Fingerprinting erosion

Watershed health and water quality issues are a growing concern. Researchers examined the sediments traveling downstream toward Lake Winnipeg using a technique called color fingerprinting. The color of a particular sediment is key to identifying the specific origin of the erosion. —> Read More

Psychology Is Not in Crisis? Depends on What You Mean by “Crisis”

In the New York Times yesterday, psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett argues that “Psychology is Not in Crisis.” She is responding to the results of a large-scale initiative called the Reproducibility Project, published in Science magazine, which appeared to show that the findings from over 60 percent of a sample of 100 psychology studies did not hold up when independent labs attempted to replicate them.

She argues that “the failure to replicate is not a cause for alarm; in fact, it is a normal part of how science works.” To illustrate this point, she gives us the following scenario:

Suppose you have two well-designed, carefully run studies, A and B, that investigate the same phenomenon. They perform what appear to be identical experiments, and yet they reach opposite conclusions. Study A produces the predicted phenomenon, whereas Study B does not. We have a failure to replicate.

Does this mean that the phenomenon in question is necessarily illusory? Absolutely not. If the studies were well designed and executed, it is more likely that the phenomenon from Study A is true only under certain conditions. The scientist’s job now is to figure out what those conditions are, in order to form new and better hypotheses to test.

She’s making a pretty big assumption here, which is that the studies we’re interested in are “well-designed” and “carefully run.” But a major reason for the so-called “crisis” in psychology — and I’ll come back to the question of just what kind of crisis we’re really talking about (see my title) — is the fact that a very large number of not-well-designed, and not-carefully-run studies have been making it through peer review for decades.

Small sample sizes, sketchy statistical procedures, incomplete —> Read More

See Plans For The 62-Mile Wall That Would Capture Trash In The Pacific

Nature isn’t doomed if we work fast enough.

That’s the essential premise fueling The Ocean Cleanup, an organization that hopes to pull an unbelievable amount of plastic waste from the Pacific Ocean in the next decade.

The story has always been: We can’t clean it up, so the best thing we can do is not make it worse,” Boyan Slat, Ocean Cleanup founder, told The Huffington Post in a Skype interview. “To me, that’s depressing.”

That is depressing. Imagine Earth as a stewing mound of sun-baked waste that everyone’s standing on, nostrils clenched shut by fingers. Some may do their part to avoid making the mound bigger, but how many are able to make it smaller?

Slat thinks his team can.

The Ocean Cleanup, which is funded in large part by entrepreneurs like Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, recently collected data on the plastic trash in the North Pacific Ocean as part of its “Mega Expedition.” Crews on nearly 30 ships used a smartphone app and other tools to keep track of the plastic they observed in the water. Slat needs the data to help enact an ambitious plan: the deployment of a massive aquatic barrier that will corral trash into a concentrated area for collection.

“This is the first time anyone’s ever quantified the large debris — things like crates, bottles, buoys and nets,” Slat told HuffPost.

“The amount of large stuff really was a surprise. It was a lot more big stuff than small stuff by a factor of 100 or 1,000. Some is still to be analyzed, but it’s clear there’s a lot more plastic out there than expected,” he continued.

(Story continues below slideshow.)

Here’s the good news: While the amount of plastic waste was shocking, the problem can be remedied. In 2020, —> Read More

1 2 3 3,918