Most of the planet's ecosystems are made of a multitude of different species, rich tangles of living things all interacting, competing and cooperating in order to eke out an existence. But not always - in South Africa, within the darkness of a gold mine, there is an ecosystem that consists of a single species, a type of bacteria that is the only thing alive in the hot, oxygen-less depths. It is an ecosystem of one, living in complete isolation from the Sun's energy.
This incredible and unique h........ Read more »
D. Chivian, E. L. Brodie, E. J. Alm, D. E. Culley, P. S. Dehal, T. Z. DeSantis, T. M. Gihring, A. Lapidus, L.-H. Lin, S. R. Lowry.... (2008) Environmental Genomics Reveals a Single-Species Ecosystem Deep Within Earth. Science, 322(5899), 275-278. DOI: 10.1126/science.1155495
Ayurvedic medicines can contain dangerous quantities of heavy metals, including lead, mercury, thallium and arsenic, clinical toxicologists in London have warned. Writing in the International Journal of Environment and Health, they suggest that recent European legislation aimed at improving safety of shop-bought products will have little impact on medicines prescribed by traditional practitioners, imported personally [...]... Read more »
Paul I. Dargan, Indika B. Gawarammana, John R.H. Archer, Ivan M. House, Debbie Shaw, & David M. Wood. (2008) Heavy metal poisoning from Ayurvedic traditional medicines: an emerging problem?. International Journal of Environment and Health, 2(3/4), 463-474.
by David Gorski in Science-Based Medicine
Towards the end of last week, I was contemplating what I would be writing about for Monday. No topic had quite floated my boat, but I hated to dip into the archive of topics I’ve written about before to update a post. After all, I like to be topical whenever possible. Then what to my [...]... Read more »
J. C Tilburt, E. J Emanuel, T. J Kaptchuk, F. A Curlin, & F. G Miller. (2008) Prescribing "placebo treatments": results of national survey of US internists and rheumatologists. BMJ, 337(oct23 2). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.a1938
Several embarrassing scenes in the spoof fly-on-the-wall series The Office feature the calamitous manager David Brent trying so hard to appear racially colour blind that he actually ends up causing serious offence. A new study by Evan Apfelbaum and colleagues has identified the age when (White American) children first show this concern to appear unprejudiced, even though doing so leads them to perform less well at a task.One hundred and one children, predominantly White, half of whom were aged ........ Read more »
Evan P. Apfelbaum, Kristin Pauker, Nalini Ambady, Samuel R. Sommers, & Michael I. Norton. (2008) Learning (not) to talk about race: When older children underperform in social categorization. Developmental Psychology, 44(5), 1513-1518. DOI: 10.1037/a0012835
In a cool new study in PLoS Genetics, through artificial selection researchers have allowed fruit flies (Drosophila) to evolve tolerance to normally lethal low levels of Oxygen.... Read more »
Dan Zhou, Jin Xue, James C. K. Lai, Nicholas J. Schork, Kevin P. White, Gabriel G. Haddad, & Eric Rulifson. (2008) Mechanisms Underlying Hypoxia Tolerance in Drosophila melanogaster: hairy as a Metabolic Switch. PLoS Genetics, 4(10). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000221
One of the cool things you can do with the high throughput DNA analysis of pyrosequencing, is to collect a sample from the environment, isolate the DNA from everything in it and sequence it. Then you can match the DNA up with known sequences and see what sort of microbes you had. Dinsdale and a [...]... Read more »
Wild Geese and Rushes
(Huang Chu Tsai - - Sung Dynasty)
Where did avian influenza come from?
The H5N1 avian influenza virus infects mainly birds, but there have been plenty of cases of spread into humans, where it is much more virulent than the ordinary, generic human influenza viruses that sweep around the world each year. H5N1 avian influenza [...]... Read more »
Dhanasekaran Vijaykrishna, Justin Bahl, Steven Riley, Lian Duan, Jin Xia Zhang, Honglin Chen, J. S. Malik Peiris, Gavin J. D. Smith, Yi Guan, & Ron A. M. Fouchier. (2008) Evolutionary Dynamics and Emergence of Panzootic H5N1 Influenza Viruses. PLoS Pathogens, 4(9). DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000161
Submitted by Brandon Williams for the Evolution class.In this article, Carl Woese provides a theory on the early evolution of cells. Woese posits that it is necessary to go beyond classic Darwinian thinking of Vertical Gene Transfer (parent to offspring). He believes that Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) played a more crucial role in the early development of cells; that is until each of the three branches of life (Bacteria, Archaea and Eucarya) reached their Darwinian Thresholds. This threshold is........ Read more »
Andrew Mora offers a review of the Biology department seminar by Rachel Mazur.The American Black Bear, Ursus americanus, is currently the only species of bear in the state of California. In a fascinating presentation by Rachel Mazur, pictures and videos were used to depict the beauty of these bears in their natural and not so natural environments; the latter being bears foraging for food in developed areas of the national parks including getting food out of trash cans, cars, etc.According to Maz........ Read more »
R MAZUR, & V SEHER. (2008) Socially learned foraging behaviour in wild black bears, Ursus americanus. Animal Behaviour, 75(4), 1503-1508. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.10.027
We will readily describe a person's demeanour as "warm" or "cold" but this link between temperature and personality is more than just a metaphorical one. A new study shows that warming a person's fingertips can also bring out the warmth in their social relationships, pushing them to judge others more positively and promoting their charitable side.
Lawrence Williams at the University of Colorado and John Bargh from Yale University managed to influence the behaviour of a group of 41 volunteers wi........ Read more »
L. E. Williams, & J. A. Bargh. (2008) Experiencing Physical Warmth Promotes Interpersonal Warmth. Science, 322(5901), 606-607. DOI: 10.1126/science.1162548
Discussion of paper in journal Sedimentology about stratigraphic architecture of Upper Cretaceous strata in southern Chile.... Read more »
ROMANS, B., HUBBARD, S., & GRAHAM, S. (2009) Stratigraphic evolution of an outcropping continental slope system, Tres Pasos Formation at Cerro Divisadero, Chile. Sedimentology, 56(3), 737-764. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3091.2008.00995.x
The adage of those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it rings as true in medicine as in any other field. Learning from previous patients and past experiences — even mistakes — is the best learning tool in medicine. The treatment and diagnosis of epilepsy is no different, and a new [...]... Read more »
Andres M. Kanner. (2007) To Treat or Not to Treat…Is It Still the Question?. Epilepsy Currents, 7(6), 154-156. DOI: 10.1111/j.1535-7511.2007.00210.x
Andres Kanner. (2008) Common Errors Made in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Epilepsy. Seminars in Neurology, 28(03), 364-378. DOI: 10.1055/s-2008-1079341
Andres Kanner. (2008) The Use of Psychotropic Drugs in Epilepsy: What Every Neurologist Should Know. Seminars in Neurology, 28(03), 379-388. DOI: 10.1055/s-2008-1079342
Erasing memories has long been a popular plot device for Hollywood scriptwriters. In the 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for example, Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet play a separated couple who undergo a radical treatment in order to abolish every trace of the relationship from their brains.
The ability to erase memories is no longer confined to the realms of science fiction. In the current issue of Neuron, researchers from the Medical College of Georgia, in collaboration with othe........ Read more »
X CAO, H WANG, B MEI, S AN, L YIN, L WANG, & J TSIEN. (2008) Inducible and Selective Erasure of Memories in the Mouse Brain via Chemical-Genetic Manipulation. Neuron, 60(2), 353-366. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.08.027
Animals often show a keen intelligence and many species, from octopuses to crows, can perform problem-solving tasks. But humans are thought to go one step further. We can reflect on our own thoughts and we have knowledge about our knowledge. We can not only solve problems, but we know in advance if we can (or are likely to).
In technical terms, this ability is known as 'metacognition'. It's what students do when they predict how well they will do in an exam when they see the questions. It's wha........ Read more »
The educational opportunity in Virtual Worlds such as Second Life may not be a replacement for the doctor- or nurse-patient interaction or relationship, but they may serve as an adjunct or pre- or post-learning tool.
Strengths of Virtual Worlds in Medical Education:
In virtual worlds you can design and construct unique environments and then share them with [...]... Read more »
Margaret M Hansen. (2008) Versatile, Immersive, Creative and Dynamic Virtual 3-D Healthcare Learning Environments: A Review of the Literature. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 10(3). DOI: 10.2196/jmir.1051
A few weeks ago I published a blog entry previewing my critical review of mirror neuron theory of action understanding. The paper has been in the review process since that time, and I've finally received a bit of feedback. As requested, the feedback is from a mirror neuron/action understanding proponent. I find the comments extremely valuable because (i) I have been directed to additional papers that had eluded my attention previously, and (ii) while the review is highly critical of my manuscr........ Read more »
L. Fogassi, et al. (2005) Parietal Lobe: From Action Organization to Intention Understanding. Science, 308(5722), 662-667. DOI: 10.1126/science.1106138
"Prescribing 'placebo treatments': results of national survey of US internists and rheumatologists," is the title of a newly-published article in the 23 October issue of BMJ (British Medical Journal). The full text article and PDF are available for free at the time of this posting.
In this study of 679 US physicians, Tilbert et al. reveal that 46-58% of those responding report regularly using some sort of placebo in their practice. The reason for the range is that questions were asked in a man........ Read more »
J. C Tilburt, E. J Emanuel, T. J Kaptchuk, F. A Curlin, & F. G Miller. (2008) Prescribing "placebo treatments": results of national survey of US internists and rheumatologists. BMJ, 337(Oct 23 (2)). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.a1938
Does anyone else find "priapism" a horrifically difficult thing to pronouce? This may partially be because it's so...entertaining. Well, ok, it's entertaining for me. I imagine it leaves most guys wincing.
Tran et al. "Priapism, ecstasy, and marijuana: is there a connection?" Advances in Urology, 2008.
So, who knows what priapism is? Anyone? (counts show of hands). Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
Quan T. Tran, Robyn A. Wallace, & Esther H. A. Sim. (2008) Priapism, Ecstasy, and Marijuana: Is There a Connection?. Advances in Urology, 1-4. DOI: 10.1155/2008/193694
Submitted by Cindy Hua for EvolutionMost of us think that evolution in species take several generations to thousands of years to occur. However, how about if I say in one generation’s time there is a significant change in morphology? Jonathan Losos and his team of researchers from Washington University, St. Louis has found a peculiar lizard that is evolving in a tremendous rate. The brown anole, a Caribbean native lizard, spends most of its day hunting on the ground. One of its main predators ........ Read more »
J. B. Losos, T. W. Schoener, R. B. Langerhans, & D. A. Spiller. (2006) Rapid Temporal Reversal in Predator-Driven Natural Selection. Science, 314(5802), 1111-1111. DOI: 10.1126/science.1133584
I'm trying to catch up with my backlog of research news (~600 unread messages) and what do you know, the first one is already worth blogging about! Researchers from the Brooklyn College in New York have tested classical conditioning in Nautilus. This was an interesting experiment, because Nautilus (which is a cephalopod like squid, cuttlefish and octopus) doesn't have the structures known to be important for forming memories in this group of animals. So in true Pavlovian fashion, they flashed a ........ Read more »
R. Crook, & J. Basil. (2008) A biphasic memory curve in the chambered nautilus, Nautilus pompilius L. (Cephalopoda: Nautiloidea). Journal of Experimental Biology, 211(12), 1992-1998. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.018531
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