Post List

  • October 4, 2010
  • 11:37 PM
  • 1,199 views

The Ignobel Prizes – A computational study of the Peter Principle

by Croor Singh in Learning to be Terse

This year’s Ignobel Prizes have been announced. Among the winners are an engineering solution to the problem of collecting whale snot, a prize in Medicine for the people who discovered that asthma can be treated by putting the patient on a roller coaster (I’m having a hard time imagining clinical trials for this!), a Peace [...]... Read more »

Pluchino, A., Rapisarda, A., & Garofalo, C. (2010) The Peter principle revisited: A computational study. Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, 389(3), 467-472. DOI: 10.1016/j.physa.2009.09.045  

  • October 4, 2010
  • 10:20 PM
  • 840 views

Penguins Immediately Benefit From MPA

by Miriam Goldstein in The Oyster's Garter


There is much buzz these days about marine protected areas (MPAs) and no-take zones. We are approaching the age of assessment. There has been enough time passed where we should see a signal of improvement to verify conservation theory. While the data has been trickling in for many MPAs and there is in general an improvement . . . → Read More: Penguins Immediately Benefit From MPA... Read more »

Pichegru, L., Gremillet, D., Crawford, R., & Ryan, P. (2010) Marine no-take zone rapidly benefits endangered penguin. Biology Letters, 6(4), 498-501. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2009.0913  

  • October 4, 2010
  • 10:20 PM
  • 1,167 views

Penguins Immediately Benefit From MPA

by Kevin Zelnio in Deep Sea News

There is much buzz these days about marine protected areas (MPAs) and no-take zones. We are approaching the age of assessment. There has been enough time passed where we should see a signal of improvement to verify conservation theory. While the data has been trickling in for many MPAs and there is in general an improvement . . . → Read More: Penguins Immediately Benefit From MPA... Read more »

Pichegru, L., Gremillet, D., Crawford, R., & Ryan, P. (2010) Marine no-take zone rapidly benefits endangered penguin. Biology Letters, 6(4), 498-501. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2009.0913  

  • October 4, 2010
  • 09:43 PM
  • 715 views

Economists and psychologists battle over what makes us happy

by Phil Camill in Global Change: Intersection of Nature and Culture


There has been a lot published recently on the source of happiness and what constitutes the good life, with many articles focusing on levels of personal income that mark tipping points, such as the recent claim that we need $75,000 to be happy.
In this week’s Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of [...]... Read more »

Headey, B., R. Muffels, and G.G. Wagner. (2010) Long-running German panel survey shows that personal and economic choices, not just genes, matter for happiness . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/10.1073/pnas.1008612107

  • October 4, 2010
  • 09:41 PM
  • 814 views

This Week in the Universe: September 28th – October 4th

by S.C. Kavassalis in The Language of Bad Physics

Astrophysics and Gravitation:
Vacuum-Driven Evolution in Astrophysics
William C. C. Lima, George E. A. Matsas, & Daniel A. T. Vanzella (2010). Awaking the vacuum in relativistic stars Physical Review Letters arXiv: 1009.1771v1
In a very cool paper that will be appearing in the Physical Review Letters at the end of the week, Lima et al. have shown an interesting (and surprising) relationship between neutron star formation and the vacuum energy density of our universe. Using some semi-classica........ Read more »

William C. C. Lima, George E. A. Matsas, & Daniel A. T. Vanzella. (2010) Awaking the vacuum in relativistic stars. Physical Review Letters. arXiv: 1009.1771v1

P. H. Damgaard, K. Splittorff, & J. J. M. Verbaarschot. (2010) Microscopic Spectrum of the Wilson Dirac Operator. arXiv. arXiv: 1001.2937v3

F. Belgiorno, S. L. Cacciatori, M. Clerici, V. Gorini, G. Ortenzi, L. Rizzi, E. Rubino, V. G. Sala, & D. Faccio. (2010) Hawking radiation from ultrashort laser pulse filaments. arXiv. arXiv: 1009.4634v1

  • October 4, 2010
  • 06:55 PM
  • 801 views

The adaptive space of complexity

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

Evolution means many things to many people. On the one hand some scholars focus on time scales of “billions and billions,” and can ruminate upon the radical variation in body plans across the tree of life. Others put the spotlight on the change in gene frequencies on the scale of years, of Ph.D. programs. While [...]... Read more »

Wang Z, Liao BY, & Zhang J. (2010) Genomic patterns of pleiotropy and the evolution of complexity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 20876104  

  • October 4, 2010
  • 05:38 PM
  • 804 views

Managed Relocation is a terrible idea.

by Dr. Carin Bondar in Dr. Carin Bondar - Biologist With a Twist

Global climate change is an unprecidented anthropogenic disturbance that is wreaking havoc on our planet.  A plethora of scientists, conservationists, governments and NGOs are continuously working at several scales in order to model the outcomes of this environmtnal catastrophe.  A recent communication in ‘Ecological Applications’, suggests that the urgency with which global climate change is [...]... Read more »

  • October 4, 2010
  • 05:12 PM
  • 562 views

Tuatara tuesday – how cold is too cold for a tuatara?

by hilaryml in Chicken or Egg blog

Tuatara like it cold.  Unusually so, for a reptile.  While reptiles in most other countries are happiest with temperatures over 25 degrees celcius, here in New Zealand our reptiles prefer much lower temperatures.  Alison Cree’s group at the University of Otago has been investigating exactly which temperatures tuatara prefer, with a view to determining whether [...]... Read more »

  • October 4, 2010
  • 04:41 PM
  • 1,000 views

Suicide, age and poison

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

At the end of the 19th Century, the ground-breaking sociologist Émile Durkheim made an important discovery: across Europe, Protestant regions had a higher suicide rate that Catholic regions. This, he said, was because Catholicism created more integrated societies. In today's parlance, Catholicism generates more social capital.

Since then many studies reinforced this theory, showing that Catholicism, and indeed religion in general, seems to protect against suicide. Unfortunately, almost all the........ Read more »

Spoerri A, Zwahlen M, Bopp M, Gutzwiller F, Egger M, & for the Swiss National Cohort Study. (2010) Religion and assisted and non-assisted suicide in Switzerland: National Cohort Study. International journal of epidemiology. PMID: 20841328  

  • October 4, 2010
  • 04:36 PM
  • 1,067 views

Choosing mates: do we REALLY want what we say we want?

by Casey Rentz in The Lay Scientist


"Study shows real partners are no match for ideal mates," says a Sheffield University press release I read last week. So, sometimes we settle for less than George Clooney or Heidi Klum.




--
read more... Read more »

Alexandre Courtiol1, Sandrine Picq, Bernard Godelle1, Michel Raymond, Jean-Baptiste Ferdy. (2010) From Preferred to Actual Mate Characteristics: The Case of Human Body Shape. PLoS ONE. info:/

  • October 4, 2010
  • 04:00 PM
  • 1,582 views

Now then, Pay Attention!

by Lorimer Moseley in BodyInMind

To mark 10 years of Nature Reviews Neuroscience this month the journal has produced a kind of retrospective of the most highly cited reviews from each year. I got around to reading the 2002 “winner” from Maurizio Corbetta and Gordon Shulman which focused on attention networks in the brain, and a quality read it is. [...]... Read more »

  • October 4, 2010
  • 03:52 PM
  • 462 views

How Grows Your Garden?

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Inch by inch, row by row, plant preservationists need to be aware of how their gardens grow. Efforts to save rare plants by growing them at botanic gardens can introduce subtle genetic changes that could undermine restoration programs, concludes a new study from Germany.
The world’s botanic gardens have become a key player in plant […] Read More »... Read more »

  • October 4, 2010
  • 03:49 PM
  • 1,499 views

Mice with fully functioning human brains

by Kevin Mitchell in Wiring the Brain

I wouldn’t usually discuss politics in a blog like this, but a recent story caught my eye, as it provides an example of the depressing and sometimes bizarre level of scientific illiteracy among elected officials or some people who hope to be elected. The example is from the United States, which is an easy target in this regard, but we have had a similar episode in Ireland recently so I don’t think we (or indeed any other non-Americans) can feel particularly smug about it. This one is espec........ Read more »

  • October 4, 2010
  • 02:28 PM
  • 1,124 views

Friend or foe? How the immune system copes with the gut microbiotica

by Lab Rat in Lab Rat

The job of the human immune system is to destroy pathogens. Using a combination of quick, immediate responses (the innate immune system) and long-term memory (the adaptive immune system) in humans the cells of the immune system are perfectly primed to seek out any cells that are Other (i.e not Self) and kill them.Which leads to a slight problem, because rather a lot of the cells within your body are 'Other' cells, and their existence is vital to your health. Within your stomach, and your respira........ Read more »

Cerf-Bensussan N, & Gaboriau-Routhiau V. (2010) The immune system and the gut microbiota: friends or foes?. Nature reviews. Immunology, 10(10), 735-44. PMID: 20865020  

  • October 4, 2010
  • 02:03 PM
  • 904 views

Redoubled efforts in solar cells

by Joerg Heber in All That Matters

Solar energy is obviously one of the key renewable energy resources available to us. At the same time researchers are hitting against a glass ceiling. A famous 1961 paper by William Shockley (who co-invented the transistor) and Hans Queisser comes to the conclusion that for a semiconductor such as silicon the maximum conversion efficiency of [...]... Read more »

  • October 4, 2010
  • 01:00 PM
  • 871 views

The Ins & Outs of Those Mysterious Microcompartments

by Alan Derman in Small Things Considered

by Alan Derman

The planet's most abundant enzyme is also one of its lousiest. It's RuBisCO, the photosynthetic enzyme that mediates the fixation of CO2 by catalyzing its incorporation into the five carbon ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP). Routinely it goofs and incorporates O2 instead, producing the useless and potentially harmful phosphoglycolate, which cells must then expend energy to dispose of. And even if O2 is not around to confuse the enzyme, the Km of cyanobacterial RuBisCO for CO2 is........ Read more »

Fan C, Cheng S, Liu Y, Escobar CM, Crowley CS, Jefferson RE, Yeates TO, & Bobik TA. (2010) Short N-terminal sequences package proteins into bacterial microcompartments. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(16), 7509-14. PMID: 20308536  

  • October 4, 2010
  • 12:34 PM
  • 1,172 views

Pouches, pockets and sacs in the heads, necks and chests of mammals, part I: primates

by Darren Naish in Tetrapod Zoology



I've mentioned laryngeal and tracheal anatomy a few times on Tet Zoo (see the links at the very bottom for more). Well, time to look at it again. It's (relatively) little known that a long list of mammal species possess an assortment of 'pouches', pocket-like structures and pneumatic sacs and spaces within their throats, skulls, chests, and sometimes on their palates. Some of these are air-filled, epithelium-lined structures that originate as outgrowths of the throat or windpipe, and are hence........ Read more »

Hewitt G, MacLarnon A, & Jones KE. (2002) The functions of laryngeal air sacs in primates: a new hypothesis. Folia primatologica; international journal of primatology, 73(2-3), 70-94. PMID: 12207055  

  • October 4, 2010
  • 12:03 PM
  • 1,071 views

Cycloserine Speeds Therapy Effects in OCD

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

There is considerable interest in methods to speed up the effects of treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  Exposure and response prevention are key therapy interventions for OCD and these treatments have significant evidence-based support for effectiveness.  A recent study examined whether the drug d-cycloserine can boost the effect of standard behavior therapy in OCD.D-cycloserine (DCS) is an antibiotic that appears to have cognitive effects that "facilitates fear extin........ Read more »

Chasson GS, Buhlmann U, Tolin DF, Rao SR, Reese HE, Rowley T, Welsh KS, & Wilhelm S. (2010) Need for speed: evaluating slopes of OCD recovery in behavior therapy enhanced with d-cycloserine. Behaviour research and therapy, 48(7), 675-9. PMID: 20362975  

  • October 4, 2010
  • 10:20 AM
  • 1,158 views

The Dingo – Australia’s Wildlife Watchdog

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Jeff McMahan doesn’t like carnivores. Not one bit. In a pair of controversial op-ed pieces in the New York Times “The Stone” forum, the Rutgers University philosopher has argued that our species has a moral duty to eradicate the world’s rapacious, pain-inflicting predators and replace them with specially-engineered herbivores with big doe-eyes and which smell [...]... Read more »

  • October 4, 2010
  • 10:00 AM
  • 1,600 views

Can Video Games Be Used in Health Care? (VG Series Part 5/10)

by Richard Landers in NeoAcademic

Part 5 of my series examining research evidence for the value of video games. This time: video games that have been made for patient care and training doctors.... Read more »

Kato, P. (2010) Video games in health care: Closing the gap. Review of General Psychology, 14(2), 113-121. DOI: 10.1037/a0019441  

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