Photo of the day

Very cool In Focus gallery of photos from and of the International Space Station:

Political Science– home of the “hot” professors

Check out this chart via the Monkey Cage:


That’s right, Political Science right near the top in “hotness.”  Though, a little context might be nice:

First, that academic disciplines are, without exception, more “not” than “hot.” When adjusted positive and negative hotness scores are totted up against each other, no discipline is even above 0. Thus, the main hypothesis of Careerbuilder et al. (2009) is decisively refuted.

Second, the above proviso aside, political scientists are pretty damn hot in comparative terms. We rank as number 5, trailing only languages, law, religion and criminal justice. From eyeballing the data, it looks as though there is a minor discontinuity right after political science, where the hotness lurches down a notch, and another, more significant one between psychology (at number 10) and finance (at number 11).

Third, economists are, without any jot, tittle, scintilla or iota of doubt or ambiguity, the notties rather than the hotties of the social sciences (coming 30th out of 36). Suck on it.

This is based on “hot” chili peppers are  And, yes, I’m doing my part for the discipline :-).

The deadliest virus

Ebola?  Marburg?  HIV?  Nope.  Rabies.  Of course, rabies can be prevented with a vaccine, but once you actually contract the disease rabies, you are pretty much going to die.  (Ebola tops out at 80% or so).   Anyway, I learned this while reading the very interesting (but overlong) Spillover: Animal Infection and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen this summer.  (Quammen’s Song of the Dodo is one of my favorite non-fiction works ever).

One of the interesting facts in the book is that bats are a reservoir population for a lot of really, nasty, nasty viruses.  That is, bats carry the viruses but are not infected by them.  In some cases, the viruses only become nasty for humans once they have been transmitted from bats, to humans, and then to another species.  E.g., the Hendra Virus which killed a number of humans after horses were pastured near where bats were roosting.  Or take the news earlier this month that Middle East Respiratory Syndrome basically moves from bats to camels to humans.

And, finally, it looks like there’s some progress on that 100.0% fatality rate if you contract full-blown rabies.  Get yourself put into an induced coma, and you just might have a 20% chance of survival.  Great Radiolab podcast on it.  Listen!

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