Recent issue of Nature magazine has few very interesting articles about synthetic biology and one of them is "Five hard truths for synthetic biology" written by Roberta Kwok. When I first read this article my first reaction was- nothing wrong with synthetic biology, it's just biology gets in the way of the engineering.Nothing to do with their heartsNothing to do with their headsNothing to do with their homesNothing to do with their bedsIt's just B-I-O-L-O-G-YCan't you seeIt's just BiologyBiology........ Read more »
The Sanger Institute's paper in Science describing the sequencing of multiple MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) genomes is very nifty and demonstrates a whole new potential market for next-generation sequencing: the tracking of infections in support of better control measures.MRSA is a serious health issue; a friend of mine's relative is battling it right now. MRSA is commonly acquired in health care facilities. Further spread can be combated by rigorous attention to disinfect........ Read more »
Simon R. Harris, Edward J. Feil, Matthew T. G. Holden, Michael A. Quail, Emma K. Nickerson, Narisara Chantratita, Susana Gardete, Ana Tavares, Nick Day, Jodi A. Lindsay.... (2010) Evolution of MRSA During Hospital Transmission and Intercontinental Spread. Science, 327(5964), 469-474. info:/10.1126/science.1182395
Even E.Coli clocks "Twitter." Dr. Martin Fussenegger reviews in a recent Nature News & Views... Read more »
It is told in the Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai
At the time of the attack on the castle at Shimabara, Tazaki Geki was wearing very resplendent armor. Lord Katsuhige was not pleased by this, and after that every time he saw something showy he would say, “That’s just like Geki’s armor.” In the light [...]... Read more »
Yao, H., Dao, M., Imholt, T., Huang, J., Wheeler, K., Bonilla, A., Suresh, S., & Ortiz, C. (2010) Protection mechanisms of the iron-plated armor of a deep-sea hydrothermal vent gastropod. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(3), 987-992. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0912988107
Despite our best attempts to remove species from the face of the Earth, there is still quite a bit of life out there and it is still quite diverse. Also, there are still quite a few people who want to document, describe and make the rest of us aware of the magnitude and diversity of [...]... Read more »
Smith VS, Rycroft SD, Harman KT, Scott B, & Roberts D. (2009) Scratchpads: a data-publishing framework to build, share and manage information on the diversity of life. BMC bioinformatics. PMID: 19900302
A little while ago, I wrote a post about an article in Science about the relationship between “objective” measurements of “quality of life” and subjective measurements of “life-satisfaction”. The article found a very high correlation between these measurements leading the authors to claim that there was now “objective verification” of the subjective measurements often used [...]... Read more »
Oswald, A., & Wu, S. (2009) Objective Confirmation of Subjective Measures of Human Well-Being: Evidence from the U.S.A. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1180606
Schwarz, N., Strack, F., & Mai, H. (1991) Assimilation and Contrast Effects in Part-Whole Question Sequences: A Conversational Logic Analysis. Public Opinion Quarterly, 55(1), 3. DOI: 10.1086/269239
Norbert Schwarz, & Fritz Strack. (1991) Context Effects in Attitude Surveys: Applying Cognitive Theory to Social Research. European Review of Social Psychology. info:/
Oishi, S. (2003) The contextual and systematic nature of life satisfaction judgments. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 39(3), 232-247. DOI: 10.1016/S0022-1031(03)00016-7
Schkade, D., & Kahneman, D. (1998) Does Living in California Make People Happy? A Focusing Illusion in Judgments of Life Satisfaction. Psychological Science, 9(5), 340-346. DOI: 10.1111/1467-9280.00066
Also posted over at Paramedicine 101. Go check out the rest of what is there.A recent study points out some of the problems with EMS (Emergency Medical Services) treatment in some places. Each medical director, or state medical director, is permitted to ignore the evidence that some treatments are harmful. They can use ignorance as an excuse for continuing harmful practices. Rather than ignorance, those familiar with the research will claim that somebody might benefit. Their battle cry is What i........ Read more »
Haut, E., Kalish, B., Efron, D., Haider, A., Stevens, K., Kieninger, A., Cornwell, E., & Chang, D. (2010) Spine Immobilization in Penetrating Trauma: More Harm Than Good?. The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, 68(1), 115-121. DOI: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3181c9ee58
A short post about a small letter that recently appeared in the latest issue of Conservation Biology – the dangers of REDD.
REDD. What is it? The acronym for ‘Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation’, it is the idea of providing financial incentives to developing countries to reduce forest clearance by paying them to keep them [...]... Read more »
I’m gobsmacked. And highly amused, as well (it’s the immature part of me, apologies).
Credit: Phil Myers (photographer, copyright holder), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan. More info here and here. (I tried to find a picture of sperm in question, but nothing seemed to be (c)-free)
Research published in Nature this week has shown something incredible [...]
[Click on the hyperlinked headline for more of the goodness]... Read more »
Fisher, H., & Hoekstra, H. (2010) Competition drives cooperation among closely related sperm of deer mice. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08736
Conservation biologists take a long time to submit papers
... Read more »
OâDONNELL, R., SUPP, S., & COBBOLD, S. (2010) Hindrance of Conservation Biology by Delays in the Submission of Manuscripts. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01424.x
Philip Hugenholtz (Joint Bioenergy Institute and Joint Genome Institute, California) and coworkers have discovered a rugged enzyme that will be useful towards an industrial-scale breakdown of switchgrass into synthetically-useful molecules, rendering switchgrass into a practical, renewable carbon source. This news feature was written on January 21, 2010.... Read more »
Allgaier, M., Reddy, A., Park, J. I., Ivanova, N., D'haeseleer, P., Lowry, S., Sapra, R., Hazen, T. C., Simmons, B. A., VanderGheynst, J. S.... (2010) Targeted Discovery of Glycoside Hydrolases from a Switchgrass-Adapted Compost Community. PLoS ONE, 5(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008812
I both love and hate a recent paper by Angela Friederici, Sonja Kotz, Sophie Scott, & Jonas Obleser titled Disentangling syntax and intelligibility in auditory language comprehension. The paper is in the "Early View" section of Human Brain Mapping. Here's why I love it. There are a number of claims in the literature on the neuroscience of language that I disagree with. One is Sophie Scott's claim that speech recognition is a left hemisphere function that primarily involves anterior temporal re........ Read more »
Friederici AD, Kotz SA, Scott SK, & Obleser J. (2009) Disentangling syntax and intelligibility in auditory language comprehension. Human brain mapping. PMID: 19718654
Prolonged deployment in Iraq is associated with more mental health diagnoses in U.S. Army wives, a new study published free in the New England Journal of Medicine has found.
Current military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have involved frequent and long-term deployment of the military in these areas. Previous studies have shown considerable mental health problems [...]... Read more »
Mansfield, A., Kaufman, J., Marshall, S., Gaynes, B., Morrissey, J., & Engel, C. (2010) Deployment and the Use of Mental Health Services among U.S. Army Wives. New England Journal of Medicine, 362(2), 101-109. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa0900177
There is growing interest in intermittent fasting and athletic performance - or how can i train if i'm not eating? In the past year there have been a couple of cool studies looking at athletic performance and the effects of the Ramdam fast on same. The Ramadan fast is, to the best of my knowledge, a total break in eating for part of a day: from sun up to sun down, no food. Since this is the time of day most athletes train, one might think going without food would make training impossible, o........ Read more »
Zerguini Y, Dvorak J, Maughan RJ, Leiper JB, Bartagi Z, Kirkendall DT, Al-Riyami M, & Junge A. (2008) Influence of Ramadan fasting on physiological and performance variables in football players: summary of the F-MARC 2006 Ramadan fasting study. Journal of sports sciences. PMID: 19085447
Chaouachi A, Leiper JB, Souissi N, Coutts AJ, & Chamari K. (2009) Effects of Ramadan intermittent fasting on sports performance and training: a review. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 4(4), 419-34. PMID: 20029094
The first signs of life on earth appeared about 4.5 Ga (1 Ga is an American billion, ie. 109 years) ago. It's not yet completely certain exactly how this life arose; hot volcanic mineral springs have been suggested, as have the more traditional lightning-struck primordial soups and (rather wonderfully) radioactive beaches. At any rate something happened (and there was certainly plenty of time for it to happen in) which lead to a little membrane-bound ball with internal nucleic acids which, cruci........ Read more »
Falkowski PG. (2006) Evolution. Tracing oxygen's imprint on earth's metabolic evolution. Science (New York, N.Y.), 311(5768), 1724-5. PMID: 16556831
The distribution and uptake of antivirals and vaccination was in the news quite a bit before Christmas. H1N1 swine flu didn’t turn out to be the Armageddon some commentators were forecasting, but I don’t think it’s overstating the case to say that we dodged a bullet there. In cases like this we might expect the [...]... Read more »
Althouse, B., Bergstrom, T., & Bergstrom, C. (2009) Evolution in Health and Medicine Sackler Colloquium: A public choice framework for controlling transmissible and evolving diseases. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0906078107
OUR ability to use and manipulate numbers is integral to everyday life - we use them to label, rank, count and measure almost everything we encounter. It was long thought that numerical competence is dependent on language and, therefore, that numerosity is restricted to our species. Although the symbolic representation of numbers, using numerals and words, is indeed unique to humans, we now know that animals are also capable of manipulating numerical information.
One study published in 1998, f........ Read more »
Bongard, S., & Nieder, A. (2010) Basic mathematical rules are encoded by primate prefrontal cortex neurons. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0909180107
Regulation of olfaction by GABA and dopaminergic neuromodulatory systems and related molecular machinery... Read more »
Kiyokage, E., Pan, Y., Shao, Z., Kobayashi, K., Szabo, G., Yanagawa, Y., Obata, K., Okano, H., Toida, K., Puche, A.... (2010) Molecular Identity of Periglomerular and Short Axon Cells. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(3), 1185-1196. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3497-09.2010
Two timely reports have surfaced this week regarding the decline of honeybee populations in Europe, and France has taken action in an attempt to curb the falling numbers.
A recent study linked
honeybee health and plant biodiversity
In a study published in the Journal of Apicultural Research, scientists have found that managed honeybee populations across Europe have dropped [...]
... Read more »
Potts, S., Settele, J., Neumann,, P., Jones, R., Mike A Brown, M., Marris, G., Dean, R., & Roberts, S. (2010) Declines of managed honey bees and beekeepers in Europe. Journal of Apicultural Research, 49(1), 15. DOI: 10.3896/IBRA.1.49.1.02
The nature of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with an all-volunteer military, has led to multiple and extended deployments for active-duty, reserve, and National Guard troops. One of the invisible effects of war is the impact of prolonged deployments on the well-being of children in military families. Until now, there has not been a comprehensive study of sufficient size to fully examine the effects of parental deployment on older children.
The first results from a large, longitudi........ Read more »
Chandra, A., Lara-Cinisomo, S., Jaycox, L., Tanielian, T., Burns, R., Ruder, T., & Han, B. (2009) Children on the Homefront: The Experience of Children From Military Families. PEDIATRICS, 125(1), 16-25. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-1180
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