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florida oranges USDA flickr

Interview with a unicorn (long-form staff science writer)

Amy Harmon has a unusual, and probably unique, job at the New York Times. Though assigned to the national desk, she writes long, narrative stories about the intersection of science and society — the kind that take a year to research and write, and the kind that almost no one gets paid a salary to write anymore in this new age…

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breast cancer families - from Hall et al (1990) Linkage of early onset familial breast cancer to chromosome 17q21. Science 250, 1684.

Supreme Court rules natural genes not patentable

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Thursday, June 13th, that Myriad Genomics Inc. may not retain exclusive rights to the use of DNA sequence information for breast cancer associated genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, stating that Myriad had not created anything new in identifying the genes.

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Zakharia et al. Genome Biology 2009 10:R141 doi:10.1186/gb-2009-10-12-r141 figure 1

“Race, Intelligence, and Genetics For Curious Dummies”

  Last week, a cicada-like re-emergence of “Bell Curve” claims of a genetic determinacy between intelligence and race surfaced in a Heritage Foundation special report on immigration. The report drew on Jason Richwine’s Harvard dissertation, “IQ and Immigration Policy.” Amid the furor, the Atlantic’s Ta Nehisi Coates was ready with the history. He wrote in response to Richwine’s apologists, who…

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the drones are coming

Unmanned vehicles bring in the data By Liza Lester, ESA communications officer   Earlier this month, a couple of environmental scientists from NOAA and WWF turned up at a symposium on drones in company with journalists, law & order types, engineers, gearheads and think tank fellows. The scientists were on the pro-drone docket. Drones can look for oil spills and…

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New strategic vision for field stations and marine labs

Field stations and marine labs take on the future of science In this guest post, Ian Billick, PhD,  introduces the new strategic vision, released today, for the disparate network of field stations and marine labs. Recommendations include creating virtual access to historic data archives and streamlining physical access to field sites for extramural researchers. Billick  is Past President of the Organization…

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The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with the LDCM spacecraft onboard lifts off the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Image credit: NASA/ Kim Shiflett Feb. 11, 2012.

Landsat Data Continuity Mission launches

Great day for a launch: all indications positive for Landsat 8. By Liza Lester, ESA communications officer.   AT 10:02am local time on Monday, February 11, 2013, the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, into a clear blue sky atop an  Atlas V rocket. The latest USGS earth observatory satellite is a $855 million…

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Oceanographers testify in Deepwater Horizon civil suit

by Liza Lester, ESA communications officer This fall has seen the endgame of the US Justice Department’s civil case against British Petroleum and eight partners in the matter of the Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout, likely to be settled soon, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Justice Department is suing under the Clean Water Act for damages from the…

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In ecology news: bats, antbirds, wildfire recriminations, and retractions

by Liza Lester, ESA communications officer Cheatgrass, Bromus tectorum, evolved in the old world, but has been very successful in the new, with a talent for colonizing disturbed rangeland. It fuels early season range fires. Credit, Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé “Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz,” 1885. http://www.biolib.de/ Bats & Birds (& Ants) The Nature Conservancy has built a…

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