Saturday, July 04, 2009

"Peer review within science journalism"?

A post by Steven Krivit at New Energy Times titled Peer Review From Science Fans was critical of Charles Petit at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker:

Petit is the "lead tracker" for the Knight Science Journalism Tracker, an MIT program that performs "peer review within science journalism." Trackers analyze news stories for accuracy and a variety of other qualitative aspects.

Instead of responding at the Science News site, Petit retreated to his own Web site and lamented "the difficulty of revisiting cold fusion."

A 3 July 09 post on the Knight Science Journalism Tracker:

But this post got sidetracked by a different story I was unable to read. Thus the topic shifts: We’re all worried, in the mainstream media business, by the predictable and disastrous result of newspapers giving away their product free on the web. Add a recession and newspapers - in print or on line - are going the way of the linotype operator and the street corner shout “Extry! Extry! Read All About It!” This digression began yesterday morning when along came into The Tracker’s sights the Jamestown Sun in North Dakota. It offers a list of stories, including one also attributed to the AP, that apparently reports a local refuge where white pelican populations are in worrying decline.

That would make a nice contrast to the Idaho story of too many of the big birds. But it says here I need to buy a PressPass. That costs $4.95 per month. Then I could read it.
Well, good for the Sun’s management. It is among only a handful of papers that have bucked the self-destructive habit of handing free stuff out the back gate while trying to sell the same goods from the front door. The Albuquerque Journal also comes to mind. And does not PressPass have the right ring? Maybe it’s an outside business that has the Sun as a client, I don’t know, but it comes with a nifty

**The Tracker had a story on CO2 sequestration:

Such exasperation rises in The Tracker’s gorge as yet another idea for hiding carbon dioxide appears looking good as can be. This one, seriously, is beguiling. Anything that Wally Broecker at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory sponsors in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is worth some attention. So here is a corollary to notions that the deep basalts of the Columbia plateau in Washington State (see post Aug. 21, 2006) have the pore space and mineralogy to absorb scads of CO2 and transform it into rock-hard, carbonate deposits. But it says similar, undersea basaltic provinces along the Juan de Fuca ridge offshore would work even better. Sea water might speed the mineralization. In principle the place could hold a century’s worth of US carbon dioxide.

In the Seattle Times Sandi Doughton gets right to the point: the report’s several authors at Lamont-Doherty (Broecker’s not one - he just greased its way into PNAS) say once stuffed down there, CO2 would have virtually no chance of escaping into the water column or the air in any time frame worth worrying over.

**The Tracker had a story on buckyeggs (metal filled buckyballs):

Call it a buckyegg. That’s exactly what the Times Dispatch’s A.J. Hostetler does in a report on modified buckminsterfullerenes at Virginia Tech. Her story, a sturdy foray into an eight-year project by VT chemists, relays their tests on buckyballs stuffed with various metals to turn them into X-ray contrast agents or with metal-contianing fluorescent agents to make them glow. They also learned, in cooperation with colleagues at the University of California-Davis, that they take on an egg shape. As they are stuffed, does that mean if you cut one in half it’s a deviled buckyegg?

Fluff stuff.


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