10.23.2015

What We’re Reading

Chimpanzee reading a SAS brochure, Uno K. Gillström 1958, via Wikimedia Commons.A cousin catching up with the literature Here are some of the stories that caught NCSE’s eye this week. Feel free to share articles that crossed your screen in the comment section, or e-mail us directly during the week with things that caught your eye. We’ll add the best to our weekly posts.

  • Baby Dinosaurs Found in “The Dragon’s Tomb,” Laelaps, October 19, 2015 — Brian Switek is obsessed with “adorable” baby hadrosaurs—and who could blame him? Cute “tiny squeakers that probably tottered around the nest for a while before exploring the wider Cretaceous world”! And because infant dinosaurs are rare in the fossil record, they’re scientifically important, too.
  • Back to the Future Day, in Climate Trends, Climate Central, October 21, 2015 — In the Back to the Future movies, Marty McFly visited 1885, 1955, 1985, and 2015 in his customized DeLorean. How did the climate change? “Over that period, temperatures, sea level, and carbon dioxide levels have all risen steadily.” And I still don’t have my hoverboard.
  • New Species of Galápagos Tortoise is Identified, The New York Times, October 21, 2015 — Darwin visited the Gálapagos Islands in 1835, and scientists are still making discoveries there one hundred eighty years later. Pam Belluck introduces us to Chelonoidis donfaustoi, named after a recently retired park ranger who spent his career helping to save endangered tortoises.
  • In Ancient DNA, Evidence of Plague Much Earlier than Previously Known, The New York Times, October 22, 2015 — Yersinia pestis, the microbe responsible for the Black Death, was active in the Bronze Age, but it wasn’t then able to infect fleas! “By comparing the ancient Yersinia to more recent strains, the scientists also were able to reconstruct its evolutionary history,” Carl Zimmer explains.
  • The Deadly Legacy of HIV Truthers, Gizmodo, October 22, 2015 — Science denial can be fatal, Charlie Jane Anders observes: “The story of the HIV denialist movement demonstrates that scientific agreement is not necessarily enough. Thousands of people died because the conspiracy theory was able to outrun the facts.”
  • A Look at the Professional Creationists and Anti-Creationists, BioLogos, October 22, 2015 — Sociologist Tom Kaden interprets the creationism/evolution controversy as “a play of a small number of specialized elite actors,” including NCSE, and suggests that it helps to provide “an answer to the question why public talk about creationism seems so detached from social scientific findings about it.”
  • Climate Change is Here, National Geographic, November 2015 — Accompanying a special issue of the print magazine is a spectacular website explaining that climate change is here and addressing the questions How do we know it’s happening? How do we fix it? and How do we live with it? Bill Nye “The Science Guy” (a member of NCSE’s Advisory Council) is featured throughout.