Showing posts from May, 2011

Press Releases

Universities love to release press releases when scientists get a paper published. Unfortunately they usually have the press release written by their PR folk, typically English Majors!

Why is this bad? Mostly because typical English majors stay as far away from science classes as they can. As a result, press releases written by them have tendency to mislead readers. Case in point, today a press release was put out by University of Alberta informing the public that researchers there had shown that "Mobile Animals Could Have Evolved Much Earlier Than Previously Thought."

So far, so good... but then the lead paragraph went on to say:
A University of Alberta-led research team has discovered that billions of years before life evolved in the oceans, thin layers of microbial matter in shallow water produced enough oxygen to support tiny, mobile life forms.
Now forgive me for being picky but how can microbial matter exist billions of years before life evolved? Isn't microbial matter…