Post List

  • September 3, 2009
  • 03:44 PM

On the dangers of Rhododendrons!

by Dr Dave in Dave's Landslide Blog

Rhododendrons are one of those plants that, when planted well, can create an amazing garden:(from:, it might surprise you to hear that they can be a major cause of landslides. As the image below shows, rhododendrons are increasingly grown on the mountain slopes of the Appalachians:(from: well as creating a somewhat beautiful landscape, rhododendrons have been grown in t........ Read more »

Hales, T., Ford, C., Hwang, T., Vose, J., & Band, L. (2009) Topographic and ecologic controls on root reinforcement. Journal of Geophysical Research, 114(F3). DOI: 10.1029/2008JF001168  

  • September 3, 2009
  • 01:28 PM

Are you polite on discussion boards?

by Kristen DiCerbo in Connections Research Blog

How do people interact on discussion boards in an education setting? In my experience, people are much more polite and restrained in classroom discussion boards than on more general boards on the web. It turns out that politeness is actually a construct studied by sociolinguists. They define it in the context of discussion boards as [...]... Read more »

Schallert, D., Chiang, Y., Park, Y., Jordan, M., Lee, H., Janne Cheng, A., Rebecca Chu, H., Lee, S., Kim, T., & Song, K. (2009) Being polite while fulfilling different discourse functions in online classroom discussions. Computers , 53(3), 713-725. DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2009.04.009  

  • September 3, 2009
  • 12:55 PM

If You’re Feeling Warm and Fuzzy, It Might Just be the Coffee

by David DiSalvo in Neuronarrative

If you have a falling out with someone and they start ignoring you, they’re “giving you the cold shoulder.” If you feel emotionally close to someone, you have “warm feelings” towards that person. We’re accustomed to using metaphorical language like this to describe human relationships, but do these words also imply more literal meanings?

A new study in the journal Psychological Science investigated whether the actual experience of warmth or coldness influ........ Read more »

  • September 3, 2009
  • 11:52 AM

Viral reassortment, genome transplantation and more in my picks of the week from RB

by Alejandro Montenegro-Montero in MolBio Research Highlights

Another week has gone by and some very interesting blog posts have been aggregated into Every week [see my inaugural post on the matter], I'll select some blog posts I consider particularly interesting in the field of molecular biology [see here to get a sense of the criteria that will be used] and list them here for you to check out.This week, three blog posts made the cut:... Read more »

Ghedin, E., Fitch, A., Boyne, A., Griesemer, S., DePasse, J., Bera, J., Zhang, X., Halpin, R., Smit, M., Jennings, L.... (2009) Mixed Infection and the Genesis of Influenza Virus Diversity. Journal of Virology, 83(17), 8832-8841. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00773-09  

Lartigue, C., Vashee, S., Algire, M., Chuang, R., Benders, G., Ma, L., Noskov, V., Denisova, E., Gibson, D., Assad-Garcia, N.... (2009) Creating Bacterial Strains from Genomes That Have Been Cloned and Engineered in Yeast. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1173759  

Castellano, L., Giamas, G., Jacob, J., Coombes, R., Lucchesi, W., Thiruchelvam, P., Barton, G., Jiao, L., Wait, R., Waxman, J.... (2009) The estrogen receptor- -induced microRNA signature regulates itself and its transcriptional response. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0906947106  

  • September 3, 2009
  • 11:50 AM

"Free choice" may not be as free as it seems

by Dave Munger in Cognitive Daily

How did you decide to read this post? You might have seen the headline in an RSS reader or noticed it on the ScienceBlogs home page. Maybe someone emailed or tweeted the link to you. But you still had to make the decision to actually read it. How do you know when you made that decision?

In 1965 H.H. Kornhuber and L. Deeke found that brain activity precedes a conscious choice (voluntarily pressing a button) by 500 to 1,000 milliseconds. But in 1983 a team led by B. Libet found that when people w........ Read more »

Banks WP, & Isham EA. (2009) We infer rather than perceive the moment we decided to act. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 20(1), 17-21. PMID: 19152537  

  • September 3, 2009
  • 10:41 AM

People who yearn for the amputation of a healthy limb

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

In the late Summer of 1997, the surgeon Robert Smith deliberately amputated the healthy lower left leg of his patient, 38-year-old Kevin Wright, who had been yearning for this outcome since childhood.Back then, Wright's condition was judged to be a form of body dysmorphic disorder - a psychiatric diagnosis characterised by an irrational belief that there is something defective with a body part. Before now, there has been little systematic research with patients experiencing amputation desire, bu........ Read more »

  • September 3, 2009
  • 09:20 AM

Human-induced erosion as powerful as glaciers

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

Soil erosion in a wheat field near Washington State University.

Soil erosion has always been a big problem for ecosystems, and often increases with decreased ecosystem health, such as the dry conditions often encouraged by climate change. We normally think of rivers and glaciers as the most powerful eroders, but a study out today in [...]

... Read more »

  • September 3, 2009
  • 09:07 AM

Science News: Week of August 30, 2009

by Susan Steinhardt in BioData Blogs

Our weekly compilation of science news for the week of August 30, 2009.... Read more »

Maehr, R., Chen, S., Snitow, M., Ludwig, T., Yagasaki, L., Goland, R., Leibel, R., & Melton, D. (2009) Generation of pluripotent stem cells from patients with type 1 diabetes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0906894106  

Reversade, B., Escande-Beillard, N., Dimopoulou, A., Fischer, B., Chng, S., Li, Y., Shboul, M., Tham, P., Kayserili, H., Al-Gazali, L.... (2009) Mutations in PYCR1 cause cutis laxa with progeroid features. Nature Genetics. DOI: 10.1038/ng.413  

Siripattarapravat, K., Pinmee, B., Venta, P., Chang, C., & Cibelli, J. (2009) Somatic cell nuclear transfer in zebrafish. Nature Methods. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1369  

  • September 3, 2009
  • 07:00 AM

Mousy blondes: Ready for evolution textbooks?

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

This paper on mice evolving a new coat colour has been making a big splash in science news. It’s being touted as a new textbook example of evolution. Actually, not just an example, but an “icon.” I’m not sure what to think about that, given that Icons of Evolution is a notorious creationist book. Plus, the last time someone was touting “it’ll be in all the textbooks” were the promoters of the breathlessly over-hyped Darwinius / Ida fossil.

Reading the........ Read more »

Linnen, C., Kingsley, E., Jensen, J., & Hoekstra, H. (2009) On the Origin and Spread of an Adaptive Allele in Deer Mice. Science, 325(5944), 1095-1098. DOI: 10.1126/science.1175826  

  • September 3, 2009
  • 03:02 AM

Can harvesting trees improve habitat for birds?

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

In a new study, scientists look at the effect of wildlife-friendly forestry on avian species in the bottomland hardwood forests of more... Read more »

  • September 3, 2009
  • 01:03 AM

The neural correlates of lucid dreaming

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

I've always had a deep fascination for lucid dreaming and only a handful of times have I been fortunate enough to experience such a wondrous and relatively rare state of consciousness. In one instance I decided to meditate and that blissful experience has no doubt left an indelible memory. So what's really going on in the brain during a lucid dream? In a recent study Voss and colleagues over in Germany in collaboration with Hobson at Harvard Medical School decided to investigate the electrophysi........ Read more »

  • September 2, 2009
  • 09:47 PM

Yet Another Reason Not to Be Obese: It Accelerates Immune System Aging

by Reason in Fight Aging!

By now, I would hope, the life science horror stories that turn up here on a regular basis will have convinced you that excess body fat is not good for your long term health and longevity. Some of that is the result of the biochemistry of fat tissue en mass, and some of that is the reaction of your metabolism to the sedentary, high-calorie lifestyle required to gain that fat tissue, but the end result isn't pretty. More fat means a lowered life expectancy and a greater risk of all the common age........ Read more »

Yang H, Youm YH, Vandanmagsar B, Rood J, Kumar KG, Butler AA, & Dixit VD. (2009) Obesity accelerates thymic aging. Blood. PMID: 19721009  

  • September 2, 2009
  • 06:44 PM

New Paper: Genetic diversity and emergence of ethnic groups

by Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog

A new study using both genetic and cultural data shows that ethnic groups in Central Asia are primarily a sociocultural phenomenon. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »

Heyer, E., Balaresque, P., Jobling, M., Quintana-Murci, L., Chaix, R., Segurel, L., Aldashev, A., & Hegay, T. (2009) Genetic diversity and the emergence of ethnic groups in Central Asia. BMC Genetics, 10(1), 49. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2156-10-49  

  • September 2, 2009
  • 05:19 PM

Climate Change - is it for the birds?

by Christie Wilcox in Observations of a Nerd

As every year we humans pump out more and more carbon dioxide, our climate is changing. While select few in their fields disagree that any alterations are human-induced, the majority of the scientific community accepts the data which shows global warming and other changes - ocean acidification, for example - are occurring, and it's our fault. Even still, we hotly debate exactly what needs to be done, and meanwhile, the ecosystems are shifting.While we argue who should cut what emissions or who's........ Read more »

  • September 2, 2009
  • 04:48 PM

Why are atheists so disliked?

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

Bruce Hood has a post up about the atheist bus ad controversy in the US state of Iowa (OK, it was a couple of weeks ago, but I've been away...). What caught my eye was a comment by Konrad:The thing that got me was the governor of the state saying that he found the ad disturbing. Clearly, people seem to treat religious adherence as symbolic of group identity so that they find the idea of atheists in their midst as threatening as that of enemy spies.The hostile reaction to what was a pretty innocu........ Read more »

  • September 2, 2009
  • 03:50 PM

Silver fox domestication

by Michael Meadon in Ionian Enchantment

I recently linked to an extract from Richard Dawkins’ new book in which he mentions a fascinating long-term experiment on silver foxes. The short version: starting in the late 1950s, the Russian geneticist Dmitry Belyaev selectively bred a population of silver foxes for tameness, and, surprisingly, they acquired a dog-like morphology as a by-product (floppy ears, turned-up tails, and so on). In other words, determining which foxes got to breed based solely on how tame and friendly they wer........ Read more »

  • September 2, 2009
  • 03:21 PM

Did Life Arise 3.5 Billion Years Ago?

by Larry Moran in Sandwalk

 J. William Schopf is a paleontologist at the University of California, Los Angeles (USA). He became famous in the 1990s for his studies of the Apec chert—ancient rocks in the northern part of Western Australia near the town of Marble Bar. Parts of these rocks have been reliably dated to 3.465 billion years ago. Schopf claimed to have discovered bacteria fossils in these rocks. He published ... Read more »

  • September 2, 2009
  • 03:00 PM

Special issue of the Journal of European Studies: Crime and Madness in Modern Germany

by Kevin Karpiak in Anthropoliteia: the anthropology of policing

Special issue of the Journal of European Studies: Crime and Madness in Modern Germany... Read more »

Ashkenazi, O., Greenberg, U., & Lewy, J. (2009) Introduction. Journal of European Studies, 39(3), 267-269. DOI: 10.1177/0047244109106681  

  • September 2, 2009
  • 02:42 PM

Say “Cheese!”

by Wayne Hooke in The Psychology of Beauty

Using data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, Markus Jokela (2009) has found an association between the rated attractiveness of yearbook photos and reproductive success in a contemporary industrial/technological population. This study is significant because it offers real data suggesting that attractiveness in humans can pay-off in tangible evolutionary terms in the modern world. The estimated [...]... Read more »

  • September 2, 2009
  • 01:59 PM

Acting for the survival of the species (a falsehood)

by Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog

Today's falsehood is the idea that individual animals act for the benefit of their own species. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »

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