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  • October 29, 2010
  • 09:20 AM

Thought controlled computers? Recent research says yes.

by Captain Skellett in A Schooner of Science

Imagine being able to control a computer with your mind! No longer would we be tied down to keyboards, mice and touchscreens! We need NEVER put down our coffee to work! It’s not fantasy, that just happened. Twelve subjects sat in front of a computer and looked at two superimposed images on a screen, focusing [...]... Read more »

Cerf, M., Thiruvengadam, N., Mormann, F., Kraskov, A., Quiroga, R., Koch, C., & Fried, I. (2010) On-line, voluntary control of human temporal lobe neurons. Nature, 467(7319), 1104-1108. DOI: 10.1038/nature09510  

  • October 29, 2010
  • 08:34 AM

Friday Weird Science: HALLOWEEN MAD SCIENCE EDITION. The Zombiefying Parasite!

by Scicurious in Neurotic Physiology

MWAH HA HA HA!!! I’m always a little disappointed when Halloween falls on such a prosaic night as a Sunday night. Also, in this new, urban environment, I’ll admit I don’t have the first idea of how to handle trick or treaters. So you are getting Halloween TODAY! Here, Sci got you candy! (The full [...]... Read more »

Berdoy, M., Webster, J., & Macdonald, D. (2000) Fatal attraction in rats infected with Toxoplasma gondii. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 267(1452), 1591-1594. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2000.1182  

  • October 28, 2010
  • 07:08 PM

Do Sperm Whales Use Sonar To Stun Giant Squid?

by Danna Staaf in Squid A Day

In 1983, two scientists, one from California and one from Denmark, co-authored a research paper titled "Can odontocetes debilitate prey with sound?" Odontocete is a fancy term for toothed whales (the group that includes sperm whales, orcas, and dolphins) and so the question could be written thus: Can toothed whales stun their prey with loud noises?
read more... Read more »

  • October 28, 2010
  • 05:36 PM

The Anthrome Era

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Cities are growing – and so too is the study of urban ecosystems. A hefty new review finds that, after decades of disinterest, ecologists are piling up new insights into how urbanization can influence everything from soil bacteria to bird calls. Now, studies of the “anthrome” – the human-dominated, or anthropogenic biome – are poised […] Read More »... Read more »

Pickett, S., Cadenasso, M., Grove, J., Boone, C., Groffman, P., Irwin, E., Kaushal, S., Marshall, V., McGrath, B., & Nilon, C. (2010) Urban ecological systems: Scientific foundations and a decade of progress. Journal of Environmental Management. DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2010.08.022  

  • October 28, 2010
  • 04:48 PM

Publishing Open Access is Good for Your Academic Reputation

by Hadas Shema in Information Culture

In the academic world, reputation is the currency of choice. "Reputation," of course, is a very loose term and can include anything from publishing in high-impact journals to being a good advisor to your students. How does OA contribute to your academic reputation?The first significant scholarly repository,, was started by high-energy physicists, but quickly expanded to include other scientific disciplines. Today, archiving in is practically a necessity for physicists. Archiv........ Read more »

  • October 28, 2010
  • 10:28 AM

Of Fossil Ghosts and Hippos Past

by Laelaps in Laelaps

To call hippos “charming” may seem a bit of a stretch, but they are most certainly among the classic charismatic megafauna of the African continent. In the wake of the end-Pleistocene ecological catastrophe – during which waves of extinction denuded the planet of many strange, large-bodied mammals from woolly mammoths to wombats the size of [...]... Read more »

  • October 28, 2010
  • 10:25 AM

Who's Your Momma? The cosmopolitan maternal heritage of the Thoroughbred racehorse breed shows a significant contribution from British and Irish native mares

by GrrlScientist in GrrlScientist

This newly published study finds that thoroughbred racehorses, which originated in Europe, descended from a number of British and Irish native breed foundation mares... Read more »

  • October 28, 2010
  • 08:32 AM

Bacterial cell division and membrane potential

by Lab Rat in Lab Rat

Bacterial cell division is usually quite a regular business. As I mentioned previously, not all bacteria use the regular FtsZ ring method of dividing, but for those that do division is mostly a matter of lining the right proteins along the middle of the bacteria, and then contracting a little ring of protein (FtsZ) around the centre of the bacteria to split the one cell into two cells.Many of the more critical proteins in the process are membrane-bound, in particular the Min proteins, which in E........ Read more »

Strahl H, & Hamoen LW. (2010) Membrane potential is important for bacterial cell division. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(27), 12281-6. PMID: 20566861  

  • October 28, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Growing big brains

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

We think that good environments make for good brains, particularly when people are young. Parents have been known to obsess a little about whether their kid is getting the right kind of experiences.

If this is true, this guy must have read a looooooot of books.

Joking aside, we normally think about early experiences as influencing subtle things about the brain. Those early experiences might give you some extra connections, tweak a little wiring here and there. But you wouldn't expect someon........ Read more »

Gonda A., Trokovic N., Herczeg G., Laurila A., & Merilä J. (2010) Predation- and competition-mediated brain plasticity in Rana temporaria tadpoles. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 23(11), 2300-2308. DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2010.02066.x  

  • October 28, 2010
  • 06:14 AM

Immunological standoff

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

TRegs infiltrate into a tumor There’s increasing evidence supporting the notion that tumors are often not rejected by the immune system because regulatory T cells actively block the immune response to the tumor cells. 1 That means that within the tumor, two branches of the immune response are fighting it out. If the TRegs win, [...]... Read more »

  • October 28, 2010
  • 05:43 AM

Sons of the conquerers: the story of India?

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

The past ten years has obviously been very active in the area of human genomics, but in the domain of South Asian genetic relationships in a world wide context it has seen veritable revolutions and counter-revolutions. The final outlines are still to be determined. In the mid-1990s the conventional wisdom was that South Asians were [...]... Read more »

Gyaneshwer Chaubey, Mait Metspalu, Ying Choi, Reedik Mägi, Irene Gallego Romero, Pedro Soares, Mannis van Oven, Doron M. Behar, Siiri Rootsi, Georgi Hudjashov.... (2010) Population Genetic Structure in Indian Austroasiatic speakers: The Role of Landscape Barriers and Sex-specific Admixture. Mol Biol Evol. info:/10.1093/molbev/msq288

  • October 28, 2010
  • 05:24 AM

better protein pharmacokinetics with a tail

by 96well in Reportergene

A combined protein/polymer-engineering approach prolongs protein circulation and enhance drug accumulation in tumours.
Consider insulin and you will have no doubts that a protein could be a drug. As proteins are coded by a corresponding DNA, the application of recombinant DNA has been largely exploited in clinics to provide patients with therapeutic 'recombinant' proteins. Among the advantages of owing a potential pharmacon on a plasmid, and growing such a marketable molecule in cell cultures, i........ Read more »

  • October 28, 2010
  • 01:50 AM

AquAdvantage update

by Anastasia Bodnar in Biofortified

In Risk assessment and mitigation of AquAdvantage salmon I discussed exactly what Aqua Bounty was asking permission from the FDA to do, as well as the environmental, animal welfare, and human health concerns associated with the AquAvantage fish in comparison to non-transgenic farmed salmon. The Center for Food Safety has a “new” document to bring to the discussion: an opinion (pdf) written by the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal a........ Read more »

L. Fredrik Sundstro ̈m, Wendy E. Tymchuk, Mare Lo ̃hmus, & Robert H. Devlin. (2009) Sustained predation effects of hatchery-reared transgenic coho salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch in semi-natural environments. Journal of Applied Ecology, 762-769. info:/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2009.01668.x

  • October 28, 2010
  • 12:01 AM

What do we do with forecasts of the future?

by Noam Ross in Noam Ross

Via Garry Peterson  I discovered this post by Simon Donner about forecasts of this year's massive coral bleaching event in the Carribbean.
Donner and colleagues published a paper in PNAS in 2007 in which they calculated that heat waves that cause massive coral bleaching, like a previous event in 2005, had gone from being 1-in-1000-year events to a probability of once every 10-50 years during the 1990s, and by the 2030s will occur every 1-2 years. This year's event, says Donner, i........ Read more »

  • October 27, 2010
  • 11:18 PM

New papers about developmental stochasticity, species delimitation, and functional genomic neighborhoods.

by Victor Hanson-Smith in Evolution, Development, and Genomics

posted by Victor Hanson-Smith Here are three articles—published this week!—that might be relevant to your interests. 1. Stochasticity versus determinism in development: a false dichotomy? Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, et al., Nature Reviews Genetics, November 2010 The developmental trajectory (from embryo to death) … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • October 27, 2010
  • 10:53 PM

Big data

by Michelle Greene in NeurRealism

It took 13 years to crunch through the 3 billion base pairs that make up the human genome. These data have been violating our assumptions ever since. My introductory biology textbook, published in 1996, speculates that there might be up to 100,000 genes in the genome. It turns out there are a lot less: about 20,000-30,000 by more recent estimates. The Human Genome Project sequenced only a few individuals, and combined all into one genome. However, many of the big questions we have about genetics........ Read more »

Durbin, R., Altshuler, D., Durbin, R., Abecasis, G., Bentley, D., Chakravarti, A., Clark, A., Collins, F., De La Vega, F., Donnelly, P.... (2010) A map of human genome variation from population-scale sequencing. Nature, 467(7319), 1061-1073. DOI: 10.1038/nature09534  

  • October 27, 2010
  • 09:55 PM

Oddest photo accompanying 1000 Genomes news

by Mary in OpenHelix

Right now on the Science section of The Guardian, I find this [photo of bikini clad concert goer?]:

Er, what?
OK–but the real news is in Nature today. With an appropriate cover image.

Anyway, I’ve just barely had a chance to look over the paper. I often find the supplemental info is what I need (methods, software, etc), and that’s almost another hundred pages for one of them. So I don’t have any real conclusions yet.  Some of it was familiar to folks who may have been using the 1........ Read more »

Durbin, R., Altshuler, D., Durbin, R., Abecasis, G., Bentley, D., Chakravarti, A., Clark, A., Collins, F., De La Vega, F., Donnelly, P.... (2010) A map of human genome variation from population-scale sequencing. Nature, 467(7319), 1061-1073. DOI: 10.1038/nature09534  

  • October 27, 2010
  • 04:18 PM

But did you correct your results using a dead salmon?

by Iddo Friedberg in Byte Size Biology

fMRI tests are very popular. Why should they not be? Take someone, stick them in an MRI, show them a picture of their mother-in-law, see which bits of their brain light up (get more blood, hence are more active) and voila! You’re in the New York Times science supplement under the title “Scientists discover brain region responsible for unmitigated rage.” (Any resemblance to any actual mother-in-law, living or dead, is purely coincidental.) fMRI is a great tool for mapping cogni........ Read more »

Craig M. Bennett, Abigail A. Baird, Michael B. Miller, & George L. Wolford. (2010) Neural Correlates of Interspecies Perspective Taking in the Post-Mortem Atlantic Salmon: An Argument For Proper Multiple Comparisons Correction. JSUR, 1(1), 1-5. info:other/

  • October 27, 2010
  • 03:04 PM

The grand diversity of marine phytoplankton species: focusing from space

by Hannah Waters in Sleeping with the Fishes

In a recent email exchange with a (skeptically) wonderful blogger about why we are interested in what we are and where past/current biases lie, I wrote that I “grew up wanting to look at the planet from space.”  This is true in multiple senses: my drive to seek patterns in collected studies and data, and also my interest in large-scale ecology generally. But, of course, we can actually look at the planet from space!  And collect data at the same time!  Via the wonder of SATELLIT........ Read more »

d'Ovidio, F., De Monte, S., Alvain, S., Dandonneau, Y., & Levy, M. (2010) Fluid dynamical niches of phytoplankton types. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(43), 18366-18370. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1004620107  

  • October 27, 2010
  • 02:57 PM

Where did all these primates come from? – Fossil teeth may hint at an Asian origin for anthropoid primates

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Where did anthropoid primates come from? This question has not been an easy one to answer. Since the early days of paleontology various experts have proposed a slew of scenarios for the origins of the primate group which today contains monkeys and apes (including us), with different experts favoring various combination of places, times, and [...]... Read more »

Bajpai, S., Kay, R., Williams, B., Das, D., Kapur, V., & Tiwari, B. (2008) The oldest Asian record of Anthropoidea. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(32), 11093-11098. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0804159105  

K. Christopher Beard. (2006) Mammalian Biogeography and Anthropoid Origins . Primate Biogeography, 439-467. info:/10.1007/0-387-31710-4_15

Beard, K., Marivaux, L., Chaimanee, Y., Jaeger, J., Marandat, B., Tafforeau, P., Soe, A., Tun, S., & Kyaw, A. (2009) A new primate from the Eocene Pondaung Formation of Myanmar and the monophyly of Burmese amphipithecids. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 276(1671), 3285-3294. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.0836  

Jaeger, J., Beard, K., Chaimanee, Y., Salem, M., Benammi, M., Hlal, O., Coster, P., Bilal, A., Duringer, P., Schuster, M.... (2010) Late middle Eocene epoch of Libya yields earliest known radiation of African anthropoids. Nature, 467(7319), 1095-1098. DOI: 10.1038/nature09425  

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