Have you heard of DNA? It stands for Do Not Abbreviate, apparently. Jokes aside, it’s the most widely used acronym in scientific literature in the past 70 years, appearing more than 2.4 million times.
The short form of deoxyribonucleic acid is widely understood, but there are millions more acronyms (like WTF: water-soluble thiourea-formaldehyde) that are making science less useful and more complex for society, according to a new paper released by Australian researchers.
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) professor Adrian Barnett and Dr. Zoe Doubleday from the University of South Australia (UniSA) have analyzed 24 million scientific article titles and 18 million abstracts between 1950 and 2019, looking for trends in acronym use.
Despite repeated calls for scientists to reduce their use of acronyms and jargon in journal papers, the advice has been largely ignored, their findings show in a paper published in eLife.
Many of the 1.1 million unique acronyms identified in the past 70 years are causing confusion, ambiguity, and misunderstanding, making science less accessible, the researchers say.
“For example, the acronym UA has 18 different meanings in medicine, and six of the 20 most widely used acronyms have multiple common meanings in health and medical literature,” according to Doubleday. “When I look at the top 20 scientific acronyms of all time, it shocks me that I recognize only about half. We have a real problem here.”
DNA is universally recognized, but the second most popular acronym CI (confidence interval) could easily be confused for chief investigator, cubic inch, or common interface. Likewise, US (United States/ultrasound/urinary system) and HR (heart rate/hazard ratio) often trip people up.
Barnett says the use of acronyms in titles has more than trebled since 1950 and increased 10-fold in scientific abstracts in the same period.
“Strikingly, out of the 1.1 million acronyms analyzed, we found that two percent (about 2,000) were used more than 10,000 times,” he says. “Even when the 100 most popular acronyms were removed, there was still a clear increase in acronym use over time.”
Entrenched writing styles in science are difficult to shift and excessive acronym use points to a broader communication problem in science, Doubleday says, but journals could help stem the trend by restricting the number of acronyms used in a paper.
“In the future it might be possible—software permitting—for journals to offer two versions of the same paper, one with acronyms and one without, so that the reader can select the version they prefer.”
– This press release was originally published on the UniSA website
New Shark Research Tracks Movements of Smooth Hammerheads – DivePhotoGuide.com
Source: Science Daily
With overfishing driving many hammerhead species closer to the brink of extinction, a team of researchers has been focusing on determining the migration patterns of smooth hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna zygaena) in the western Atlantic Ocean in an effort to identify areas and times for management action to help in building back the depleted species.
The team tagged juvenile hammerheads off the US Mid-Atlantic coast using fin-mounted satellite tags and tracked the animals for up to 15 months. The tags reported the sharks’ movement patterns in near real time via a satellite link to the researchers.
“Getting long-term tracks was instrumental in identifying not only clear seasonal travel patterns, but importantly, also the times and areas where the sharks were resident in between their migrations,” said Ryan Logan, first author of the paper published in Frontiers in Marine Science. Logan is a PhD student at Nova Southeastern University’s Guy Harvey Research Institute and SOSF SRC and the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Research Center (SOSF SRC).
Logan and his coworkers found that the sharks migrate between two seasonally resident areas: coastal waters off New York in the summer and off North Carolina in the winter. Identifying these habitats is vital for ultimately designating the areas as “Essential Fish Habitat”—with the accompanying limitations on fishing and development.
The high-resolution data also revealed that the hammerheads spent a lot of time in the Mid-Atlantic Shark Area (MASA) in the winter, starting in December. The MASA zone is closed to bottom longline fishing between January 1st and July 31st to protect dusky sharks, so beginning the closure of the zone in December would further reduce the fishing mortality of juvenile smooth hammerheads.
Check out the tracks of various shark species, including smooth hammerheads, at Guy Harvey Research Institute’s dedicated website.
Venus is a Russian planet — say the Russians – CNN Philippines
(CNN)— No longer confined to territories here on Earth, Russia has now staked its claim on Venus, saying it is a “Russian planet.”
This week, Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space corporation Roscosmos, revealed that the country plans to send its own mission to Venus in addition to “Venera-D,” the planned joint mission with the US, the Russian state news agency TASS reported.
Rogozin was addressing reporters at the HeliRussia 2020 exhibition, an international expo of the helicopter industry in Moscow.
“Resuming Venus exploration is on our agenda,” he told reporters Tuesday.
“We think that Venus is a Russian planet, so we shouldn’t lag behind,” he said.
“Projects of Venus missions are included in the united government program of Russia’s space exploration for 2021-2030.”
The statement came the day after scientists revealed that a gas on Earth called phosphine had also been detected in the atmosphere of Venus.
Venus is similar in size to Earth and is our closest planetary neighbor, but it spins backward compared to other planets.
The study authored by Cardiff University professor Jane Greaves and her colleagues was published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy.
The discovery of phosphine on Venus elevates it to an area of interest worth exploring in our solar system alongside the ranks of Mars and “water world” moons like Enceladus and Europa, Seager said.
“Our hoped-for impact in the planetary science community is to stimulate more research on Venus itself, research on the possibilities of life in Venus’ atmosphere, and even space missions focused to find signs of life or even life itself in the Venusian atmosphere,” Seager said.
According to the European Space Agency, the Russians do have significant experience when it comes to Venus.
Its website states: “Between 1967-1984 Venusian studies carried out in Russia were at the forefront of international research into this planet.
“Since then, Russia has still preserved its unique expertise in designing and developing landing craft for Venus and continues to define scientific tasks for those craft.”
This story was first published on CNN.com, “Venus is a Russian planet — say the Russians.”
Florida man survives alligator attack while walking dog, gets 65 stitches – FOX 5 Atlanta
Johnson said his foot got stuck in mud moments before he saw “the lunge” as the alligator grabbed his leg.
“He starts clamping down pretty tight, and he started to pull, and the next thing I do … I poke [the gator] through the eye,” he told WPLG-TV.
Johnson told Treasure Coast Newspapers that after he stuck his finger in the gator’s eye, the reptile immediately let go and swam away.
After limping home with blood dripping from his leg, Johnson’s wife cleaned the wound and wrapped the leg in a towel before taking him to a hospital.
Johnson said he suffered 12 puncture wounds that required 60 stitches, plus another five to mend the index finger that was cut on the gator’s eye socket.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said a trapper captured the gator involved in the attack on Wednesday.
Officials said the alligator measured 8 feet, 6 inches and weighed nearly 250 pounds. The reptile has since been relocated to an alligator farm.
Johnson said that even though the reptile was trying to drag him into the water, staying calm was what helped him survive.
“You cannot panic,” he told the paper. “I bass fish all the time, too. I’ll reach down and lift up the bass with my hand. I just got lucky.”
Johnson said when he’s able to walk his dog again, he’ll probably carry some sort of weapon for protection.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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