GDW , gdw

90 posts · 53,642 views

Sort by Latest Post, Most Popular

View by Condensed, Full

  • July 21, 2016
  • 10:08 AM
  • 115 views

The decline of biodiversity: Past the point of no return?

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

Mohi looks up at her mother. Confused. Afraid. Mother had always said that she had to keep her filtration veil on when they left their housedome. But now, here stood her mother, unveiled. The woman gifted an encouraging nod to her young daughter. Mohi removed her veil. Air! Light! The freshness of the breeze and […]... Read more »

Steffen W, Richardson K, Rockström J, Cornell SE, Fetzer I, Bennett EM, Biggs R, Carpenter SR, de Vries W, de Wit CA.... (2015) Sustainability. Planetary boundaries: guiding human development on a changing planet. Science, 347(6223). PMID: 25592418  

Newbold T, Hudson LN, Arnell AP, Contu S, De Palma A, Ferrier S, Hill SL, Hoskins AJ, Lysenko I, Phillips HR.... (2016) Has land use pushed terrestrial biodiversity beyond the planetary boundary? A global assessment. Science, 353(6296), 288-91. PMID: 27418509  

Oliver TH. (2016) How much biodiversity loss is too much?. Science, 353(6296), 220-1. PMID: 27418489  

  • July 13, 2016
  • 07:28 AM
  • 156 views

An equation for life

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

Water churns. Earth moves. Molecules jostle and chemicals mix. Between heaven and hell, a young planet finds itself in full flux. Developing. Forming. Star stuff rains down and forged elements bubble up. Then it happens. It seems as if it’s just another chemical match-up, another reaction in the vast library of possibilities. But it would […]... Read more »

Scharf C, & Cronin L. (2016) Quantifying the origins of life on a planetary scale. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 27382156  

  • July 7, 2016
  • 09:09 AM
  • 224 views

Are animals (and AI’s) people too?

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

Charles gets up and balances on his short legs. During the brief ungainly walk to the dais, he fights the urge to scratch his arms. The vest that has been tailor-made for him itches. But it will help focus the committee on his purpose, focus on him as a person. He squats on the low […]... Read more »

Perring C. (1997) Degrees of personhood. The Journal of medicine and philosophy, 22(2), 173-97. PMID: 9186928  

Windrem MS, Schanz SJ, Morrow C, Munir J, Chandler-Militello D, Wang S, & Goldman SA. (2014) A competitive advantage by neonatally engrafted human glial progenitors yields mice whose brains are chimeric for human glia. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 34(48), 16153-61. PMID: 25429155  

  • June 29, 2016
  • 06:20 AM
  • 153 views

Birdsong Babel: Different birds use different grammar rules

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

Zizou listens carefully. She ignores her confines and tries to focus on the intruder’s song. There’s something odd about it. Something she can’t quite put her feather on. It’s familiar, yet… not familiar. The intruder is strong. He or she keeps signing incessantly. There’s no sight of him or her, though. She has to make a […]... Read more »

Olkowicz S, Kocourek M, Lučan RK, Porteš M, Fitch WT, Herculano-Houzel S, & Němec P. (2016) Birds have primate-like numbers of neurons in the forebrain. PNAS, 113(26), 7255-60. PMID: 27298365  

  • June 16, 2016
  • 08:30 AM
  • 175 views

An omelette of extinction

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

~50 000 years ago  He wakes. The first sunrays slowly crawl over the horizon. As he gets up, the others in his family group stir. He surveys this new land.  His stomach grumbles… # Present day Born in an African cradle, humanity has spread across the globe. And almost everywhere we went, we managed to […]... Read more »

Miller G, Magee J, Smith M, Spooner N, Baynes A, Lehman S, Fogel M, Johnston H, Williams D, Clark P.... (2016) Human predation contributed to the extinction of the Australian megafaunal bird Genyornis newtoni ∼47 ka. Nature communications, 10496. PMID: 26823193  

  • June 8, 2016
  • 05:38 AM
  • 209 views

Cultural evolution in killer whales

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

Auka watches mother and the other adults hunt. They are black-and-white ghosts flitting through the waters of their chilly world. Their prey is fast, agile. Coordination is key. Which is why the young ones have to stay behind. There is no place for playfulness during the hunt. But Auka doesn’t feel playful. She ignores the […]... Read more »

Foote AD, Vijay N, Ávila-Arcos MC, Baird RW, Durban JW, Fumagalli M, Gibbs RA, Hanson MB, Korneliussen TS, Martin MD.... (2016) Genome-culture coevolution promotes rapid divergence of killer whale ecotypes. Nature communications, 11693. PMID: 27243207  

  • June 1, 2016
  • 09:38 AM
  • 244 views

All hail our eight-limbed overlords

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

(This is my first attempt to blend science and fiction in a single post. The idea is to write about a recent study or studies but explore it through small snippets of original fiction as well. Hope you like it. Feedback is always greatly appreciated…) # A carefully orchestrated dance of chromatophores flashed Octa’s agreement. […]... Read more »

Doubleday ZA, Prowse TA, Arkhipkin A, Pierce GJ, Semmens J, Steer M, Leporati SC, Lourenço S, Quetglas A, Sauer W.... (2016) Global proliferation of cephalopods. Current biology : CB, 26(10). PMID: 27218844  

  • May 25, 2016
  • 09:00 AM
  • 314 views

Are our gut bacteria the key to immortality?

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

The fight against aging Ever since the ancient Sumerians, men has sought eternal life. We still do. Anti-aging science has become quite an industry. As we dive deeper and deeper into our biological foundations, we’re learning more and more about how and why we age. A lot of mysteries remain, but there’s still talk about […]... Read more »

De Winter, G. (2014) Aging as Disease. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 18(2), 237-243. DOI: 10.1007/s11019-014-9600-y  

Biagi E, Franceschi C, Rampelli S, Severgnini M, Ostan R, Turroni S, Consolandi C, Quercia S, Scurti M, Monti D.... (2016) Gut Microbiota and Extreme Longevity. Current biology : CB. PMID: 27185560  

  • May 21, 2016
  • 08:19 AM
  • 238 views

The persistence of wealth and modern-day samurai

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

The rich stay rich If you had rich ancestors, you might just be in luck. Two Italian economists used tax data to identify the wealthiest families in the city-state Florence in 1427. In contrast with the idea that you’re largely responsible for your own fortune, they found that the wealth of the 1427 families was […]... Read more »

Barone, G and Mocetti, S. (2016) Intergenerational mobility in the very long run: Florence 1427-2011. Bank of Italy working papers. info:/

  • May 16, 2016
  • 08:43 AM
  • 254 views

Academic publication quality and the senility of science

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

A recent column in Nature by Daniel Sarewitz laments the ever increasing torrent of academic publications. Quantity goes up, but quality does not follow suit. There are more scientists than ever. And they publish more than ever. However, that doesn’t mean they publish more high quality research. This harks back to the work of Derek J. […]... Read more »

Kidwell MC, Lazarević LB, Baranski E, Hardwicke TE, Piechowski S, Falkenberg LS, Kennett C, Slowik A, Sonnleitner C, Hess-Holden C.... (2016) Badges to Acknowledge Open Practices: A Simple, Low-Cost, Effective Method for Increasing Transparency. PLoS biology, 14(5). PMID: 27171007  

  • May 10, 2016
  • 07:40 AM
  • 263 views

Do dragons dream of tasty crickets?

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

(Also appeared on United Academics) Sleep cycles When we leave the day behind us and nestle ourselves in our cosy beds, we sleep. Sleep, however, comes in stages that repeat themselves. It’s a five-stage cycle that last about 90 minutes in humans. Four stages of non-REM sleep are followed by a period of REM (Rapid […]... Read more »

Shein-Idelson M, Ondracek JM, Liaw HP, Reiter S, & Laurent G. (2016) Slow waves, sharp waves, ripples, and REM in sleeping dragons. Science (New York, N.Y.), 352(6285), 590-5. PMID: 27126045  

  • May 3, 2016
  • 07:39 AM
  • 301 views

Flipping the Drake Equation for a deep time perspective on the Fermi Paradox

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

Is anybody out there? Where are all the alien civilizations? Even if (intelligent) life is very unlikely, the sheer size and age of the universe means that even long odds might have produced space faring civilizations. Yet, so far, nada. When people are considering the (im)probability of non-human space travellers, one thing always comes up: […]... Read more »

  • April 26, 2016
  • 08:57 AM
  • 324 views

Human sacrifice, inequality, and cycles of political power

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

Human sacrifice to preserve inequality Statistically speaking (wait, wait, don’t click away, I know this is not the most enticing opening, but bear with me), you and me, we are not part of the 1%, or the 0.01%, that in most Western societies holds a disproportionate amount of influence and resources. Secretly, though, we want […]... Read more »

  • April 15, 2016
  • 09:12 AM
  • 314 views

Rewriting life: Adding letters to the ABC of DNA

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

(Also appeared on United Academics.) The alphabet of life The grand tale of life is long and complicated. Storylines intertwine and many subplots twist and turn unexpectedly. Amazingly, this billion-year-spanning story is written in an alphabet that contains only four letters, the alphabet of DNA. A for adenine, C for cytosine, G for guanine, and […]... Read more »

Malyshev DA, Dhami K, Lavergne T, Chen T, Dai N, Foster JM, Corrêa IR Jr, & Romesberg FE. (2014) A semi-synthetic organism with an expanded genetic alphabet. Nature, 509(7500), 385-8. PMID: 24805238  

  • March 17, 2016
  • 04:44 PM
  • 166 views

Once upon a time… On the origin of fairy tales

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

(Also appeared on United Academics Magazine) Once upon a time, around 6 000 years ago, there lived a blacksmith. This blacksmith was a true craftsman, always looking for ways to improve his metal-moulding skills. When he had practised all he could, he saw only one way towards perfection: a demonic deal. So he called forth […]... Read more »

  • May 28, 2013
  • 06:18 AM
  • 678 views

Life Below Zero Degrees

by GDW in The Beast, the Bard and the Bot

What do you do when you’re looking for life? Well, while there are a lot of new ideas and discoveries lately, expanding the limits of where we know life can occur, an often used phrase is ‘follow the water’. But what if that water’s frozen? Recently, bacteria from the Antarctic permafrost (aka Planococcus halocryophilus strain […]... Read more »

  • May 14, 2013
  • 07:44 AM
  • 599 views

Cheating Your Way to Extinction

by GDW in The Beast, the Bard and the Bot

For a long time, it has been thought that evolutionary and ecological research were quite separated from each other. After all, evolution takes place on long timescales while ecological events usually happen much faster. At least, that was the common perception. Lately, however, it has become clear that, in some cases, the relevant timescales in […]... Read more »

  • May 5, 2013
  • 05:22 AM
  • 629 views

The (Lack of) Changes in Ecological Research

by GDW in The Beast, the Bard and the Bot

Ecology is a rapidly changing, dynamic field of research. In recent decades, there’s been a major shift from considering ecosystems as stable and poised to seeing them as systems that are in constant flux. At least, that’s what ecologists want (us) to believe. But how much of this claimed change has been able to seep [...]... Read more »

Carmel, Y., Kent, R., Bar-Massada, A., Blank, L., Liberzon, J., Nezer, O., Sapir, G., & Federman, R. (2013) Trends in Ecological Research during the Last Three Decades – A Systematic Review. PLoS ONE, 8(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059813  

  • April 27, 2013
  • 07:51 AM
  • 644 views

A Year of Blogging

by GDW in The Beast, the Bard and the Bot

Exactly one year ago, The Beast, the Bard and the Bot were born. Time for some reflection. But first, a bit of numerical material (current at the time of writing). Some Numbers Posts: 96, including this one. Total views: 19672 Max views on single day: 631 Top 5 countries providing visitors: United States (8264) United [...]... Read more »

  • April 8, 2013
  • 04:08 AM
  • 869 views

Publish and Perish: Aspects of Science Fraud

by GDW in The Beast, the Bard and the Bot

If you want to make it in the academic world, you better publish. A lot. Preferably in so-called high-impact journals. Otherwise, no job and no funding (or the other way around). Hence the use of the phrase ‘publish or perish’ to capture the enormous importance of generating sufficient publications in sufficiently respectable journals. And most [...]... Read more »

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use ResearchBlogging.org to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SMG Technology.

To learn more, visit seedmediagroup.com.