Archive for February, 2008

Life on Mars? Not likely. What about Jupiter’s Europa?

February 24, 2008 1 comment

Source: National Geographic News

Early Mars Too Acidic, Salty for Life, Experts Say

Mars likely had liquid water early in its past—but it was probably too acidic and oxidizing for life, scientists say.

That’s the latest news from the longer-than-expected visits to the red planet by NASA’s rovers Spirit and Opportunity, said Andrew Knoll, a Harvard University researcher and member of NASA’s Mars program.

“That’s not a very good place to live, and it’s a worse place for the kind of chemistry that we think gave rise to life on Earth,” he said.

“If I were forced to vote, probably the best place to look for evidence of Martian life is in Mars’ earliest history—the first five or six hundred million years,” Knoll said.

Well, that doesn’t sound too exciting. Maybe we oughta look in a different place then. What about a Jupiter’s moon called Europa?

Read more…

Jane: Suggesting Journals, Finding Experts

February 22, 2008 Leave a comment

Source: Peter Suber’s Open Access blog
A paper by Martijn J. Schuemie and Jan A. Kors titled “Jane: Suggesting Journals, Finding Experts” published in Bioinformatics (Oxford Journals).


Summary: With an exponentially growing number of articles being published every year, scientists can use some help in determining which journal is most appropriate for publishing their results, and which other scientists can be called upon to review their work.

Jane (Journal/Author Name Estimator) is a freely available web-based application that, on the basis of a sample text (e.g., the title and abstract of a manuscript), can suggest journals and experts who have published similar articles.

Jane is freely available here

I’m not sure if this is really a suitable way of finding relevant journals to submit papers to, but the concept is definitely interesting. If it works, it could truly remove some serious issues like increased circulation of (rejected) manuscripts because they weren’t sent to the right journal for peer reviews. This would increase the overall publishing speed of manuscripts while decreasing the workload of peer reviewers, which is fantastic.

At the time of writing, this tool is limited to the field of biomedicine only, but that is not the biggest issue with this tool. You see, when you run the title and the abstract of this paper through the tool, the journal that published this paper (Bioinformatics) is not even in the top 15 of the results…



To be fair, just like a business intelligence system: the more information, the more accurate it can and should be, assuming the programming logic is sound. So theoretically and practically, it should improve the more information it has and the more people use it. Also, these kind of systems tend to be even more inaccurate when it comes to original/outside the box kind of ideas. Which this one certainly is in the field of biomedicine. It is technically not about biomedicine, but an IT application that is currently specialized for that field. But this type of application could easily work for any other field, since the basics, comparing text and finding similarities, simply requires text to work. Come to think of it, another way of using this system is for verifying the originality/significance of a paper. By running it through a tool like this, one can easily pick out the related papers and see where they differ. Then they can make up their minds whether the paper is original/significance or not. At the same time, the tool can check for plagiarism, since it matches words of papers and such. Very nifty actually.

One way of finding out whether the tool really works, or just how accurately it works, is to somehow add a private link where authors using the tool can submit whether they have actually been accepted by the recommended journal. Or simply state the rank of the recommended journal, and (the rank of) the actual journal it was accepted. That would actually make an additional interesting research. Additionally, it would also be interesting to check whether the recommended journals generally have a higher or lower Journal Impact Factor than the journals that actually published those papers. Because assuming that academics care about the Journal Impact Factor when looking for journals to submit their manuscripts to (and believe me, they do!) then this would be very interesting to know, too.

I haven’t actually read the paper, aside from the title and abstract (which should have been enough for this tool to work, FYI). Therefore, I’m not sure what their conclusions and future recommendations are. But these are definitely decent suggestions I think! Either way, I’ll check back on this tool in a couple more weeks, and see if it has improved or not 🙂

Jumping the Shark: Science or Religion?

February 21, 2008 Leave a comment

Noah Gray from the Action Potential (Nature Neuroscience blog) has found the following:

CALL FOR CREATIONIST PAPERS: at the Answers Research Journal

Answers in Genesis, a self-described Christianity-defending ministry dedicated to enabling Christians to defend their faith and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively, recently launched a new publication, Answers Research Journal. Their mission:

Addressing the need to disseminate the vast fields of research conducted by creationist experts in theology, history, archaeology, anthropology, biology, geology, astronomy, and other disciplines of science, Answers Research Journal will provide scientists and students the results of cutting-edge research that demonstrates the validity of the young-earth model, the global Flood, the non-evolutionary origin of “created kinds,” and other evidences that are consistent with the biblical account of origins.


I can never tell which side is jumping the shark when it comes to this kind of stuff. Science normally never tries to be religious, yet religion tries hard to be scientific. Now we have a bunch of “scientists” spreading “religion” by way of peer reviewed journals. The Bible is no longer good enough, now religion has to expand itself through science. Whatever happened to faith? Isn’t that what being a follower of a religion is about?

“Ah well, so much for faith?”

Well, on the other hand, as long as the research is carried out through the scientific method, remains objective and leave whatever the reproducible data gained for what they are without jumping to conclusions, it should be interesting. I just hope that when they say “provide the results that demonstrates the validity”, they are also open for the “lack of results” and “invalidity”. Because the statement taken as it is, is not much of a hypothesis. It is in fact an announcement of the type of results which have never been proven before. And there is nothing reasonable, much less scientific, about those kind of statements…