Post List

  • September 1, 2009
  • 03:00 PM
  • 1,537 views

Is the latest claim regarding "chimp-human" inbreeding a bunch of hooey?

by Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog

Yes, but not necessarily because it is wrong.

Some time ago researchers proposed that the modern DNA signal indicated that chimps and humans continued to interbreed long after they split in evolutionary time. A new study refutes this, and as the author states, this new study is more correct because it "simpler and hence more likely".

Wow. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »

Dolgin, Elie. (2009) Human-chimp interbreeding challenged. Nature News. info:/

  • September 1, 2009
  • 01:25 PM
  • 657 views

Human Y Chromosome Mutation Rates

by Larry Moran in Sandwalk

 One thing men are really good at is making mistakes—just ask any woman. When it comes to mutations we are ten times better than women at ensuring the evolution of the species. Knowing the actual rate of mutation in humans—or any other species—is important for many reasons. For one thing, it tells us about the maximum possible rate of evolution. For another, it gives us an important clue about ... Read more »

  • September 1, 2009
  • 10:58 AM
  • 1,210 views

Olfactory communication and mate choice

by Wintz in A Replicated Typo

From the regulation and reproduction in bacteria colonies (Bassler, 2002) to complex smell and taste systems of humans (Van Toller & Dodd, 1988), the ability of sensing chemical stimuli, known as chemosensation, is believed to be the most basic and ubiquitous of senses (Bhutta, 2007). One strain of thought places chemosensation as merely an evolved [...]... Read more »

Bhutta, M. (2007) Sex and the nose: human pheromonal responses. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 100(6), 268-274. DOI: 10.1258/jrsm.100.6.268  

Havlicek, J., & Roberts, S. (2009) MHC-correlated mate choice in humans: A review. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34(4), 497-512. DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2008.10.007  

  • September 1, 2009
  • 10:22 AM
  • 784 views

Librarians and Open Access – What are we Actually Doing?

by bjms1002 in the Undergraduate Science Librarian


The librarians I’ve met at workshops, at conferences, and on the web, are generally strong supporters of open access. My impression has always been that our professional philosophy of providing information to our users free of charge (to them) fits very nicely with the philosophy of the open access movement.
Recently, I’ve started to wonder [...]... Read more »

Kristi L. Palmer, Emily Dill, & Charlene Christie. (2009) Where There's a Will There's a Way?: Survey of Academic Librarian Attitudes about Open Access. College and Research Libraries, 70(4), 315-335. info:/

  • September 1, 2009
  • 07:00 AM
  • 1,089 views

A bitter taste in your lungs

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

Smell is the oldest and most basic sense. Smell is the detection of external chemicals, which bacteria, without even having neurons (because they are one-celled), are able to do with ease. Taste is a mere spin-off of smell, as it is also about detection of chemicals, just those in a little higher concentrations a little closer to the body.

A new paper by Shah and colleagues blurs the already fuzzy line between small, taste, and even nociception (detection of tissue damaging stimuli). They exa........ Read more »

Shah, A., Ben-Shahar, Y., Moninger, T., Kline, J., & Welsh, M. (2009) Motile Cilia of Human Airway Epithelia Are Chemosensory. Science, 325(5944), 1131-1134. DOI: 10.1126/science.1173869  

  • September 1, 2009
  • 04:55 AM
  • 523 views

Fun with a local homeopath

by Michael Meadon in Ionian Enchantment

Note: Prinsloo has edited his website in light of our criticisms, but the version of his site that I responded to is still available on Google cache. 

A Pretoria-based homeopath, one Dr. JP Prinsloo, has taken on some local skeptics, including Owen and Angela. I'll have more to say about him in the next while, but for the moment I want to do three things: point to Owen's superb (and damn funny) response, address one of Prinsloo's arguments and demonstrate he misinterprets the medical literat........ Read more »

  • September 1, 2009
  • 02:40 AM
  • 743 views

Visualising Connections in the Human Brain

by Kevin Mitchell in Wiring the Brain

Most of us are familiar with pictures from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the human brain; indeed, these black-and-white images have achieved almost iconic status at this stage. From popular television programmes, and regrettably from common experience, the use of these images to detect lesions, such as tumours or the effects of stroke, is well known. Classic MRI can distinguish grey and white matter based on their different cellular composition but cannot go very far beyond that, because ........ Read more »

Wedeen, V., Wang, R., Schmahmann, J., Benner, T., Tseng, W., Dai, G., Pandya, D., Hagmann, P., D'Arceuil, H., & de Crespigny, A. (2008) Diffusion spectrum magnetic resonance imaging (DSI) tractography of crossing fibers. NeuroImage, 41(4), 1267-1277. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.03.036  

Perrin, M., Cointepas, Y., Cachia, A., Poupon, C., Thirion, B., Rivière, D., Cathier, P., El Kouby, V., Constantinesco, A., Le Bihan, D.... (2008) Connectivity-Based Parcellation of the Cortical Mantle Using q-Ball Diffusion Imaging. International Journal of Biomedical Imaging, 1-19. DOI: 10.1155/2008/368406  

  • August 31, 2009
  • 11:08 PM
  • 563 views

Not In My Forest

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Vietnam has "exported" its logging to other countries

... Read more »

Meyfroidt, P., . (2009) Forest transition in Vietnam and displacement of deforestation abroad. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/

  • August 31, 2009
  • 09:09 PM
  • 894 views

The peripheral attenton deficit of primary psychopaths

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

Described as cold, heartless, manipulative, selfish, and low anxiety, primary psychopaths frankly scare the bejesus out of most people including myself. Look at the case of John Wayne Gacy Jr., the American serial killer who took the lives of 33 boys and young men between 1972 to 1978; burying most of the bodies in his crawl space beneath his home. During his sentencing he was quoted to have morbidly joked that the only thing he was guilty of was "running a cemetery without a license". How fucke........ Read more »

  • August 31, 2009
  • 09:00 PM
  • 1,277 views

Quasar light switches

by Emma in we are all in the gutter

Right, it’s about time this blog went extragalactic again. As Douglas Adams wrote, “Space…is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space”. With all that Universe available [...]... Read more »

M. Jamrozy, D. J. Saikia, & C. Konar. (2009) 4C02.27: a quasar with episodic activity?. Accepted for publication in MNRAS. arXiv: 0908.1508v1

  • August 31, 2009
  • 05:24 PM
  • 950 views

Take the pain away and the other problems go too? A loooooong post

by Bronwyn Thompson in Healthskills: Skills for Healthy Living


There are some days I despair that the biopsychosocial model will EVER take hold in the died-in-the-wool medical interventionist strongholds.
This quote from a discussion with a colleague might help you join in my pity party…The conversation is about a case of a young woman with 18 month history of neck pain post-MVA, she has been [...]... Read more »

  • August 31, 2009
  • 04:51 PM
  • 1,602 views

Explaining the Spread of Agriculture into Europe

by Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog

The practice of growing food and keeping livestock was invented numerous times throughout the world. One 'center' of agriculture is said to be the Middle East. Despite the fact that calling the Middle East a "center" in this context is a gross oversimplification, it is true that agriculture was practiced in Anatolia and the Levant for quite some time before it was practiced in Europe, and it seems that the practice more or less spread from the middle east across Europe over a fairly long perio........ Read more »

  • August 31, 2009
  • 03:17 PM
  • 1,014 views

Iterated Learning and Language Evolution

by Wintz in A Replicated Typo

If we accept that language is not only a conveyer of cultural information, but it is itself a socially learned and culturally transmitted system, then an individual’s linguistic knowledge is the result of observing the linguistic behaviour of others. This well attested process of language acquisition is often termed Iterated Learning, and it opens up [...]... Read more »

  • August 31, 2009
  • 02:45 PM
  • 643 views

Using Chemistry to Track the Source of Seized Methamphetamine

by Michael Long in Phased

Niamh Daeid (University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom) and coworkers have identified the chemical impurities which arise from different synthetic routes to methamphetamine, aiding efforts aimed at drug network disruption. This news feature was written on August 31, 2009.... Read more »

  • August 31, 2009
  • 02:22 PM
  • 1,028 views

Ping this flower

by Thomas Kluyver in Thomas' Plant-Related Blog


This one’s an old bit of research, but a favourite of mine. It’s not groundbreaking science, but when I first heard about it, I just went ‘oh, wow’, in amazement at what natural selection can come up with! In short, it’s a flower shaped to reflect sonar so that bats can find it.
Flowers can be [...]... Read more »

von Helversen, D., & von Helversen, O. (1999) Acoustic guide in bat-pollinated flower. Nature, 398(6730), 759-760. DOI: 10.1038/19648  

von Helversen, D., & von Helversen, O. (2003) Object recognition by echolocation: a nectar-feeding bat exploiting the flowers of a rain forest vine. Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, 189(5), 327-336. info:/10.1007/s00359-003-0405-3

  • August 31, 2009
  • 12:39 PM
  • 1,147 views

The poor and the dark skinned have more babies than the rich and the light skinned

by Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog

Good morning and welcome to another installment of "The Falsehoods." Today's falsehood is the assertion that the poor have more babies than the rich, or that the poor just have more babies to begin with. In comparison to ... whatever.
Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »

Essock-Vitale SM. (1984) The reproductive success of wealthy Americans. Ethology and Sociobiology, 5(1), 45-54. info:other/

  • August 31, 2009
  • 11:36 AM
  • 1,014 views

Imitating viruses to deliver gene therapy for inherited diseases

by Sally Church in Pharma Strategy Blog

Image via Wikipedia Scientists have published an interesting article in the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). Basically, a gene therapy vector is used to deliver a therapeutic gene or a portion of DNA into a cell...... Read more »

  • August 31, 2009
  • 11:15 AM
  • 654 views

Cautionary Note on the Toxicity of Titanium Oxide Nanofilaments

by Michael Long in Phased

Arnaud Magrez (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland), Beat Schwaller (University of Fribourg, Switzerland), and coworkers have shown that titanium nanofilaments can be toxic, serving as a further warning that the toxicity of nanomaterials needs to be fully investigated for the sake of public health and the environment. This news feature was written on August 31, 2009.... Read more »

Magrez, A., Horváth, L., Smajda, R., Salicio, V., Pasquier, N., Forró, L., & Schwaller, B. (2009) Cellular Toxicity of TiO2-Based Nanofilaments. ACS Nano, 3(8), 2274-2280. DOI: 10.1021/nn9002067  

  • August 31, 2009
  • 10:39 AM
  • 968 views

Smallest Things Considered

by Merry Youle in Small Things Considered

What do stunted coconut palms, misshapen potato tubers, and peach trees with necrotic branches have in common? They are three of the numerous crops stricken with diseases caused by viroids, an astonishing group of minimalist plant pathogens. There isn't much to a viroid, just one single-stranded, circular RNA molecule. The largest viroid genome so far is 399 nucleotides, the smallest a mere 246—about one tenth the size of the smallest viruses (hepadnavirus LINK 2) and one hundredth the size of........ Read more »

Ding B. (2009) The biology of viroid-host interactions. Annual review of phytopathology, 105-31. PMID: 19400635  

  • August 31, 2009
  • 04:35 AM
  • 664 views

Gender and energy use

by Henrik Karlstrøm in STS Guru

Räty & Carlsson-Kanyama show that energy consumption differ according to gender. Not surprisingly, men eat more meat, drink more alcohol and buy and drive more expensive and fuel-intensive cars, and women use more energy on hygiene and clothes. This might not be news, but it’s still nice to have some number on it. Even if those numbers are only (very reasonable!) guesstimations based on a small subset of the population (singles) and inferring energy use from expenditure numbers&hellip........ Read more »

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