Post List

  • December 10, 2009
  • 09:00 AM

Yet another bad day for the anti-vaccine movement

by Orac in Respectful Insolence

Arguably, the genesis of the most recent iteration of the anti-vaccine movement dates back to 1998, when a remarkably incompetent researcher named Andrew Wakefield published a trial lawyer-funded "study" in the Lancet that purported to find a link between "autistic enterocolitis" and measles vaccination with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) trivalent vaccine. In the wake of that publication was born a scare over the MMR that persists to this day, 11 years later. Although peer reviewers forced the........ Read more »

  • December 10, 2009
  • 08:30 AM

Avoiding disease outbreaks when reintroducing endangered wildlife

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

Scientists have tested a method for reducing parasitic infections in wildlife reintroductions. Using guppies (Poecilia reticulata) as a model species, they found that pre-exposing individuals to parasites and then curing them prior to reintroduction reduces infection after being released... Read more »

  • December 10, 2009
  • 08:00 AM

Shocking affairs of zebra finches revealed!

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

We never get tired of finding out who’s cheating on who, if the headlines are any indication. Finding out how much cheating is going on in the animal kingdom was revolutionized with the introduction of DNA fingerprinting, and led to major rethinking of sexual behaviour, particularly among birds.

Go back before the introduction of DNA technology, and the general consensus was the most bird species were monogamous, at least during a breeding season. There were all kinds of good reasons that........ Read more »

Griffith, Simon C., Holleley, Clare E., Mariette, Mylene M., Pryke, Sarah R., & Svedin, Nina. (2010) Low level of extrapair parentage in wild zebra finches. Animal Behaviour. info:/10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.11.031

  • December 10, 2009
  • 05:41 AM

Trans-Splicing: a Patchy Story

by Lucas in thoughtomics

There’s a lot that can happen before the information inside a gene gets translated into a protein. For example, RNA transcripts that are derived from sequences that are located far away from each other on the genome can be fused in a process called trans-splicing. Trans-splicing has been observed in several eukaryotic species, including Hydra’s [...]... Read more »

  • December 10, 2009
  • 02:12 AM

A PLoS ONE Success Story--Taxol Crystals Masquerading as Microtubules

by Steve Koch in Steve Koch Science

Andy Maloney, a Ph.D. student in our lab, recently read and summarized a very interesting paper in his open lab notebook. The paper, "Taxol Crystals Can Masquerade as Stabilized Microtubules," was published in PLoS ONE in January of 2008 by Margit Foss, Buck W. L. Wilcox, G. Bradley Alsop, and Dahong Zhang1. Since our lab is now heavily involved in experiments involving kinesin and microtubules, and because it addresses something that had been a mystery to us, the paper really caught my intere........ Read more »

  • December 10, 2009
  • 12:50 AM

Recovering from a wrist or ankle fracture: pain-related fear, catastrophising and pain influences outcome

by Bronwyn Thompson in Healthskills: Skills for Healthy Living

I have no idea how many wrist and ankle fractures occur every year, but I can bet it’s not a small number by any imagination. For most of us, I’m guessing we’d expect to have a fracture, wield a wonderfully-autographed cast, get it removed and go on our merry way – but after reading [...]... Read more »

Linton, S., Buer, N., Samuelsson, L., & Harms-Ringdahl, K. (2010) Pain-related fear, catastrophizing and pain in the recovery from a fracture. Scandinavian Journal of Pain, 1(1), 38-42. DOI: 10.1016/j.sjpain.2009.09.004  

  • December 9, 2009
  • 11:48 PM

Parasites in the Brain

by Daniel Hawes in Ingenious Monkey | 20-two-5

"In 1896, the Scientific American published an article, Is Insanity Due to a Microbe?''," and thus started a lively discussion on infectious causes of schizophrenia, epilepsy and other diseases of the mind...... Read more »

  • December 9, 2009
  • 11:31 PM

Grow Fat and Lazy, and Vascular Dementia Awaits

by Reason in Fight Aging!

Metabolic syndrome is a shorthand for the unfavorable changes that result from eating too much, exercising too little, and packing on the pounds of visceral fat. These lifestyle choices alter the operation of your biology for the worse: in most people they will cut short life expectancy, boost chronic inflammation, and raise the risk of suffering all of the common disabling and fatal age-related conditions, such as dementia, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and so forth. If you let things rust, ........ Read more »

Solfrizzi V, Scafato E, Capurso C, D'Introno A, Colacicco AM, Frisardi V, Vendemiale G, Baldereschi M, Crepaldi G, Di Carlo A.... (2009) Metabolic Syndrome and the Risk of Vascular Dementia. The Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging. Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry. PMID: 19965842  

  • December 9, 2009
  • 10:42 PM

Low back pain while running..a real problem in the but? Part 1

by Dr. Wayne Button in Sport Injuries and Wellness

Learn how back pain when running can be because of problems in your buttock region.... Read more »

LIEBENSON, C. (2007) Hip dysfunction and back pain. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 11(2), 111-115. DOI: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2007.01.005  

  • December 9, 2009
  • 10:41 PM

White Bears – The Paradox of Mental Suppression

by Shaheen Lakhan in Brain Blogger

Whatever you do, don’t think of a white bear. Go on, close your eyes, relax, but don’t think of a white bear… So, what happened? Most likely, you were overwhelmed by thoughts of a white bear. This mini-experiment highlights the fascinating paradox of thought suppression. That is, once we explicitly try not to think of [...]... Read more »

Wegner, D., Schneider, D., Carter, S., & White, T. (1987) Paradoxical effects of thought suppression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53(1), 5-13. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.53.1.5  

  • December 9, 2009
  • 06:12 PM

Could Kepler find something closer to home?

by Niall in we are all in the gutter

You might have heard about Kepler and NASA space mission to find planets around other stars. But recently this paper came out recently showing how it could be used to probe unknown distant reaches of our own solar system.... Read more »

Eran O. Ofek, & Ehud Nakar. (2009) Detectability of Oort cloud objects using Kepler. Submitted to ApJL. arXiv: 0912.0948v1

  • December 9, 2009
  • 01:00 PM

Psychologists find a drug-free way for fears to be unlearned

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

In an exciting breakthrough for psychological science, researchers in the United States have demonstrated a drug-free way to prevent the return of a learned fear. It's hoped the discovery will lead to improved therapeutic techniques for people with phobias or intrusive traumatic memories.Elizabeth Phelps and her colleagues exploited the fact that memories are particularly vulnerable to modification just after they've been recalled. The procedure began with 65 participants learning to fear a colo........ Read more »

D Schiller, M-H Monfils, C Raio, D Johnson, & J LeDoux. (2009) Preventing the return of fear in humans using reconsolidation update mechanisms. Nature. info:/

  • December 9, 2009
  • 12:26 PM

Strike Two

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Another veterinary drug found to be fatal to vultures

... Read more »

Naidoo, V., Wolter, K., Cromarty, D., Diekmann, M., Duncan, N., Meharg, A., Taggart, M., Venter, L., & Cuthbert, R. (2009) Toxicity of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to Gyps vultures: a new threat from ketoprofen. Biology Letters. info:/10.1098/rsbl.2009.0818

  • December 9, 2009
  • 11:28 AM

The Lancet: Active Transportation Could Cut Ischemic Heart Disease Prevalance by 25%

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

With the world's leaders currently meeting in Copenhagen to discuss strategies to reduce climate change, one of the world's most prestigious medical journals, The Lancet, has released a series examining the public health benefits of various strategies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. One of these papers focuses on the impact of widespread adoption of active transportation, and the estimated public health benefit is nothing short of astonishing.... Read more »

Wilkinson, P., Smith, K., Davies, M., Adair, H., Armstrong, B., Barrett, M., Bruce, N., Haines, A., Hamilton, I., & Oreszczyn, T. (2009) Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: household energy. The Lancet, 374(9705), 1917-1929. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61713-X  

  • December 9, 2009
  • 10:47 AM

Biofuel’s indirect environmental effects

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

Biofuels hold promise for reducing the world’s consumption of unsustainable fossil fuels.  But like any new technology, they come with their own host of issues and problems.  One such problem is the so-called “indirect” effect of biofuels on the landscape and the atmosphere. For example, when farmlands are converted to biofuel crops, the food formerly [...]

... Read more »

Melillo, J., Reilly, J., Kicklighter, D., Gurgel, A., Cronin, T., Paltsev, S., Felzer, B., Wang, X., Sokolov, A., & Schlosser, C. (2009) Indirect Emissions from Biofuels: How Important?. Science, 326(5958), 1397-1399. DOI: 10.1126/science.1180251  

  • December 9, 2009
  • 10:35 AM

Are flu vaccines effective in the elderly?

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

There’s been a fair bit of discussion online about the new study in the British Medical Journal1  throwing doubt on Tamiflu’s effectiveness against influenza.  (If you haven’t already seen this, see the Avian Flu Diary for an excellent summary of the situation, and an update here.2 Also see the CDC’s recommendations for antivirals here.)

There’s a [...]... Read more »

  • December 9, 2009
  • 10:31 AM

Conclusion: Darwins Dilemma, Creationist Propaganda and Corrupt Christians

by Johnny in Ecographica

According to “many published scientists,” there is a “story being told by Darwinists” that DNA and genetics play a role in evolutionary development, protein synthesis and the ontogeny of the physical characteristics displayed by animals. In hopes of edifying the masses of wayward “Darwinists,” these same “many published scientists” point out in Darwin’s Dilemma that DNA lacks the potency and mechanical know-how required to undertake these tasks. In actuality - according to “m........ Read more »

  • December 9, 2009
  • 09:30 AM

Ocean rigs as vectors for entire communities of invasive species

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

Scientists have long recognized marine transport as a vector for exotic species invasions. But relatively little attention has been given to the transport of semi-submersible rigs - the installations that are used for oil drilling...... Read more »

Wanless, R., Scott, S., Sauer, W., Andrew, T., Glass, J., Godfrey, B., Griffiths, C., & Yeld, E. (2009) Semi-submersible rigs: a vector transporting entire marine communities around the world. Biological Invasions. DOI: 10.1007/s10530-009-9666-2  

  • December 9, 2009
  • 08:08 AM

Testosterone, Aggression... Confusion

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Breaking news from the BBC -Testosterone link to aggression 'all in the mind' Work in Nature magazine suggests the mind can win over hormones... Testosterone induces anti-social behaviour in humans, but only because of our own prejudices about its effect rather than its biological activity, suggest the authors. The researchers, led by Ernst Fehr of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, said the results suggested a case of "mind over matter" with the brain overriding body chemistry. "Whe........ Read more »

  • December 9, 2009
  • 08:00 AM

Thinking about electric vehicles

by sciencebase in Sciencebase Science Blog

Electric vehicles reduce noise and local air pollution, such as nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and ground-level ozone, but do they simply relocate the carbon tire-tracks to fossil-fired power stations or are there benefits on the global scale?
Fundamentally, an electric engine can achieve 85 to 90% energy conversion efficiency, which contrasts starkly with the internal combustion [...]Thinking about electric vehicles is a post from: Sciencebase Science Blog
... Read more »

Åsgeir Helland. (2009) Well-to-wheel CO2 analysis of electric and ICE vehicles: are global CO2 emission reductions possible?. Int. J. Global Warming, 1(4), 432-442. info:/

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