Tag Archives: science

Georgia evolution disclaimer turns 10

I got caught up in the holidays and completely forgot to mark the 10-year anniversary of Cobb County’s “evolution disclaimer” court case (which started in 2004). In case you missed it, the Atlanta area school board decided to glue this sticker onto the front inside cover of students’ biology textbooks:

Colin Purrington Photography: Evolution graphics &emdash; cobb-county-evolution-disclaimerThis sticker was designed, of course, to make it seem like evolution is just an interesting idea, one that might be useful, but only time would tell. The sticker delighted the creationists in town who had pushed for the language.

I played a very, very small part in the trial: I sent a page of snarky disclaimers (below) to the plaintiff’s lawyer to amuse her, and she decided to print some up as posters to show in the courtroom. I heard the judge liked them a lot. If you are having a Darwin Day party on February 12, consider printing a bunch as party favors. Print some as bookmarks for kids while you’re at it.

Textbook disclaimer stickers

If you liked the above, you might also like the version I did for the New York Times. Felix Sockwell did the figurines, which really added a lot.

Colin Purrington Photography: Evolution graphics &emdash; The descent of dissent (New York Times op-ed)

 

Posted in Biology, Education, Graphic design, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tis the season to forget your friends’ birthdays

There are hundreds of interesting scientific studies linking winter birthdays to depression and other illnesses, and all of these studies propose cool mechanisms like womb effects and seasonal disease agents. Although I’m sure most of these proposed mechanisms are totally reasonable, I’ve always wondered about the cumulative effect of simply having your birthday ignored. Instead of thinking about you, your friends and family are thinking about Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanuka, Kwanza, New Year’s resolutions, and weight gain. And you’re saying, every year, “That’s OK, I’m fine, don’t worry about me,” … suppressing your disappointment year after year, silently throwing dagger eyes at your friends who have exciting birthday parties on the beach during the summer.

So after decades of wondering, I finally did the Google Trends search to see if interest in buying birthday presents dips. The result will surprise nobody with a winter birthday, I suspect:

Winter birthdays depression

So this holiday season, show your December and January friends some love.

By the way: season-of-birth (SOB) studies SHOULD include people who don’t actually know their true birthday (but for some reason the scientists know). I know that’s going to be a small data set, but that would allow the effects of womb and birthing time to be separated from the cumulative (social) effects of having birthdays in different months. There are a lot of factors in addition to just Christmas. Kids who have birthdays during the school year have a much, much easier time getting all their friends to the party (summertime takes people away on family vacations), and often their birthdays are announced on the school intercom — the cumulative effects of that cannot be zero, I claim.

And when people don’t know their birthday, which month do they choose? I’d love to know that.

Posted in Biology, Health, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Donate to the Charles Darwin Foundation

If you’re in the sciency mood on Giving Tuesday, here’s a good cause: The Charles Darwin Foundation. I suspect they’d be glad to hear from you any day, though. The center may close down due to lack of funds (details). Please spread the word, especially to evolved millionaires.

Charles Darwin in a Santa hat

Posted in Biology, Education, Graphic design, Photography, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy “Get Confused about Antibiotics Week”

The CDC designated this week as “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week.” I know, pretty exciting.

Although I’m all on board with awareness, and its goal (reducing resistance evolution in bacteria), I think the people at the CDC are actively ignoring an insanely easy way to educate the public: simply stop using the word “antibiotic,” and instead say “antibacterial”. E.g., people at the CDC should open up all their Word documents and web pages and do a global search/replace. Would take a week to fix the formatting changes caused by the extra characters. The cost of doing this would probably be much less than what they spend getting all those cartoons for their posters on antibiotics.

The reason I suggest this is that most people assume antibiotics work against viruses. And who can blame them? It’s what the word use to mean. Below is a sample definition from 1910:

Definition of antibioticand here’s what a Google search displays:

Definition of antibioticOf course, the CDC loves the word “antibiotics.” And thus it would take an Executive Order to get them to do what I suggest. But if you agree with me and eventually become President, could you please consider sending them that memo?? You’d make me happy, and save a lot of lives.

More details at “Curbing the misuse of antibiotics.”

Posted in Biology, Education, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fabric conference posters

I was invited to talk about poster design in Berkeley (DOE NNSA SSGF) and DC (DOE CSGF) this past summer, and used the opportunity to test out fabric as a medium for large-format conference posters. Below are some photographs if you’re curious how logos, illustrations, and photographs look when viewed close up on fabric. By the way, I ordered the posters from PhD Posters (they mailed to my house in a tube, inside a box). And if you’re interested, my poster design tips are here (rather long-winded because I’ve maintained page since 1997).

fabric-posters

The rolled up poster above is also fabric. I didn’t have the nerve to fold it into luggage-sized square, but I’ve heard that it can be done … though crease lines an issue. Might be able to iron them out, I’ve also read.

photograph-on-fabric-poster-I

The photograph above isn’t as crisp as a glossy poster, but was totally fine for my purposes. If it really mattered, I’d just print a copy on my photo printer at 1200 dpi (or whatever) and then use double sided tape to attach. Even paper posters have fairly low photo quality, so attaching a high-resolution version is always an option when you need it.

photograph-on-fabric-poster-III

Yes, you can see the fabric if you get close enough. People standing 6 feet away wouldn’t notice and probably wouldn’t care if you told them.

illustration-on-fabric-poster-I

illustration-on-fabric-poster-II

graph-on-fabric-poster

logo-on-fabric-poster

This logo is actually from the poster that is rolled up. It’s at http://colinpurrington.com/2012/example-of-bad-scientific-poster/ if you want to see the whole poster (you can download and print for your class, if you’d like; yeah, students would just love that).

fabric-poster-edge-detailThis photograph shows how the edges can get a little frayed. Holes from pushpins are also visible. Much less annoying than the rips and gaping holes that paper gets.

Posted in Education, Graphic design, Photography, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment