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Archive → July, 2011

Top 10 most-read posts of July

David's Top 10 Reasons You Read This Blog in July. Credit: Pete Souza/Wikimedia Commons

Being a scientist and writer of a science blog, one can’t help being mesmerized by the statistics behind one’s readership. Over the last five years I’ve been quite surprised to see what posts garner a large number of readers and comments and which ones don’t (more often those that take a lot of time to write).

As posts gain traction among Google search returns on popular topics, you’ll often see old posts continuing to be among the most-read for months after writing.

So here are some data for you as well as a nice list of posts that you may have missed first time around:

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Amy Winehouse found dead in London

Amy Winehouse at Eurockéennes de Belfort (Festival Eurockéennes), 2007. Credit: V. Gable/Wikimedia Commons.

I just learned from wire services that 27-year-old singer Amy Winehouse was found dead this afternoon in London (here is the Scotland Yard report without her name).

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Naturally Toxic Crowdsourcing

Among a typically mad summer of academic activities, I am nervously trying to finish a chapter on naturally-occurring toxins for a drug metabolism book. Indeed, this entire chapter will be a science-based rebuttal to the timeworn but misled statement, “Natural is safe.”

So far, I’ve focused on naturally-occurring toxins that are metabolically activated by the liver such as the aflatoxins from Aspergillus spp. and pyrrolizidine alkaloids from a litany of herbal medicines such as comfrey and teas such as Jamaican bush tea made from Senecio. These two classes of compounds are acutely toxic to the liver because they are metabolized to highly-reactive nucleophiles. With long-term exposure, both classes are liver carcinogens.

From TW Kensler et al., Translational strategies for cancer prevention in the liver. Nature Reviews Cancer 3: 321-329 (2003).

I’ve also talked a bit about α-amanitin, the RNA polymerase II poision from Amanita phalloides and other Amanita species. Here, I mentioned the treatment of such poisoning with extracts of milk thistle in an intravenous form available in Europe. This 2009 case in California is a great example.

But let me ask you: what naturally-occurring toxins would you like to know about?

They don’t necessarily have to be metabolically activated. Some interesting aspects about their absorption, distribution, or excretion are a plus. For example, I feel compelled to cover E. coli toxins, particularly those due to the recent O104:H4 outbreak, as most recently discussed by Superbug writer, Maryn McKenna. But I want to be sure that I’m not missing anything.

The crowdsourced suggestions of the hivemind are greatly appreciated below.

iAroma synthetic marijuana and the loss of Max Dobner

Max Dobner. Credit: To The Maximus! Foundation

If you have not heard about the risks of marginally-legal, synthetic marijuana products, a NBC Today Show piece this week certainly raised national awareness of these products sold online, in convenience stores, and smoke shops. (Note: the video autoplays after clicking the hyperlink.)

On June 14 a 19-year-old northern Illinois man named Max Dobner crashed into a two-story home at a high rate of speed. The family living there was out but a baby had been napping an hour earlier in the room where the car entered.

According to Paul Biasco at the Daily Herald:

Police said Dobner was speeding in a 1999 Chrysler Cirrus east on Mooseheart Road, blew through a stop sign at the T-intersection at Route 31 and was sent airborne when the four-door struck a retaining wall. The vehicle flew about 15 feet in the air over an 80-foot stretch before hitting a tree and then the home, Zies said.

“The car hit with such force the motor came dislodged from the vehicle and went in through two more rooms and ended up in a bedroom in the back of the house,” [North Aurora Fire District Capt. Todd] Zies said. “It wiped out four rooms: a living room, bedroom, bathroom and another bedroom on the other side.”

This photo gallery at the Daily Herald shows the scene of the accident.

Charles Menchaca of the Batavia Patch reported this week that in the intervening month since the accident, a potential reason for this inexplicable single-car accident has emerged: Max’s brother reported speaking to him about having smoked a legal “potpourri” product called iAroma about an hour-and-a-half prior to the accident.

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News & Observer tweet-up: my newspaper groks it

Rocking the yellow with print and TV journalist, social media maven, @Cree PIO, and all-around awesomesauce, Ginny Skalski (@GinnySkal). Credit: David Kroll/CENtral Science

For those of you social media butterflies, how does your local newspaper interact with you?

Call me a dinosaur but I love my local newspaper. We at Terra Sig World Headquarters still get the dead-tree version on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and you’ll occasionally see me blog here and elsewhere about pharma stories I first learn from the News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina. Part of the reason is because it is the main newspaper of the Research Triangle region. (The Durham Herald-Sun is another, with about 1/5th the circulation, and few people know that almost all of Research Triangle Park is located within Durham County.) I like the smell and feel of a newspaper and I immensely respect those of my friends who write for the paper.

As much as I get excited on days when we get over 500 visitors here, the N&O has a print circulation of 134,470 daily and 190,514 on Sunday. But in these latest numbers from May, a new print/web metric was reported by the auditing firm who compiles these numbers. The N&O reaches a combined number of 797,346 unduplicated readers as determined from the last seven days of print and last 30 days of the online version. Like most papers around the world, the online readership far outnumbers those who access the paper in print.

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SciAm blog network follow-up

Last week, we welcomed the new Scientific American blog network to the ether and stimulated a bit of a discussion on the seeming paucity of chemistry bloggers among the 39 new blogs.

Despite the madness of managing the blog launch, Bora Zivkovic stopped by to comment:

Ha! Thank you. All the good chemistry bloggers are here on CENtral Science!

I did struggle about it. People with chemistry background whose blogs I like (and think they fit in my network vision) tend not to blog about chemistry much. Or are taken by other networks, or unwilling to join one. But majority of chemistry bloggers write for each other, very inside baseball I cannot understand, thus not really fitting my vision (or SciAm focus on broad audiences).

But with two bloggers with background, and one with foreground (plus some of our editors), I hope we can cover chemistry sufficiently, at least for the time being. If a fantastic new chemistry bloggers emerges, please let me know…

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Welcome Scientific American Blog Network!

There’s some big news in the blogosphere this morning from Blogfather and Scientific American Blog Editor, Bora Zivkovic, and Scientific American Editor-in-Chief, Mariette DiChristina.

We have an exciting announcement to make this morning. Our new blog network has launched!

To our existing line-up of eight blogs you are all familiar with, we have added another 39. There are now six editorial blogs, six personal blogs written by our editors and staff, and 42 independent bloggers who will write on our platform starting today.

Bookmark the new Blogs Homepage and read the official press release.

Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina, has written a welcome post, explaining what the network means to Scientific American.

And I have written an introductory post in which I introduce all the blogs and bloggers on our brand- new network.

This is a stellar lineup of bloggers. Give them a hearty welcome in the comments of their introductory posts, and keep coming back to read their amazing writing.

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