Middle-Earth gets a geological makeover

9 Apr

As if J. R. R. Tolkien wasn’t brilliant enough with his creation of Middle-Earth, it appears that using his numerous maps and illustrations provided, supplemented by observations from within the texts themselves, a geological reconstruction can be achieved! I recently came across this old article from the Proceedings of the J. R. R. Tolkien Centenary Conference, Oxford, England, 1992, and figured it was worth sharing.

The first attempt at a geological history of Middle-Earth was Margaret Howes in 1967 in a piece entitled “The Elder Ages and Later Glaciations off the Pleistocene Epoch”. Here, she endeavoured to recapitulate the successive geomorphologies from the time when Morgoth (the real bad guy in Middle-Earth) was overthrown to beyond the time when Aragorn adopted rule over Gondor. However, this work has been recognised as being too far adrift from Tolkien’s original creations, drawing in too much from Earth’s own recent geological history.

[...]

Macroecology – scaling the time barrier

7 Apr

If there was ever an overdue discussion in palaeontology, it was how we reconcile the differences in time scales when looking at different periods in our history. This is becoming increasingly more important as scientific research is being asked to have demonstrably greater ‘impact’ in terms of some social, economic, or environmental relevance, and for palaeobiologists and palaeoecologists, this means having some sort of notable effect on our changing world.

The day kicked off with Andy Purvis summarising what we actually mean by macroecology – I mean, it’s an impressive sounding term, but what is it scientifically? It’s actually varied quite a bit in time, with new tools and datasets meaning that our analyses have diversified and become more intricate, with the ability to answer and ask new questions about how species and populations diversify and change through time, especially with respect to the environment.

[...]

The future of scientific publishing

28 Mar

Last night, the Society of Spanish Researchers in the UK, SRUK, hosted an event discussing the past, present and future of scientific publishing (event details). One thing that was nice about this discussion, compared to previous ones I’ve attended in London, was the number of practising academics in the room. Often, academics are excluded from the discussions about scholarly publishing, which is a bit odd when you know, they’re the ones who actually need the services that publishers etc. provide.

Anyway, what did we all discuss?

Three great and varied speakers formed our menu tonight. For starters, we had Cameron Neylon, ex-scientista, and now the Advocacy Director for the megajournal PLOS. The main course consisted of Eva Amsen, also an ex-scientist, current epic science communicator and Outreach Manager for F1000Research. Dessert was the experimental Prof. Juan Aréchega, Professor of Cellular Biology at the University of Basque County, Spain, and Editor for the International Journal of Developmental Biology (note: not a predatory journal). I’ll try and summarise some of their key points.

[...]

It’s beyond time we ditched the impact factor

22 Mar

“I am sick of impact factors and so is science.”

Stephen Curry said it best back in 2012. The impact factor is just one of the many banes of academia, from it’s complete misuse to being falsely inflated by publishers.

I want to draw attention to a new article  that addresses the causes behind this ‘impact factor mania’ that academia has.

The article is quite right to place the blame firmly in the hands of academics. It’s our fault that the impact factor is still misused. No-one else. Almost every academic knows why the impact factor is flawed, but still we use it over and over to assess the quality of a person or an article. It’s irrationality in its most blatant form, and you’d think academics would be smart enough to stop using it. But for some reason, we, as a collective, aren’t.

[...]

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: