Post List

  • December 2, 2010
  • 10:52 PM

Science that’s only skin deep

by Captain Skellett in A Schooner of Science

I’m a guest blogger for the RiAus, and this post also appeared on their fancy website. To tell the truth, I really wanted to call this post “Hormonally Yours” in homage to the Shakespeare Sisters (anyone?) but I’ll save it for another post. Recently I was in Arnhem Land, visiting some Indigenous communities with a [...]... Read more »

Jablonski, N. (2000) The evolution of human skin coloration. Journal of Human Evolution, 39(1), 57-106. DOI: 10.1006/jhev.2000.0403  

  • December 2, 2010
  • 10:49 PM

A new life form? Not so fast

by Iddo Friedberg in Byte Size Biology

So everybody is excited about the new GFAJ-1 bacterium that Felisa Wolfe-Simon and her colleagues have discovered. A common buzzphrase diffusing through the media and blogosphere is “NASA discovers a new life form“. (Or, better yet alien life.) Big press conference, and I just finished going through the article that Wolfe-Simon and colleagues have published in Science. Great work. But is this really a new life form?... Read more »

Felisa Wolfe-Simon, Jodi Switzer Blum, Thomas R. Kulp, Gwyneth W. Gordon, Shelley E. Hoeft, Jennifer Pett-Ridge, John F. Stolz, Samuel M. Webb, Peter K. Weber, Paul C. W. Davies.... (2010) A Bacterium That Can Grow by Using Arsenic Instead of Phosphorus. Science. info:/10.1126/science.119725

  • December 2, 2010
  • 08:50 PM

The great boundary crossing: Perceptions on training pharmacists as supplementary prescribers in the UK

by Amir Rashid in Pharmacy Commitment PhD

An interesting study by Tann, et al (2010). They argue that, once the preserve of the medical profession, prescribing rights have now been extended to others including pharmacists. However in this paper the authors concentrate on one form of “non medical” prescribing by pharmacists, namely supplementary prescribing, which is carried out in partnership, with mostly, [...]... Read more »

  • December 2, 2010
  • 07:02 PM

Arsenic and Old Lace

by Madhusudan Katti in a leafwarbler's gleanings

As you may very well have heard by now, NASA made a bit of a splash today in the mainstream media and especially the science (and sci-fi too, of course) blogosphere / twitterverse through its press conference about a fascinating biological discovery with potential astrobiological significance. An "alien" life-form that incorporates Arsenic (which normally kills our kind of life-form) instead of Phosphorus in the "backbone" of its very DNA. Actually its a bacterium from ........ Read more »

Wolfe-Simon, F., Blum, J.S., Kulp, T.R., Gordon. G.W., Hoeft, S.E., Pett-Ridge, J., Stolz, J.F., Webb, S.M., Weber, P.K., Davies, P.C.W., Anbar, A.D., and, Oremland, R.S. (2010) A Bacterium That Can Grow by Using Arsenic Instead of Phosphorus. Science. info:/

  • December 2, 2010
  • 06:01 PM

Occupational hazards in supply chains

by Jan Husdal in

Material damage and occupational accidents are little understood elements of the overall supply chain. This research looks at the paper industry in Finland and the occupational accidents that occur in the supply chain from the paper mill to the harbor of arrival. » Read more » » »
... Read more »

  • December 2, 2010
  • 03:34 PM

NASA's new organism, the meaning of life, and Darwin's Second Theory

by Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog

In his highly readable book, One Long Argument, Ernst Mayr breaks down the body of thought often referred to as "Darwin's Theory" into five separate and distinct theories, the second of which being "common descent." Darwin's second evolutionary theory (second by Mayr's count, not Darwin's) is really a hypothesis that could be worded this way:

All life on earth descended from a single, original, primordial form that arose eons ago.

The evidence in favor of this hypothesis is strong, but the te........ Read more »

Wolfe-Simon, Felisa, & Et.Al. (2010) A bacterium that can grow by using arsenic instead of phosphorus. Science. info:/10.1126/science.1197258

  • December 2, 2010
  • 12:00 PM

One in a Million

by Merry Youle in Small Things Considered

Like it or not, we can't shop around for a genetic code, nor do we have a choice of brand or model. We're pretty much stuck with the one we have at this point (although some researchers are modifying the code to synthesize proteins containing "designer amino acids"). The universal genetic code is just that, virtually universal. Oh, there are about 20 other "genetic codes" known but almost all of them are used only by mitochondria or else the differences are limited to start and stop codons. So h........ Read more »

Freeland, S., & Hurst, L. (1998) The Genetic Code Is One in a Million. Journal of Molecular Evolution, 47(3), 238-248. DOI: 10.1007/PL00006381  

  • December 2, 2010
  • 11:06 AM

The Distribution of Dominance

by Jon Wilkins in Lost in Transcription

So, as you have no doubt surmised from the title of this post, the cash-strapped Republican Party is going to start using their abundant frequent "flyer" points to pay their debts.

I'm kidding, of course. The GOP doesn't pay its debts!

Actually, we're going to talk about a paper just out in Genetics by Aniel Agarwal and Michael Whitlock. They provide a very thorough analysis of data on the fitness effects of homozygous and heterozygous gene deletions in yeast.

But let's back up for a minute........ Read more »

  • December 2, 2010
  • 10:12 AM

Super MRI

by Janet Kwasniak in Thoughts on thoughts

One of the reasons that the neo-cortex has center stage in our view of the brain is that it is big, very big; another is that it is relatively bigger in humans than in animals; and finally is the fact that we can examine it more easily than other parts of the brain. So, hey, [...]... Read more »

  • December 2, 2010
  • 10:07 AM

Need a Hand? Don’t Ask an Abelisaurid

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

As mighty as Tyrannosaurus rex was, its tiny forelimbs have also made it one of the most mocked dinosaurs of all time. The stubby arms of this predator once seemed mismatched to its enormous frame, and some of the hypotheses put forward to explain their function just made the “tyrant king” seem sillier. The ideas [...]... Read more »

  • December 2, 2010
  • 09:16 AM

You Sleep, but Your Brain Doesn’t

by APS Daily Observations in Daily Observations

We all know sleep is good. Not only does it feel good, it helps consolidate our memories, fixing them in the brain so we can retrieve them later. But now, ... Read more »

Payne, J.D., . (2010) Sleep’s Role in the Consolidation of Emotional Episodic Memories. Current Directions in Psychological Science. info:/

  • December 2, 2010
  • 08:03 AM

Early Life Experience and Neurodegeneration

by Psychothalamus in Psychothalamus

Although some studies have found that early life environmental factors can affect our vulnerability to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease in later life, the underlying neuronal mechanisms of such vulnerability are not well understood. By looking at post mortem rhesus monkey brains, Merrill et al. (2011) finds an association between early life experience and subsequent risk of exhibiting neurodegeneration in later life. In the study, β-amyloid plaque density and synaptophys........ Read more »

Merrill DA, Masliah E, Roberts JA, McKay H, Kordower JH, Mufson EJ, & Tuszynski MH. (2011) Association of early experience with neurodegeneration in aged primates. Neurobiology of aging, 32(1), 151-6. PMID: 19321231  

  • December 2, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

What Do Doctors Advise Patients About Losing Weight?

by Arya M. Sharma in Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes

Obesity is a medical problem and obesity treatments should be initiated by trained health professionals.
This solid piece of advice, of course assumes that trained health professionals actually know something about obesity treatment.
But is this assumption really valid?
We addressed this issue in a study just published in the Journal of Obesity, in which we surveyed 33 [...]... Read more »

  • December 2, 2010
  • 07:00 AM

December 2, 2010

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

There is so much yet to learn about cells just sitting on a culture dish. Add cell migration to the mix, and it’s easy to be amazed at the complexity of cell function and how much there is to discover. Luckily, today’s image is from a paper that adds to our understanding of centrosome positioning and polarity in migrating cells. ... Read more »

  • December 2, 2010
  • 05:07 AM

An electric motor made from a single molecule

by Michael Berger in nanowerk

For the visionary goals of nanotechnology, functional and perhaps autonomous molecular motors will play an essential part, just like electric motors can be found in many appliances today. These nanomachines could perform functions similar to the biological molecular motors found in living cells, things like transporting and assembling molecules, or facilitating chemical reactions by pumping protons through membranes. Although applications of molecular motors are still in the future, the results ........ Read more »

Seldenthuis, J., Prins, F., Thijssen, J., & van der Zant, H. (2010) An All-Electric Single-Molecule Motor. ACS Nano, 4(11), 6681-6686. DOI: 10.1021/nn1021499  

  • December 2, 2010
  • 03:17 AM

VEGF-B as a therapeutic intervention for Parkinson's disease

by Ragamuffin in How We Are Hungry

Since it was discovered that the brain had tremendous neuroregenerative potential, growth factors have been highly speculated as therapeutic tools. The vascular endothilial growth factor (VEGF) family, and particularly VEGF-B, has recently been distinguished as having a neuroprotective role in the Parkinsonian brain.

... Read more »

Hagberg, C., Falkevall, A., Wang, X., Larsson, E., Huusko, J., Nilsson, I., van Meeteren, L., Samen, E., Lu, L., Vanwildemeersch, M.... (2010) Vascular endothelial growth factor B controls endothelial fatty acid uptake. Nature, 464(7290), 917-921. DOI: 10.1038/nature08945  

T. A. FALK, X. YUE, S. ZHANG, S. J. SHERMAN. (2010) Evidence for neuroprotection after treatment with Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor-B in vivo in the 6-hydroxydopamine rat model of Parkinson’s disease . Society for Neuroscience 2010 Abst. info:/

  • December 2, 2010
  • 03:00 AM

New Podcast – Cure Your Aging Synapses With Diet and Exercise

by Travis Saunders, MSc, CEP in Obesity Panacea

Two weeks ago our good friend Scicurious published a blog post on a very interesting new paper, which examines the impact of both exercise and caloric restriction on the neuromuscular junction in mice. This neuromuscular junction (NMR for short) is the link between our nerves and our muscles. Problems in the NMR mean problems with muscle function, which is a bad thing. This new paper, published in PNAS, suggests that caloric restriction (essentially prolonged under-eating) can dramatically r........ Read more »

Valdez, G., Tapia, J., Kang, H., Clemenson, G., Gage, F., Lichtman, J., & Sanes, J. (2010) Attenuation of age-related changes in mouse neuromuscular synapses by caloric restriction and exercise. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(33), 14863-14868. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1002220107  

  • December 2, 2010
  • 02:00 AM

Gay students suffer under faith schools regime

by SAGE Insight in SAGE Insight

Conflicts of ethos: issues of equity and diversity in faith-based schools From Education Management Administration and Leadership Faith based schools are on the rise in the UK, apparently boosting educational standards. This study investigates the consequences when school values and those of the state diverge, considering whether giving control of a school’s ethos and philosophy [...]... Read more »

  • December 2, 2010
  • 01:00 AM

How Did Primordial Biochemistry Become Established on Earth?

by Michael Long in Phased

The time required for biochemical evolution, regarding very slow reactions in a warm environment, is far less than commonly presumed, and primitive catalytic effects can increase with cooling temperatures. These observations plausibly explain how life may have established itself and evolved on Earth.... Read more »

  • December 1, 2010
  • 08:06 PM

Probing amyloid, one oligomer at a time

by The Curious Wavefunction in The Curious Wavefunction

One of the more important paradigm shifts in our understanding of the Alzheimer’s disease-causing amyloid protein in the last few years has been the recognition of differences between the well known polymer aggregates of amyloid and their smaller, soluble oligomer counterparts. For a long time it was believed that the fully formed 40-42 amino acid protein aggregate found in autopsies was the causative agent in AD, or at least the most toxic one. This understanding has radically changed in the ........ Read more »

Reinke, A., Ung, P., Quintero, J., Carlson, H., & Gestwicki, J. (2010) Chemical Probes That Selectively Recognize the Earliest Aβ Oligomers in Complex Mixtures. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1021/ja106291e  

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