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  • Poppies through a crystal ball

    When should it be Green Sunday?

    Recently the charming rogue Cliff Arnall made the news again. This time it was a rehash of his ‘happiest day of the year’ formula which he produced for an ice cream company. The usual reaction, including mine, to his formulae is to mock them. To be fair Cliff Arnall helps massively by producing vacuous pseudoscientific […] More

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    claimtoken-5131d8ef1e500 “That famous quote: analysing comedy is like dissecting a frog – nobody laughs and the frog dies. Absolutely true, but you still learn a lot about the frog. It’s a good way of working out what makes a frog jump, if you’re trying to make your own one. If you are Frankenstein trying to […] More

  • in ,

    You can look but not touch

    via iPhylo “The Plant List ( has been released today, complete with glowing press releases. The list includes some 1,040,426 names. I eagerly looked for the Download button, but none is to be found. You can grab download individual search results (say, at family level), but not the whole data set. OK, so that makes […] More

  • Reading

    Reading about Readability

    Bora Zivkovic highlighted a post on readability and blogging yesterday on The Science of Blogging. This is a rework of a post on Colin Schultz’s site from earlier in the month, which is well worth a visit because of the comments on the post. Colin Schultz shows how you can use Google to get a […] More

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    Everyday gripes of a journal editor, part 53: gene or protein?

    Confession time: one of the main reasons why I chose to study ecology all those years ago was in order to avoid what, to me, were twin peaks of incomprehensibility – biochemistry and genetics. I liked to be able to see what was going on: a plant’s growth, a leaf’s reaction to drought, or stomatal […] More

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    Michael Pollan (and Yoda) at TED

    Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire, shows the power of evolutionary explanations by taking a plant’s eye view of agriculture. It’s not just the content that I like, the presentation style is worth examining too. The talk is definitely more in the style of a naked Yoda than Darth Vader. It’s lacking details, […] More

  • Thirst by Todd Baker

    Even plants can have too much of a good thing

    No doubt this will horrify Pat, but this is one of my favourite YouTube videos. If you’ve ever expressed a doubt about something, only to be told it must be ok because it’s natural, this is the video for you. There’s a cheerful inanity about the video. Water is natural, a daily need and essential […] More