Yesterday I was following a queen Bombus terrestris, as usual, with the faint hope one will nest in my garden when she landed on a comfrey patch. This was the first time I have seen this species on comfrey, their deep flowers are mostly visited by Bombus pascuorum, B. hypnorum and B. pratorum*, in addition to Anthophora plumipes. The heavy queen landed on top of the flowers, and I was able to approach without disturbing her. She noisily bit the top of a flower and then inserted her ton........ Read more »
Goulson, D., Stout, J., Hawson, S., & Allen, J. (1998) Floral display size in comfrey, Symphytum officinale L. (Boraginaceae): relationships with visitation by three bumblebee species and subsequent seed set. Oecologia, 113(4), 502-508. DOI: 10.1007/s004420050402
Pawan Sinha is an MIT academic engineer who is involved in a combined humanitarian, medical and scientific effort to understand childhood blindness. He has established a program in India called Project Prakash to identify children with congenital cataracts who would benefit for early correction. Early correction is key to prevent persistent blindess as visual plasticity declines over time if the retina and brain are not stimulated. He has challenged the idea that vision cannot be established ........ Read more »
It’s getting cramped in here and I can’t work out why. I’m inside a room labelled ‘how to treat low back pain’ and something enormous is taking up all the space.
Exercise is at the heart of the physical therapies in the treatment of back pain. Most forms of therapeutic exercise boast arguably plausible theories and [...]... Read more »
 van Middelkoop M, Rubinstein SM, Verhagen AP, Ostelo RW, Koes BW, & van Tulder MW. (2010) Exercise therapy for chronic nonspecific low-back pain. Best practice , 24(2), 193-204. PMID: 20227641
 Ferreira ML, Ferreira PH, Herbert RD, & Latimer J. (2009) People with low back pain typically need to feel 'much better' to consider intervention worthwhile: an observational study. The Australian journal of physiotherapy, 55(2), 123-7. PMID: 19463083
 Wood L, Egger M, Gluud LL, Schulz KF, Jüni P, Altman DG, Gluud C, Martin RM, Wood AJ, & Sterne JA. (2008) Empirical evidence of bias in treatment effect estimates in controlled trials with different interventions and outcomes: meta-epidemiological study. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 336(7644), 601-5. PMID: 18316340
 Kamper SJ, Maher CG, Hancock MJ, Koes BW, Croft PR, & Hay E. (2010) Treatment-based subgroups of low back pain: a guide to appraisal of research studies and a summary of current evidence. Best practice , 24(2), 181-91. PMID: 20227640
Astute observers will have noticed that there's been something of a crisis in the financial world over the past couple of years. The EU's just coughed up €500 billion in the latest an effort to stem the panic... or, alternatively, to fend off the predators.
And that gets to the heart of the matter. Is the crisis just one of those things - part of a natural economic cycle that is beyond anyone's ability to predict or control? Or is it a result of moral or intellectual failures among those who........ Read more »
Leiser, D., Bourgeois-Gironde, S., & Benita, R. (2010) Human foibles or systemic failure—Lay perceptions of the 2008–2009 financial crisis. Journal of Socio-Economics, 39(2), 132-141. DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2010.02.013
Erin Sheets (University of Minnesota Duluth, United States) and coworkers have utilized peripheral protein clustering to induce lipid clustering in artificial cell membranes, shedding light on the physical basis of lateral organization in living cell membranes. This news feature was written on May 10, 2010.... Read more »
Vats, K., Knutson, K., Hinderliter, A., & Sheets, E. (2010) Peripheral Protein Organization and Its Influence on Lipid Diffusion in Biomimetic Membranes. ACS Chemical Biology, 5(4), 393-403. DOI: 10.1021/cb900303s
My first post to this blog began with a fascinating study by Scott Pletcher that found odor from yeast can accelerate the ageing of dietary restricted Drosophila. His group recently published another study that adds to our understanding (1), which I summarize below.
The investigators chose carbon dioxide (CO2) to study because of its known role [...]... Read more »
Poon PC, Kuo TH, Linford NJ, Roman G, & Pletcher SD. (2010) Carbon dioxide sensing modulates lifespan and physiology in Drosophila. PLoS biology, 8(4). PMID: 20422037
by Merry Youle in Small Things Considered
A double stranded RNA (dsRNA) viral genome, introduced into a host cell, is met by formidable host defenses. The very presence of dsRNA in a eukaryotic or prokaryotic cell announces a viral infection and elicits effective responses, ranging from silencing of the viral mRNAs to apoptosis. Despite that, there are successful dsRNA viruses throughout the biosphere. By...... Read more »
Castón JR, Trus BL, Booy FP, Wickner RB, Wall JS, & Steven AC. (1997) Structure of L-A virus: a specialized compartment for the transcription and replication of double-stranded RNA. The Journal of cell biology, 138(5), 975-85. PMID: 9281577
So, what have we learned so far? That ghrelin production is directly related to appetite in normals, but is unpredictable in post-bariatric surgery patients. And that studies of post-surgical patients in the U.S. and Sweden showed contradictory results. So let's throw in another variable - surgical procedure - as well as another location - Greece - and see what we can add to our narrative.First, a little background from a non-surgeon. Gastric bypass is a procedure in which the stomach is reduced........ Read more »
Karamanakos, S., Vagenas, K., Kalfarentzos, F., & Alexandrides, T. (2008) Weight Loss, Appetite Suppression, and Changes in Fasting and Postprandial Ghrelin and Peptide-YY Levels After Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass and Sleeve Gastrectomy. Annals of Surgery, 247(3), 401-407. DOI: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e318156f012
Over the years, Cancer Research UK has helped transform breast cancer treatment – now 8 out of 10 women survive their disease for more than 5 years, compared with 5 out of 10 women in the 1970s. Most of this progress has been made in so-called hormone-sensitive cancers – those that are fuelled by the [...]... Read more »
Bouwman, P., Aly, A., Escandell, J., Pieterse, M., Bartkova, J., van der Gulden, H., Hiddingh, S., Thanasoula, M., Kulkarni, A., Yang, Q.... (2010) 53BP1 loss rescues BRCA1 deficiency and is associated with triple-negative and BRCA-mutated breast cancers. Nature Structural . DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.1831
A key concept in ecological psychology is that of affordances. There is still uncertainty how to characterise these (slightly odd) properties, and the first formal attempt was by Turvey (1992).... Read more »
Turvey, M. (1992) Affordances and Prospective Control: An Outline of the Ontology. Ecological Psychology, 4(3), 173-187. DOI: 10.1207/s15326969eco0403_3
A psychology study fresh off the presses shows the importance of positive expectations for the successful resolution of awkward negotiations. The results couldn't be more timely as our senior politicians negotiate over terms for a new coalition British government - the first since the 1970s. The finding suggests that the media has a vital role to play. By fostering optimism in the likely success of the negotiations, the media could help increase the likelihood of a successful resolution.In an in........ Read more »
Liberman, V., Anderson, N., & Ross, L. (2010) Achieving difficult agreements: Effects of Positive Expectations on negotiation processes and outcomes☆. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46(3), 494-504. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2009.12.010
What does it mean to be a baseball fan? To exchange high fives with complete strangers utterly swept away with the exhilaration of a win? To sit in your car, despondent, after a devastating loss? What is the fan’s connection to this game—billed as America’s pastime?
Before delving into this post, it’s only fair to report that I myself am a fan. So this is in part a self-reflexive exercise to... Read more »
Karl J. Franklin. (1985) Componential Analysis and the Game of Baseball. Anthropological Linguistics, 27(3), 281-301. info:/
No time for anything new (working on a book chapter and putting the finishing touches to the Tet Zoo book), so here's this, from the archives. NOT properly updated, so please be aware that it's more than four years old...
Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
DOMNING, D. (2005) FOSSIL SIRENIA OF THE WEST ATLANTIC AND CARIBBEAN REGION. VII. PLEISTOCENE TRICHECHUS MANATUS LINNAEUS, 1758. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 25(3), 685-701. DOI: 10.1671/0272-4634(2005)025[0685:FSOTWA]2.0.CO;2
Almost everyone is familiar with the ongoing debate surrounding the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs 65 million years ago, but the discussion over where dinosaurs came from in the first place is often overlooked. Hypotheses of dinosaur origins have been just as controversial as those of triggers for the end-Cretaceous mass extinction, but during the [...]... Read more »
Fast food may make you fat, but mere thoughts of fast food can have wider reaching effects: Haste and impatience... Read more »
Chen-Bo Zhong, & Sanford E. DeVoe. (2010) You Are How You Eat: Fast Food and Impatience. Psycholgoical Science. info:/10.1177/0956797610366090
When you run a blog which focuses on skepticism and fact checking, you can occasionally discover that even a seemingly common, everyday, undisputed bit of science can have its detractors. About two months ago, two people who commented on my review of NatGeo’s dramatic what-if scenario about our future if all the oil in the [...]... Read more »
Glasby, G. (2006) Abiogenic Origin of Hydrocarbons: An Historical Overview. Resource Geology, 56(1), 83-96. DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-3928.2006.tb00271.x
If you ever saw the dramatic seamount scene in Blue Planet (and if you haven’t, where ya been??), then you are probably familiar with the idea that submarine mountains can attract lots of animals; as Attenborough puts it, they “create oases where life can flourish in the comparatively empty expanses of the open ocean”. In that spectacular BBC sequence, jacks and tuna swarm an Eastern Pacific ... Read more »
Morato, T., Hoyle, S., Allain, V., & Nicol, S. (2010) Seamounts are hotspots of pelagic biodiversity in the open ocean. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0910290107
...and what can word-learning in dogs teach us about the evolution of language in humans?
What is involved in the learning of a single new word? Consider the word "tiger", being learned by a child with already a modest vocabulary, at least for animal words. First the child must make a new entry in the mental lexicon - that "tiger" is a word in the first place. He has to categorize it as a noun. It has to be categorized under "animal" (a supernym) and related to its hyponyms, like "Sumatran tige........ Read more »
Kaminski, J., Call, J., & Fischer, J. (2004) Word Learning in a Domestic Dog: Evidence for "Fast Mapping". Science, 304(5677), 1682-1683. DOI: 10.1126/science.1097859
After witnessing a C-section performed by flashlight in Nigeria, Laura Stachel, an OB-GYN doctor at UC Berkley founded WE CARE (Women’s Emergency Communication and Reliable Electricity) Solar. To bring power to needy hospitals around the globe, she developed the solar suitcase: a portable solar electric system, used to power overhead LED lights and charge walkie-talkies, cell phones, and LED headlamp batteries.... Read more »
Fadare, D. (2009) Modelling of solar energy potential in Nigeria using an artificial neural network model. Applied Energy, 86(9), 1410-1422. DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2008.12.005
... Read more »
Schlegel, J., & Rupf, R. (2010) Attitudes towards potential animal flagship species in nature conservation: A survey among students of different educational institutions. Journal for Nature Conservation. DOI: 10.1016/j.jnc.2009.12.002
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