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Gavin Hubbard
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Lived in London, Ontario
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Gavin Hubbard

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'Bone eating snot flowers' confirmed to have dined on the bones of fallen marine reptiles from about 252 - 66 million years ago.

As illustrated by the excellent Gareth Monger.

My friend Gareth illustrated just this for a blog post I did back in 2013, when it was far more speculative, but now new research has it confirmed. The same creatures that 'drill' into whale bones at the bottom of the ocean to feast on their nutrients also did the same for marine reptiles.
A little over two years ago, I was contacted by science blogger, Gavin Hubbard, who, knowing I liked to illustrate palaeontological organisms, was interested to see if I had any marine reptile illustrations available to use i...
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Gavin Hubbard

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When you think about treating cancer, the herpes virus is probably not the first thing you'd consider. Yet it turns out that that is exactly what a number of researchers are doing.

The trick is finding, or making, a virus which can infect tumour cells while leaving normal 'healthy' cells alone. Sounds hard, but it's not impossible.

But there are problems. For example, the immune system is primed to tackle viruses, it doesn't know the viruses intent and always assumes it's nefarious. Also, keeping the virus where it's needed could be a problem, and that's what the researchers this blog post looks at tried to solve.

http://2bscientific.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/herpes-on-the-brain-could-be-a-good-thing/
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+Gavin Hubbard So basically they mutate it so it doesnt mutate itself out of controll. And the danger of mixing with other viruses could create some sort of super virus i suppose
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When it comes to viruses like flu, we have very few weapons. Vaccines take time to create and, in the event of a new strain of flu burning through a population, we have very few drugs. And the effectiveness of the drugs we do have looks somewhat questionable at the moment.... This blog post looks at a paper which examined how flu and its host interact on a molecular level. They found a molecule -- called 'NS1' -- which drugs (if we can find them) may be able to target in the future and stop flu infections, and therefore epidemics, in their tracks.
In the evolutionary arms race there’s a constant battle between infectious diseases and their hosts defences. Now new research from the University of Texas has identified one of influenza A’s count...
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Came across this and thought some here might find it interesting:

"Most scientists agree that interacting with the public is a worthwhile endeavor, but participation in science outreach remains fairly low among biologists. Furthermore, current practices in science outreach remain largely based on ineffective communication models that may undermine public trust and interest. I argue that, in trying to improve both participation rates and the effectiveness of science outreach, we must take a more scientific approach, and we must practice outreach with the same rigor as the science that we share with the public. Here, I describe common misconceptions that can undermine the value of science communication with the public at many scales. I then describe an evidence-based, iterative, evaluative framework for biologists at all career stages to pursue public engagement in the biological sciences. These guidelines can also inform formal outreach training for scientists, specifically in promoting dialogue and engagement."

http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/64/4/333.abstract
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Thanks for sharing. Definitely looks like an interesting read! 
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Gavin Hubbard

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I wonder to what extent this is all about perception, or rather mis-perception of risks?
Is this surveillance a concern about terrorist attacks and events causing loss of life on a great scale? In which case, assuming this is a kind of moral and safety argument, is it not morally equivalent to, for example, invest the same time, money and effort in car/road safety--assuming more people die per year in car crashes than in (potential) terrorist attacks? (I haven’t checked)

Or is the potential threat of terrorism more about preventing disruption/upsetting of existing social and political structures? Rarely have I heard people use this as an argument for wholesale monitoring. And does being able to invade the privacy of people, in secrecy and at will, by those in power risk the same thing?

To what extent is there really an economic angle on international security/surveillance, I wonder? For example, stealing intellectual property or attempting to influence foreign policies (or something along those lines) to prevent business/technologies/research with the potential to disrupt economic health back home, to the detriment of other nations. Is this a legitimate use of such surveillance powers?

If something isn’t currently legal, but those in power want it to be once revealed, it’s relatively easy to make it legal. I worry that, in the UK, the argument is too focused on legality, rather than the other factors.

I have no idea, these are musings. But I do know I don’t feel comfortable about the scale, level of intrusion, and power this surveillance brings.
 
Britain inspects much of the internet traffic that enters or leaves the country. Even innocent material may be stored for several days. Is electronic surveillance excessive? Today at 4pm GMT / 11am EST our International section editor, Edward Lucas, will answer your questions on electronic espionage via Twitter. Pose a question by commenting below or in a tweet using #wdys You will be able to follow the discussion here: http://econ.st/HEqVg0 or on Twitter via @econdiscuss
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I thought some of you may be interested in this briefing on the Public Understanding of Science movement in UK  by Jane Gregory
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I need to check G+ more often - this is a good one. Thanks for sharing +Gavin Hubbard 
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Gavin Hubbard

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Pitch for a Guide to the Bacteria and Archaea:

https://coastalpathogens.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/pitch-a-guide-to-the-bacteria-and-archaea/

A friend wants to make a book, can you help make it happen? 
Background: inspired by a post by Jonathan Eisen on his blog 'the tree of life', I wrote a little post on 'a Field Guide to the Bacteria' last year. Both our posts were about the rather megalomania...
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When you think about treating cancer, herpes is probably not the first thing you'd think about. Yet it turns out that that is exactly what a number of researchers are doing.

The trick is finding, or making, a virus which can infect tumour cells while leaving normal 'healthy' cells alone. Sounds hard but it's not impossible. Though there are still problems. For example, the immune system is primed to tackle viruses, it doesn't know the viruses intent and always assumes it's nefarious. Also, keeping the virus where it's needed could be a problem, and thats what the researchers this blog post looks at tried to solve.

http://2bscientific.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/herpes-on-the-brain-could-be-a-good-thing/
1
Add a comment...

Gavin Hubbard

Science News (Pop Sci)  - 
 
When it comes to viruses like flu, we have very few weapons. Vaccines take time to create and, in the event of a new strain of flu burning through a population, we have very few drugs. And the effectiveness of the drugs we do have looks somewhat questionable at the moment.... This blog post looks at a paper which examined how flu and its host interact on a molecular level. They found a molecule -- called 'NS1' -- which drugs (if we can find them) may be able to target in the future and stop flu infections, and therefore epidemics, in their tracks.
In the evolutionary arms race there’s a constant battle between infectious diseases and their hosts defences. Now new research from the University of Texas has identified one of influenza A’s count...
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Great article. Thanks for posting it.
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Non-immaculate perception: "Around 0.5% of women consistently affirmed their status as virgins and did not use assisted reproductive technology, yet reported virgin births."

Also, an interesting bit about “born again virgins”.

http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f7102
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Does public engagement really work? 

"We conclude that public engagement through tailored lectures can have significant impact in the moderate term with the potential to leave a lasting impression over a longer period." 

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0080928

I came across this earlier this morning, and, again, thought some of this community might find it interesting

This paper is based on the Royal Institution Christmas lecture, given by Bruce Hood in 2011. Here's the lecture too, if you're interested: http://richannel.org/christmas-lectures/2011/meet-your-brain

I've always loved the Christmas lectures...
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I showed this to my boss and they thought it is cool :P We run an annual Christmas Science Show, apparently inspired by the Royal Institution's Christmas Lectures (started by Faraday). So thanks again for sharing!
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Gavin Hubbard

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'It’s no secret amongst the UK’s community of science communicators that animal research is one of the most challenging topics to talk to the public about.'

Why the time is right for public engagement with the 3R's:  http://blog.nc3rs.org.uk/communicating-3rs-research-moving-beyond-the-principles/
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Have them in circles
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Freelance science writer, ex-analytical Biochemist for a CRO specialising in biologics, Oxford SciBar member, science communicator, Nerd (Full time)
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