Post List

  • February 4, 2011
  • 06:10 AM

Cultivated penguins

by Jörg Friedrich in Reading Nature

For decades, scientists mark animals in the wild in order to recognize and thus be able to observe the same individuals for a long time. They believe that they find out something about the nature by watching marked animals, but … Continue reading →... Read more »

Saraux C, Le Bohec C, Durant JM, Viblanc VA, Gauthier-Clerc M, Beaune D, Park YH, Yoccoz NG, Stenseth NC, & Le Maho Y. (2011) Reliability of flipper-banded penguins as indicators of climate change. Nature, 469(7329), 203-6. PMID: 21228875  

  • February 4, 2011
  • 03:45 AM

When death is an aphrodisiac

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Feeling frisky?
What effect do thoughts of death have on a typical person's desire for sex? The short answer is that it depends. Armed with insight from terror management theory and attachment theory, Gurit Birnbaum and her colleagues have made a start unpicking the detail of when and for whom death is an aphrodisiac.

Research on terror management theory has shown that people respond to mortality reminders by bolstering their own cultural view, derogating opposing views, and shoring up their ........ Read more »

  • February 4, 2011
  • 12:49 AM

Friday Weird Science: Penises are Funny Looking!

by Scicurious in Neurotic Physiology

This one comes courtesy of NCBI ROFL, who presented the abstract last week. Can’t beat their fantastic penis-shaped light fixture, either. I’d like to begin today’s Friday Weird Science with a brief story about SciMom. SciMom is a brilliant mom. She’s encouraging and supportive and smart, and also really REALLY funny. Mostly because she’s prone [...]... Read more »

Bowman EA. (2010) An explanation for the shape of the human penis. Archives of sexual behavior, 39(2), 216. PMID: 19851854  

  • February 3, 2011
  • 07:38 PM

Cheetah genetic diversity revisited

by hilaryml in Chicken or Egg blog

Another chapter has been added to the story of genetic variation in the cheetah, with a paper out in next month’s Molecular Biology and Evolution journal giving a detailed description of variation at key immune genes in the species.  I first became familiar with the cheetah story as a PhD student when I was studying genetic diversity [...]... Read more »

  • February 3, 2011
  • 06:52 PM

What does your doctor look like, and how much is she paid?

by PalMD in White Coat Underground

Not to be a nudge, but you could vote for me for a Medgadget Medical Weblog Award in one (or both, presumably) of two categories: Best Medical Blog, or Best Literary Medical Blog.  Voting will be open for another ten days. Currently, over 48% of medical school graduates are women.  Seven percent of medical school [...]... Read more »

  • February 3, 2011
  • 05:01 PM

Back to Bacteria: A "Big Rotten Loofah"

by Megsie Siple in Fishpond Fever

Mangrove detritus pulled out of a sediment core at the south edge of the pond.The surface of a rhizome mat where mangrove overstory was removed four years ago. The surface is soft, and decomposing root fibers protrude into the water. The stringy fragments in the foreground are worm waste.More on the mangrove story: This Tuesday we took sediment cores from two areas where mangrove overstory (prop roots and trunks) were cut down in 2007 and 2008. In these areas, dead stumps still stick out of the ........ Read more »

  • February 3, 2011
  • 04:54 PM

Why siblings differ differently

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

The Pith: In this post I examine how looking at genomic data can clarify exactly how closely related siblings really are, instead of just assuming that they’re about 50% similar. I contrast this randomness among siblings to the hard & fast deterministic nature of of parent-child inheritance. Additionally, I detail how the idealized spare concepts of genetics from 100 years ago are modified by what we now know about how genes are physically organized, and, reorganized. Finally, I explai........ Read more »

  • February 3, 2011
  • 01:00 PM

The IF, THEN and WHY of Web use

by David Bradley in Sciencetext

Analyzing user statistics across Web sites is an issue that often comes under scrutiny from privacy advocates worried that marketing companies are exploiting their personal data to track their behavior and target them with advertising. The issue is, of course, a double-edged sword. Many of us would prefer that our online behavior is not being [...]Post from: David Bradley's Sciencetext Tech TalkThe IF, THEN and WHY of Web use
... Read more »

Dong Li, Anne Laurent, & Pascal Poncelet. (2011) WebUser: mining unexpected web usage. Int. J. Business Intelligence and Data Mining, 6(1), 90-111. info:/

  • February 3, 2011
  • 12:51 PM

Neury Thursday: Sleep and the Case of Confirmation Bias

by Allison in Dormivigilia

German researchers have uncovered that people who are told that they will be re-tested on a memory recall task after a night's sleep perform exceptionally better than the uniformed group. This expectancy, moreover, had such a powerful effect on future performance that this expectancy actually caused an increase in slow wave sleep and sleep spindle activity, which are directly linked to improved memory performance. Does this mean that the general public is well aware of the benefits of sleep........ Read more »

Ines Wilhelm,1 Susanne Diekelmann,1 Ina Molzow,2 Amr Ayoub,1 Matthias Mo¨lle,1 and Jan Born3. (2010) Sleep Selectively Enhances Memory Expected to Be of Future Relevance. Journal of Neuroscience, 1563-1569. info:/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3575-10.2011

  • February 3, 2011
  • 11:55 AM

Do animats dream of electric rats?

by Neuromancy in Neuromancy

The brain is an incredibly complex system. A carefully controlled experiment might be able to give us information about a specific function in a specific situation, but it is somewhat artificial. By creating a simple ‘brain’, and embedding it in a robot with the ability to detect and react to its surroundings, we can begin to understand how the brain reacts in a more natural and dynamic way. This is exactly what research groups around the world, including a group at the University of Reading........ Read more »

Warwick, K., Xydas, D., Nasuto, S. J., Becerra, V. M., Hammond, M. W., Downes, J., Marshall, S., & Whalley, B. J. (2010) Controlling a mobile robot with a biological brain. Defence Science Journal, 60(1), 5-14. info:other/0011-748X

  • February 3, 2011
  • 11:50 AM

Changing dominant hemispheres

by Janet Kwasniak in Thoughts on thoughts

Being left-handed, I have had a special interest in the differences between the brain’s hemispheres. However, over the years I have come to suspect much that is said about the differences. All this left-brain right-brain nonsense is just that, nonsense. Aside from language and spatial processing, there has been little evidence for hemisphere specialization. Now [...]... Read more »

  • February 3, 2011
  • 11:40 AM

CoalHMM analysis of the human/chimpanzee ancestor, based on the orangutan genome

by Thomas Mailund in Mailund on the Internet

I’ve been wanting to write about our paper on the orangutan genome for a while, but I’ve just been too busy so far, so a little late I finally get to it. Besides the Nature paper, where we contributed to the analysis of the two sub-species of orangutans, we have two companion papers. One is [...]... Read more »

  • February 3, 2011
  • 10:54 AM

So that's why Flipper asked for pineapples...

by Christie Wilcox in Observations of a Nerd

Peta recently stirred up quite a lot of controversy with their banned superbowl ad claiming that "studies have shown that vegetarians are better lovers." Of course, no such research exists, but somehow in trying find where that came from (no pun intended) I ended up in a twitter conversation about diet and sex. Anyhow, to make a long story short, after several converstaional tangents I found myself sifting through the scientific literature for anything containing "taste" and "semen."*

Sorry, f........ Read more »

  • February 3, 2011
  • 10:42 AM

Willo the Dinosaur Loses Heart

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

At first glance, Willo was not an especially impressive dinosaur. A well-preserved Thescelosaurus, this herbivorous dinosaur was one of the mid-sized ornithischians that lived about 66 million years ago. What made Willo special was its heart. Preserved inside a concretion cradled within the dinosaur’s ribcage were the remains of its major cardiac muscle. But not [...]... Read more »

  • February 3, 2011
  • 10:29 AM

Deathstalker v. Nightstalker: Bats take down highly venomous prey without a care in the world

by Matt Soniak in

There are some 1,400 described species of scorpion in the world, and while only 25 of those have proven they can take down a human being with their venom, many more of them can easily injure and kill smaller creatures. Given that, you’d expect scorpions to be important predators in desert food webs, but you [...]... Read more »

  • February 3, 2011
  • 10:16 AM

On Prions: Why my British organs are off limit.

by Katie Pratt in

This weekend I renewed my Rhode Island driver’s license. As always, there was a variety of questions to be answered, one of which was “would you like to be an organ donor?” to which I replied: “I’d love to, but I can’t”. As a British citizen who lived in the UK between 1980 (well, I [...]... Read more »

Atarashi, R., Satoh, K., Sano, K., Fuse, T., Yamaguchi, N., Ishibashi, D., Matsubara, T., Nakagaki, T., Yamanaka, H., Shirabe, S.... (2011) Ultrasensitive human prion detection in cerebrospinal fluid by real-time quaking-induced conversion. Nature Medicine. DOI: 10.1038/nm.2294  

  • February 3, 2011
  • 09:50 AM

Jet-lagged? it is in your blood

by Vasili Hauryliuk in stringent response

We, animals, have inbuilt metronomes with roughly 24 hour oscillation period, called circadian clocks. These clocks allow organisms to be in sync with the day / night cycle.And it turnes out that human red blood cells have a circadian clock of their own! And it keeps on ticking when the blood outside the body!Peroxiredoxins comprise a conserved family of antioxidant proteins, and researchers checked for peroxiredoxin SO2/3 oxidation level in human red blood cell samples over ........ Read more »

O'Neill JS, & Reddy AB. (2011) Circadian clocks in human red blood cells. Nature, 469(7331), 498-503. PMID: 21270888  

  • February 3, 2011
  • 09:40 AM

Guest post: Thinking in time

by Wellcome Trust in Wellcome Trust Blog

Where does our sense of time come from? Recent research suggests external factors play a key part in how our brain perceives the passage of time, writes Misha Ahrens. Our sense of time passing is important, and typically assumed to originate from timekeeping circuitry within the brain. But a dedicated ‘brain clock’ has not yet [...]... Read more »

  • February 3, 2011
  • 09:33 AM

In the news this month: a roundup of stories from the 217th AAS meeting

by Megan in Rigel

In the news this month we roundup of some highlights from the 217th meeting of the American Astronomical Society held in Seattle during January. The annual meetings of the American Astronomical Society are the largest gatherings of astronomers on the planet, and the presentations cover topics across the whole field of astronomy and astrophysics, including observational results, theoretical studies and simulations. Here are some of the highlights from this year's meeting.Starting big, astronomers........ Read more »

SDSS-III collaboration: Hiroaki Aihara, Carlos Allende Prieto, Deokkeun An, Scott F. Anderson, Éric Aubourg, Eduardo Balbinot, Timothy C. Beers, Andreas A. Berlind, Steven J. Bickerton, Dmitry Bizyaev.... (2011) The Eighth Data Release of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey: First Data from SDSS-III. Astrophysical Journal Supplements. arXiv: 1101.1559v1

Sukanya Chakrabarti, Frank Bigiel, Philip Chang, & Leo Blitz. (2011) Finding Dark Galaxies From Their Tidal Imprints. Astrophysical Journal. arXiv: 1101.0815v1

  • February 3, 2011
  • 09:30 AM

Economic Effect of Depression-Related Early Retirement

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

The economic effects of depression and other mental disorders receive limited research attention. One pathway for depression to influence economic status is through early retirement as well as lower rates of employment during the working years.  The effects of early retirement are the focus of a recent Australian study by Schofield et al published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.This study examined adults between the ages of 45 and 64 participating a large survey of the economic impact........ Read more »

Schofield DJ, Shrestha RN, Percival R, Kelly SJ, Passey ME, & Callander EJ. (2011) Quantifying the effect of early retirement on the wealth of individuals with depression or other mental illness. The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science, 123-8. PMID: 21282782  

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