Post List

  • December 27, 2009
  • 05:26 PM

Reaction Times and IQ Tests

by Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog

The following is a guest post by Stephanie Zvan. In this post, Zvan addresses a recent study of "reaction times" and IQ measurements two study groups distinguished by race. I'll let the post speak for itself, but it is worth nothing that in the ongoing discussion of race and intelligence, the complaint is commonly made that critiques of mainstream psychometrics do not pay much attention to the recent literature. This would be a case of that not happening. Read the rest of this post... | Read........ Read more »

  • December 27, 2009
  • 03:24 PM

The Genetics of Living To 100

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Is there a gene for long life?Boston-based group Sebastiani et al say they've found not one but two, in RNA Editing Genes Associated with Extreme Old Age in Humans and with Lifespan in C. elegans.They took 4 groups of "oldest old" people: from New England, Italy, and Japan, and American Ashkenazi Jews. All were aged 90 or more, and many of them were 100, centenarians. As control groups, they used random healthy people who weren't especially old. The total sample size was an impressive 2105 old v........ Read more »

Sebastiani P, Montano M, Puca A, Solovieff N, Kojima T, Wang MC, Melista E, Meltzer M, Fischer SE, Andersen S.... (2009) RNA editing genes associated with extreme old age in humans and with lifespan in C. elegans. PloS one, 4(12). PMID: 20011587  

  • December 27, 2009
  • 01:16 PM

Sexy Snails and Expensive Males

by Johnny in Ecographica

What are males good for? ... mitochondrial genomes of a freshwater snail species in order to compare the rates at which genetic mutations accumulate during sexual and asexual reproduction.
... Read more »

Neiman, M., Hehman, G., Miller, J., Logsdon, J., & Taylor, D. (2009) Accelerated Mutation Accumulation in Asexual Lineages of a Freshwater Snail. Molecular Biology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msp300  

  • December 27, 2009
  • 11:15 AM

Intrinsic plasticity: the 'other' learning mechanism

by Björn Brembs in

A quote from Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel in the December 11 issue of Science reminded me of a short article by David Glanzman covering a remarkable paper on pan-neuronal (aka 'intrinsic') plasticity and its involvement in learning and memory. Here is the quote:Q: Synaptic plasticity is a central concept in your work on memory. You've been working with Aplysia since 1962. What else do you think we can learn from these lowly snails? With almost all kinds of synaptic changes, there is a parallel ch........ Read more »

  • December 26, 2009
  • 01:13 PM

Christmas Cheer from BMJ

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Fig 1 (Firth et al., 2009). X ray pictures can easily detect an ingested coin. Position of coin on lateral view (left), relative to anterior (right) or posterior picture affects size of image on film.Every year, BMJ has a special Christmas issue with spoof articles and silly studies. Today's feature examines the relationship between the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the value of coins swallowed by children (Firth et al., 2009):Main outcome measures Total value of coins ingested and number of ........ Read more »

  • December 26, 2009
  • 12:00 PM

The 13,000-year old tree that survives by cloning itself

by Ed Yong in Not Exactly Rocket Science

In California's Jurupa Mountains, there is a very unusual group of tree - a Palmer's oak. Unlike the mighty trees that usually bear the oak name, this one looks like little more than a collection of small bushes. But appearances can be deceiving. This apparently disparate group of plants are all clones of a single individual, and a very old one at that.

By repeatedly cloning itself, the Palmer's oak has lived past the separation of Britain from continental Europe, the demise of the mammoths an........ Read more »

  • December 25, 2009
  • 01:00 PM

DNA Hybridization Kinetics in Living Cells

by Michael Long in Phased

Dieter Braun (Ludwig Maximilians Universitat Munchen, Germany) and coworkers have probed the kinetics of DNA hybridization in living cells, and have found behavior which is more complex than what is observed in typical experiments performed in test tubes. This news feature was written on December 25, 2009.... Read more »

Schoen, I., Krammer, H., & Braun, D. (2009) Hybridization kinetics is different inside cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(51), 21649-21654. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0901313106  

  • December 25, 2009
  • 10:00 AM

An interesting approach to camera calibration

by hr0nix in Sex, drugs and applied science

Camera calibration is a process of determining intrinsic (like principal point or focal length) and extrinsic (position and orientation in space) parameters of a camera, which is often described by the pinhole camera model. In computer vision we usually perform calibration by analyzing images taken from camera. The most widely used approach to camera calibration is based on this paper by Zhengyou Zhang. It involves chessboard (or some other planar calibration pattern) and consists of the followi........ Read more »

Ram Krishan Kumar, Adrian Ilie, Jan-Michael Frahm, & Marc Pollefeys. (2008) Simple calibration of non-overlapping cameras with a mirror. 2008 IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition. info:/

  • December 25, 2009
  • 08:00 AM

Is a Slim Santa Claus Coming to Town?

by Shaheen Lakhan in Brain Blogger

Once upon a time, a lively old man named Santa Claus worked very hard — all by himself, not exploiting animals or short people — to make safe, educational toys to deliver to children all over the world on Christmas Eve. Santa exercised regularly, and ate a balanced diet of whole grains and plenty of [...]... Read more »

Grills, N., & Halyday, B. (2009) Santa Claus: a public health pariah?. BMJ, 339(dec16 1). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.b5261  

  • December 25, 2009
  • 07:40 AM

Laser guide stars as magnetometers

by sarah in One Small Step

In a nice piece of cross-pollination between disciplines, scientists have proposed a new method for measuring the Earth’s magnetic field strength using technology developed for ground-based observational astronomy. As it turns out, the laser guide stars astronomers use to sense the turbulence high up in the atmosphere can be used as cheap and efficient magnetometers.
To [...]... Read more »

J. M. Higbie, S. M. Rochester, B. Patton, R. Holzlöhner, D. Bonaccini Calia, & D. Budker. (2009) Magnetometry with Mesospheric Sodium. arXiv:0912.4310v1 [physics.atom-ph]. arXiv: 0912.4310v1

  • December 25, 2009
  • 03:56 AM

The burning children of globalization

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

I’ve been wondering what would be an appropriate Christmas post for the Language on the Move blog. Seeing that I’m deeply skeptical about all those claims about the wonderful advantages of bilingualism, a good news story à la “bilingualism helps to ward off dementia” was never going to be an option. That’s when the first [...]... Read more »

Abdelmajid Hannoum. (2009) The Harraga of Tangier. Encounters: an international journal for the study of culture and society, 231-246. info:/

  • December 24, 2009
  • 06:59 PM

Intravenous drug administration during out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: a randomized trial.

by Rogue Medic in Rogue Medic

Also posted over at Paramedicine 101. Go check out the rest of what is there.This study has received a lot of attention. I will interchangeably use the terms the IV (IntraVenous) group and the epinephrine group depending on the terminology I think is more relevant at the time. The distinction is not one that I believe is important. This is a study of IV medication in cardiac arrest. Epinephrine is the stated focus of the study.There has never been any evidence to suggest that medication leads im........ Read more »

Olasveengen TM, Sunde K, Brunborg C, Thowsen J, Steen PA, & Wik L. (2009) Intravenous drug administration during out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: a randomized trial. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association, 302(20), 2222-9. PMID: 19934423  

  • December 24, 2009
  • 02:15 PM

Pandemic flu and disease

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

It’s been a busy couple weeks, and tomorrow we’re heading out for a week’s vacation. I don’t know what my internet access will be like, but probably not too good, so this might be the last Mystery Rays post for 2009.
Quick notes from a series of articles in New England Journal of Medicine on disease [...]... Read more »

Cao, B., Li, X., Mao, Y., Wang, J., Lu, H., Chen, Y., Liang, Z., Liang, L., Zhang, S., Zhang, B.... (2009) Clinical Features of the Initial Cases of 2009 Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Infection in China. New England Journal of Medicine, 361(26), 2507-2517. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa0906612  

Janice K. Louie, Meileen Acosta, Denise J. Jamieson, Margaret A. Honein, & for the California Pandemic (H1N1) Working Group. (2009) Severe 2009 H1N1 Influenza in Pregnant and Postpartum Women in California. New England Journal of Medicine. info:/

Chien, Y., Klugman, K., & Morens, D. (2009) Bacterial Pathogens and Death during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. New England Journal of Medicine, 361(26), 2582-2583. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc0908216  

  • December 24, 2009
  • 02:00 PM

Can modern day gadgets help combat prejudice?

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

Prejudice...we've all experienced it at one point or another. Defined as a preconceived belief, opinion, or judgment toward a group or person because of race, social class, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc., it also means a priori beliefs that include any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence. It's been the cause of countless wars and an infinite amount of unnecessary suffering. It must be put to an end once and for all! So how does today........ Read more »

Cunningham, W., Johnson, M., Raye, C., Chris Gatenby, J., Gore, J., & Banaji, M. (2004) Separable Neural Components in the Processing of Black and White Faces. Psychological Science, 15(12), 806-813. DOI: 10.1111/j.0956-7976.2004.00760.x  

Steckenfinger SA, & Ghazanfar AA. (2009) Monkey visual behavior falls into the uncanny valley. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(43), 18362-6. PMID: 19822765  

  • December 24, 2009
  • 01:34 PM

Humans Ate Grains During the Middle Stone Age

by Rachel in The Sage of Discovery: Exploring the world of food one ingredient at a time

In a recent article in Science, Julio Mercader, of the University of Calgary, discusses his discovery of “starch granules” on surfaces of stone tools dating back to 105,000 years ago at a cave site in Mozambique. In other words, in contrast to the idea that Homo sapiens relied on a cereal-less diet of nuts, roots, [...]... Read more »

  • December 24, 2009
  • 12:31 PM

How dirt affects global atmospheric carbon dioxide (Wingate et al. 2009, PNAS)

by Hannah Waters in Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

I have a tendency to root for the underdog.  I rooted for the Phillies throughout the 90s, when my heroes Lenny Dykstra and Darren Dalton could rarely lead them to a win.  It’s a mixture of a desire for upheaval, that the unexpected can happen, as well as pure sympathy for the ones who [...]... Read more »

Wingate, L., Ogee, J., Cuntz, M., Genty, B., Reiter, I., Seibt, U., Yakir, D., Maseyk, K., Pendall, E., Barbour, M.... (2009) The impact of soil microorganisms on the global budget of  18O in atmospheric CO2. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0905210106  

  • December 24, 2009
  • 11:11 AM

Stimulants May Offer Protection in ADHD

by Shaheen Lakhan in Brain Blogger

As many as 10% of children suffer from attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a neuropsychiatric behavioral disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. ADHD can cause significant functional, social, and psychological impairment in children and adults. ADHD treatment in children has been controversial, since the mainstay of treatment is stimulant medications, including methylphenidate and amphetamines. Parents [...]... Read more »

  • December 24, 2009
  • 10:42 AM

Climate Change and the Velocity of the Shifting Niche

by Johnny in Ecographica

...published a letter in which other California based scientists have extrapolated the shifting niche model in order to estimate the anticipated ‘velocity’ of temperature change across different biomes...or through the advent of novel life-history strategies, the ability of an organism to accommodate ecological variability is essential.... Read more »

Loarie, S., Duffy, P., Hamilton, H., Asner, G., Field, C., & Ackerly, D. (2009) The velocity of climate change. Nature, 462(7276), 1052-1055. DOI: 10.1038/nature08649  

  • December 24, 2009
  • 09:00 AM

Twisting Genitals and Forced Copulation: The Strange Sex Lives of Ducks

by John Beetham in A DC Birding Blog

A few years ago, a study explored the strange genitals of waterfowl and found that females typically had complex vaginas if males of the same species had complex phalluses. Waterbirds are among the few bird species that have phalluses at all. Duck species in the Anas, Clangula, and Oxytura genera take this to an extreme, with very long, twisting genitals, sometimes equipped with spines. Phalluses twist counterclockwise, and vaginas twist clockwise. (You can see some examples at the post linked a........ Read more »

  • December 24, 2009
  • 08:04 AM

Story Behind the Nature Paper on 'A phylogeny driven genomic encyclopedia of bacteria & archaea' #genomics #evolution

by Jonathan Eisen in The Tree of Life

Discussion of the background to a recent Nature paper ... Read more »

Wu, D., Hugenholtz, P., Mavromatis, K., Pukall, R., Dalin, E., Ivanova, N., Kunin, V., Goodwin, L., Wu, M., Tindall, B.... (2009) A phylogeny-driven genomic encyclopaedia of Bacteria and Archaea. Nature, 462(7276), 1056-1060. DOI: 10.1038/nature08656  

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