Post List

  • February 3, 2010
  • 10:53 AM
  • 1,502 views

Story behind the science: #PLoS Genetics "Evolutionary mirages" paper

by Jonathan Eisen in The Tree of Life

So there is this cool new paper out in PLoS Genetics: Evolutionary Mirages: Selection on Binding Site Composition Creates the Illusion of Conserved Grammars in Drosophila Enhancers. and I have wanted to write about it for a week or so. You see, the paper is about something I have been interested in for most of my career - how the particular processes by which mutations occur can sometimes be biased (i.e., some types of mutations are more common than others) and that these biases can create high........ Read more »

  • February 3, 2010
  • 10:37 AM
  • 599 views

Journal Retracts Autism Research

by Shaheen Lakhan in Brain Blogger

In 1998, a landmark study was published in the medical journal The Lancet. It was the first major research that suggested a link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. Almost immediately following publication, the rates of vaccination plummeted and the incidence of measles escalated among children. Since then, the subject has been the source [...]... Read more »

  • February 3, 2010
  • 10:10 AM
  • 980 views

Girls and Math - Part II : Teacher Anxiety

by Daniel Hawes in Ingenious Monkey | 20-two-5

A study in PNAS looks at the link between teacher anxiety and the gender gap in math achievement...... Read more »

Beilock, S., Gunderson, E., Ramirez, G., & Levine, S. (2010) Female teachers' math anxiety affects girls' math achievement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(5), 1860-1863. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0910967107  

  • February 3, 2010
  • 10:05 AM
  • 810 views

Dethroning the Red Queen?

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

Regular readers of Denim and Tweed know that I'm fascinated by the evolution of species interactions: interactions between plants and nitrogen-fixing bacteria, Joshua trees and yucca moths, parasitoid wasps and butterflies, and between ants and the trees they guard. I tend to think that coevolutionary interactions not only determine the health of natural populations, but shape their evolutionary history. But would I feel that way if I were a paleontologist?

Running just to stay in place

The id........ Read more »

Futuyma, D. (1987) On the role of species in anagenesis. The American Naturalist, 130(3), 465-73. DOI: 10.1086/284724  

Van Valen, L. (1973) A new evolutionary law. Evolutionary Theory, 1(1), 1-30. info:/

  • February 3, 2010
  • 09:22 AM
  • 732 views

Skepticism or denial?

by Andy Russell in Our Clouded Hills

Whilst I would describe myself as a scientific skeptic, in that I will try to investigate claims before coming to a judgement, I would not say I was a “climate change skeptic”. This term is often used to label those that are irrationally dismissive of the scientific evidence (or worse). Several commentators on [...]... Read more »

M. J. Menne, C. N. Williams, & M. A. Palecki. (2010) On the reliability of the U.S. Surface Temperature Record. Journal of Geophysical Research. info:/doi:10.1029/2009JD013094

  • February 3, 2010
  • 08:24 AM
  • 984 views

Salamander Longshanks – breed them out

by CJA Bradshaw in ConservationBytes

Patrick McGoohan in his role as the less-than-sentimental King Edward ‘Longshanks’ in the 1995 production of ‘Braveheart’ said it best in his references to the invocation of ius primæ noctis:

If we can’t get them out, we’ll breed them out

What a charmer.
Dabbling in molecular ecology myself over the past few years with some gel-jockey types (e.g., [...]... Read more »

Fitzpatrick, B., Johnson, J., Kump, D., Smith, J., Voss, S., & Shaffer, H. (2010) Rapid spread of invasive genes into a threatened native species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0911802107  

  • February 3, 2010
  • 08:00 AM
  • 765 views

Science based risk assessment

by sciencebase in Sciencebase Science Blog


Ask people why the enter the lottery and they will usually tell you that “you’ve got to be in it to win it”. As far as it goes that’s true, but it still doesn’t get around the odds of you picking the right numbers being vanishingly (although not quite homeopathically) small at 14 million to [...]Science based risk assessment is a post from: Sciencebase Science Blog
... Read more »

Terje Aven. (2009) A new scientific framework for quantitative risk assessments. Int. J. Business Continuity and Risk Management, 1(1), 67-77. info:/

  • February 3, 2010
  • 08:00 AM
  • 586 views

When the going gets tough, do the puffs get going?

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

You would think that having a dedicated set of neurons that triggered super-fast escape responses to get away from fast predator attacks and other sudden events in your area would be something that you’d want to keep around. This is usually so, but it turns out, not always. This is a problem I’ve been struggling with for some time now, and I’m thrilled to bits to find another example.

Fish have a group of neurons that trigger escape responses called C-starts, so called because the fish b........ Read more »

  • February 3, 2010
  • 07:45 AM
  • 784 views

The Attraction of Curves

by Brian Koberlein in Upon Reflection

Figure 1: Newton's gravity predicts an elliptical orbit for Mercury (similar to the red path). Mercury's orbit actually shifts over time (similar to the path in blue). Mercury's motion agrees with Einstein's model of gravity. (Source: Wikipedia) Last time I...... Read more »

Dyson, F., Eddington, A., & Davidson, C. (1920) A Determination of the Deflection of Light by the Sun's Gravitational Field, from Observations Made at the Total Eclipse of May 29, 1919. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Containing Papers of a Mathematical or Physical Character (1896-1934), 220(1), 291-333. DOI: 10.1098/rsta.1920.0009  

  • February 3, 2010
  • 07:05 AM
  • 694 views

Imaging the Brain Better, Faster,Thinner

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

A lot of the studies that I cast my Neuroskeptical eye over are related to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).This is because, in my opinion, quite a lot of today's fMRI work suffers from methodological flaws. But that's not to say that all fMRI work is suspect, or, worse, that there's something inherently unscientific about fMRI as such. fMRI's a tool, an amazing one in a lot of ways, but like any tool it needs to be used well. Along with others, I've criticized various aspects of re........ Read more »

Sabatinelli D, Lang PJ, Bradley MM, Costa VD, & Keil A. (2009) The timing of emotional discrimination in human amygdala and ventral visual cortex. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 29(47), 14864-8. PMID: 19940182  

  • February 3, 2010
  • 07:00 AM
  • 445 views

Following the money: do conservation expenditures match priorities?

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

... Read more »

  • February 3, 2010
  • 06:59 AM
  • 1,184 views

Now playing: Viral plaque formation

by Vincent Racaniello in virology blog

One of the most important procedures in virology is measuring the virus titer – the concentration of viruses in a sample. A widely used approach for determining the quantity of infectious virus is the plaque assay. In this technique, the spread of progeny viruses released by individually infected cells is restricted to neighboring cells by [...]... Read more »

  • February 3, 2010
  • 06:43 AM
  • 1,019 views

Do you love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo?

by judithharvey in NASGP

A 1980s cult advertising campaign posed sharing your tube of cheap caramels as an existential crisis. A 21st century version of the dilemma involves higher stakes. Would you offer one of your kidneys to a member of your family? To a friend? To a stranger?
The first successful living donor kidney transplant was performed in 1954. [...]... Read more »

Ferriman, A. (2008) Becoming a live kidney donor. BMJ, 336(7657), 1374-1376. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.a277  

  • February 3, 2010
  • 06:15 AM
  • 435 views

Tumors as ecosystems

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space







Clonal evolution during in situ to invasive breast carcinoma progression1



What’s a tumor?
In some ways, that’s a bad question (never mind the answer) because it implies that a tumor is a single thing. But we know that’s not true. A tumor, by the time we can detect it, is a collection of many cells, [...]... Read more »

  • February 3, 2010
  • 05:05 AM
  • 755 views

Shiny, swanky car boosts men's appeal to women, but not women's appeal to men

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

It's a widely held, if much derided, belief that ownership of a prestige sports car can increase a man's sex appeal to women. Indeed, there's a scene in the American sit-com Friends in which Joey dons a ridiculous Porsche-branded costume of peak cap, gloves, jacket and trousers, so determined is he to convince female passers-by that he owns a fast, shiny car. Now Michael Dunn and Robert Searle have tested the shiny car effect scientifically, looking at the effect of apparent car ownership on bot........ Read more »

  • February 3, 2010
  • 12:12 AM
  • 868 views

Mild Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Fixation

by Michael Long in Phased

Satoshi Minakata (Osaka University) and coworkers have converted carbon dioxide into a synthetically-useful chemical under mild conditions, providing hope for practical atmospheric cleanup and a halt to global warming. This news feature was written on February 2, 2010.... Read more »

  • February 2, 2010
  • 10:19 PM
  • 1,249 views

‘Safe’ Water-Based Drill Cuttings Affect Seafloor Animals

by Kevin Zelnio in Deep Sea News

Oil and gas extraction is pervasive among the coasts of the world. In many areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of west Africa, resource exploration companies have been moving into pretty deep waters. Many rigs use water-based muds in the drilling process. It is considered to the best alternative because [...]... Read more »

Hilde C. Trannum, Hans C. Nilsson, Morten T. Schaanning, & Sigurd Øxnevad. (2009) Effects of sedimentation from water-based drill cuttings and natural sediment on benthic macrofaunal community structure and ecosystem processes. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. info:/10.1016/j.jembe.2009.12.004

  • February 2, 2010
  • 09:41 PM
  • 646 views

More on abstinence

by Ryan in Evidence-Based Public Health

A recent paper describes a significant benefit from abstinence-only education. The story is more complicated...... Read more »

  • February 2, 2010
  • 09:18 PM
  • 1,048 views

Monolingual mindset in the lucky country

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

National holidays are there to celebrate the nation and the opinion pages tend to be full of self-congratulation on such occasions. Australia is no exception and one of the more over-excited ones that was produced on the occasion of Australia Day last week came from Ross Cameron, a former Liberal (and in Australia that means [...]... Read more »

Clyne, Michael. (2005) Australia's Language Potential. UNSW Press. info:/

  • February 2, 2010
  • 09:12 PM
  • 674 views

Spermidine and Another Vote For Autophagy

by Reason in Fight Aging!

For many years, up until fairly recently, life science researchers who talked in public about altering or reversing the course of aging found that this was a quick and effective way to destroy fundraising prospects. The mainstream institutions involved in grants are conservative indeed. So next to nobody said anything - in public at least. But times are changing. It has to be said that scientists involved in aging research are now becoming noticeably more comfortable about talking in public on t........ Read more »

Madeo F, Eisenberg T, Büttner S, Ruckenstuhl C, & Kroemer G. (2010) Spermidine: A novel autophagy inducer and longevity elixir. Autophagy, 6(1). PMID: 20110777  

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