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  • January 29, 2015
  • 12:56 PM
  • 15 views

Political gridlock: Blame the men

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

It feels like the government moves at a snails pace sometimes, it takes forever for any change to come about and even then it is typically not even “change.” This couldn’t be more evident than during the political gridlock that led to the 2013 US federal government shutdown, the leading voices for compromise were the handful of female U.S. senators — only 20 percent of the overall legislative body.... Read more »

  • January 29, 2015
  • 10:10 AM
  • 22 views

Heaven or Hallucination?

by Bill Sullivan in The 'Scope

Alex Malarkey, “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven” has admitted that his story was, um, malarkey. Consequently, the book has been pulled and the million or so people who purchased it are feeling as deflated as a New England Patriots football. But others claim to have visited Heaven. My latest article on THE SCOPE discusses the research behind these experiences. Is it really Heaven or a hallucination?... Read more »

Borjigin, J., Lee, U., Liu, T., Pal, D., Huff, S., Klarr, D., Sloboda, J., Hernandez, J., Wang, M., & Mashour, G. (2013) Surge of neurophysiological coherence and connectivity in the dying brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(35), 14432-14437. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1308285110  

  • January 29, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 23 views

Power down to rest up: light-emitting tablets disrupt sleep and melatonin levels

by Betty Zou in Eat, Read, Science

In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Anne-Marie Chang and her colleagues found that reading on light-emitting eReaders before bed negatively affected sleep by altering levels of melatonin. The researchers recruited 12 participants and randomly assigned them to one of two groups: one group read printed books for four hours before bed every day for five consecutive days while the other group used eReaders. After five days, the participants switched to readin........ Read more »

  • January 29, 2015
  • 04:38 AM
  • 20 views

Autism spectrum symptomatology in individuals with Down syndrome

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I was not surprised to read the findings of the paper from Marie Moore Channell and colleagues [1] (open-access) who "identified patterns of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] symptomatology, measured by the SRS [Social Responsiveness Scale], in individuals with DS [Down syndrome] who do not have comorbid ASD."You're not going Turbo, are you?Harking back to the paper by Georgina Warner and colleagues [2] discussed not-so-long-ago on this blog (see here), the idea that variou........ Read more »

Marie Moore Channell, B Allyson Phillips, Susan J Loveall, Frances A Conners, Paige M Bussanich, & Laura Grofer Klinger. (2015) Patterns of autism spectrum symptomatology in individuals with Down syndrome without comorbid autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders. info:/10.1186/1866-1955-7-5

  • January 28, 2015
  • 11:55 PM
  • 23 views

Space and stochasticity in evolutionary games

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

Two of my goals for TheEGG this year are to expand the line up of contributors and to extend the blog into a publicly accessible venue for active debate about preliminary, in-progress, and published projects; a window into the everyday challenges and miracles of research. Toward the first goal, we have new contributions from Jill […]... Read more »

Durrett, R., & Levin, S. (1994) The Importance of Being Discrete (and Spatial). Theoretical Population Biology, 46(3), 363-394. DOI: 10.1006/tpbi.1994.1032  

  • January 28, 2015
  • 03:08 PM
  • 42 views

Everyday chemical exposure leads to early menopause

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Seems like everything is killing us these days. Well ladies, you have one more thing that is causing you problems. New research has shown that women whose bodies have high levels of chemicals found in plastics, personal-care products, common household items and the environment experience menopause two to four years earlier than women with lower levels of these chemicals.... Read more »

Grindler, N., Allsworth, J., Macones, G., Kannan, K., Roehl, K., & Cooper, A. (2015) Persistent Organic Pollutants and Early Menopause in U.S. Women. PLOS ONE, 10(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116057  

  • January 28, 2015
  • 08:38 AM
  • 35 views

Video Tip of the Week: Helium plant pedigree software, because “Plants are weird.”

by Mary in OpenHelix

A lot of people find our blog by searching for “pedigree” tools. We’ve covered them in the past, and we’ve got some training on the Madeline 2.0 web tools that we like. We have groused about the fact that some pedigree tools do not accommodate same-sex families. Largely focused on human relationships, there are a […]... Read more »

Shaw Paul D, Jessie Kennedy, Iain Milne, & David F Marshall. (2014) Helium: visualization of large scale plant pedigrees. BMC Bioinformatics, 15(1), 259. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2105-15-259  

  • January 28, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 37 views

Crawling To The Top

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Nematodes cause horrible diseases, but they way they reproduce is the most fascinating thing about them. Their sperm aren’t shaped like typical animal male gametes. They crawl instead of swimming, and they have a type of cytoskeleton not seen in any other cell type on Earth. Yet, the nematode is the most numerous type of animal on Earth.... Read more »

Smith HE. (2014) Nematode sperm motility. WormBook : the online review of C. elegans biology, 1-15. PMID: 24715710  

H. Ferris. (2009) The beer mat nematode, Panagrellus The beer mat nematode, Panagrellus redivivus: A study of the connectedness of scientific discovery . J. Nematode Morphol. Syst., 12(1), 19-25. info:/

McKnight, K., Hoang, H., Prasain, J., Brown, N., Vibbert, J., Hollister, K., Moore, R., Ragains, J., Reese, J., & Miller, M. (2014) Neurosensory Perception of Environmental Cues Modulates Sperm Motility Critical for Fertilization. Science, 344(6185), 754-757. DOI: 10.1126/science.1250598  

  • January 28, 2015
  • 07:48 AM
  • 34 views

Transcription caught on camera part 2: Fab-ulous Histones

by Gal Haimovich in Green Fluorescent Blog

In eukaryotes, the DNA is packages tightly in nucleosomes, which are composed primarily out of histone proteins. There are four major types of histones (1,2,3 & 4). Extensive work has been done on how histones facilitate and regulate transcription. It … Continue reading →... Read more »

Stasevich TJ, Hayashi-Takanaka Y, Sato Y, Maehara K, Ohkawa Y, Sakata-Sogawa K, Tokunaga M, Nagase T, Nozaki N, McNally JG.... (2014) Regulation of RNA polymerase II activation by histone acetylation in single living cells. Nature, 516(7530), 272-5. PMID: 25252976  

  • January 28, 2015
  • 06:22 AM
  • 29 views

Was Lucy A Riveter? News On Tool Use

by jeffrey daniels in United Academics

British researchers were looking at the trabecular bones of several Australopithecus africanus fossils, and comparing them to the known bone shapes of chimpanzees and humans. Their results seems to suggest that A africanus was at the very least making much use of stone tools, and there could even be a possibility that they were creating their own tools as well.... Read more »

Skinner MM, Stephens NB, Tsegai ZJ, Foote AC, Nguyen NH, Gross T, Pahr DH, Hublin JJ, & Kivell TL. (2015) Human evolution. Human-like hand use in Australopithecus africanus. Science (New York, N.Y.), 347(6220), 395-9. PMID: 25613885  

  • January 28, 2015
  • 05:03 AM
  • 32 views

Urinary histidine as a marker of 'dioxin-induced' neurodevelopmental issues?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Muneko Nishijo and colleagues [1] (open-access) caught my eye recently and their continuing investigations into the potential effects of perinatal dioxin exposure on offspring neurodevelopmental outcomes. For a bit of background on this initiative based in Vietnam, I would refer readers to a previous post on this blog (see here).Your weakness is copper? Y-you're kidding right?In case you can't be bothered to follow that previous link, the idea was that exposure to TCDD [2,........ Read more »

  • January 27, 2015
  • 02:58 PM
  • 38 views

Scientific Sherlocks: The Case of the Imperial Pheasant

by Jente Ottenburghs in Evolutionary Stories

In 1923, Jean Delacour discovered a new species of Pheasant in Vietnam. But things were not as they seemed...... Read more »

  • January 27, 2015
  • 01:55 PM
  • 40 views

Your brain is hardening your arteries, but not on purpose!

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Your brain might just be killing you slowly. Atherosclerosis — or hardening and narrowing of the arteries — can be caused by fat buildup that causes plaque deposits, and is one of the main causes of cardiovascular disease. What does that have to do with the brain? Well new research has shown a link between how the brain regulates fat metabolism, which has the potential of stopping the development of this disease risk factor in obesity and diabetes.... Read more »

  • January 27, 2015
  • 10:27 AM
  • 30 views

Athletic Training Makes Lizards Better Runners

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Athletes don't normally need to be chased down the track to get their training mileage in. But a green anole lizard is not a normal athlete.

Scientists wanted to know whether it's possible to train a lizard at all. Human athletes and other mammals perform better with consistent exercise, but is this universal? Can a reptile increase its stamina? What about its sprint speed? So the scientists became lizard athletic trainers, which really means lizard harassers. Results were mixed.

The g... Read more »

  • January 27, 2015
  • 07:30 AM
  • 37 views

Star Date: Pretty Darn Soon

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

Star Trek celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016. In preparation for the celebrations, we’re checking in on how close we are to making Star Trek technology a reality. The replicator made food and recycled trash, and later was used to make parts for the Enterprise. A machine fabricated what they needed on the spot. We have that now on the space station! Do you know how 3-D printing works and how we print parts, food, and even living tissue? Here’s how.... Read more »

  • January 27, 2015
  • 04:33 AM
  • 36 views

Siblings, genetics and the autisms (plural)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Ryan Yuen and colleagues [1] suggesting that most siblings with autism do not share the same genetic variations thought to contribute to the condition has garnered quite a few media headlines of late (see here and see here).Applying the concept of whole-genome sequencing whereby the complete genetic blueprint of a person is mapped to provide "the most comprehensive collection of an individual's genetic variation" [2], 340 genomes from 85 families with two children with a d........ Read more »

Yuen, R., Thiruvahindrapuram, B., Merico, D., Walker, S., Tammimies, K., Hoang, N., Chrysler, C., Nalpathamkalam, T., Pellecchia, G., Liu, Y.... (2015) Whole-genome sequencing of quartet families with autism spectrum disorder. Nature Medicine. DOI: 10.1038/nm.3792  

  • January 26, 2015
  • 05:36 PM
  • 56 views

You can’t unboil an egg? Well… now you can

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

There is a saying, “you can’t unboil an egg.” Usually this is just illustrating cause and effect; you can’t turn back time, or what’s done is done. Well now scientists have successfully unboiled an egg, so suck it thermodynamics. An international team of chemists have accomplished this feat – an innovation that could dramatically reduce costs for cancer treatments, food production and other segments of the $160 billion global biotechnology industry, according to the findings.... Read more »

Yuan, T., Ormonde, C., Kudlacek, S., Kunche, S., Smith, J., Brown, W., Pugliese, K., Olsen, T., Iftikhar, M., Raston, C.... (2015) Shear-Stress-Mediated Refolding of Proteins from Aggregates and Inclusion Bodies. ChemBioChem. DOI: 10.1002/cbic.201402427  

  • January 26, 2015
  • 04:32 PM
  • 56 views

The secret for a longer life? Kill your unfit cells

by Isabel Torres in Science in the clouds

If you had the choice, would you like to live until you’re 130 years old? New research in fruit flies shows that manipulating a single gene can extend their lifespan up to 60%, suggesting that living well into your hundreds might become a reality in the foreseeable future.Dying of old age is a strange thing. Why does our health decline just because we’re old? Although the answer might at first seem obvious or simple, it really isn’t. There are countless theories of ageing, a few popular ev........ Read more »

  • January 26, 2015
  • 01:26 PM
  • 52 views

The Bed Bug’s Piercing Penis (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Rachael Pahl Sex is a dangerous, but necessary, part of life. Across the animal kingdom, there are a multitude of things that can go wrong. You could be injured in a fight by someone who wants to steal your mate, or maybe your partner eats you because you’re taking too long. Either way, nature must have a pretty good reason for the traumatizing effects of sex. A male bed bug traumatically inseminates a female. Image by Rickard Ignell at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciencespo........ Read more »

Morrow, E., & Arnqvist, G. (2003) Costly traumatic insemination and a female counter-adaptation in bed bugs. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 270(1531), 2377-2381. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2003.2514  

  • January 26, 2015
  • 04:44 AM
  • 56 views

What factors are linked to behavioural crises in autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The question posed in the title of this post was asked and [partly] answered by the paper by Vincent Guinchat and colleagues [1] based on the analysis of 58 adolescents diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and "hospitalized for severe challenging behaviors." Challenging behaviours, by the way, refers to a whole spectrum of presentations which doesn't just include aggressive or violent behaviours (see here). Indeed, I recently talked about irritability and autism (see here), whic........ Read more »

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