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  • November 30, 2016
  • 02:00 AM
  • 357 views

Chemical games and the origin of life from prebiotic RNA

by Eric Bolo in Evolutionary Games Group

From bacteria to vertebrates, life — as we know it today — relies on complex molecular interactions, the intricacies of which science has not fully untangled. But for all its complexity, life always requires two essential abilities. Organisms need to preserve their genetic information and reproduce. In our own cells, these tasks are assigned to […]... Read more »

Yeates JA, Hilbe C, Zwick M, Nowak MA, & Lehman N. (2016) Dynamics of prebiotic RNA reproduction illuminated by chemical game theory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(18), 5030-5. PMID: 27091972  

  • October 28, 2016
  • 05:00 AM
  • 231 views

Friday Fellow: Sun Beetle

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Who says beetles cannot be cute? Take a look at those guys: These little fellows are beetles of the species Pachnoda marginata, commonly known as sun beetle or taxi cab beetle. Native from Africa, they reach up … Continue reading →... Read more »

Stensmyr, Marcus C., Larsson, Mattias C., Bice, Shannon, & Hansson, Bill S. (2001) Detection of fruit- and flower-emitted volatiles by olfactory receptor neurons in the polyphagous fruit chafer Pachnoda marginata (Coleoptera: Cetoniinae). Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 187(7), 509-519. info:/

  • August 3, 2016
  • 09:13 AM
  • 624 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 13, 2016
  • 07:28 AM
  • 805 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  

  • May 31, 2016
  • 11:30 PM
  • 726 views

42: the answer to life, the universe and everything (i.e., consciousness)

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll In his work  “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, Douglas Adams defined that the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42. Now a group of scientists measured glucose metabolism in brains in a resting … Continue reading →... Read more »

Stender, J., Mortensen, K., Thibaut, A., Darkner, S., Laureys, S., Gjedde, A., & Kupers, R. (2016) The Minimal Energetic Requirement of Sustained Awareness after Brain Injury. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.04.024  

  • May 11, 2016
  • 06:50 AM
  • 741 views

Viva La Evolution

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

In our continuing story of how being sick can save you, how about three genetic diseases and a genetic condition that can save you from malaria. The genetic diseases might kill you, but usually after you procreate, and that is better for the species than being killed by malaria as a child. Evolution is an emotionless mistress.... Read more »

  • February 3, 2016
  • 08:45 AM
  • 1,018 views

Plants That Don’t Sleep Will Take The Dirt Nap

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

If you don't let your plants sleep at night, they die....really! Several species of plants fold their leaves up and reduce their activity at night, every night. If kept from doing that, they turn brown and shrivel up. It's called nyctinasty, and it is different from tropic movements that are directed against specifically positioned stimuli. And what directs their movements? Water! - plants are hydraulic machines.... Read more »

  • January 29, 2016
  • 12:25 AM
  • 779 views

European killer whales face extinction due to banned pollutants

by TakFurTheKaffe in Tak Fur The Kaffe

Levels of the toxic compound PCBs in the marine environment are now so high that they threaten the very existence of some of Europe’s top sea predators, suggests new research. ... Read more »

Jepson, P., Deaville, R., Barber, J., Aguilar, �., Borrell, A., Murphy, S., Barry, J., Brownlow, A., Barnett, J., Berrow, S.... (2016) PCB pollution continues to impact populations of orcas and other dolphins in European waters. Scientific Reports, 18573. DOI: 10.1038/srep18573  

  • December 9, 2015
  • 08:05 AM
  • 1,299 views

Snow Saves Lives

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

It may be warm for December, but the snow is coming. Recent studies are showing the unique ways that organisms depend on and use snow in order to survive. An antifreeze protein from snow fleas may lengthen the time that organs can be stored for transplant. More amazing, reindeer use the UV rays that bounce of the snow to see predators – they are the only mammals that can see in the UV range.... Read more »

Hogg C, Neveu M, Stokkan KA, Folkow L, Cottrill P, Douglas R, Hunt DM, & Jeffery G. (2011) Arctic reindeer extend their visual range into the ultraviolet. The Journal of experimental biology, 214(Pt 12), 2014-9. PMID: 21613517  

Kondo H, Hanada Y, Sugimoto H, Hoshino T, Garnham CP, Davies PL, & Tsuda S. (2012) Ice-binding site of snow mold fungus antifreeze protein deviates from structural regularity and high conservation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(24), 9360-5. PMID: 22645341  

  • November 18, 2015
  • 07:04 AM
  • 1,332 views

Give Thanks For The Cranberry

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Here comes Thanksgiving! The cranberry is an amazing fruit on its own for several reasons. Its cultivation and botany are unusual, as is its seed dispersal mechanism and structure. However, a major push has been on to understand the medicinal uses of the cranberry. Much debate is taking place as to the usefulness of cranberry compounds, anthocyanidins and polyphenols, in the prevention of urinary tract infections. Cranberry is even having some success in type II diabetes and as an anti-viral age........ Read more »

Ruel G, Lapointe A, Pomerleau S, Couture P, Lemieux S, Lamarche B, & Couillard C. (2013) Evidence that cranberry juice may improve augmentation index in overweight men. Nutrition research (New York, N.Y.), 33(1), 41-9. PMID: 23351409  

Shidfar F, Heydari I, Hajimiresmaiel SJ, Hosseini S, Shidfar S, & Amiri F. (2012) The effects of cranberry juice on serum glucose, apoB, apoA-I, Lp(a), and Paraoxonase-1 activity in type 2 diabetic male patients. Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 17(4), 355-60. PMID: 23267397  

  • August 19, 2015
  • 06:30 AM
  • 1,382 views

Epigenetics And The Evil Twin

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Monozygotic twins share 100% of their genes. Does this make them identical? Not by a long shot. Epigenetics is the field of study that looks at how environment can change how something looks or works without changing its genes. Is epigenetics responsible for evil twin syndrome in American television?... Read more »

Spannhoff, A., Kim, Y., Raynal, N., Gharibyan, V., Su, M., Zhou, Y., Li, J., Castellano, S., Sbardella, G., Issa, J.... (2011) Histone deacetylase inhibitor activity in royal jelly might facilitate caste switching in bees. EMBO reports, 12(3), 238-243. DOI: 10.1038/embor.2011.9  

Kahn, H., Graff, M., Stein, A., Zybert, P., McKeague, I., & Lumey, L. (2008) A fingerprint characteristic associated with the early prenatal environment. American Journal of Human Biology, 20(1), 59-65. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.20672  

Zwijnenburg, P., Meijers-Heijboer, H., & Boomsma, D. (2010) Identical but not the same: The value of discordant monozygotic twins in genetic research. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics. DOI: 10.1002/ajmg.b.31091  

Thacker, D., Gruber, P., Weinberg, P., & Cohen, M. (2009) Heterotaxy Syndrome with Mirror Image Anomalies in Identical Twins. Congenital Heart Disease, 4(1), 50-53. DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-0803.2008.00229.x  

  • July 15, 2015
  • 03:03 PM
  • 1,022 views

Journal Club: Starlings on Prozac: How pharmaceuticals may affect wildlife

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: Recent research suggests that the commonly prescribed psychiatric drug, Prozac, occurs at environmentally relevant concentrations that can significantly alter behaviour and physiology in wild birds .. Read more... Read more »

Bean, T., Boxall, A., Lane, J., Herborn, K., Pietravalle, S., & Arnold, K. (2014) Behavioural and physiological responses of birds to environmentally relevant concentrations of an antidepressant. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 369(1656), 20130575-20130575. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0575  

Crockett, M., Siegel, J., Kurth-Nelson, Z., Ousdal, O., Story, G., Frieband, C., Grosse-Rueskamp, J., Dayan, P., & Dolan, R. (2015) Dissociable Effects of Serotonin and Dopamine on the Valuation of Harm in Moral Decision Making. Current Biology, 25(14), 1852-1859. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.05.021  

Markman, S., Müller, C., Pascoe, D., Dawson, A., & Buchanan, K. (2011) Pollutants affect development in nestling starlings Sturnus vulgaris. Journal of Applied Ecology, 48(2), 391-397. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01931.x  

  • June 26, 2015
  • 12:06 PM
  • 930 views

Oak bump medicine

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

I own a couple of neat old medical books. One was published in 1935 and is entitled The Canadian Formulary. It's essentially a cookbook for pharmacists, particularly ones who plied their trade at the military hospital in Kingston, Ontario (there's a stamp on the inside cover). The book contains some interesting recipes, to say the least, which is what you get when your ingredient list includes arsenic, lead, mercury, strychnine, and chloroform.One recipe in particular that recently caught my eye........ Read more »

  • June 24, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 824 views

The CPU In Your Head

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

It’s hard to believe, but part of your brain – the part that controls your body systems – actually comes from your mouth! What’s more, that same part of the brain talks to cells in your lungs that can smell what you breathe in and may have something to do with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.... Read more »

Gu, X., Karp, P., Brody, S., Pierce, R., Welsh, M., Holtzman, M., & Ben-Shahar, Y. (2014) Chemosensory Functions for Pulmonary Neuroendocrine Cells. American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, 50(3), 637-646. DOI: 10.1165/rcmb.2013-0199OC  

  • March 20, 2015
  • 03:55 AM
  • 1,133 views

How chemistry affects the evolution of life

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: In this fascinating video, Professor Ros Rickaby from Oxford chats with Professor Simon Conway-Morris at Cambridge about how Earth’s changing chemistry has affected evolution, and how this can sometimes lead to evolutionary convergence... Read more »

  • March 18, 2015
  • 06:43 PM
  • 1,378 views

How alien cell membranes could form in methane seas

by This Science is Crazy in This Science Is Crazy!

Scientist identify 'azotosomes' - short carbon chains with a nitrogen terminus native to the atmosphere of Titan which can potentially self-assemble into bilayers in liquid methane.... Read more »

  • March 13, 2015
  • 02:20 AM
  • 1,148 views

How photosynthesis is inspiring solar power research

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: To meet humanity’s growing energy demands, scientists are taking lessons from plants, which perfected the process of capturing the sun’s rays and transforming that into starch. Might scientists be able to adapt the photosynthetic process pioneered by plants and adapt it to meet human demands? ... Read more »

Barber James. (2007) Biological solar energy. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 1007-1023. DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2006.1962  

Porter G. (1966) Studies of Triplet Chlorophyll by Microbeam Flash Photolysis. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 295(1440), 1-12. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspa.1966.0222  

Porter G. (1978) The Bakerian Lecture, 1977: In Vitro Models for Photosynthesis. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 362(1710), 281-303. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspa.1978.0134  

Cogdell R. J., P. I. Molina, & L. Cronin. (2013) The use and misuse of photosynthesis in the quest for novel methods to harness solar energy to make fuel. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 371(1996), 20110603-20110603. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2011.0603  

  • December 30, 2014
  • 08:00 AM
  • 1,391 views

Turning New Year’s On Its Head

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

The popular phrase is, “It’s not the years in your life, but the life in your years.” Many organisms get to have both. We can learn a lot from studying old organisms, but perhaps the biggest question to answer is what constitutes a single life. Many living things seem to cheat; they have more than one life.... Read more »

  • November 11, 2014
  • 10:50 AM
  • 1,362 views

A Four Billion Mile Road Trip to Grandma’s

by Mark Lasbury in The 'Scope

Mankind is about to take a huge step in understanding himself and his universe. The Rosetta orbiter has traveled 3.8 billion miles to catch comet 67P/C-G. Traveling at more than 24,000 miles per hour, the Philae Lander is now going to land on the comet. A visitor from deep space and from deep time, 67P/C-G contains clues about the solar system, water, and perhaps life itself.... Read more »

  • October 15, 2014
  • 08:00 AM
  • 1,284 views

Frankenstein Meets Genetic Modification

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Halloween conjures up monsters, like Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. Her story is just as applicable for us today – the story of science being responsible for what it creates. The so-called Frankenfoods are called dangerous – but why? Studies that label them dangerous have been retracted or are merely correlative. New studies have shown that genetically modified crops are safe for livestock and humans. However, there are valid concerns, so every GMO must be tested rigorously.... 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  

McCall WV, Andrade C, & Sienaert P. (2014) Searching for the mechanism(s) of ECT's therapeutic effect. The journal of ECT, 30(2), 87-9. PMID: 24755719  

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