Last modified: Monday, April 9, 2007
Vol. 4, no. 7
April 9, 2007
Indiana Science Monthly is a selection of recent news stories about Indiana University scientists and their research. Comments or questions about this newsletter may be directed to David Bricker, Office of Media Relations (812-856-9035 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
March science news:
* How big were the dinosaurs' genomes?
* What's mal about malware
* Characterizing human odors
* Kevin Hunt, professor of anthropology, explores humanness at Bloomington Science Cafe
* "Framing" scientific information: good or bad?
"The Chemistry of B.O." (CHEMISTRY)
EXCERPT: Everyone has a special smell, often recognizable to other people and to dogs. New research, the most comprehensive study of human odor to date, shows that body odor is made up of a diverse array of volatile compounds. One's own distinctive scent, moreover, comes from a personalized blend of those chemicals.
* Indiana University Bloomington chemist Milos Novotny and colleagues examined unique, volatile chemicals exuded from the skin of human beings and found that indeed, differences in odor between people might be quantified this way.
"IU joins 9 black colleges for science initiative" (SCIENCE EDUCATION)
March 29, 2007
EXCERPT: Indiana University is joining with nine historically black colleges and universities -- including one in Louisiana -- to boost the number of minorities seeking careers in science, starting with a summer program for promising students who will work at IU's research laboratories.
* The partnership with ISTEME (IU Institute for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education) is intended to recruit the colleges' top students to IU.
"False 'Friends' Prey On Social Networking Sites" (INFORMATICS)
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cox News
March 11, 2007
EXCERPT: The spam sent to millions of MySpace users late last year resembled the multitude of other bothersome, unsolicited e-mails that flood the Internet each day... By just visiting a Web site, recipients were told, they could get free Lacoste polo shirts, cool Sidekick phones and hip cellphone ringtones.
* Reporter Bob Keefe cites a 2005 IU Informatics study that shows students were more likely to give away personal information when fake messages appeared to come from friends or acquaintances. Personal relationships are easy to glean from personal pages published on Web sites like MySpace and Facebook. "We expected a high success rate ... but frankly we didn't expect anything as huge as 72 percent," says computer scientist Filippo Menczer.
(Access may require a subscription)
"Interview: In the end, we are all part of one another" (COGNITIVE SCIENCE)
March 10, 2007
EXCERPT: Getting up each day, you probably take the idea that there is such a thing as a "self" for granted. Even if you do think about it, the existence of self seems obvious - what else would be asking whether it existed? But push harder, and it all gets very strange. Nearly thirty years after his best-selling book Gödel, Escher, Bach, cognitive scientist and polymath Douglas Hofstadter has returned to his extraordinary theory of self in his latest book.
* In this Q&A, Hofstadter discusses identity, life, and death with New Scientist reporter Mike Holderness. Hofstadter's new book, I am a Strange Loop, has received much critical praise.
(Access to full article may require a subscription)
"Jurassic Genome" (BIOLOGY)
Vol. 315, no. 5817
March 9, 2007
EXCERPT: Tyrannosaurus rex, it turns out, had a pretty small genome. A team of American and British scientists estimates that it contained a relatively puny 1.9 billion base pairs of DNA, a little over half the size of our own genome... The findings, published by Nature this week, are more than just a curiosity.
* IU Bloomington evolutionary biologist Michael Lynch questions the finding, which is based on an extrapolation of what's seen in extant organisms. "It's a cute paper, but I'm not terribly confident in the outcome," Lynch tells Science reporter Carl Zimmer. As to whether natural selection is responsible for driving genomes to different sizes to fine-tune metabolism, Lynch says, "There's a correlation of the two, but I don't know of any direct demonstration of causality."
(Access to full article may require a subscription)
Kevin Hunt, professor of anthropology, explores humanness at Bloomington Science Cafe
Thursday, April 12, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Borders bookstore on E. 3rd St. In his talk, "What Makes Us Human?" Kevin Hunt will discuss the evolutionary changes that distinguish human beings from ape cousins, as well as recent hominid ancestors. More information about the Science Cafe is available at http://www.sciencecafebloomington.org.
"Framing" scientific information: good or bad?
In the April 6 issue of Science, two non-scientists made the case that scientists should actively "frame" scientific information as it relates to controversial subjects, such as climate change and evolution. The brief essay is here: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/316/5821/56. (Access may require a subscription to Science.) The essay has stirred a vigorous debate among some scientists and science journalists. What do you think? Send me a one-paragraph response (email@example.com) and I'll post it in the next issue of ISM.
* * * * Do you have an important and/or interesting paper in press? A major event or presentation coming up? Please contact IU Office of Media Relations science writers David Bricker at 812-856-9035, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Hal Kibbey at 812-855-0074, email@example.com.
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