on Enhancing Sustainability" featured sessions topics, including, but not limited to:
  • Teaching sustainability in the classroom,
  • Campus energy conservation,
  • Sustainable agriculture, and
  • Student activities in support of ISU's Live Green! initiative.

Other presentations included:
  • Patagonia clothing company founder Yvon Chouinard,
  • The keynote speech, by Leith Sharp, the founding director of Harvard University's green campus initiative.

One of the ideas Sharp presented was, "[P]eople with very high consumption levels are no happier than people with quite conservative consumption levels."

Read more:

Source: ISU News Flash. 3-5-2010

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Today's science, "In the News," talks about the, "Gender Continuum," and "Involuntary Castration."

The unity and diversity of life is an important basic concept on which to reflect when reading an article such as this one on the pesticide, "atrazine," and its effects on frogs. For the, "unity," part...DNA in frogs and DNA in humans is still DNA. For the, "diversity," part, you don't look like a frog, do you? With the concepts of unity and diversity in mind, think about atrazine and other chemicals (like those found in some plastics) that interact with endocrine systems of organisms.

While banned in the European Union,...
atrazine is one of the
most widely used herbicides in the U.S.
with 77 million
lb applied in 2003.
Source: Lee, J. Popular pesticide faulted for frogs' sexual abnormalities New York Times as cited by:; Accessed 3-4-2010.

Note that: is the link from today's, "Science in the News." (Remember, the, Science in the News," box (below and in left-hand column) changes each day so I post the link, too. At a future date, the box will not match the link.)
Herbicide Turns Male Frogs Female A common weed killer known as atrazine causes chemical castration in frogs and can even turn some into females. Researchers found that long-term exposure to low levels of atrazine emasculated three-quarters of male laboratory frogs, while ninety percent of the study subjects exhibited low testosterone levels, decreased breeding gland size, feminized laryngeal development, suppressed mating behavior, reduced sperm production, and decreased fertility. Furthermore, the remaining 10 percent actually turned into females that were able to copulate with males and produce eggs. Because the parents were both genetically male, all the larvae produced by those eggs were also male. More ... Discuss

Why did I say, "The unity and diversity of life is an important basic concept on which to reflect when reading an article such as this one on the pesticide, "atrazine," and its effects on frogs?"

For the, "unity," part...DNA in frogs and DNA in humans is still DNA. Well, despite the, "diversity," part, similar DNA means many biochemical processes, including those of the endocrine system(s), are also similar. What does this similarity mean about public policy suggestions and laws when it comes to atrazine and other chemicals (like those found in some plastics) that interact with endocrine systems of organisms? What do you think?

Dogs on golf fields, turtles, now frogs...humans? Reflect. Use Reach ReadingTM to get into the technical literature on this topic.

This topic of changing gender can be confusing to children. After all, it is for adults, so, caution is advised in presenting this to young people if you elect to do so. The blog is for adults though and is on science literacy. Adults can stretch and reflect and stretch some more. And we need to in order to interact with our governments well about technical and scientific issues. We need to know things about the effects of chemicals found in pesticides and plastics.

So let's go to the original sources, the laboratory report(s) found in refereed journal articles.

… , demasculinized frogs after exposure to the herbicide atrazine at low ecologically … TB Hayes, A Collins, M Lee, M … - Proceedings of the …, 2002 - National Acad Sciences This and the extra reading articles listed below are among many found on a Google search on 3-4-2010)

Want to read more on this topic? Here are some of the many journal articles relating to atrazine:

  • T. B. Hayes, P. Falso, S. Gallipeau, and M. Stice. 2010. The cause of global amphibian declines: a developmental endocrinologist''s perspectiveJ. Exp. Biol. 213:921-933 Abstract
  • B. C. Iker, P. Kambesis, S. A. Oehrle, C. Groves, and H. A. Barton. 2010. Microbial Atrazine Breakdown in a Karst Groundwater System and Its Effect on Ecosystem EnergeticsJ. Environ. Qual. 39:509-518 Abstract
  • M. Solari, J. Paquin, P. Ducharme, and M. Boily. 2010. P19 Neuronal Differentiation and Retinoic Acid Metabolism as Criteria to Investigate Atrazine, Nitrite, and Nitrate Developmental ToxicityToxicol Sci 113:116-126 Abstract
  • M. A. Altieri. 2009. The Ecological Impacts of Large-Scale Agrofuel Monoculture Production Systems in the AmericasBulletin of Science Technology Society 29:236-244 Abstract
  • C. Scott, C. J. Jackson, C. W. Coppin, R. G. Mourant, M. E. Hilton, T. D. Sutherland, R. J. Russell, and J. G. Oakeshott.2009. Catalytic Improvement and Evolution of Atrazine ChlorohydrolaseAppl. Environ. Microbiol. 75:2184-2191 Abstract
  • W. Kloas, I. Lutz, T. Springer, H. Krueger, J. Wolf, L. Holden, and A. Hosmer. 2009. Does Atrazine Influence Larval Development and Sexual Differentiation in Xenopus laevis?Toxicol Sci 107:376-384 Abstract
  • P. R. Ehrlich and R. M. Pringle. 2008. Colloquium Paper: Where does biodiversity go from here? A grim business-as-usual forecast and a hopeful portfolio of partial solutions. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105:11579-11586 Abstract
  • D. B. Wake and V. T. Vredenburg. 2008. Colloquium Paper: Are we in the midst of the sixth mass extinction? A view from the world of amphibians. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105:11466-11473 Abstract
  • A. Chandra and D. R. Huff. 2008. Salmacisia, a new genus of Tilletiales: reclassification of Tilletia buchloeana causing induced hermaphroditism in buffalograss. Mycologia 100:81-93 Abstract
  • A. Hamdoun and D. Epel. 2007. Embryo stability and vulnerability in an always changing world. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. US.A 104:1745-1750 Abstract
  • J. T. Sanderson. 2006. The Steroid Hormone Biosynthesis Pathway as a Target for Endocrine-Disrupting ChemicalsToxicol Sci 94:3-21 Abstract
  • S. Matsushita, J. Yamashita, T. Iwasawa, T. Tomita, and M. Ikeda. 2006. Effects of in ovo exposure to imazalil and atrazine on sexual differentiation in chick gonads. Poult. Sci. 85:1641-1647 Abstract
  • G. Giusi, R. M. Facciolo, M. Canonaco, E. Alleva, V. Belloni, F. Dessi'-Fulgheri, and D. Santucci. 2006. The Endocrine Disruptor Atrazine Accounts for a Dimorphic Somatostatinergic Neuronal Expression Pattern in MiceToxicol Sci. 89:257-264 Abstract
  • K. Wenger, L. Bigler, M. J.-F. Suter, R. Schonenberger, S. K. Gupta, and R. Schulin. 2005. Effect of Corn Root Exudates on the Degradation of Atrazine and Its Chlorinated Metabolites in SoilsJ. Environ. Qual. 34:2187-2196 Abstract
  • M. Hecker, J.-W. Park, M. B. Murphy, P. D. Jones, K. R. Solomon, G. Van Der Kraak, J. A. Carr, E. E. Smith, L. du Preez, R. J. Kendall, and J. P. Giesy. 2005. Effects of Atrazine on CYP19 Gene Expression and Aromatase Activity in Testes and on Plasma Sex Steroid Concentrations of Male African Clawed Frogs (Xenopus laevis)Toxicol Sci. 86:273-280 Abstract
  • K. W. Wilhelms, S. A. Cutler, J. A. Proudman, L. L. Anderson, and C. G. Scanes. 2005. Atrazine and the Hypothalamo-Pituitary-Gonadal Axis in Sexually Maturing Precocial Birds: Studies in Male Japanese QuailToxicol Sci. 86:152-160 Abstract
  • R. L. Melnick. A Daubert. 2005. Motion: A Legal Strategy to Exclude Essential Scientific Evidence in Toxic Tort Litigation. AJPH 95:S30-S34 Abstract
  • T. B. Hayes. 2005. Welcome to the Revolution: Integrative Biology and Assessing the Impact of Endocrine Disruptors on Environmental and Public Health. Integr. Comp. Biol. 45:321-329 Abstract
  • D. J. Fort, J. H. Thomas, R. L. Rogers, A. Noll, C. D. Spaulding, P. D. Guiney, and J. A. Weeks. 2004. Evaluation of the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity of Methoxychlor using an Anuran (Xenopus tropicalis) Chronic Exposure ModelToxicol Sci 81:443-453 Abstract
  • D. J. Fort, P. D. Guiney, J. A. Weeks, J. H. Thomas, R. L. Rogers, A. M. Noll, and C. D. Spaulding. 2004. Effect of Methoxychlor on Various Life Stages of Xenopus laevis. Toxicol Sci 81:454-466 Abstract
  • K. Hilscherova, P. D. Jones, T. Gracia, J. L. Newsted, X. Zhang, J. T. Sanderson, R. M. K. Yu, R. S. S. Wu, and J. P. Giesy. 2004. Assessment of the Effects of Chemicals on the Expression of Ten Steroidogenic Genes in the H295R Cell Line Using Real-Time PCR Toxicol Sci. 81:78-89 Abstract
  • E. L. Abel, S. M. Opp, C. L. M. J. Verlinde, T. K. Bammler, and D. L. Eaton. 2004. Characterization of Atrazine Biotransformation by Human and Murine Glutathione S-Transferases. Toxicol Sci. 80:230-238 Abstract
  • I. Rot-Nikcevic and R. J. Wassersug. 2004. Arrested development in Xenopus laevis tadpoles: how size constrains metamorphosis. J. Exp. Biol. 207:2133-2145 Abstract
  • V. Garcia-Gonzalez, F. Govantes, L. J. Shaw, R. G. Burns, and E. Santero. 2003. Nitrogen Control of Atrazine Utilization in Pseudomonas sp. Strain ADP. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 69:6987-6993 Abstract
  • J. M. Kiesecker. 2002. From the Cover: Synergism between trematode infection and pesticide exposure: A link to amphibian limb deformities in nature? Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99:9900-9904 Abstract


Funny pictures from a National Grammar Day post and a link to my feelings on, "SNG," in science

Here's a reminder to pay attention to grammar... (Funny pictures...); Accessed 3-4-2010.

...and for that matter, to pay attention to, "SNG," in science:; Accessed 3-4-2010.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I promised a post on Tsunamis and "Modern Math." Here it is.

My introduction to tsunamis was through George Kontopidis and Win Hill, at a now defunct Sea Data Corporation (It was bought out as far as I know). It was a great place to work intellectually, though. Always something new going on. A real think tank. A major part of the company was creating wave and tide recorders, electrochemical instrumentation, and many other kinds of instruments. The wave and tide recorders helped save many lives. Being a part of saving so many lives gives you a good feeling.

While I was a graduate student, I had the opportunity to work as a tech writer for Sea Data, and, later, after getting my doctorate, as an electrochemical engineer. It was in the, "tech writer," stage that I learned so much about tsunamis. It was then that I got to use my, Modern Math," skills. In a way, you could say, "Modern Math helped save thousands of lives!"

For now, back to fourth grade, Mrs. Degnan, Montgomery Elementary School in the Valley Central School District, and modern math. First, Mrs. Degnan: What a wonderful teacher. We made rocket ships, we did base 2, base 8, base 10 and base 16. We built things, for example, I built a slide projector using a wooden box and an empty roll from toilet paper, and, oh, yes, the lenses. What a great year. And, we lucked out, we got her another year, too. Thank you, Mrs Degnan. Many of us went on in math, science and engineering. We all benefited from your teaching. It was your math that got me through high school and college... (My algebra teacher in high school had failed algebra in college... Fortunately, we learned algebra and Boolean algebra from Mrs. Degnan. So many lives saved.

Win Hill (Read his book and you'll see what I mean) can take the very technical and simplify it. George Kontopidis can do the impossible. Both are math and electrical engineering wizards. But, there is only so much time for the CEO and chief engineer of a company to do things. They were so busy at that time. Countries were ordering hundreds of wave and tide recorders from Sea Data. The technology stayed cutting edge, so technical instrumentation manuals had to be written. That's where I came in. I'd get to look at a new instrument, for about only five minutes, minutes before it was shipped out. Then, I'd be handed the schematic. I'd decipher the schematic because there wasn't another instrument to look at. Four days later, there was the manual, all done. When the work needed to be done, it needed to be done yesterday, as they say. (And, this was in the days that I had to put in a hard drive and take it out in order to word process different projects. It was also in the days when turning on a saw in the other room to make shipping crates to send the instruments out in (which of course, like the manuals, were needed, "now!") meant that the computer would crash. I learned to save after every half-sentence because computers did not back things up automatically the way many of them do now.

Let's see: Back to math class. We could multiply and divide in binary, hex, and so on. I used to be able to do bases 2, 8, and 16, faster than base 10 (which is probably why, "Modern Math," is often picked on: We need those times tables.). I never forgot those skills.

To interpret the data from the wave and tide recorders, base 2 was needed...binary. I was able to easily write and explain the math needed. I could do the math. Customers buying the instruments finally could teach others that needed to use the units how they worked. The manuals contributed to increased sales.

But, the bottom line is not money in this case, but, the lives saved. Thanks, Win, George, and Mrs. Degnan.

You see, grade school studies and high school studies may not always seem, "important," or, "relevant," but using them as a critical thinker, you can solve world problems. You never know, you might even save lives.


That reminds me of a joke...

There are 10 kinds of people in the world. Those that understand binary and those that don't.

Sometimes you'll see that on a T-shirt, but, Matt Baum (personal communication) is the person that shared it with me.

I hope you enjoyed this tsunami story.

Post script:
You might ask how a botanist got to do so much electrochemical engineering. Remember that I am an electrophysiologist who did a botanical study following a mycological study. I will say if I got the same degree in the electrical engineering department my stipend would have been 2 to 4 times higher, and my salaries, too! Cells are found in living organisms. They consist of a salty solution, some membranes and some organelles. I'm sure, you have learned all the parts of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Well, chemicals in the cells often have charges, thus, electrochemistry: a kind of combination of biochemistry and electrical engineering. Did you know plants are so much fun? Sometimes botanists are under-rated. Chromotography---that chemists rely on...invented by a botanist; Brownian movement, on which Einstein based some of his work... discovered by a botanist. I interfaced an old navy oscilloscope to a three-electrode system and later to a computer (before you could buy these instruments already integrated with computers as systems or as instruments with built in computers). I looked at environmental stimuli, like acid rain, or, light, or biochemical stimuli, like fungal toxins, and their effects on elm membrane potential. Thus, electrical engineering, computer and instrument design, botany, forest pathology and mycology all fit into a nice package together, as long as you've got the math. (That's where the science literacy (which needs math literacy) comes in.

(c) 2010 J S Shipman

Diseases can improve Science Literacy... What was that?

If you or someone in your family has a disease, you might Reach ReadTM to find out more about it. Students are the same way. The first journal article on a particular subject might be tough, but by the fifth one, you got most of the lingo down, and the reading becomes easier. The first one, though, you'll need to keep a dictionary (physical or digital) nearby.

Here's an example on, "glycemic index:"

When you have, "a need to know," hard words won't stop you. Even if you can't read the article, you can carry it in to your doctors' offices as your own, "reading material," and have a positive effect on your health care (my opinion and experience).

Now, back to the example of, "glycemic index." Let's look at the author and title of the above-referenced journal article:

Endocrinology Vol. 142, No. 3 1148-1155
Copyright © 2001 by The Endocrine Society

Monounsaturated Fatty Acid Diets Improve Glycemic Tolerance through Increased Secretion of Glucagon-Like Peptide-11

Antonio S. Rocca2, Jonathon LaGreca3, Juliana Kalitsky3 and Patricia L. Brubaker

Departments of Physiology (A.S.R., J.L.G., J.K., P.L.B.) and Medicine (P.L.B.), University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Address all correspondence and requests for reprints to: Patricia L. Brubaker, Ph.D., Rm 3366, Medical Sciences Building, 1 King’s College Circle, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 1A8. E-mail:

Hmm! What words do you know in the title?






Do you have them all on your list? Congratulations! Now for the rest of us...

Do not panic!

You are in the Reach ReadingTM zone. Whew!

Take it slowly, like Einstein did when he read. It's ok to take a long time, even to get through the title. Oh, by the way, science fair people, it is a good idea to support some of your work, in background information or in discussion, by citing journal articles, so, take your time. You can do it. (Do I sound like a cheerleader yet?) Ah! That is more like it. relax. You are not supposed to know all the words. In fact,
No one knows all the words.
Source: Joan Beinetti, Reading Specialist and Home School Expert; Personal Communication with J. S. Shipman; 1989.

Don't you feel better knowing that, "No one knows all the words." Even geniuses use dictionaries. You don't have to be afraid of science any more (if you ever were.)

That release felt grand, didn't it. You don't have to be afraid in front of students of needing to look up words. It is expected!!! They should expect it of themselves. You are, "modeling," that desired behavior while learning new vocabulary yourself.

After slugging through the first article, the rest get easier and easier. Note, I didn't say easy. But after about five articles, they may seem easy to you. And, you will know a lot about your disease.

"Glycemic index," isn't a disease," you say.

"I know that," I reply. So, let's get on with the matter at hand. People with diabetes, pre-diabetes, people who are hungry all the time, people who drink a lot of water (more than everyone else), people who are hypoglycemic, people who are obese, people who are sooo slim, people who are, "just right," ...many people have diseases related to the, "glycemic index."


More by Joan Beinetti:

More on and by Patricia Brubaker:

Congratulations, Joseph McAllister: You are a role model for future scientists everywhere.

DURANT, Okla. – Five Fish and Wildlife students from Southeastern Oklahoma State University attended the joint meeting of the Arkansas and Oklahoma Chapters of the American Fisheries Society recently in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

All five students gave presentations (co-authored by Dr. Tim Patton, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences), including three oral presentations and two poster presentations.

Joseph McAllister won the best student paper award and one of two $1,000 scholarships awarded by the Oklahoma Chapter of AFS. Notable was that McAllister won the best paper award and the scholarship in competition primarily with graduate students. He is a senior and a graduate of Choctaw High School.

Source: Press release from Southeastern University:; Accessed 2 Mar 2010.

Congratulations and thank you for setting a great example.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Science Literacy and Searching the Internet

For over a decade, the National Science Education Standards have focused our attention on scientific literacy, a golden umbrella that encompasses not just reading, writing, and speaking but the attitudes, content knowledge, and process skills that make it possible to investigate natural phenomena and understand the results.

Source:; Accessed 2 Mar 2010.

In the same way basic literacy involves knowing how to use a dictionary or an index, science literacy involves knowing how to find information on science topics (health, botany, engineering, among others) that is worth reading. One can find so much information on the internet. Look at the variety of search engines:
  • Altavista
  • MSN MSN Germany MSN United Kingdom MSN Canada MSN Spain MSN Italy MSN France MSN Austria MSN Switzerland
  • Anzwers
  • Excite Excite UK
  • Fireball
  • Go
  • Google Google Germany Google Azerbaijan Google United Kingdom Google Canada Google Spain Google Italy Google Japan Google Russia Google France Google Austria Google Switzerland Google Poland Google India
  • Hotbot
  • Infomak
  • Infoseek
  • Lycos
  • National Directory
  • Northernlight
  • Voila
  • Web Crawler
  • Web Top
  • Web Wombat
  • WhatUSeek
  • Walhello
  • Alexa
  • SearchEngine
  • InfoTiger
  • ScrubTheWeb
  • WebSquash
  • Admcity
  • Unasked
  • Teoma
  • Ask Jeeves
  • Find What
  • Yahoo!
So, how do you know what search engine to use, or, does it matter?



How can you tell valuable information from , "hype?"





The jury is likely still out on these questions. I try different search engines and usually find what I want most rapidly on Google. I like to find original source material whatever source engine I use. How about you? What search engine(s) do you use? Why? What kinds of responses do you get? Post comments below, or, e-mail me a post and I will post it for readers and link it here. Happy researching!

Let's try some experimenting...

Let's look for science literacy and internet use on the different search engines... (look for original source material).

Google's response starts with:

Scholarly articles for science literacy and internet use

eHealth literacy: essential skills for consumer health in … - Norman - Cited by 55
literacy in science and engineering undergraduate … - Leckie - Cited by 81
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in Internet usage - Teo - Cited by 364
Let's try Altavista's top three:

Science & Information Literacy on the Internet

Science and Information Literacy on the Internet: Using the ACRL and Project 2061 Standards to Create a Science Web Page Evaluation Tool. ACRL Conference ...

Magnifico: Science, literacy, and the internet? " Spotlight players, on the other hand, role-play as reporters and ... I agree that facilitation of internet use is very important (and sometimes also ...

Science NetLinks: Resources for Teaching Science')" id="XPLSS_1110701665U1" src="chrome://searchshield/content/safe.gif" border="0" hspace="5">
Science NetLinks provides a wealth of resources for K-12 science educators to provide standards-based Internet experiences for students.

Now, you can compare and contrast these two search engines, and try some others.

Unless you want students to look at the top posts, which are determined by how people who know how to post (o their work shows on the top of the list (...and, may not be the best choice...), you have to show better ways of searching. How? By, now here's a place to use Modern Math that often gets picked on (but is actually very useful to me): Use the Boolean Algebra learned in elementary school during the, "Modern Math," period: AND, OR, NOT... Some visionary(ies) saw to teach Boolean Algebra because he, she, or they could see the, "Computer Age," coming.

I had to put some good points in on, "Modern Math," because it has been so helpful to me and it seems to, "get a bad rap," much of the time. But, let me get back to the use of Boolean Algebra for searching the internet. (Math is so important to science literacy.)

In our example:

Science literacy and internet use

Science literacy AND internet use

Compare to:

Science literacy OR internet use

"science literacy" AND "internet use"

"science literacy" AND "internet use" AND (elementary OR K-6)

Try a few different ways of searching and you will get the idea. Are you finding differences?

Using this one:
"science literacy" AND "internet use" AND (elementary OR K-6)
brought up something on target, right away (But, so did the AltaVista search---which perhaps anticipated the search string a person meant to use...):

Magnifico: Science, literacy, and the internet?

Filed at 8:00 pm on March 5, 2007 in Games4 comments

Understanding how young people evaluate information on the internet.

In the recent session on games and learning, Jonathan Fanton reported that one goal of the Macarthur digital media and learning initiative is to better understand how young people evaluate information that they find on the internet. In our work on, an epistemic game in which middle schoolers spend several weeks role-playing as science journalists and writing several stories for an online newsmagazine, we have found that our reporters begin the game feeling comfortable with the internet. They tell us about using web sources for school reports, for chatting, for playing games with their friends. They even report knowing that anyone with a webpage can publish opinions for the world to see.

The majority of them, however, don?t have a strategy for assessing the reliability of the information that they find. Here?s one typical pre-game interview response: ?You never know, it?s the internet. If it?s like the first thing that pops up and then it looks pretty professional, then I?d use it…? READ MORE BY CLICKING HERE.
; Accessed 2 Mar 2010.

The article mentions, "Jonathan Fanton." Where do we go from here? Use your Reach ReadingTM skills.




Dr. J

Post scripts:

If you (and your school) are interested in participating in a study on Reach ReadingTM AND/OR on Critical Thinking AND/OR Science Literacy, please e-mail me: shipmanjs at g mail dot com. (I hope you smiled at the AND/OR references).

I think I will do a post on Tsunamis and the role of Boolean Algebra (AND Modern Math) in saving lives. I can tell much of this information first hand.

Please post comments or e-mail me.

Dr. J

(c) 2010 J S Shipman