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"Call me an idealist, if you must, but I really believe most scientists are smart enough to take account of their own built-in biases."

No, they are smart enough to cover them up and make themselves look impartial.

Call me a cynic, but can't they just ping the whales wearing trackers to see if they react?

Your reference to lactic acid made me think of this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/16/health/nutrition/16run.html?_r=2&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1199366030-9Y0baK2IEGCkPtCdzt/E3A&pagewanted=print&oref=slogin

"The problem with this hypothesis is that any loud noise from non-sonar sources should also be affecting the dive profiles, and therefore also contributing to what seems to be a growing number of stranding events."

This remark is a bit of fore-shadowing as it turns out that the stick-on accelerometer / hydrophone behavioral study included a variety of sound sources including recorded mid-frequency sonar and orca calls. One of the interesting results (in the quite small sample set) was that both mid-frequency sonar and orca seemed to produce a resulting behavioral change (orca was a much stronger response) in the beaked whales. However, the response was to cut short the time on station at the bottom of the dive (when they're actually feeding) and make a lateral move, not a vertical one. The beaked whales went silent, moved laterally out of the area and, minutes later, began a controlled climb (definitely not a panic rise).

Small sample set caveats apply, of course (see the remarks in the article about slippery whales).

However, one point that you did not mention was that all this took place at AUTEC where the underwater tracking range hydrophones provide unique information on beaked whale vocalizations (among many other things, of course). One interesting indication resulting from that data is that the sightings of beaked whales (who tend to bob just below the surface, as you mentioned) do not match up with the vocalization data. Perhaps there are quite a few more whales than we thought....

Totally fascinating, thanks for this article.

I'm quite enjoying your writing. 'New 'round these parts. Felt the need for a cocktail. Maybe a Shirley Temple.

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    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.