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July 29 - August 2, 2009
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The advancement of technology in the past decade has catapulted the prominence of electronic evidenc... Read More
This book provides you with a legal and practical approach to the new world of digital information. It has been described as a must have for litigation lawyers, corporate counsel and records managers who want to understand how to appropriately handle the digital information of an enterprise. Read more.
The SciTech Lawyer
The Section’s quarterly magazine features practical and timely articles on a diverse range of science and technology law issues. This issue focuses on biosecurity.
scistatus update by andrew robertson
Policy and Research
US public likes science; doesn’t agree with scientists Science and scientists are pretty well respected by the American public, even as they disagree on specific issues like evolution, global warming, and use of animals in research. So finds a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, together with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). A summary of the report can be found on the Nature blog here.
US government Internet traffic to be screened
The Obama administration is planning to use the National Security Agency to screen Internet traffic between government agencies and the private sector. The plans risk re-igniting the fierce debate here about the protection of civil liberties, with the Bush administration accused of having tightened controls on telecommunications and Internet networks. You can read the AFP article here.
How to Spot an Influential Paper Based on its Citations
At first it may seem that the number of citations received by a published scientific paper is directly related to that paper's quality of content. The higher the quality, the more people read and cite that paper. However, the number of citations received by a paper depends more on when that paper was published; papers published early in a new field receive many more citations than those published later on. Although this effect has previously been known, a recent study has tested and verified the so-called "first mover advantage" with data from selected fields. A review of the study can be found at Physorg.com; click here.
Africa alone could feed the world .
Doom-mongers have got it wrong - there is enough space in the world to produce the extra food needed to feed a growing population. And contrary to expectation, most of it can be grown in Africa, say two international reports published last month. The New Scientist article can be found here.
Nature, Climate and Ecology
Overheated by clean energy.
The groundbreaking American Clean Energy and Security bill, better known as the Waxman-Markey bill, seeks to fight global warming by implementing a "cap-and-trade system" to limit greenhouse gas emissions. But the bill, which was recently passed by the House, can seem like a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Harvard Economist Katharine Mieszkowski helps explain the debate in this Salon article. You can find the link to the salon article here.
Warmer Winters and Shrinking Sheep
Two years after scientists concluded that a breed of wild sheep on a remote Scottish island was shrinking over time, a study released Thursday revealed why: global warming. The average body size has shrunk by 5 percent since 1985. The shrinking sheep on Scotland's Hirta Island have proven that climate can trump natural selection, researchers say. A NYT reported on this story can be found here here.
Environment Groups Find Less Support on Court
The Supreme Court heard five environmental law cases in the term that ended last month, and environmental groups lost every time. It was, said Richard J. Lazarus, a director of the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown University Law Center, “the worst term ever” for environmental interests. A NYT story on this issue can be found here.
Medicine, Health and Disease
Revealed: How pandemic swine flu kills
As the H1N1 swine flu pandemic continues to spread around the world, most cases are still mild. But reports are starting to emerge of people who sicken and die very quickly of what appears to be viral pneumonia. Now two independent groups of scientists have now found out why – and it's all down to where the virus binds within the body. NewScientist reported on this story here.
Free Vaccines, Big Money for Small Business Research
ScienceInsider reported on a U.S. government official's prediction that H1N1 flu will continue unabated during the summer and into the fall, a decision by the G8 nations to skip science at their summit meeting in Italy this month, and an interruption of clinical trials caused by procedural errors at two U.S. cancer centers. The full article can be found here.
Math, Physics and Space:
Mars Rover Devours Budgets
The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), NASA's souped-up 1-tonne rover due for launch in 2011, needs yet more money. The latest budget overrun could for the first time delay other missions in the agency's cash-strapped planetary-science division. The rover's latest price tag is US$2.286 billion — 40% more than the official $1.63-billion estimate made in 2006. But even that will not be enough. The link to the Nature article on the full price can be found here.
Science in Society:
Fellow Students Smell Your Exam Fear
Student facing exams this month, take heart: your companions can smell your fear, and they empathize. That's the implication of a study by Bettina Pause at the University of Dusseldorf, Germany, and colleagues. Researchers concluded that anxiety prompts the release of a chemical that bypasses conscious experience, automatically triggering similar feelings in anyone who sniffs it. This may allow fear to spread quickly and speed our ability to flee danger. The PLoS article can be found here.
Real Articles: Funny Subjects
Quite possibly the most humorous science link I’ve come across in the past year. With journal articles such as “Microbiological laboratory hazard of bearded men” and “An analysis of the forces required to drag sheep over various surfaces,” this site just made journal club much more interesting. You can find the blog here.
This update is a quarterly member benefit of the Committee on Rights and Responsibilities of Scientists. Click here to join the committee for free.
Andrew Robertson, Ph.D., UC Berkeley School of Law, class of 2010