Monday, December 28, 2009

Why some ducks have such extravagant penises.

From Discover: "Kinkiness Byond Kinky"

"Female ducks can’t stop an unwanted male from delivering his sperm, but the obstacles in their oviducts may give them control over what happens to that sperm."

Need we say more? Get the whole story. Read Discover Magazine Blog.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Last regularly scheduled contribution from David Orr in Conservation Biology

David W. Orr, Paul Sears Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics, has published his last column for Conservation Biology. His essay in the December issue (published online November 24, 2009), Retrospect and Prospect: the Unbearable Lightness of Conservation, is an insightful review and nudge - or shove - onward. Read it. Then get cracking on what needs to be done.

The editors thanked Professor Orr with these words:
After some 20 years of providing columns for Conservation Biology, this is the last regularly scheduled contribution from David Orr, who has asked to retire from this position to devote time to other pursuits. The Board of Governors and Executive Committee of SCB wish to express their profound thanks and gratitude to Professor Orr for his extraordinary and unparalleled service for nearly the entire life of this journal to date. His columns were consistently stimulating, often edgy, and his many insights and observations always challenging to our readers. His writings have been unique in bringing science, politics, economics, and social and ethical issues under a robust and uncompromising vision of what it means to do conservation in our time. His understanding of conservation and devotion to this journal are without equal. The Society recognizes and thanks him for his numerous and diverse contributions; his presence is irreplaceable, and he will be sorely missed in these pages.
Luigi Boitani
SCB President, on behalf of the Board of Governors and Executive Committee

This final essay is important reading, chronicling breathtaking transitions and stupefyingly stuck legislators and policy makers. His contributions (63 columns since 1988) have marked many missed opportunities to slow the train of environmental disaster before we reach the last switch. It is enough to make you weep in frustration, or lie down in despair, but only in preparation for the next round.

The December issue of Conservation Biology will be archived at the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center, where you can quickly search for all of David Orr's writings within that title since 1992. Older volumes are archived at JSTOR. A 1995 column caught my eye: None so blind, the problem of ecological denial. The column could have been written today, describing climate change deniers. Orr says "denial is manifest in ridicule and ad hominem attacks." That was certainly obvious at Lord Christopher Monckton's speech in Copenhagen on Dec. 9, when Lord Monckton referred to protesters as "Hitler Youth" and "nazis." [Story from It's Getting Hot in Here].

Thank you, Professor Orr, for your writing and advocacy.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Friends of Wetlands Newsletter, available to all

Friends of Wetlands (FOWL), a local all-volunteer organization, has just published its December Newsletter. Everyone is welcome (and invited!) to read and download the newsletter, to learn more about current challenges to wetland ecosystems in northern Ohio. FOWL actively works to educate the public about the essential and multiple roles wetlands have in the environment, and is completely funded by memberships and donations. Enjoy the newsletter, sign up for FOWL email alerts, and consider being active in the organization by participating in the Stakeholder's Meeting on January 9.

Exciting news in this newsletter: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will be speaker at the 2nd Annual EcoWatch Green Gala. Kennedy, a visionary leader and advocate for the environment, spoke to thousands gathered at the 2007 American Library Association Conference in Washington, D.C. His address at the Green Gala is certain to be dynamic and inspiring.

Also included in the newsletter is William E. Stafford's poem, The Well Rising:
The well rising without sound,
the spring on a hillside,
the plowshare brimming through deep ground
everywhere in the field—

The sharp swallows in their swerve
flaring and hesitating
hunting for the final curve
coming closer and closer—

The swallow heart from wingbeat to wingbeat
counseling decisions, decision:
thunderous examples. I place my feet
with care in such a world.

This poem was chosen by a reviewer on NPR's April 14 "Morning Edition" news program (90.3, 89.7 FM) as the one which, if all people read it, would be most likely to save the planet.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Public Citizen's new blog: Citizen Energy

Public Citizen launched a new blog this week, Citizen Energy, with thoughts on the start of the Climate Conference in Copenhagen. The image of one ton of carbon dioxide, trapped in a threatening-looking balloon, is compelling (reproduced here without permission, but with attribution to, thank you very much).

Here is snippet from Citizen Energy's blog post: "Public Citizen understands that climate change is a transformative event that requires us to rethink our corporate model of centralized energy production. Rather than promote market-based solutions to protecting the planet that will hand billions of dollars in windfall profits to polluters and Wall Street, we need a decentralized energy system where families generate their power needs from rooftop solar, small scale wind and massive new investments in energy efficiency." Read more.

I like the message on the balloon: reduce every way YOU can. Now!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Alternative Gift Fair This Week! Science Center, Bent Corridor

The Alternative Gift Fair is a great place to buy gifts that support environmental sustainability, fair trade, and organizations that serve those who are unemployed (or underemployed), hungry and homeless. A number of tables are set up in the Bent Corridor of the Science Center from 11:30 am - 1:30 pm this week, representing different agencies or organizations. Each offers an opportunity for gifts that make a positive difference. You make an environmentally sustainable choice by buying gifts offered locally, without excess plastic packaging, thus reducing the fuel and petroleum-based materials associated with transport and packaging.

Come see! The Gift Fair catalog is online, too.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Opening Day for Copenhagen Climate Conference

From The Guardian, UK:

Newspapers, blogs and individuals around the world have welcomed a common editorial on the Copenhagen climate conference, which opened today. The editorial, which called on rich countries to commit to "deep cuts which will reduce their emissions within a decade", appeared on the Guardian front page and ran in 56 newspapers in 45 countries.

Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of the Guardian, said: "No individual newspaper editorial could hope to influence the outcome of Copenhagen but I hope the combined voice of 56 major papers speaking in 20 languages will remind the politicians and negotiators gathering there what is at stake and persuade them to rise above the rivalries and inflexibility that have stood in the way of a deal." Read the common editorial.

It is a persuasive call for unity on this 68th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Follow the Climate Talks blog at Environmental Defense Fund for conference updates and news coverage.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Enhanced Searching of PubMed with BioMedSearch

BioMedSearch was just reviewed in The Scout Report of the Internet Scout Project - excellent timing as we celebrate Science and Health during December in the Year of Science.

BioMedSearch is an "enhanced version of the NIH PubMed search that combines MedLine/PubMed data with data from other sources to make the most comprehensive biomedical literature search available. BioMedSearch also provides advanced account features that allow saved searches, alerts, saving documents to portfolios, commenting on documents and portfolios, and sharing documents with other registered users."

The cluster concept is interesting, bringing together papers related to one of 100 broad topics. Scanning through the top list of clusters is relatively efficient, but the subcluster lists (each with another 100 closely related topics) are harder to differentiate as many of the defining terms are repeated. Take a look at the population genetics subclusters, for example.

This maybe perfect for someone who needs an efficient way to follow all new publications in a specific area (polymorphism in schizophrenia, perhaps), and registering for BioMedSearch is free. Give it a try!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Science and Health: December's Theme in the Year of Science

The Year of Science comes to a close with a celebration of science and health - a very fitting focus for the month of December, which began with World AIDS Day, and given a year of concern over the H1N1 virus. Not to mention extraordinarily contentious debates over health insurance/health care reform, and the scrutiny given to health-care legislation in the U.S. Congress. [Track legislation with THOMAS from the Library of Congress]

The theme, though, is science and health, rather than politics, economics, behavior, or social aspects of health. The National Institutes of Health lists dozens of scientific interest groups that function as "assemblies of scientists with common research interests." Member lists for each group might help you identify a contact for an internship or Winter Term project, in addition to showing the broad reach of NIH research support.

The NIH is the "National Medical Research Agency," and is the provider of PubMed ("more than 19 million citations for biomedical articles from MEDLINE and life science journals"). Once only accessible by searching print volumes within a research library, MEDLINE via PubMed is freely available to anyone with an Internet connection. It is one of the great things that our government makes possible - thank you, NIH!

Obviously, you can find health and wellness advice everywhere on the Web, but for comprehensive searching of medical literature, and published studies of scientifically conducted clinical trials, MEDLINE is your best source. You can search it for free as PubMed, or in tandem with any number of EBSCOhost databases (for EBSCOhost subscribers). This is a very efficient way to search multidisciplinary research topics, with quick access to thousands of full-text articles. Link to Academic Search Complete from the Science Library's home page, and look for the "Choose Databases" link at the top of the search screen for a list of all EBSCOhost databases that can be searched simultaneously. Very cool.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

AIDS Vaccine Research Shows Promise

World AIDS Day headlines heard on National Public Radio this morning included a report that research for an effective AIDS vaccine continues to look very positive. Follow progress on AIDS vaccine research at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. See New Antibodies Found that Cripple HIV. Learn how you can be part of the effort at the National Institutes of Health site BeTheGeneration.

Abstracts of scientific papers given at the AIDS Vaccine 2009 conference, held October 19-22 in Paris, are freely accessible online in Retrovirology, vol. 6, supplement 3 (also in the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center and at PubMedCentral). Related publications from those researchers may be found by searching PubMed, the public site for Medline.

A report by NPR's Richard Knox on All Things Considered, September 24, 2009 is a helpful overview of vaccine development and testing. Listen or read the transcript.

Monday, November 30, 2009

World AIDS Day, Tuesday Dec. 1

Support World AIDS Day Looking ahead to World AIDS Day, skim a bit of this book in the OhioLINK ELectronic Book Center: Denying AIDS : Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, and Human Tragedy / Seth C. Kalichman, Foreword by Nicoli Nattrass. Copernicus Books, an imprint of Springer, 2009. The introduction includes this observation:
"Denialism – like stigma, sexism, and homophobia – undermines the fight against AIDS. At the very least, denialism diverts attention and resources from the global AIDS disaster. At its worst, it disinforms affected populations about the importance of prevention, the necessity of HIV testing, and the availability of life-prolonging treatments. At its core, denialism is destructive because it undermines trust in science, medicine, and public health."
AIDS denialism should not be dismissed as the baseless opinion of a small, misinformed minority. Kalichman stresses that the rhetoric of denialism is quite harmful, especially to those who are HIV-positive:
"There are now countless HIV infected people who have avoided getting tested for HIV, rejected their HIV positive test results, ignored safer sex practices, failed to disclose their HIV status to sex partners, and refused HIV treatments for themselves and their children because they have believed denialists. Health decisions that are disinformed by denialist rhetoric are why we must care about denialism."
Be informed. Rely on factual sources, based on expert peer-reviewed medical research.
HIV Facts from:

Saturday, November 28, 2009

UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhangen: Prospects for Progress?

Living on Earth's Steve Curwood chatted with U.N. Foundation President, Tim Wirth, a former U.S. Senator and Under-Secretary of State for Global Affairs, as the Copenhangen Conference looms closer. Wirth stressed the urgency of the global warming, and the opportunity for China-US relations to make the biggest contribution worldwide in reducing carbon emissions saying, "we're the biggest developed world, they're the biggest developing country; between the two of us we have about 50 percent of the world's carbon emissions. So, if we can figure out together a joint program for moving toward a greener and ultimately low-carbon economy, then we have an opportunity together to really salvage the world."

Listen to the entire interview or read the transcript online.

COP15 Copenhagen
. Denmark's host country web site on the convention. news on the Copenhagen conference.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving Afternoon of Reading: Great Shopping Alternative!

The library is open a few hours this fine day after Thanksgiving, from 1-4:30 pm only. Spend a few hours catching up on reading, with very little competition for the required texts on reserve, or take advantage of easy access to one of the many computers in the library. There is plenty of space in the window seats overlooking north campus, where the first real hint of winter has finally arrived. Enjoy the quiet before heading into the home stretch of the semester. Thank you, Cordelia, for keeping the library open today! May at least one printer work flawlessly all afternoon and through the weekend.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

150th Anniversary Today! Darwin's On the Origin of Species

It has been a year of celebration and remembrance of Charles Darwin (born 200 years ago last February 12) and his pivotal work, On the origin of species by means of natural selection... but this is THE day! November 24, 1859, marked the beginning of a great new direction in the understanding of natural history, despite resistance to the implications for human origins that continues today.

The library's copy of an early edition is in Special Collections, but there many facsimiles and later editions to browse in the science library, including volumes 15 and 16 of Charles Darwin's Works.

On our new book shelf is one of the many books purchased this year that relate to Darwin directly or evolution more generally: The Origin then and now: an interpretive guide to the Origin of Species. Author David Reznick's begins his preface with: "Darwin's Origin of Species has been described as one of the books that is most widely referred to, but least likely to be read." You can buck that trend and read at least a bit of Origin at the Darwin Online site, or peruse the Darwin Correspondence project to commemorate the day, and enjoy letters between Darwin and his publisher John Murray.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Deconstructing Global Warming: Richard Lindzen on Campus

If you are unaware of MIT Professor Richard Lindzen's role in the community of climate change skeptics, this New York Times story [March 8, 2009] on the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change is a good introduction. Skeptics Dispute Climate Worries and Each Other, by Andrew Revkin, included these paragraphs:
  • In a keynote talk Sunday night, Richard S. Lindzen, a professor at M.I.T. and a longtime skeptic of the mainstream consensus that global warming poses a danger, first delivered a biting attack on what he called the “climate alarm movement.”
  • There is no solid scientific evidence to back up the models used by climate scientists who warn of dire consequences if warming continues, he said. But Dr. Lindzen also criticized widely publicized assertions by other skeptics that variations in the sun were driving temperature changes in recent decades. To attribute short-term variation in temperatures to a single cause, whether human-generated gases or something else, is erroneous, he said.
  • But several climate scientists who are seeking to curb greenhouse gases strongly criticized the meeting. Stephen H. Schneider, a climatologist at Stanford University and an author of many reports by the intergovernmental climate panel, said, after reviewing the text of presentations for the Heartland meeting, that they were efforts to “bamboozle the innocent.”
The Third International Conference on Climate Change sponsored by the Heartland Institute, took place June 2, 2009, in Washington, D.C., with the stated purpose "to expose Congressional staff and journalists to leading scientists and economists in the nation’s capital." Proceedings of that conference online include Professor Lindzen's keynote address (with options for PowerPoint, pdf, audio, and video). counters Professor Lindzen here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Recent Publications, Science Faculty & Students

New publications by Oberlin College science faculty and students include the following:

Murphy, Troy G., Malcolm F. Rosenthal, Robert Montgomerie, and Tarvin, Keith A. 2009. Female American goldfinches use carotenoid-based bill coloration to signal status. Behavioral Ecology 20: 1348-1355.

Download the pdf at the publisher's site. It will also be loaded on the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center in the near future.

Scofield, John H. 2009. Do LEED-certified buildings save energy? not really ... Energy and Buildings 41, (12) (DEC): 1386-90. [full-text at OhioLINK EJC).

Minerath, Emily C., Madeline P. Schultz, and Matthew J. Elrod. 2009. Kinetics of the reactions of isoprene-derived epoxides in model tropospheric aerosol solutions. Environmental Science & Technology 43, (21) (NOV 1): 8133-9. [full-text at publisher's site]

Oertel, Catherine M., Shefford P. Baker, Annika Niklasson, Lars-Gunnar Johansson, and Jan-Erik Svensson. 2009. Acetic acid vapor corrosion of lead-tin alloys containing 3.4 and 15% tin. Journal of the Electrochemical Society 156, (12) (OCT): C414-21. [no full-text online access for Oberlin users; read the abstract]

Find more recent publications by science faculty and students by searching for "oberlin college" as an address in Web of Science, limiting to publication year 2009 and the database Science Citation Index.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Was T-Rex Hot Blooded? PLoS ONE News

PLoS ONE published this article online on November 11, 2009:

Pontzer H, Allen V, Hutchinson JR, 2009 Biomechanics of Running Indicates Endothermy in Bipedal Dinosaurs. PLoS ONE 4(11): e7783. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007783

It has been viewed nearly 1900 times in two days, and downloaded 450 times as of this moment. Open access has obviously benefited a great number of readers interested in this topic!

Here's a bit from the authors' methodology and results summary:

"Here we describe two new biomechanical approaches for reconstructing the metabolic rate of 14 extinct bipedal dinosauriforms during walking and running. These methods, well validated for extant animals, indicate that during walking and slow running the metabolic rate of at least the larger extinct dinosaurs exceeded the maximum aerobic capabilities of modern ectotherms, falling instead within the range of modern birds and mammals... Our results support the hypothesis that endothermy was widespread in at least larger non-avian dinosaurs. It was plausibly ancestral for all dinosauriforms (perhaps Ornithodira), but this is perhaps more strongly indicated by high growth rates than by locomotor costs."

Read Peter Ward's Out of Thin Air for a helpful review (as of 2006) of the evolution of endothermy, and access a very brief discussion of dinosaur endothermy written for the general public at the University of California Museum of Paleontology DinoBuzz.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Grzimek's online!

Grzimek's Animal Life is a fantastic re-creation of Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, which we have long had in different editions in our reference collection. Give it a try! It leads you to current news about individual species, as well as academic journal articles, videos, sound clips, gorgeous photos and extensive bibliographies, in addition to the trusted in-depth reference information for which Grzimek's is known. Use the Advanced Search to find endangered, threatened, extinct and near-extinct species, or to limit your search to certain types of sources, including websites.

Far more than simply an encyclopedia, you will find this a great launching site for zoological research. Go to Grzimek's online.

From Gale Cengage.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Writing Study Ties Autism To Motor-Skill Problems

NPR Morning Edition aired this story by Jon Hamilton this morning, observing that severe problems with handwriting is "indicative of a much larger problem with motor skills." Amy Bastian, a neuroscientist who directs the Motion Analysis Laboratory at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, found that many children with some degree of autism "have trouble holding a fork, buttoning a shirt, or tying their shoelaces."

"And these problems with motor skills may carry over into social interactions," Bastian says. "These are the kids that are going to get picked last for kickball... who are clumsy, who already have difficulty relating to other kids. And the motor component probably makes things worse."

From Jon Hamilton's story: Bastian says a lack of motor skills can also make it harder to communicate through subtle gestures and facial expressions. And people who can't make these gestures and expressions themselves often have trouble understanding what they mean when other people use them. The inability to read faces and gestures is a hallmark of autism.

The research findings were published in yesterday's edition of Neurology. Read the authors' abstract at the publisher's web site:
Christina T. Fuentes, Stewart H. Mostofsky, and Amy J. Bastian
Children with autism show specific handwriting impairments.
Neurology 2009 73: 1532-1537.

The full-text of this article will be available for open access in one year, archived at PubMedCentral. For quicker access, request it on interlibrary loan.

Access a recent review of autism research at the OhioLINK Electronic Book Center:
Title Autism : current theories and evidence / Andrew W. Zimmerman, editor
Publish Info Totowa, NJ : Humana Press, c2008

Monday, November 09, 2009

Carbon Capture and Storage: Essential or Insane?

The Geology Department is hosting Dr. Beverly Saylor, Associate Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, on Wednesday evening at 7 pm (Severance Hall, 1st floor lecture room). Dr. Saylor will present a talk entitled Carbon Capture and Storage: Essential or Insane?

Dr. Saylor researches the feasibility of carbon capture both in Ohio and beyond. Her research has been funded by many agencies including the NSF, the EPA, the DOE, the Ohio Coal Research Consortium, and the Lake Erie Protection Fund. [more about Dr. Saylor's research interests]

Find transcripts of U.S. Senate hearings regarding carbon capture with a keyword search in OBIS. The most recent hearing listed in OBIS took place before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on May 14, 2009, and can be borrowed from the Main Library government documents collection: SuDocs number Y 4.EN 2:S.HRG.111-50.

A Fact Sheet by Eric Sundquist from the U.S. Geological Survey gives an overview of carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change [access online]. GeoRef gives access to hundreds of more papers and abstracts of presentations on carbon capture and storage; search carbon sequestration as a subject in GeoRef.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Bioethics and Stem Cells Considered Tonight

One of the many events this Parents Weekend in Oberlin is a presentation tonight with Dr. Andrew Trew, Lecturer in the Philosophy Department, John Carroll University on "Stem Cells: Promises and Pitfalls"
King Hall, Room 106, 7-8:30 p.m.

This presentation focuses on clarifying the issues raised in the current ethical and scientific debates surrounding stem cell research and its commercial potential [from the OC Events calendar].

Gain some background information with any number of books in the library's collection, found with a subject search on Stem Cells - Research - Moral and Ethical Aspects, including these titles:

The human embryo research debates : bioethics in the vortex of controversy / Ronald M. Green
The human embryonic stem cell debate : science, ethics, and public policy / edited by Suzanne Holland, Karen Lebacqz, and Laurie Zoloth [also available online]
Monitoring stem cell research [electronic resource] : a report of the President's Council on Bioethics
Sex, science, and stem cells : inside the right wing assault on reason / Diana DeGette, with Daniel Paisner
Stem cell research : new frontiers in science and ethics / edited by Nancy E. Snow

Monday, November 02, 2009

Chemistry's Turn to Shine: Year of Science Theme for November

The Periodic Table is featured prominently on the Year of Science web site this month, to kick off November's celebration of chemistry. For what is life without chemistry? Not life, that's for certain. As just about any introductory chemistry text will tell you, the six most abundant elements in living systems are oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur. How can just 6 elements do so much of the work in the human body? Ah, that's part of the fascination of molecular science. [Encyclopedia Britannica overview]

Interdisciplinary research at the molecular level has led to the creation of a great number of specialized journals, many of which can be found in the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center by browsing Molecular... or Journal of molecular... as the first part of journal titles. Browse other chemistry related journals in OhioLINK EJC.

Whether you sailed through p-chem with flying colors and completely understand the relationship between Gibbs free energy and entropy, or barely made it through high school chemistry and have forgotten the difference between moles and grams, you can have fun with chemistry. Have fun with science in the lab of Dr. Shakahsiri.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ohio Voters! Be Informed on Issue 2

in brief: This Chicken Urges Ohio to Vote NO on Issue 2 [George Jones Farm video]

Issue 2 on the Ohio state ballot would amend our state constitution to create a Livestock Care Standards Board, with very specific language regarding the appointment, membership and oversight responsibilities of the board. The proposal came about, in part, to forestall a ballot initiative from the Humane Society of the United States, which would have given voters the ability to consider issues such as the size of cages for egg-laying chickens and standards for "gestation confinement crates" for pregnant sows on large pig farms. The League of Women Voters of Ohio and Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O’Connor agree that Issue 2 is inappropriate for the constitution, inserting language that is too specific for such a pivotal document, which should be a broad, clear statement of principles. The amendment attempts to control agriculture in a manner more appropriate for legislative action.

Other groups opposing this constitutional amendment include:
View the Ohio State Constitution here.

YouTube offers another testimonial: This Chicken Urges Ohio to Vote No on Issue 2

Issue 2 proponent's viewpoint: Ohioans for Livestock Care.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Brains and Bodies on the New Book Shelf

We received a big shipment of new books yesterday (hurray!) and there are now many glossy covered books on display illustrated with organisms of various kinds: elephants, snakes, very large rodents, chimps, turtles, fish, lizards, mollusks, flies, liverworts (very cool), the cuckoo, and the human animal (The Naked Man / Desmond Morris). The human form is considered from a different perspective in
Human cognition is explored in a number of different titles, including
There are plenty of other titles, just as appealing, for those interested in physics, geology, history of science, chemical biology, and more. Browse the title list online or stroll by our window display - it's right on the way from Craig Auditorium to West Lecture Hall, facing the Science Center Commons.

Monday, October 26, 2009

First US Book on Psychiatry Published 197 Years Ago

On this date in 1812, Medical inquiries and observations upon the diseases of the mind, by Benjamin Rush, M.D., was copyrighted. Published by Kimber and Richardson of Philadelphia, it was the first U.S. book on psychiatry. Oberlin College Library owns three editions in print, all shelved in Special Collections. We also link to digital versions of the book from records in OBIS [1812 digital version].

Works of Benjamin Rush are covered in a guide from Greenwood Press: Benjamin Rush, M.D. : a bibliographic guide / compiled by Claire G. Fox, Gordon L. Miller, and Jacquelyn C. Miller.

This tidbit of publishing history was taken from The Illustrated almanac of science, technology, and invention: day by day; facts, figures, and the fanciful / Raymond L. Francis. Shelved behind our reference desk [OBIS record], it is great fun to browse through. Also on this date in history the Erie Canal opened in upstate New York, connecting the Hudson River with Lake Erie; the washing machine was patented; and the mule first arrived in the United States (shipped from King Charles III of Spain to George Washington).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

PubMed Central Combines Free Access and Open Access

From a user's perspective, it's difficult to focus on the difference between open access and free access to a journal article -- especially if all one intends to do is read the paper for an assignment in an undergraduate course. The distinction is important. PubMed Central is primarily an archive providing free access to traditionally copyrighted works, with the accompanying restrictions on reuse. It is a fantastic resource, providing access to the complete digital archive for nearly 800 journals, excluding some portion of the current issues for many titles. In addition, PMC has the author manuscripts of articles published by NIH-funded researchers in various non-PMC journals.

A smaller number of journals are part of the Open Access subset, and are protected under Creative Commons license. The open access journals are easy to spot in the PMC list of titles, just look for the OA icon.

A relatively new OA journal in the PMC list is Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry, indicative of the broader range of subjects in the PMC archive than might be expected. The Beilstein Journal publishes reviews, preliminary communications and full research articles in all areas of organic chemistry.

Oberlin Group Authors in Open Access Journals at BioMedCentral

BioMedCentral (BMC) publishes 204 peer-reviewed open access journals; all of the research articles in those journals are "immediately and permanently available online without charge. A number of journals require an institutional or a personal subscription to view other content, such as reviews or paper reports." The Oberlin Group libraries have a consortial agreement with BMC, granting research staff and students from those institutions a 15% reduction in the article processing charges for manuscripts accepted for publication.

Learn more about publishing with BMC.

View articles authored by Oberlin Group researchers already published with BMC, including commentary from Steven Bachrach of Trinity University, proposing "a plan that both reduces the total cost of publishing chemistry and enriches the literature through incorporation of Open Data."
Chemistry publication making the revolution
Bachrach SM
Journal of Cheminformatics 2009, 1:2 (17 March 2009)
[Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Open Access Journals in Geosciences

Since October is a celebration of the geological sciences (Year of Science) it seems appropriate to check the Directory of Open Access Journals for titles in the earth sciences. Here's the subject breakdown of journal titles in the DOAJ:
Geography (52 journals)
Geology (66 journals)
Geophysics and Geomagnetism (9 journals)
Meteorology and Climatology (20 journals)
Oceanography (21 journals)

Advances in Geosciences
from the European Geosciences Union and Copernicus Publications is one of those general geology titles. From the publisher: "Advances in Geosciences (ADGEO) is an international, interdisciplinary journal for fast publication of collections of short, but self-contained communications in the Earth, planetary and solar system sciences..."

ADGEO has the Spark Europe seal, an indication that it uses Creative Commons license and provides metadata to the DOAJ, to ensure the widest possible harvesting of article content. In addition, ADGEO content may be archived in ADS: The Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data System [example].

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Open Access Week: Highlighting PLoS Biology

PLoS Biology, according to citation analysis on ISI Web of Science, has published 1,539 articles from its inception in 2003. All of them - every single one - readily accessible to anyone with an Internet connection and the ability to download either pdf or xml formatted materials. The actual number is undoubtedly higher, since there is a small lag time between publication in PLoS Biology and indexing in Web of Science. Those 1,539 articles have been cited a total of 39,089 times, including all of the "self-citations" -- or 32,522 times without counting the self-citations.

The most frequently cited paper, with 462 citations to date (again, using ISI data):
John B, Enright AJ, Aravin A, et al., 2004. Human MicroRNA targets. PLoS Biology 2(11): 1862-1879 e363. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020363

Scopus reports 485 citations to this article, noted directly on the PLoS Biology site.

Far more exciting than simple citation analysis, though, is the potential for scholars and readers to interact, with options for commenting on and rating an article, jumping to related work, sharing the article through social networking tools, and finding similar research through guided searches in other databases. The PLoS article metrics includes the total number of page views for articles published after June 2005, giving another indication of the impact of open access.

The following article, for example, has been viewed 26,932 times:

Prior H, Schwarz A, Güntürkün O, 2008 Mirror-Induced Behavior in the Magpie (Pica pica): Evidence of Self-Recognition . PLoS Biol 6(8): e202. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060202

The search and browse options on PLoS are easy to understand and highly effective; and the content is quickly found through Google Scholar, ensuring good reader access. I especially appreciate the Weekly Editors' Picks, which led to this article today:

Hoff M, 2009 Male or Female? For Honeybees, a Single Gene Makes All the Difference. PLoS Biol 7(10): e1000186. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000186

Follow PLoS on Twitter to keep up with new developments. See also the PLoS Blog.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Open Access Week Starts Today!

The Public Library of Science offers not just amazing peer-reviewed journal articles on a wide and growing range of scientific topics, it also provides a succinct definition of Open Access, which is nicely expanded at the Open Access Week web site. Once you've seen what PLoS offers, branch out completely by exploring the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).

Notice the statistics at DOAJ: As of today 319,631 articles are included in the DOAJ service, from 4370 journals. Do a search on Google Scholar - chances are, recent articles with high citation counts (i.e., many other authors cite those papers) are articles that were either published in an open access journal or have since been posted in an open access archive. Any search with a biomedical theme is bound to lead to BioMedCentral, with an abundance of open access research articles. More open access highlights will be forthcoming all week. For a detailed, yet highly readable explanation of open access, you can't go wrong with Peter Suber's account. Enjoy!

ObieSciLib is on Twitter! Keep in touch while you're on fall break.

The first day of Fall break is always very, very quiet in the library. If I was a student on campus I would certainly find something to do other than hide away in the library on this resplendent autumn day. The sun shimmering through green and yellow leaves outside the south-facing windows is very enticing. To the north, the wide spaces of north quad are filled with falling leaves, drifting across the empty green lawn. If you want to find out what excitement is happening inside, follow ObieSciLib on Twitter! (Okay, I lied, not much excitement at the moment.) If you do come indoors, you've got your pick of seats in the library and no competition at all for a computer. [photo from the Oberlin Science Center online tour]

Friday, October 16, 2009

Amygdala Regulates Perception of Personal Space

This month's issue of Nature Neuroscience features a report from researchers at California Institute of Technology, showing that an individual with "complete amygdala lesions lacked any sense of personal space." Someone with this type of damage to the amygdala region of the brain had an "abnormally small interpersonal distance preference." In other words, you might feel more than a tad uncomfortable while the other person leans in, seemingly unaware of the invisible personal boundary we erect between ourselves and others. [See earlier reports on this study at NPR Topics]

We manage to overcome the desire for personal space pretty quickly, at least for unavoidable and relatively brief periods of time (that sardine feeling in a crowded bus, say). Earlier studies documented the negative outcomes of persistent crowding stress (try a subject search on "crowding stress" in OBIS).

We do not subscribe to Nature Neuroscience online, so stop by the library and read the print issue. Learn more about the amygdala in The Human amygdala, edited by Paul J. Whalen and Elizabeth A. Phelps (on order for Oberlin's science library; request it through OhioLINK).

Two relevant, older books are available in our library: The Amygdala : a functional analysis and The Amygdala : neurobiological aspects of emotion, memory, and mental dysfunction.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Emperor Penguins Marching To Extinction?

The October issue of Oceanus arrived today - in print - and is now on the current browsing rack by our front door. Oceanus can be read online, of course, and it is a lovely web site. But the print magazine draws attention to new research and concerns that you might otherwise miss. The October cover shows brilliant shades of red and pink, a harmless dye dumped into a stream atop the Greenland ice sheet to track water flow through cracks in the ice, slicking the bottom of the glacier and hastening its demise into the North Atlantic. Inside, there are many other captivating photos and stories, including the worrisome conclusion that melting sea ice could reduce the Terre Adelie penguin colony from its present size of 3,000 to only 400 breeding pairs by the end of the century [from a study published online PNAS Jan. 26, 2009]. An enduring image from the documentary March of the Penguins is of the thousands of male penguins huddled in a mass, sheltering eggs from blasting, frigid winds -- survival dependent on having enough individuals creating that collective incubation zone. Declining numbers can't be good for this collaborative strategy of reproductive success.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Jonathan D. Smith speaking on "making 'good' cholesterol better"

Jonathan D. Smith,Professor of Molecular Medicine,Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, will speak here today on: “Reverse cholesterol transport: Making ‘good’ cholesterol better.” Craig Auditorium, 12:15 p.m.

Following is a list of Dr. Smith's cholesterol-related publications, taken from Medline (via EbscoHost), exported to and formatted according to the Council of Science Editors style
. It is a fast, easy way to create a list of references and keep track of all of the papers used for a research project. You can also share your Refworks folders with others, and link from Refworks to the full-text, if the reference was exported to Refworks from a database with OLinks. Refworks is available to everyone in the Oberlin College community. Click on Login, once you are at the Refworks site, to sign up for an individual account.

Brown ML, Yui K, Smith JD, LeBoeuf RC, Weng W, Umeda PK, Li R, Song R, Gianturco SH, Bradley WA. 2002. The murine macrophage apoB-48 receptor gene (apob-48r): Homology to the human receptor. J Lipid Res 43(8):1181-91.

Brubaker G, Peng D, Somerlot B, Abdollahian DJ, Smith JD. 2006. Apolipoprotein A-I lysine modification: Effects on helical content, lipid binding and cholesterol acceptor activity. Biochim Biophys Acta 1761(1):64-72.

Dansky HM, Shu P, Donavan M, Montagno J, Nagle DL, Smutko JS, Roy N, Whiteing S, Barrios J, McBride TJ, et al. 2002. A phenotype-sensitizing apoe-deficient genetic background reveals novel atherosclerosis predisposition loci in the mouse. Genetics 160(4):1599-608.

Le Goff W, Settle M, Greene DJ, Morton RE, Smith JD. 2006. Reevaluation of the role of the multidrug-resistant P-glycoprotein in cellular cholesterol homeostasis. J Lipid Res 47(1):51-8.

Le Goff W, Peng D, Settle M, Brubaker G, Morton RE, Smith JD. 2004. Cyclosporin A traps ABCA1 at the plasma membrane and inhibits ABCA1-mediated lipid efflux to apolipoprotein A-I. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 24(11):2155-61.

Peng D, Brubaker G, Wu Z, Zheng L, Willard B, Kinter M, Hazen SL, Smith JD. 2008. Apolipoprotein A-I tryptophan substitution leads to resistance to myeloperoxidase-mediated loss of function. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 28(11):2063-70.

Peng D, Wu Z, Brubaker G, Zheng L, Settle M, Gross E, Kinter M, Hazen SL, Smith JD. 2005. Tyrosine modification is not required for myeloperoxidase-induced loss of apolipoprotein A-I functional activities. J Biol Chem 280(40):33775-84.

Robertson JO, Li W, Silverstein RL, Topol EJ, Smith JD. 2009. Deficiency of LRP8 in mice is associated with altered platelet function and prolonged time for in vivo thrombosis. Thromb Res 123(4):644-52.

Smith JD and Topol EJ. 2006. Identification of atherosclerosis-modifying genes: Pathogenic insights and therapeutic potential. Expert Rev Cardiovasc Ther 4(5):703-9.

Smith JD, Waelde C, Horwitz A, Zheng P. 2002. Evaluation of the role of phosphatidylserine translocase activity in ABCA1-mediated lipid efflux. J Biol Chem 277(20):17797-803.

Smith JD, Bhasin JM, Baglione J, Settle M, Xu Y, Barnard J. 2006. Atherosclerosis susceptibility loci identified from a strain intercross of apolipoprotein E-deficient mice via a high-density genome scan. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 26(3):597-603.

Smith JD, Le Goff W, Settle M, Brubaker G, Waelde C, Horwitz A, Oda MN. 2004. ABCA1 mediates concurrent cholesterol and phospholipid efflux to apolipoprotein A-I. J Lipid Res 45(4):635-44.

Velez-Carrasco W, Merkel M, Twiss CO, Smith JD. 2008. Dietary methionine effects on plasma homocysteine and HDL metabolism in mice. J Nutr Biochem 19(6):362-70.

Wu Z, Wagner MA, Zheng L, Parks JS, Shy,Jacinto M.,,3rd, Smith JD, Gogonea V, Hazen SL. 2007. The refined structure of nascent HDL reveals a key functional domain for particle maturation and dysfunction. Nat Struct Mol Biol 14(9):861-8.

Zheng L, Settle M, Brubaker G, Schmitt D, Hazen SL, Smith JD, Kinter M. 2005. Localization of nitration and chlorination sites on apolipoprotein A-I catalyzed by myeloperoxidase in human atheroma and associated oxidative impairment in ABCA1-dependent cholesterol efflux from macrophages. J Biol Chem 280(1):38-47.

Zheng L, Nukuna B, Brennan M, Sun M, Goormastic M, Settle M, Schmitt D, Fu X, Thomson L, Fox PL, et al. 2004. Apolipoprotein A-I is a selective target for myeloperoxidase-catalyzed oxidation and functional impairment in subjects with cardiovascular disease. J Clin Invest 114(4):529-41.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Can you imagine eating 16 sugar cubes at one time?

One lump or two? How about 16 lumps of sugar? That is just a little less than the sugar contained in a 20-ounce bottle of cola. Ouch. Just one of the "20 things you didn't know about sugar" (and might have been happier not to know) presented by Rebecca Coffey in the Discover October issue. Amaze your friends with more "20 things you didn't know" on Discover's Web site.

The October issue is fun reading, addressing Great Questions of Science, including:
  • What lies beyond the edge of the universe?
  • Where have all the bees gone?
  • How does physics really work?
  • What controls the chemistry of life?
  • Did evolution shape us to be generous?
And, a special report on the neurology of sex. Did you know "the parts of the brain that light up during sexual experiences are associated with some of our most sophisticated forms of thought?" You can watch a video of brain activity at

Read the whole issue in the science library! Now on the new journals display rack.

H1N1 Vaccine Plans

Heard on the Diane Rehm Show, Wednesday October 7: "Up to seven million doses are expected to be available in the U.S. this week. Who's going to get the vaccine, where, and why."
This was a very good discussion, and will answer most of your questions about the H1N1 flu vaccine. The college is working to get both the H1N1 and more seasonal flu vaccine on campus. Student Health Services (in Blackboard Oncampus for OC community) gives details. Get information on flu clinics in Lorain County.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Ribosomes, Proteins and X-Ray Crystallography: Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been announced, and the intricacies of ribosomes as "protein-makers" in the cell are nicely explained in this Scientific American news article. Quoting from Scientific American news:"The prize will be equally split between biophysicist Venkatraman Ramakrishnan of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge in England, biochemist Thomas Steitz of Yale University and molecular biologist Ada Yonath of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, for their work in using x-ray crystallography to get a precise, atomic-scale map of the ribosome—the protein-making machine in all cells with nuclei that makes life possible."

You are who you are because of ribosomes (yeah, ribosomes!) - and, of course, all of those other countless biochemical processes occurring in your body right this second. Learn more about the ribosome's role in this electronic book: Structural aspects of protein synthesis / Anders Liljas. It includes some lovely colored images, made possible by the work of this year's Nobel Prize winners.

A citation analysis of Thomas A. Steitz in the ISI Web of Science revealed that his papers have been cited an average of 680 times per year, with a total of 30,620 citations to his published work. The following paper from Science has been cited most often - 1,544 citations to date: Ban, N., P. Nissen, J. Hansen, P. B. Moore, and T. A. Steitz. 2000. The complete atomic structure of the large ribosomal subunit at 2.4 angstrom resolution. Science 289, (5481) (AUG 11): 905-20 [access in JSTOR, for JSTOR subscribers].

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Your Cell Phone, the Internet Backbone, Digital Cameras, all dependent on Nobel Prize winners

NPR's Richard Harris did a fine job of explaining the ubiquitous, essential nature of glass fiber optics and semiconductors, the research developments of three scientists who will share the Nobel Prize for Physics this year. The Nobel Committee said that the work of Charles K. Kao, Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith made possible the "foundation of our networked society." The invention of the Charge-Couple Device or CCD (Boyle and Smith, working at Bell Labs in New Jersey) is a great example of scientists pursuing basic research, seeking a solution to a known problem, and discovering something very exciting with unforeseen benefits for the future. The CCD allows images to be captured digitally rather than on film. Kao's glass fibers, carrying information as light rather electricity, have literally transformed the world of information - certainly the work of librarians - and made possible development of the Internet.

Read some history in this 2001 book, available electronically
Building the global fiberoptics superhighway / C. David Chaffee

The 1970 paper by Boyle and Smith, "Charge coupled semiconductor devices," published in the Bell System Technical Journal, 49(4): 587-93, has been cited nearly 480 times as of this morning, according to a cited reference search in ISI Web of Science.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Telomeres are the Focus of Nobel Prize Winners' Research

NPR's Morning Edition presented an excellent summary of the significance of the research of Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol W. Greider, and Jack Szostak, who share this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. "The scientists all study telomeres — structures that act like caps on the ends of chromosomes and protect them when cells divide. Chromosomes are the long strands of DNA that contain a living creature's genetic code." Elizabeth Blackburn of the University of California, San Francisco, is the subject of a recent book, Elizabeth Blackburn and the story of telomeres : deciphering the ends of DNA / Catherine Brady. MIT Press, c2007.

Learn more about the role of telomeres in aging and disease, in this electronic book accessible in the OhioLINK Electronic Book Center and at Telomeres and telomerase in aging, disease, and cancer : molecular mechanisms of adult stem cell ageing / K. Lenhard Rudolph, editor. Springer, c2008.

An older book, The telomere by David Kipling, provides a good overview. Find it in the Science library [QH600.3 .K57 1995].

Friday, October 02, 2009

OhioLINK systems off-line on Saturday

Due to a required repair to the Ohio State University electrical systems, all OhioLINK servers will be off-line on Saturday, from 4 a.m. until 8 p.m., or until the work is completed. This includes all databases with rave as part of the server address: Biological Abstracts, GeoRef, and Inspec; as well as the combined library catalog and Electronic Journal Center (EJC).

Updates during downtime will be available on Twitter and Facebook.

You can still use Academic Search Complete, plus other EBSCOHost databases (including Medline Full Text), and export references to your RefWorks account to access later. Or create your own account in Academic Search Complete (click on MyEBSCOHost in the upper right of the search screen to begin), and save all of your references to a folder you can access any time. The Find It! link will be saved with each reference, in RefWorks and MyEBSCOHost, so following the links later is a piece of cake.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Celebrating Geosciences and Planet Earth: October in the Year of Science

We are celebrating the geosciences and planet earth all of October, as the Year of Science enters its last quarter. The planet, our very foundation and life-sustaining island home, so often under-appreciated as simply dirt beneath our feet, is an astoundingly complex system of transformative forces and myriad types of materials. Awesome power is displayed from the minute crystallization of igneous rock and the interplay of organic decomposition in sedimentary layers to vast movements of crustal plates. It is impossible to study earth science without an understanding of chemistry, physics, biology and evolution, at the least, and the geosciences inform all of those disciplines as well. Explore some of the big ideas in geology with the
We are also in the last part of the International Year of Planet Earth; and will observe Earth Science Week this month!

We have so many wonderful new books in the geology section, it is impossible to highlight more than a few. Start with The revolution in geology from the Renaissance to the enlightenment for a bit of historical context, and gain a better understanding of this continent with Ghost mountains and vanished oceans : North America from birth to middle age. Here are just a few more to entice you to read:
There is so much more - the Library's guide to geology research resources is a good place to start!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No Impact Week is Coming! Sign up with HuffPost Green

The Huffington Post / HuffPost Green is launching the inaugural No Impact Week, beginning October 18. Sign up to learn more, and to join the No Impact Project mailing list. The No Impact Project is a nonprofit started by Colin Beavan, star of the documentary film No Impact Man and author of the book by the same title. The project has created a detailed guide to reducing your ecological and climate footprint, day by day, throughout the week. Borrow Beavan's books through OhioLINK. All 24 copies in the OhioLINK catalog were checked out when I looked, however, so purchasing your own might be the best bet!

Celebrate the National Parks, "America's best idea," with Ken Burns

From the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):
National parks are "America's best idea," filmmaker Ken Burns says in his new PBS documentary. He talks to NRDC's OnEarth magazine about the tragedy of wolf hunts, the need for wilderness preservation and the threat of global warming.

The National Parks film by Ken Burns has been spectacular so far. Tune in and you will be inspired by the stories of dedicated individuals who campaigned to preserve some of the most extraordinary wild places in our country.

The library has an enormous amount of material devoted to the national parks; just search national parks and reserve as a subject heading in OBIS to get started. Virtually explore any national park at the National Park Service web site.

Visit NRDC's Action Center at

Friday, September 25, 2009

Environment Ohio Seeks Advocates for Clean Water Act Enforcement

Environment Ohio is launching an urgent campaign to document support for cleaning up and protecting Ohio's rivers and streams. You can join the campaign online.

From their web site:"Since 1990, Environment Ohio staff have filed 12 lawsuits under the Clean Water Act, forcing illegal polluters to pay over $2 million in fines. In a landmark case, Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel paid $700,000 for polluting the Ohio River." Read more.

Learn more about water pollution in Ohio from library materials found with a subject search in OBIS on "water pollution ohio", including this Scientific Investigations report from the U.S. Geological Survey:
Occurrence of organic wastewater compounds in the Tinkers Creek watershed and two other tributaries to the Cuyahoga River, northeast Ohio [electronic resource] / by J.S. Tertuliani.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Solar Panel That Produces Oil

This just arrived in my email from Scientific American, and was too intriguing not to share.
September 17, 2009
Oil Rig of the Future: A Solar Panel That Produces Oil
Researchers propose a novel approach to producing biofuel using diatoms

By Saswato R. Das
a brief excerpt:
"Scientific analysis of diatom oil has shown that it is very suitable for use as biofuel, says T. V. Ramachandra, a professor of ecological sciences at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) who is working on this project with IISc researchers Durga Mahapatra and Karthick Balasubramanian, along with Richard Gordon, a radiology professor at the University of Manitoba in Winnepeg.

[Rmachandra says,] "The oil can be as much as a quarter of the total mass of a diatom cell, and if a way could be found to efficiently wrest it from diatoms, he adds, a hectare of "diatom cultivation could produce 10 to up to 200 times the oil that is produced by soybean cultivation."

Read the article and many comments that express both skepticism and support, at the Scientific American web site.

Want more information on algae as a biofuel? Search:
(algae or algal or diatom*) and biofuel*
in ISI Web of Knowledge (from an OhioLINK library). Over 70 references result, including a number of articles in oil trade publications and business sources as well as technical papers on algae bioengineering.

The library has many books on biofuels, including some ebooks:
Biofuels, solar and wind as renewable energy systems: benefits and risks / David Pimentel, editor. Springer, 2008.
Biofuels for road transport: a seed to wheel perspective / Lucas Reijnders, Mark A.J. Huijbregts. Springer, 2009.

These books, published by Springer, are accessible electronically from any OhioLINK library on the OhioLINK EBook Center. They can also be accessed by OhioLINK members at

Monday, September 21, 2009

Michael Pollan on Health Care Reform

Living on Earth interviewed Michael Pollan this past week (author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food), who argued that health care reform begins with improving what "we put on our plates."

Here is a snippet of the conversation, considering the difficulty faced by people on limited incomes who want to eat healthy food.
Pollan - "You can get 1,250 calories per dollar of chips or cookies but only 250 calories of carrots or broccoli. Um, that is due to the fact that the farm policies we have are favoring the really unhealthy calories. We subsidize corn and soy, which are really the building blocks of fast food. We subsidize feedlot meat, we do a lot to ensure that fast food is cheap. So, I think the personal responsibility argument breaks down pretty quickly and I think you really need to look at the environment in which we're eating and the system that is dictating the choices that we supposedly have."

Listen to this segment on for September 18, 2009.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Jane Goodall Trumpets Biodiversity on Diane Rhem Show

Why Study Biodiversity? - the big question of the focus for September in the Year of Science - was beautifully answered by Jane Goodall on the Diane Rhem show September 9. One remarkable example given by Ms. Goodall was the endangered burying beetle, which systematically buries carcasses that will provide food for its young and transports the tiny mites which eat fly larvae off the carcass. The marvels of co-evolution are evident in the life cycles of both beetle and mite, as well as the impact on the environment if that partnership is disrupted by the extinction of either.

Listen to the episode, and hear Ms. Goodall discuss the essential roles played by organisms of all types and sizes, the vast number of species in danger of extinction before they are even described or understood, and our dependency on biodiversity for maintaining healthy ecosystems that support human as well as other forms of life. A copy of Goodall's new book is on its way to the Science Library:
Hope for animals and their world : how endangered species are being rescued from the brink / Jane Goodall, with Thane Maynard and Gail Hudson.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Textbooks in the Science Library

Is your required science textbook on reserve in the Science Library? It's quite likely. We routinely look at the textbooks listed for science courses on the Oberlin College Bookstore website, and often decide to add the required textbook to the science library collection.

It is not guaranteed, however, and even if we do place the text on reserve your use is limited to 3 hours at a time and not for overnight use. So it does not take the place of owning your own book, with all of the benefits of being able to write in the margins, underline and highlight text to your heart's content, or read far into the night if necessary. We are just a bit more convenient than lugging around 1200+ pages of biochemistry (Voet and Voet is perhaps the heaviest text on reserve and one of the most popular for in-library reading).

Once you've found your textbook listed at the college bookstore, search OBIS and you'll see whether we own it and the course number for which it is reserved. Read all about reserve policies.