Profile cover photo
Profile photo
Tobe Freeman
Research writer, PhD (neuroscience)
Research writer, PhD (neuroscience)

Tobe's interests
View all
Tobe's posts

Post has shared content
Nice piece of marketing work...
Facebook Likes, "They're worse than useless."

Yes, this is a social media metric, not tightly coupled to CS, and fellow moderators are welcome to remove it. (I sometimes fail to make good decisions.) But this video is educational.

I find it interesting that many of the fraudulent countries highlighted in this video are similar to where a lot members in this community were from who we had to ban, or that Google flagged as spam before they could join. We probably even still have a few sleepers in here. In other words, they don't just play in Facebook. Google pluses are probably just as useless for business pages.

Post has attachment
Fur seals become more genetically diverse under climate pressure? #biodiversity #sustainability #climate 
Provides insights into the mechanism that may drive genetic fitness when a species is under threat. It would be interesting to look at the corresponding trends in human heterozygosity right now…

Post has attachment
Keep on voting… #sustainability   #economics   #democracy  
Around 70% of us choose to live sustainably - we’d choose to take less stuff now in the knowledge that a little bit of sacrifice today ensures that there will always be enough stuff around.
To me, 70% sounds like a low number. It hints at trouble. Almost a third of us would like to have tomorrow's cake with what we eat of it today.
But 70% means that if we adopt a democratic approach to choosing how we use resources, the majority vote will always hold back any selfish minority wanting to have their cake and eat it.
Conclusion: however cynical you become don’t let yourself think that we can do without democracy. It’s unlikely.

Post has attachment
Crops grown in a CO2-elevated atmosphere have lower protein, elemental nutrients yields

Post has shared content
Fame! I wanna live forever...

Post has attachment
A brief musing to say goodbye to the 2014 International Day for Biological Diversity 
The soundest strategy for preserving biodiversity is to protect the last ‘islands’ of intact wilderness that remain. But as those last islands shrink and disappear, shouldn’t we have an alternative strategy?
Here is an alternative by Mendenhall et al : ‘…the fate of the world’s wildlife will be decided largely by the hospitality of agricultural or countryside ecosystems”.
I have not come across this idea in my own reading around the topic.  But that wouldn’t bother Mendenhall et al because they demonstrate that, actually, biodiversity in rural settings is not so bad after all. To be more specific, the study shows that fruit bats living near fruit plantations seem to do alright.
No kidding? 
Lots of respectable research departments collaborated to make this study. But the sponsorship came from The Nature Conservancy.
I'll let Wikipedia answer the question:
Over the years, The Nature Conservancy has faced a number of criticisms. They fall into the following main categories
…legislation to allow oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is supported by members of the Conservancy leadership council
…allegations of The Nature Conservancy obtaining land and reselling it at a profit
…President's Conservation Counsel of the Conservancy was also a member of the trophy hunting organization the Safari Club

Oh, but who cares? you say.
Aronson might care. Because Aronson et al show that human-dominated environments tend to be teaming with so called 'cosmopolitan species’. These species do alright, too. They crowd our cities. But biodiversity in cities is just 8% of the levels found outside the city limits.

Post has attachment
New niche are as rare as hens teeth #biodiversity #sustainability

A new animal species is born when the accumulated genetic differences between a given pair of individuals renders them unable to mate and produce offspring. This typically takes millions of years of physical isolation.

What this study shows is that the limiting factor in the production of a new species is not the time it takes to develop these apart-drifted genetic populations.

The authors estimate that the genetic drift to reproductive incompatibility would take 3 million years. Yet the birth of a new species among Himalayan songbirds, studied here, tends to take more than 7 million years. Why all the extra waiting around?

The answer comes down to ecological opportunity. For groups of individuals to become isolated for long periods they must first produce stable populations at some new location.

New niches are as rare as Dicrurus paradiseus (a species of Himalayan songbird, not a hen) dentature. So rare, that finding one and settling in for the long haul of genetic isolation takes more than twice as long as genetic drift itself.

Post has attachment
Biodiversity makes the primary production world go around #biodiversity #sustainability
A new experimental study of plant productivity conducted across the full ecological spectrum, from subarctic Sweden to tropical French Guiana, shows that  greater biodiversity causes greater plant productivity.

And the key driver of this productivity is the cycling of nutrients from living plants to plant litter and back to living plants again. 

We think of large leaf munching herbivores as the biggest consumers of plants. But they are not. Most of the crucial breaking down and recycling of plant matter is performed by invertebrates and microorganisms - collectively know as detritivores.

The greater the biodiversity of the detritivore community, the more rapidly the plant materials are broken down and made available for the next round of growth and productivity.

Post has attachment
Intentional communities in the land of Oz: “What if it doesn’t work?” “But, what if it does?” - #sustainability #susty #alt

A small-scale, self-funded experiment in sustainable living conducted by thousands of people over the past 40 years in a remote, periodically flood-soaked town in Australia. Sound implausible? Then listen in to this ABC Radio interview of counter-culturalist-turned-social-scientist Terry McGee.

Post has attachment
Mooc, Mooc. Who’s there? #edtech #mooc

Decided to take a look on the prestigious Social Science Research Network (SSRN) website for the latest research on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). Found that Harvard and MIT have managed to publish a glorified sales presentation there about their edX platform (shown). But the numbers couldn’t lie.

MOOCs were once talked up as a way to bring Ivy-league education, free, to the furthest reaches of the education hungry globe. 
Turns out they don’t get much further than Boston city limits and are taken by old men with out-of-date undergraduate degrees.

Oh, well. Perhaps I should enrol? Hmmm. Nah, on second thoughts I will search through Facebook, Google+ and Twitter for other learners and exchange PDFs over a Hangout.

Happy learning!
Wait while more posts are being loaded