Post List

  • August 22, 2010
  • 05:04 AM

The problem with drug trials

by Michael Slezak in Good, Bad, and Bogus

Should randomised trials be the only type of evidence accepted for rolling out drug treatments?
If so, then two researchers wrote in the Lancet this week that that we face a problem:
The evidence we have might not be the evidence we need, and the evidence that we need may never become available.
They are writing in response [...]... Read more »

  • August 22, 2010
  • 04:10 AM

Global Temperature Proxy Reconstructions ~ Bayesian extrapolation of warming w/ rjags

by apeescape in mind of a Markov chain

There are a bunch of “hockey sticks” that calculate past global temps. through the use of proxies when instrumental data is absent. There is a new one out there by McShane and Wyner (2010) that’s creating quite a stir in the blogosphere (here, here, here, here). The main take out being, that the uncertainty is [...]... Read more »


Mann, M., Zhang, Z., Hughes, M., Bradley, R., Miller, S., Rutherford, S., & Ni, F. (2008) Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(36), 13252-13257. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0805721105  

  • August 22, 2010
  • 12:30 AM

Of blood and breath: metabolite-based diagnosis of ovarian cancer

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

Physicians always knew that breath contains clues to diseases. Chemicals in breath often correlate with chemicals in saliva and blood - be it alcohol, anaesthetics or other metabolites (see, for example, this study by Dr Andreas Hengstenberg).As one of my interests is breath-based detection of ovarian cancer, I took note of the recent paper claiming 99% to 100% accuracy of detecting ovarian cancer by metabolites in blood. The authors used customized functional support vector machine-based machin........ Read more »

Zhou M, Guan W, Walker LD, Mezencev R, Benigno BB, Gray A, Fernández FM, & McDonald JF. (2010) Rapid Mass Spectrometric Metabolic Profiling of Blood Sera Detects Ovarian Cancer with High Accuracy. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers . PMID: 20699376  

  • August 21, 2010
  • 10:49 PM

Unraveling the Ocean Methane Paradox

by Sarah in Curious!

Mention methane production, and cows or oil companies usually come to mind. But much of the methane in the atmosphere (1-4%) actually escapes from the oceans, some of it produced by microbes known as methanogens (like Methanosarcina acetivorans, above). Some methanogens live in anaerobic – oxygen-free – sediments on the seafloor. Others make their homes in anaerobic fish intestines, the guts of some plankton, or fish and plankton fecal matter. Methanogens live in anaerobic environments. ........ Read more »

Karl, D., Beversdorf, L., Björkman, K., Church, M., Martinez, A., & Delong, E. (2008) Aerobic production of methane in the sea. Nature Geoscience, 1(7), 473-478. DOI: 10.1038/ngeo234  

Reeburgh, W. (2007) Oceanic Methane Biogeochemistry. Chemical Reviews, 107(2), 486-513. DOI: 10.1021/cr050362v  

  • August 21, 2010
  • 08:16 PM

Friday(ish) Focal Mechanisms: Samoa’s hidden rupture

by Chris Rowan in Highly Allochthonous

How what we thought was one great earthquake turned out to be two, or possibly even three, at the same time. Continue reading →... Read more »

Lay, T., Ammon, C., Kanamori, H., Rivera, L., Koper, K., & Hutko, A. (2010) The 2009 Samoa–Tonga great earthquake triggered doublet. Nature, 466(7309), 964-968. DOI: 10.1038/nature09214  

Beavan, J., Wang, X., Holden, C., Wilson, K., Power, W., Prasetya, G., Bevis, M., & Kautoke, R. (2010) Near-simultaneous great earthquakes at Tongan megathrust and outer rise in September 2009. Nature, 466(7309), 959-963. DOI: 10.1038/nature09292  

  • August 21, 2010
  • 01:56 PM

Evolution of Colour Terms: 5 Cultural Constraints

by Sean Roberts in A Replicated Typo 2.0

Continuing my series on the Evolution of Colour terms, this post reviews studies of cultural constraints on colour naming. For the full dissertation and for references, go here.

This section reviews evidence of cultural constraints on colour terms.  Modelling has shown that cultural transmission can cause individual categorisations of colour space to converge on shared categories, . . . → Read More: Evolution of Colour Terms: 5 Cultural Constraints... Read more »

  • August 21, 2010
  • 01:20 PM

Reef Heterogeneity Can Mask No-Take Marine Reserve Efficacy

by Michael Long in Phased

Brittany Huntington (University of Miami, United States) and coworkers have disentangled the complexity underlying a rigorous evaluation of no-take marine reserve efficacy, demonstrating conservation benefits that are commonly overlooked. This news feature was written on August 21, 2010.... Read more »

  • August 21, 2010
  • 12:28 PM

Putting a number on it: Maned wolf survival rates

by DeLene Beeland in Wild Muse

How can you conserve a large carnivore when you don’t know how many of them exist? It’s a difficult task, and so a few scientists at the Jaguar Conservation Fund opted to put a number on their target population… only it’s not jaguars they were trying to pinpoint, it was the lesser known maned wolf. [...]... Read more »

Sollmann, R., Furtado, M., Jácomo, A., Tôrres, N., & Silveira, L. (2010) Maned wolf survival rate in central Brazil. Journal of Zoology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.2010.00727.x  

  • August 21, 2010
  • 11:00 AM

The five dimensions of an autistic brain

by sandygautam in The Mouse Trap

Image via Wikipedia Autism is a spectrum disorder , better referred to as ASD, It has been known for some time that differences like autism are, multi-dimensional and not readily reducible to a single set of mechanisms or genetic causes. In the past we have discussed how the disorder may be related to structural differencesRating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)... Read more »

  • August 21, 2010
  • 09:50 AM

Seeing the Masculinity in Depressed Men...

by Ultimo167 in Strong Silent Types

As we grapple to understand why so many men seem to get so depressed but then do nothing positive about it, Fields and Cochran (2010) alternatively challenge health service providers to think more about what they are doing, or not, to assist depressed men.... Read more »

  • August 21, 2010
  • 09:25 AM

Dispersants! A multi-part series to enlighten your brains.

by Holly Bik in Deep Sea News

When I don’t know enough about a subject, I tend to Google and data-mine—obsessively.  So it has become with dispersants.  In the wake of oil spill, this word has been thrown around, but often without any corresponding depth of information.  Kind of like that cousin you always see at family parties but never manage to . . . → Read More: Dispersants! A multi-part series to enlighten your brains.... Read more »

Fingas, M.F. (2008) A Review of Literature Related to Oil Spill Dispersants 1997-2008. Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council (PWSRCAC) Report. info:/

  • August 21, 2010
  • 08:42 AM


by Kevin Zelnio in The Online Laboratory of Kevin Zelnio

I absolutely adore the theory of evolution. It has a divine predictive, the results so wondrous in and of themselves. During my studies into symbiosis I have seen alot of strange and unusual adaptations, but the deeper I dig they more they keep getting stranger and stranger. The word this week is:
Top: [...]... Read more »

  • August 21, 2010
  • 05:39 AM

Report from Alife XII: life's origin, and its evolution

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

When I say 'artificial life', what do you think of? I think of life-like systems in computers, mainly, but at the Alife 12 conference in Odense, Denmark that I am currently at, a large part of the presentation are really about chemistry. Many people might be surprise if they knew just how many people are working on the problem of getting chemicals to behave like life. That is, work on the origin of life is booming. ... Read more »

Costanzo, M., Baryshnikova, A., Bellay, J., Kim, Y., Spear, E., Sevier, C., Ding, H., Koh, J., Toufighi, K., Mostafavi, S.... (2010) The Genetic Landscape of a Cell. Science, 327(5964), 425-431. DOI: 10.1126/science.1180823  

  • August 21, 2010
  • 04:53 AM

More (you know you wanted it) on fecal transplants and the microbiome

by Jonathan Eisen in The Tree of Life

Image fromI Heart Guts blogThere is an interesting mini review in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology's September issue that may be of interest to some out there. It is entitled "Fecal Bacteriotherapy, Fecal Transplant, and the Microbiome" by Martin Floch and well, the title is indicative of the article.Yes, the fecal transplant meme is here to stay. Sure, the cognoscenti already knew about fecal transplants. Perhaps they had read Tara Smith's discussion of it in her Aetiology blog in 20........ Read more »

  • August 21, 2010
  • 02:13 AM

From the Literature: Tracking Dragonfly Migrations

by dragonflywoman in The Dragonfly Woman

It’s about the time of year for the dragonflies to start moving south!  I’ve already gotten several reports of big migratory swarms headed south from several locations across the eastern and midwestern U.S. and I expect many more – the … Continue reading →... Read more »

Wikelski M, Moskowitz D, Adelman JS, Cochran J, Wilcove DS, & May ML. (2006) Simple rules guide dragonfly migration. Biology letters, 2(3), 325-9. PMID: 17148394  

  • August 20, 2010
  • 11:25 PM

Paleolithic whodunnit: Who made the Chatelperronian?

by Julien Riel-Salvatore in A Very Remote Period Indeed

The Chatelperronian is a lithic industry that springs up for several thousand years during the transition from Middle to Upper Paleolithic industries. Its precise age is debated, but it clearly is associated with this interval. One of the reasons the Chatelperronian is the subject of so much debate is because, since the discovery of a Neanderthal in a Chatelperronian level at the site of
St. ... Read more »

  • August 20, 2010
  • 10:30 PM

Rubella – Discount babies! 50% off! Cataracts included!

by thomastu in Disease Prone

People shouting loudly and angrily against childhood vaccination seem to either evil or ignorant of what the world was like before vaccines were readily available. And Hanlon’s razor tells us “Never attribute to malice what can be blamed on ignorance”. So, as my civic duty, I am starting a series on vaccine preventatble diseases. First [...]... Read more »

  • August 20, 2010
  • 09:34 PM

Evolving Pesticide Resistance

by Matthew DiLeo in The Scientist Gardener

It's been estimated that genetic resistance to every pesticide that will ever be invented already exists in some microbe in some field, somewhere in the world. If you invent an incredible new spray that kills, say, Phytophthora infestans, you'd know that somewhere in the world there is a little P. infestans mycelium or spore that is already resistant. If you start spraying thousands and thousands... Read more »

Zhu, Y., Chen, H., Fan, J., Wang, Y., Li, Y., Chen, J., Fan, J., Yang, S., Hu, L., Leung, H.... (2000) Genetic diversity and disease control in rice. Nature, 406(6797), 718-722. DOI: 10.1038/35021046  

  • August 20, 2010
  • 04:16 PM

Conduction aphasia, speech repetition, and the left parietal lobe

by Greg Hickok in Talking Brains

Julius Fridriksson has been featured on this blog before and now his team has just published another noteworthy paper in J. Neuroscience. This paper sought to identify the neural correlate of repetition disorder in aphasia. Repetition deficits are characteristic of conduction aphasia although they are not exclusive to conduction aphasia nor is repetition the only deficit in conduction aphasia. Some historical background is useful, if for no other reason than most people get it wrong in one wa........ Read more »

Fridriksson J, Kjartansson O, Morgan PS, Hjaltason H, Magnusdottir S, Bonilha L, & Rorden C. (2010) Impaired speech repetition and left parietal lobe damage. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 30(33), 11057-61. PMID: 20720112  

  • August 20, 2010
  • 04:10 PM

Genome-Scale Epigenetic Marker Detection Across Populations

by Michael Long in Phased

Lior Pachter (University of California at Berkeley, United States) and coworkers have developed MetMap software for uncovering epigenetic data hidden by standard MethylSeq analysis, which will advance our understanding of the role of epigenetics in human health and medicine. This news feature was written on August 20, 2010.... Read more »

Singer, M., Boffelli, D., Dhahbi, J., Schoenhuth, A., Schroth, G. P., Martin, D. I. K., & Pachter, L. (2010) MetMap Enables Genome-Scale Methyltyping for Determining Methylation States in Populations. PLoS Computational Biology, 6(8). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000888  

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