Declan Butler, reporter This is the personal blog of Declan Butler, a senior reporter at Nature. All views expressed here are mine, and not those of Nature. Contact me at

September 25, 2006

Filmmaker makes full documentary on Libya HIV case available free online

Filed under: HIV,Justice,Libya,Uncategorized — admin @ 7:25 pm

Mickey Grant, a filmmaker from Dallas, Texas, has, in response to the blog campaign, today made his full, 1h 22 min, 2003 documentary on the Libya HIV case, Infection, available free, on Google Video — link here — it’s a raw upload, so for the moment you have to endure a 30 second test pattern before the film actually starts. I mentioned this in my earlier post, but I think his initiative deserves a post of its own.

Bloggers rally for liberation of the ‘Tripoli Six’

Filed under: HIV,Justice,Libya — admin @ 7:08 pm

Last week, I posed a question on this blog: “Can the blogosphere help free the Tripoli six?
Although its too soon to give a definitive answer to that question, it is not too soon to say that it will not be for want of trying. The response of the science blogosphere over the past 5 days has been astonishing, with over 125 posts so far.

So much so, that I’ve written a news article on this evening — Bloggers rally for liberation of the ‘Tripoli Six’ — on the phenomenon.

September 20, 2006

Can the blogosphere help free the Tripoli six? — innocent medics risking execution in Libya

Filed under: HIV,Justice,Libya — admin @ 6:50 pm

“Imagine that five American nurses and a British doctor have been detained and tortured in a Libyan prison since 1999, and that a Libyan prosecutor called at the end of August for their execution… on trumped-up charges of deliberately contaminating more than 400 children with HIV in 1998. Meanwhile, the international community and its leaders sit by, spectators of a farce of a trial, leaving a handful of dedicated volunteer humanitarian lawyers and scientists to try to secure their release.

Implausible? That scenario, with the medics enduring prison conditions reminiscent of the film Midnight Express, is currently playing out in a Tripoli court, except that the nationalities of the medics are different. The nurses are from Bulgaria and the doctor is Palestinian.”

These are the opening paragraphs of an unusually strongly-worded editorial — ‘Libya’s travesty‘ — published in tomorrow’s issue of Nature.

September 17, 2006

The spread of avian flu with time; new maps exploiting Google Earth’s time series function

Filed under: avian influenza,GIS,Google Earth — admin @ 8:44 pm

Google Earth last week introduced new functionality that allows one to map events against time. Clearly this is the ideal way to view the spread of avian flu worldwide, so I have adapted my existing flu maps to it. Only the new maps will be updated. The new link for the time-enabled maps is this one (the KML file).

You WILL NOT be able to view these maps correctly using the standard Google Earth client. You MUST FIRST install the latest GE 4.0 beta — download link here.


September 1, 2006

NASA World Wind Moon

Filed under: GIS — admin @ 7:08 pm

Nature online has a special out tonight on the Moon.

The occasion:

“On 2 or 3 September 2006, Europe’s latest mission to the Moon, a robotic craft called SMART-1, is scheduled to perform a spectacular crash landing, visible to Earth-bound professionals and amateurs alike.
Here takes a close look at the Moon, from its geology to its effects on mankind, from its birth to the future missions planned to build a base on its surface.”

The reason, I mention it here is that alongside I’ve a lighthearted Q&A with Patrick Hogan, project manager of NASA World Wind, on World Wind Moon. It’s a fun general public piece, and not one of my ever-so-serious analytical Nature articles, so I let Patrick get away with a few superlatives as to what he claims is upcoming in the next release of World Wind (1.3.6), due out this month. Let’s see if it is as good as he says:

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