GDW , gdw

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  • September 22, 2016
  • 09:27 AM
  • 147 views

Will tardigrades get humanity into space?

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

The mighty water bear Tardigrades, aka water bears, are tiny animals that can be found just about everywhere on earth, with a slight preference for the moisture in moss. They happily amble along on their four pairs of legs and slurp up plant cells, algae, and even smaller invertebrates that can’t get away fast enough […]... Read more »

Boothby TC, Tenlen JR, Smith FW, Wang JR, Patanella KA, Nishimura EO, Tintori SC, Li Q, Jones CD, Yandell M.... (2015) Evidence for extensive horizontal gene transfer from the draft genome of a tardigrade. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(52), 15976-81. PMID: 26598659  

Koutsovoulos G, Kumar S, Laetsch DR, Stevens L, Daub J, Conlon C, Maroon H, Thomas F, Aboobaker AA, & Blaxter M. (2016) No evidence for extensive horizontal gene transfer in the genome of the tardigrade Hypsibius dujardini. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(18), 5053-8. PMID: 27035985  

Hashimoto T, Horikawa DD, Saito Y, Kuwahara H, Kozuka-Hata H, Shin-I T, Minakuchi Y, Ohishi K, Motoyama A, Aizu T.... (2016) Extremotolerant tardigrade genome and improved radiotolerance of human cultured cells by tardigrade-unique protein. Nature communications, 12808. PMID: 27649274  

  • September 15, 2016
  • 09:10 AM
  • 234 views

Paralympic athletes and the rise of the cyborgs

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

Para and super? The Olympics are over. They’ve brought us some good stories, some nice records, and (self-citation alert!) a humble blog post about the ethics of doping. But the Paralympics, their less mediatized cousin, are in full swing. Paralympians from all over the world gather to wow us with their athletic prowess in the Paralympic […]... Read more »

  • September 8, 2016
  • 09:16 AM
  • 203 views

CRISPR on my plate, and some GMO’s on the side

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

A CRISPR recipe Less than a month ago, the world’s first official CRISPR/Cas9 meal was served. CRISPR/Cas9 is a fairly new technology to edit genomes, and cut and paste genes at will. Well, it’s not exactly that new. It’s actually been around for a long time. CRISPR, or *humhum* Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats […]... Read more »

Snell C, Bernheim A, Bergé JB, Kuntz M, Pascal G, Paris A, & Ricroch AE. (2012) Assessment of the health impact of GM plant diets in long-term and multigenerational animal feeding trials: a literature review. Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association, 50(3-4), 1134-48. PMID: 22155268  

  • September 1, 2016
  • 10:19 AM
  • 226 views

Responsible resurrection: The ecology of de-extinction

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

March of the mammoths Improvements in our genetic tinkering capabilities have led several people to suggest potential uses for our newfound powers. Although we ought to add some nuance and note that those powers are still in development. In any case, one of those powers is quite impressive. De-extinction, or the process of bringing back […]... Read more »

  • August 25, 2016
  • 09:40 AM
  • 252 views

How to rebuild a brain

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

After the stroke The human brain is complicated. Very complicated. And like any piece of complex machinery that relies on the smooth functioning of many components, it’s not immune to malfunction. When a part of the brain doesn’t get proper nutrition through a nice and smooth blood flow, things go awry and a stroke occurs. […]... Read more »

  • August 18, 2016
  • 08:54 AM
  • 344 views

Wait, let me google it. On the fall (and rise?) of human memory.

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

Ruins of a memory palace Once upon a time, there were no computers. And yet, even in the ancient days when writing was not widespread, people told gigantic tales or recited poems of epic proportions. Often more than once. Admittedly, they probably changed a bit along the way, but still the plot remained intact. How […]... Read more »

  • August 11, 2016
  • 08:41 AM
  • 368 views

Who made the Piltdown man? Inside one of science’s most (in)famous hoaxes

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

There was always that nagging feeling of not being accepted, of whispers behind his back. They pretended to be open-minded, but in reality not belonging to the group of professionals was reason enough to dismiss his work and findings. In their eyes, he was just a solicitor. A hobbyist. He was tolerated, but their derision […]... Read more »

De Groote, I., Flink, L., Abbas, R., Bello, S., Burgia, L., Buck, L., Dean, C., Freyne, A., Higham, T., Jones, C.... (2016) New genetic and morphological evidence suggests a single hoaxer created ‘Piltdown man’. Royal Society Open Science, 3(8), 160328. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160328  

  • August 3, 2016
  • 09:13 AM
  • 321 views

Do we need a doping Olympics? The ethics of doping in sports

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

There is only her and the track. The people standing on her left and right do not matter now. She has only one adversary: time. In her head she plays how the future might…will unfold. Forty seven strides. That’s all she needs. All things on the periphery disappear. Her world, her universe becomes a single […]... Read more »

  • July 28, 2016
  • 08:34 AM
  • 366 views

Game of Farmers: Agriculture is coming

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

Gron gazed across the plain from inside a tuft of long grass. There. Just in front of the far hillock. Gazelles. Meals on legs. He vaguely remembered mother carrying him through cooler forests when he was not yet old enough to walk. He had never understood why they had left. But he had learned, had […]... Read more »

Zeder MA. (2008) Domestication and early agriculture in the Mediterranean Basin: Origins, diffusion, and impact. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(33), 11597-604. PMID: 18697943  

Lazaridis, I., Nadel, D., Rollefson, G., Merrett, D., Rohland, N., Mallick, S., Fernandes, D., Novak, M., Gamarra, B., Sirak, K.... (2016) Genomic insights into the origin of farming in the ancient Near East. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature19310  

  • July 21, 2016
  • 10:08 AM
  • 403 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
  • 445 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
  • 490 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
  • 393 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
  • 367 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
  • 389 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
  • 442 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
  • 523 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
  • 399 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
  • 382 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
  • 393 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  

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