Mind Games 2.0

Bloggin' 'bout science and life

Category: Science Page 1 of 6

Another Seminar Video

Here’s a video of me giving a seminar at the 2009 celebration of Charles Darwin’s 150th birthday at Stony Brook University.


The Best Tip I’ve Ever Seen

A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.

Albert Einstein

A tip Einstein left to a Japanese bellboy.  


American Naturalist Covers

(This post was first published on the AmNat150.org website)

The American Naturalist was first published in March 1867. Over the last 150 years, AmNat has had 16 different covers. Below is a gallery of those covers, with the dates they were used. Click on any image to bring up the full-sized gallery.

AmNat 1867-1875

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The cover of the first issue in March 1867. This cover design was used through 1875.

One of the fascinating features to trace through the covers is how the motto of the journal changed through the years.

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More Words of Wisdom From A Past Leader


The Maximum Impact Factor Measure

I used to be the Editor-in-Chief of the American Naturalist, one of the oldest scientific journals in North America.  The American Naturalist published its first issue two years before Charles Darwin published the Origin of Species, and I think that AmNat, as it’s affectionately called, is the world’s best journal for papers in evolution (and ecology and behavior). 

Today, our Managing Editor, Trish Morse, brought to my attention some of the best evidence of AmNat‘s significance.  AmNat is number 113 on the list of sources most cited by the Oxford English Dictionary.  Only 6 other scientific publications are ahead of us on the list.  That seems like a much better measure of the importance of a scientific journal’s contribution to knowledge than Impact Factors or other so-called measures of importance. 

AmNat, at 113, is two ahead of Robert Burns (pretty impressive) at 115 and behind Ayenbite of Inwyt at 112. Who or what is Ayenbite of Inwyt you ask?  Look it up!


Where Does It Say That Evolution Does Not Happen?

I was sitting in church a couple of weeks back on Christmas Eve waiting for the service to start.  As I usually do to pass the time, I picked up the Bible (what else are you going to do in church?), and I had a revelation about what I work on – namely evolution.    

This revelation came to me in the form of a simple question.  Where in the Bible does it say that evolution does not happen?

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Do Scientists Really Need Certificates Of Participation Just To Do Their Jobs Now?

Today I was submitting a review of a manuscript to a British scientific journal.  This is a routine part of any scientist’s job.  Participating in the peer review system is probably the most important community activity that keeps science working.  Peer review is the best part of the scientific process.  

I went to the journal’s website to submit my review as always.  What startled and exacerbated me, and what sparked this post, was the first question I was asked at the submission website.  The journal wanted to know if I wanted my reviewing activity to be noted for all the world to see on Publons.  

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The Best Statistical Software For A Scientist To Use

I am now planning the next offering of a Generalized Linear Mixed Models course that I sometimes teach to our graduate students.  I’m teaching the next offering next spring.  All our graduate students are clamoring for a course in R, and I am sure I’ll get much pressure to teach this course using R. 

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Valuable Advice About Editing And Teaching In General

Posted by The Baltimore Sun on Thursday, September 8, 2016

This is hugely valuable advice.  If one is to teach what students need to know, one really has to just simply do it!


Did Hutchinson Think Niches Were Non-Interesting?

One of the foundational concepts in modern ecology is the formulation of the “niche” by G. Evelyn Hutchinson. Hutchinson defined his conception of the niche famously as an “N-dimensional hypervolume” of environmental variables that describe where a species can maintain a population.  You can find a (pirated) pdf of this seminal paper here or the Cold Spring Harbor site if your conscience is bothering you and want to pay for it because you don’t have a library subscription.

When I read this paper in graduate school, I was dumbfounded to find one of the most glaring typographical errors I had ever seen in the scientific literature.  In this paper, the plain text on the page says that the realized niches of co-occurring species are non-interesting.  

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