Field of Science

Dodos: Free in Iowa City!

Tomorrow (Monday, Sept. 22) in Iowa City I will be co-hosting a free public screening of "A Flock of Dodos" in Biology Building East (BBE) 101 at 7:00pm. This event is part of Scienceblogs 10^6 comment festival, via our two Iowa City-based ScienceBlog-ers, Tara Smith (Aetiology) and Evil Monkey (Neurotopia). It is also associated with the Evolution undergraduate course (Biology, 002:131) that I teach with Bryant McAllister (can you say "extra credit"?)

According to Wikipedia:
"The film attempts to determine who the real "dodos" are in a constantly evolving world: the scientists who are failing to promote evolution as a scientifically accepted fact, the intelligent design advocates, or the American public who get fooled by the "salesmanship" of evolution critics. While Randy Olson ultimately sides with the scientists who accept evolution, he gives equal air time to both sides of the argument..."
Thanks to the filmaker Randy Olson for allowing us to screen this film for the public! I'm looking forward to it, since I have not seen it yet.

Publishing by Press Release: PNAS Lags Again

Here we go again...

I got an email message on Tuesday (August 26th) from the NSF announcing the publication of an apparently interesting and provocative new paper by Song et al. The message linked to a press-release from NSF (dated August 25th) entitled "DNA Barcodes: Are They Always Accurate?"

According to the NSF Press Release:
"DNA barcoding is a movement to catalog all life on earth by a simple standardized genetic tag, similar to stores labeling products with unique barcodes. The effort promises foolproof food inspection, improved border security and better defenses against disease-causing insects, among many other applications.

But the approach as currently practiced churns out some results as inaccurately as a supermarket checker scanning an apple and ringing it up as an orange, according to a new Brigham Young University (BYU) study.

The results are published online this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)."
After repeatedly checking the PNAS Early Edition website all last week, I see that paper in question was finally released on Friday (August 29). It's even fully Open Access!

Hojun Song
, Jennifer E. Buhay, Michael F. Whiting and Keith A. Crandall "Many species in one: DNA barcoding overestimates the number of species when nuclear mitochondrial pseudogenes are coamplified" PNAS published August 29, 2008, doi:10.1073/pnas.0803076105