Penguins Punctuate 2012 for PLOS ONE

Today is the last day of 2012. As you put on your formal wear and get ready to ring in the new year, why not reflect on the animal that’s always in style: the penguin! This year, PLOS ONE published an exciting array of penguin research. Here is a snippet of those penguin papers that attracted media attention and some that flew (or swam) under the radar.

Affectionately dubbed the “penguins from space” paper (after the Scientific American article of the same name), “An Emperor Penguin Population Estimate: The First Global, Synoptic Survey of a Species from Space” made the headlines in 2012. In the study, researchers used satellite imagery to count the number of emperor penguin colonies on the coasts of Antarctica. They developed techniques for differentiating between shadows in the snow, penguin guano, and the penguins themselves. In total, about 238,000 breeding pairs were identified. According to lead author Peter Fretwell, about 595,000 individual emperor penguins were counted in this first-ever satellite survey. Read more about this study at the BBC and National Geographic.

Have you ever wondered just what penguins do with their time? Our next study, entitled “Activity Time Budget during Foraging Trips of Emperor Penguins”, may help to shed some light on a day in the life of a penguin. As the title suggests, researchers tracked and observed penguins on foraging trips in the water and on sea ice. They noted that penguins spent about 70% of their time in the water, diving to depths of over 5 meters. When outside of the water, penguins spent a majority of the time resting. The researchers suggest that resting on sea ice may provide shelter from predators such as leopard seals. For more on this study, check out this video from the supporting information, or visit NBC and The Telegraph.

We now travel from Antarctica to Argentina in search of Magellanic penguins. In “How Much is Too Much? Assessment of Prey Consumption by Magellanic Penguins in Patagonian Colonies”, researchers calculated rates of prey consumption by analyzing the number of wiggles penguins made while diving. Why count wiggles? According to researchers, Magellanic penguins wiggle – that is, undulate up and down – in pursuit of prey. When penguins wiggle during their dive, it is very likely that they have caught their prey.

This evening as you gather with your loved ones to watch the fireworks, you may wonder how to keep warm in the December chill. Do what penguins do and huddle! In the aptly named “Modeling Huddling Penguins”, researchers developed a mathematical model to study the shape and movement of huddling penguins in extreme cold. The researchers simulated a group of huddling penguins and determined wind flow (refer to the image on the left, which is Fig. 1 from the study). They then identified which penguin would be the coldest and moved that penguin downwind; the scenario was repeated under different wind patterns. The researchers found that even if individual penguins work to conserve individual body heat the group as a whole can distribute an even heat loss.

Have a happy new year! We will see you all in 2013.


Fretwell PT, LaRue MA, Morin P, Kooyman GL, Wienecke B, et al. (2012) An Emperor Penguin Population Estimate: The First Global, Synoptic Survey of a Species from Space. PLoS ONE 7(4): e33751. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033751

Watanabe S, Sato K, Ponganis PJ (2012) Activity Time Budget during Foraging Trips of Emperor Penguins. PLoS ONE 7(11): e50357. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050357

Sala JE, Wilson RP, Quintana F (2012) How Much Is Too Much? Assessment of Prey Consumption by Magellanic Penguins in Patagonian Colonies. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51487. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051487

Waters A, Blanchette F, Kim AD (2012) Modeling Huddling Penguins. PLoS ONE 7(11): e50277. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050277

Image: Emperor penguins by lin_padgham

Hungary’s Growing Need for Open Worldwide Scrutiny and Support — and Perhaps Eventually Sanctions

I?ve just read the timely recent observations in Hungarian Spectrum by Princeton University’s international constitutional scholar, Professor Kim Lane Scheppele, as well as her earlier excellent lecture on the new Hungarian constitution (delivered at CEU nearly a year ago).

Professor Scheppele’s insights were and continue to be astute. But one point on which she does not seem to be realistic is her insistence that the problem of undoing the profound damage being done in Hungary by the current governing party’s electoral supermajority and its increasingly autocratic leader’s use of that supermajority power can and hence must be solved by Hungarians alone.

On the contrary, Hungary?s long history of red/white polarization and scape-goating has clearly culminated, in the latest pendulum swing, in the entrenchment of the white side?s ideology ? a primitive, parochial, petty, punitive and increasingly paranoid world-view ? in a quackish new constitution drafted, adopted and since amended at will nearly 2000 times by the governing party’s supermajority.

Undoing this systematic, cumulative and self-perpetuating damage would require far more substantial and unified internal opposition now than Hungary seems capable of mustering (including the election of a supermajority in the opposite direction, under increasingly self-serving election restrictions voted into law at will by the ruling supermajority).

If global scrutiny and support on behalf of democracy and justice are not ratcheted up dramatically, Hungary will become ever more inextricably engulfed by the opportunistic tar-baby that a plurality made the fateful mistake of embracing in 2010.

(International sanctions would certainly be infinitely preferable to an unopposed descent into dictatorship — or to civil war.)

Latest Article Alert from Reproductive Health

The latest articles from Reproductive Health, published between 28-Nov-2012 and 28-Dec-2012

For articles which have only just been published, you will see a ‘provisional PDF’ corresponding to the accepted manuscript.
A fully formatted PDF and full text (HTML) version will be made available soon.

Prevalence of institutional delivery and associated factors in Dodota Woreda (district),

Latest Article Alert from Environmental Health

The latest articles from Environmental Health, published between 14-Dec-2012 and 28-Dec-2012

For articles which have only just been published, you will see a ‘provisional PDF’ corresponding to the accepted manuscript.
A fully formatted PDF and full text (HTML) version will be made available soon.

Metals and trace element concentrations in breast milk of first time healthy mothers: a

From free trade to fair trade: first steps

The process of globalization means that more and more of the important decisions made, are made beyond the national level, for example through multi-national trade treaties and international bodies ranging from the United Nations to the World Intellectual Property Organization.

For democracy to thrive in a globalized world, democracy too must move beyond local borders. One proposal that I would like to offer is that the world needs to move beyond free trade to fair trade – not just for coffee and a few other goods; let’s make fair trade the default.

This is a huge task and I would not underestimate the difficulty of the journey. One strategy that I propose is to transition our free trade agreements, slowly, into fair trade agreements. Instead of a race to the bottom – companies looking for the lowest labour costs, poorest environment protection – let’s raise the floor, use the advantages of being able to participate in global trade to leverage good practices for the environment and for people. This post introduces three elements that seem highly likely to enjoy support from those in power: currency fairness, local economy health, and eliminating tax avoidance.

Update December 27: commitment to access to knowledge – thanks to Glyn Moody for the suggestion.  Good point, many countries have made this commitment already.

The optimum would be a complete and immediate reversal of direction globally. However, this may not be realistic. What might be realistic is incremental change, beginning with elements of fair trade that would appeal to the powerful players in the international arena. For this reason, I would like to suggest some elements that might appeal to those who have a lot of influence in global politics, such as Barack Obama.

One is currency fairness. I understand that Obama is well aware of the global impact of China’s artificially keeping its currency low. In the short term, the purpose would be to rebalance the global economy, in favor of the U.S., but in the long term, introducing one element of fairness could be a first step towards global fair trade policy. The current Trans Pacific Partnership treaty negotiations might be a really good time to bring this up.

Another is local economy health. There are advantages to trade, but if free trade decimates the local economy (anywhere), what’s the point? This is one area where the optimum is probably balance rather than all-free-trade or only local. Obama is concerned about jobs in the U.S., and the E.U.’s desire to protect local industries could help get support for this point.

In a global economy it becomes far too easy for large corporations and wealthy individuals to avoid taxes through such means as offshore tax havens. Countries everywhere would benefit from addressing this problem, and the most effective way would be for all countries to implement solutions at once, perhaps by tying tax avoidance solutions into participation in the World Trade Agreement

Creating Awareness

An awareness programme was launched by Allama Iqbal Library two weeks before organizing Open Access week. Advertisements were published in leading newspaper of Kashmir valley regarding the event as well as on Television/Radio. All the Heads of various Departments, Directorates and Institutes were invited to participate along with their faculty members, Research Scholars and students. Invitation Letters in this regard were also sent before to all of them. Same procedure was followed with regard to various colleges of Kashmir valley and other Universities.
Faculty members and Research Scholars were invited to present Power Point presentations (PPTs) on Open Access Resources. Keeping in view the expertise on Open Access, various experts were invited to deliver lectures on the topic.
To facilitate the use of Open Access Resources, a Virtual library was created on the web page of Allama Iqbal Library @
Total Number of Participants: More than 200
Total number of Lectures delivered: 04
Total Number of PPTs presented on the topic: 16
The proceedings of the Seminar were published in the leading newspapers of Kashmir valley.

Open Access Week at University of Kashmir

Allama Iqbal Library, University of Kashmir organized a “one day seminar on Open Access Resources” on 18th December, 2012 to create greater understanding about the benefits of Open Access Resources in scholarly communication and to highlight different Open Access Resources in various subject fields. The seminar was attended by the University Officials, Academics, Research Scholars and students, besides various College Principles and Librarians of colleges and other universities of Kashmir division. There was no registration fee and all the arrangements were made by Allama Iqbal Library.

The seminar was inaugurated by Prof. Talat Ahmad, Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor, University of Kashmir. In his inaugural address he emphasized the need to make use of electronic resources and their remote access. Prof. Talat Ahmad said Open Access Resources have become inevitable in view of the limited space available in libraries and other institutions now.  He further said that teachers and research scholars should publish their work in indexed journals to increase their visibility to the outside world.

The welcome address and introduction of the seminar was given by Dr. Abdul Majid Baba, University Librarian, University of Kashmir. He mentioned about the usefulness of the seminar in understanding the effective use of Open Access Resources and their availability on the Internet. He further mentioned about various steps taken by Allama Iqbal Library in the direction of Open Access movement.

The key note address was delivered by Prof. Wajih Ahmad Alvi, University Librarian, Islamic University of Science and Technology. Prof. Alvi highlighted the transition of knowledge from handwriting, printing to skywriting. He further stated that the advent of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and its enabling capacities have revolutionized all human enterprises, their institutions and the services. Naturally it had an impact on the whole gamut of production, access and archiving of information worldwide. There emerged electronic formats for packaging information and the accessing scenario also changed from physical to online. Highlighting the role of Open Access Resources, he mentioned several Open Access programs which are now fully operational worldwide. One of the major programs is the digitization of traditional printed books. We have Project Gutenberg, Google Books, Internet Archive, Bookboon to quote but a few.

In the case of journals where we encountered many chronic and critical problems the scenario has changed a great deal. We now have thousands of Open Access journals as listed in Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Under the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) we now talk in terms of Green and Gold Roads to publish, archive and access journals; the former advocates Self-archiving e-print of finally accepted version on Institutional Repository or some Central Repositories on the Web to showcase one’s contribution, while the later favours Publishing in an Open Access journal. At the end of his address he mentioned some dark spots most frequently talked about on Open Access.

Prof. Zafar Ahmad Reshi, Registrar, University of Kashmir presented an impressive Power Point Presentation (PPT) on “Quality of Open Access Journals”. In his presentation, he highlighted the veritable revolution of scientific journal publishing enabled by the emergence of the World Wide Web. He further shed light on the journey of Open Access journals through time. He concluded his presentation by stating that the “Results indicate that OA journals indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus are approaching the same scientific impact and quality as subscription journals, particularly in biomedicine and for journals funded by article processing charges”.

During the second session of the seminar, various PPTs on the theme of the seminar were presented by faculty members, Librarians, Research Scholars and Students. In these presentations, different aspects of Open Access were thoroughly discussed. Various Open Access Resources were highlighted and their usage and effectiveness in different disciplines was demonstrated. The participants appreciated the organizers of the seminar and desired to have more programmes of similar in nature to be organized in future also.

The seminar concluded with a vote of thanks by Mr. Abdul Rashid Lattoo, Sr. Assistant Librarian, Allama Iqbal Library, University of Kashmir.

Latest Article Alert from Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology

The latest articles from Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, published between 10-Dec-2012 and 24-Dec-2012

For articles which have only just been published, you will see a ‘provisional PDF’ corresponding to the accepted manuscript.
A fully formatted PDF and full text (HTML) version will be made available soon.

Speech recognition index of workers with tinnitus exposed to

Are publishers actually helpful for knowledge dissemination? Or are scholars better off DIY?

Melissa Terras’ article in the Journal of Digital Humanities, The Impact of Social Media on the Dissemination of Research: Results of an Experiment found that tweeting her author’s final version of papers in the institutional repository resulted in a significant increase in downloads. To me, this raises the question: is the role of publishers in disseminating and marketing research articles rapidly becoming obsolete? This would be an interesting question for altmetrics researchers to explore!