Post List

  • January 25, 2011
  • 12:11 PM

The Religion Gene (II)

by Cris Campbell in Genealogy of Religion

In his paper purporting to show that a beneficial, baby-making “religion gene” will sweep through a population and eventually make everyone religious, Robert Rowthorn ignores this inconvenient fact: nearly everyone in the world is already religious. Here is how it breaks down:

Because fifty percent of the “Non-Religious” group is theistic but not “religious,” we can [...]... Read more »

Rowthorn, R. (2011) Religion, fertility and genes: a dual inheritance model. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.2504  

  • January 25, 2011
  • 11:00 AM

Viruses throw wrenches in the gears of the immune system

by Kevin Bonham in Food Matters

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - pathogens are devious little bastards:

Discovery of a Viral NLR Homolog that Inhibits the Inflammasome

In order to respond to a virus, a cell first has to recognize that it's there. There are a lot of ways the cell tries to do this - some receptors (like the TLRs I study) look for features that are unique to pathogens that are outside the cell. Others look for molecules (like DNA and RNA) that are shared between us and pathogens, but are in the wron........ Read more »

Gregory SM, Davis BK, West JA, Taxman DJ, Matsuzawa S, Reed JC, Ting JP, & Damania B. (2011) Discovery of a Viral NLR Homolog that Inhibits the Inflammasome. Science (New York, N.Y.), 331(6015), 330-4. PMID: 21252346  

  • January 25, 2011
  • 10:21 AM

Linhenykus: A weird, one-fingered dinosaur

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

When it was first described in 1993, Mononykus was one of the strangest dinosaurs known. It had the slender, light build of some of the “ostrich mimic” dinosaurs, yet it possessed two stubby, one-clawed hands and a few other subtle characteristics that placed it in a new group called the alvarezsaurs. Since that time, multiple [...]... Read more »

  • January 25, 2011
  • 09:05 AM

Finding the middle road: Flowers evolve to work with multiple pollinators

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

"I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life: boxer, mascot, astronaut, baby proofer, imitation Krusty, truck driver, hippie, plow driver, food critic, conceptual artist, grease salesman, carny, mayor, grifter, body guard for the mayor, country western manager, garbage commissioner, mountain climber, farmer, inventor, Smithers, Poochie, celebrity assistant, power plant worker, fortune cookie writer, beer baron, Kwik-E-Mart clerk, homophobe, and missionary, but protecting people, that gives me the best f........ Read more »

  • January 25, 2011
  • 08:00 AM

Understanding Nutrition Labels Latest Vital Sign?

by Arya M. Sharma in Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes

As health professionals, we often assume that our patients understand what we tell them and can read the information sheets we expect them to understand.
But surprisingly often, even in a country like Canada, this is not the case. Thus, there is an increasing movement to make the assessment of a patient’s ability to follow health [...]... Read more »

Weiss BD, Mays MZ, Martz W, Castro KM, DeWalt DA, Pignone MP, Mockbee J, & Hale FA. (2005) Quick assessment of literacy in primary care: the newest vital sign. Annals of family medicine, 3(6), 514-22. PMID: 16338915  

  • January 25, 2011
  • 07:26 AM

Geology is destiny: globally mapping permeability by rock type

by Chris Rowan in Highly Allochthonous

The first maps of the global distribution of the ease of subsurface water flow have been produced, and they are based on maps of rock type. Continue reading →... Read more »

Gleeson, T., Smith, L., Moosdorf, N., Hartmann, J., Dürr, H., Manning, A., van Beek, L., & Jellinek, A. (2011) Mapping permeability over the surface of the Earth. Geophysical Research Letters, 38(2). DOI: 10.1029/2010GL045565  

  • January 25, 2011
  • 07:00 AM

A low-protein paternal diet alters hepatic gene expressions in progeny

by Colby in

Back in October I blogged about a recent paper by Ng et al. suggesting evidence for paternal programming of genes passed to offspring.  Overall, the study wasn’t very convincing (in my humble opinion). But recently Carone et al. give some more … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • January 25, 2011
  • 07:00 AM

Does it matter what kind of online networker you are?

by David Bradley in Sciencetext

According to a new study in Europe there are just five types of social network user. Indeed, the types apply equally as well to any social networking site, these are: Sporadics, Lurkers, Socializers, Debaters, and Actives. As social networking sites become more and more prevalent and more and more a part of our daily lives (viz 600 million Facebook users [...]Post from: David Bradley's Sciencetext Tech TalkDoes it matter what kind of online networker you are?
... Read more »

Petter Bae Brandtzæg, & Jan Heim. (2011) A typology of social networking sites users. Int. J. Web Based Communities, 7(1), 28-51. info:/

  • January 25, 2011
  • 07:00 AM

Behavioural Stratergies of Visually Disabled ‘Surfers’ [#accessibility #a11y]

by Simon Harper in Thinking Out Loud

Markel Vigo is taking up a research position spending two years with us here in Manchester and then a final year with Julio Abascal at the University of the Basque Country.... Read more »

Darren Lunn and Eleni Michailidou and Simon Harper. (2007) Observational Notes Acquired from Henshaws' Skillstep to Success Class: Observation Period 1. WEL Technical Reports, SADIe Technical Report 5(61). info:other/

Darren Lunn and Eleni Michailidou and Simon Harper. (2008) Observational Notes Acquired from Henshaws' Skillstep to Success Class: Observation Period 2. WEL Technical Reports, SADIe Technical Report 8(64). info:other/

  • January 25, 2011
  • 06:50 AM

teaching robots to walk, the evolutionary way

by Greg Fish in weird things

While robots aren’t yet conquering the world and won’t be anytime soon, they’re finally learning to walk, and in the near future, the kind of bipedal locomotion that’s a major part of what makes humanoid robots such an enormous engineering and maintenance challenge, may get a lot easier. And not only are they learning how [...]... Read more »

  • January 25, 2011
  • 05:30 AM

Teflon bacteria

by Becky in It Takes 30

Over the last 20 years or so we’ve been realizing that even bacteria don’t always live alone.  Instead, individual cells often stick to each other to make a biofilm, secreting a substance colloquially known as slime (also known to biologists as extracellular matrix).  Slime sounds wet, or sticky; but new work from Joanna Aizenberg’s lab [...]... Read more »

Epstein AK, Pokroy B, Seminara A, & Aizenberg J. (2011) Bacterial biofilm shows persistent resistance to liquid wetting and gas penetration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(3), 995-1000. PMID: 21191101  

  • January 25, 2011
  • 02:00 AM

The scent of a woman: subtle factors influencing human sexual attraction

by SAGE Insight in SAGE Insight

Scent of a woman men’s testosterone responses to olfactory ovulation cues From Psychological Science According to this research, odors can be a subtle factor affecting human mating, similar to the behavior of other animals. Monitoring the responses of men after smelling t-shirts worn by ovulating women, non-ovulating women and some not worn at all, they [...]... Read more »

  • January 25, 2011
  • 01:00 AM

To get a flu shot or to not get a flu shot, that is the question.

by Brooke N in Smaller Questions

Original antigenic sin - will getting the flu shot make you more susceptible to an epidemic?... Read more »

Kim, J., Skountzou, I., Compans, R., & Jacob, J. (2009) Original Antigenic Sin Responses to Influenza Viruses. The Journal of Immunology, 183(5), 3294-3301. DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.0900398  

  • January 25, 2011
  • 12:34 AM

Self-Monitoring in Weight Loss: a Complex Systems Perspective

by pennydeck in Feedback Solutions for Obesity

Does tracking your food intake and your exercise habits help you lose and maintain weight? A recent paper by Burke et al, published in the Journal of American Dietetic Association, reviews the collective research to date on the benefits of … Continue reading →... Read more »

Burke LE, Wang J, & Sevick MA. (2011) Self-monitoring in weight loss: a systematic review of the literature. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 111(1), 92-102. PMID: 21185970  

  • January 24, 2011
  • 11:26 PM

Bloodsuckers or tick-pluckers? The case of the oxpecker

by Neil Losin in Day's Edge

Birds have some awesomely descriptive names. Like the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius), a North American woodpecker that specializes in drilling “sap wells” in trees to feed on their sugary phloem sap. Or the Brown Trembler (Cinclocerthia ruficauda), a Caribbean relative of the mockingbird that shakes its wings violently to communicate with other members of its [...]... Read more »

  • January 24, 2011
  • 11:12 PM

The DDT Dilemna

by Ashartus in exposure/effect

The insecticide DDT (dichlorodiphenytrichloroethane) has been in the public mind ever since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published in 1962. Growing awareness of its environmental effects, persistence, biomagnification in food chains, and presence in humans (including in breast milk) led to severe restrictions being placed on its use, particularly in the developed world. However, its [...]... Read more »

Bouwman, H., van den Berg, H., & Kylin, H. (2011) DDT and Malaria Prevention: Addressing the Paradox. Environmental Health Perspectives. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1002127  

  • January 24, 2011
  • 11:00 PM

Just because it looks like a duct, doesn’t mean it is the duct

by Janel Kopp in the Node

The Node’s staff has kindly given me the opportunity to write a background piece, placing into context the results of our studies described in the paper, “Sox9 ductal cells are multipotent progenitors throughout development but do not produce new endocrine cells in the normal or injured adult pancreas” (released today in Development; For many [...]... Read more »

Janel L. Kopp, Claire L. Dubois, Ashleigh E. Schaffer, Ergeng Hao, Hung Ping Shih, Philip A. Seymour, Jenny Ma, & Maike Sander. (2011) Sox9 ductal cells are multipotent progenitors throughout development but do not produce new endocrine cells in the normal or injured adult pancreas . Development, 138(4), 653-665. info:/10.1242/dev.056499

  • January 24, 2011
  • 10:19 PM

Selenium, Brazil Nuts and The Strange Things Men Do.

by ABK in Environment and Health

We all know of men's warm, protective feelings for nuts, but why all the male interest in Brazil nuts? It might be the shape, if not the texture, but I think the answer lies in the Brazil nut's high concentration of selenium. Selenium is protective against prostate cancer, and good for testicular development (fetal period . . . sorry guys) and possibly protective against other oxidative-stress-induced ailments, testicular or not. On the other hand, selenium, at high concentrations can res........ Read more »

  • January 24, 2011
  • 09:04 PM

Music and the Brain: A Curious Theory

by Luc Duval in The Pedagogic Verses

A moderately unforgiving critique of an interesting theory of music cognition. Are musical preferences based on the brain's enjoyment of auditory compressibility?... Read more »

Nicholas J Hudson. (2011) Musical beauty and information compression: Complex to the ear but simple to the mind?. BioMed Central. info:/10.1186/1756-0500-4-9

  • January 24, 2011
  • 07:51 PM

Are mirror neurons the basis of speech perception?

by Hannah Little in A Replicated Typo 2.0


The discovery of Mirror Neurons in Macaque monkeys has lead to theories of the neurophysiological substrate of speech perception being grounded in mirror neurons. This is also relevant to the evolution of speech as if ability to perceive a rapid stream of phonemes is present in species such as macaques then this provides a foundation on which . . . → Read More: Are mirror neurons the basis of speech perception?... Read more »

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