You grip the nail tightly in one hand, a hammer ready to swing in the other. Lift it up – and bam! You’ve just hit own thumb and are now turning the air blue. Swearing is a common reaction to pain, and a new study published in the journal NeuroReport suggests it can actually help [...]... Read more »
On the first day of last year's Gatsby workshop on "smaller cognitive systems", Gasper Jekely told us about their remarkable work on how the larvae of a marine polychaete worm (Platynereis dumerilii) perform phototaxis. Gaspar introduced his work by saying that these larvae may be very similar to the common ancestor of all bilaterally symmetric animals (Bilaterians), the Urbilaterian. The Urbilaterian being the last common ancestor of vertebrates and invertebrates, this would mean (and I have n........ Read more »
The fourth International Science Foo Camp (scifoo) 2009 has just concluded. Here are some very brief and incomplete notes and links from some of the sessions on the second day (Saturday), see the scholarly kitchen for a report on the first day. With seven parallel sessions, most people at this event miss most (six sevenths) [...]... Read more »
Kell, D., & Oliver, S. (2004) Here is the evidence, now what is the hypothesis? The complementary roles of inductive and hypothesis-driven science in the post-genomic era. BioEssays, 26(1), 99-105. DOI: 10.1002/bies.10385
Maintaining a water balance is essential to life. Cells must regulate their water content carefully and within a very narrow margin. Too much water intake, and the cell bursts like a water balloon; too much water outflow, and it shrivels like a raisin.
The cell itself is contained in a waterproof membrane. But there are gateways [...]... Read more »
Fischer, G., Kosinska-Eriksson, U., Aponte-Santamaría, C., Palmgren, M., Geijer, C., Hedfalk, K., Hohmann, S., de Groot, B., Neutze, R., & Lindkvist-Petersson, K. (2009) Crystal Structure of a Yeast Aquaporin at 1.15 Å Reveals a Novel Gating Mechanism. PLoS Biology, 7(6). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000130
Tajkhorshid, E. (2002) Control of the Selectivity of the Aquaporin Water Channel Family by Global Orientational Tuning. Science, 296(5567), 525-530. DOI: 10.1126/science.1067778
SWEARING OCCURS IN most cultures - people swear to let off steam, or to shock or insult others. It is also a common response to a painful experience. We've all done it: after stubbing our toe, or hitting our thumb with a hammer, we draw a sharp breath and mutter a swear word. Until now, though, whether swearing actually alters our perception of pain had not been investigated. But according to a new study due to be published next month in the journal NeuroReport, swearing increases pain tolerance........ Read more »
A chemical that works like a multitasking hormone in mice not only controls glucose processing in the body but could reduce body weight, according to a report published today in Nature Chemical Biology. The study may ultimately have an effect on treating obesity and diabetes.
Glucagon and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) are natural hormones that regulate glucose [...]... Read more »
Jonathan W Day, Nickki Ottaway, James T Patterson, Vasily Gelfanov, David Smiley, Jas Gidda, Hannes Findeisen, Dennis Bruemmer, Daniel J Drucker, Nilika Chaudhary, Jenna Holland, Jazzminn Hembree, William Abplanalp, Erin Grant , Jennifer Ruehl , Hilary Wi. (2009) A new glucagon and GLP-1 co-agonist eliminates obesity in rodents. Nature Chemical Biology.
Can you imagine...
A lollipop with the amazing Power to Suppress the appetite and give you a burst of energy. What could be more simple?"
So begins a brochure promoting Power-Pops, a lollipop which claims to reduce appetite, increase energy, and help you lose weight. Power-Pops have received a fair amount of media coverage in the USA, including the following video from the television program Extra (email readers can view the video on our main page by clicking here).
I've got to ........ Read more »
A paper out online in the August issue of Ecology Letters presents a new index for estimating biodiversity. John Harte of UC Berkeley and his colleagues have developed a method that they say yields more precise measures of biodiversity than classic indices, such as Simpson’s and Shannon’s diversity indices.
In an argument similar (but reversed) to [...]... Read more »
Harte, J., Smith, A., & Storch, D. (2009) Biodiversity scales from plots to biomes with a universal species-area curve. Ecology Letters, 12(8), 789-797. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01328.x
Solar power need not be complicated. Research into complex materials that convert the energy from sunlight into electricity is well underway, but offers only low efficiencies.
In contrast direct heating of water sidesteps the intermediary of converting sunlight into electricity and then using that to power a heating element in a water tank. All you need [...]Post from: Sciencebase Science Blog... Read more »
Nitesh Rathore, & S.K. Shukla. (2009) Experimental investigations and comparison of energy and exergy efficiencies of the box type and Solar Parabolic Cooker. Int. J. Energy Technology and Policy, 7(2), 201-212.
by Vincent Racaniello in virology blog
The plaque assay is a terrific method for determining virus titers, but it doesn’t work for all viruses. Fortunately there are several alternative methods available, including the end-point dilution assay.
The end-point dilution assay was used to measure virus titer before the development of the plaque assay, and is still used for viruses that do not [...]... Read more »
Reed, L.J., & Muench, H. (1938) A simple method of estimating fifty percent endpoints. Am. J. Hygiene, 493-497.
Cleaner fish are undeniably photogenic. They are colourful little fish that much larger fish will sit still for and allow the cleaner to dart all around them, even into the waiting jaws of their “clients,” while the cleaners feast of many small surface parasites. Cleaner fish provide one of the classic examples of mutualism in the animal kingdom, proving that evolution does not always mean bloody competition.How do “client” fish recognize cleaner fish from a quick snack, particularly giv........ Read more »
Cheney, K., Grutter, A., Blomberg, S., & Marshall, N. (2009) Blue and Yellow Signal Cleaning Behavior in Coral Reef Fishes. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.06.028
Third place finisher Ryan Hall at the 2009 Boston Marathon. Photo courtesy of Martin Checkoway.Running a 26.2 mile marathon is an exhausting endeavor for anyone, from the top Ethiopian and Kenyan runners to the astounding 75 year old Jim Schleisman (who finished in 3:45:33) to the back of the pack casual joggers. Two psychologists from Columbia university reckoned that the physical stress of marathon running might result in cognitive impairments (Eich & Metcalfe, 2009). Although the benefits........ Read more »
Eich, T., & Metcalfe, J. (2009) Effects of the stress of marathon running on implicit and explicit memory. Psychonomic Bulletin , 16(3), 475-479. DOI: 10.3758/PBR.16.3.475
Architecture is not only about aesthetics. Like the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum buildings also need to respond to the functional needs of the occupants, and users need to be provided with adequate lighting, well-modulated heating and cooling systems, structural soundness, and public safety provisions. These requirements can vary according to the type of building, a hospital [...]... Read more »
A recent study, "Positive Self-Statements: Power for Some, Peril for Others" has been widely reported, because a lot of us really think it's about time that the esteem industry took a hit. But the study is actually important for what it reveals, not just about positive affirmations, but about the perils of denying any attention to negative thoughts.... Read more »
Wood, J., Elaine Perunovic, W., & Lee, J. (2009) Positive Self-Statements: Power for Some, Peril for Others. Psychological Science, 20(7), 860-866. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02370.x
The latest issue of Harper's includes a tongue-in-cheek proposal for a study of "weaponized irony" (not, not iron-working; the "it's ironical" kind of irony), and development of a sort of semantic mapping technology, the "Ironic Cloud". There's a thick literature on the subject of psychosocial compartmentation, though, and it speaks directly to the ideas in the proposal. ... Read more »
Dakake, Maria. (2006) "Hiding in Plain Sight: The Practical and Doctrinal Significance of Secrecy in Shi'ite Islam.". Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 74(2), 324-355. DOI: 10.1093/jaarel/lfj086
Like a sand-castle crumbling away in the rising tide, the once-popular idea that there are innate gender differences in science and maths aptitude is being undermined by a succession of new research findings.Earlier this year, for example, Stephen Ceci and colleagues sifted through more than 400 relevant journal articles and concluded that far from there being any evidence for a sex-linked difference in science aptitude, the principal factor affecting the relative absence of women in science is ........ Read more »
Nosek, B., Smyth, F., Sriram, N., Lindner, N., Devos, T., Ayala, A., Bar-Anan, Y., Bergh, R., Cai, H., Gonsalkorale, K.... (2009) National differences in gender-science stereotypes predict national sex differences in science and math achievement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(26), 10593-10597. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0809921106
Mind reading or delving into a person’s conscious experience is a concept only science fiction consists of. Though it sounds improbable, recent strides in neuroimaging have made it a reality, at least partially.
Visual stimuli are captured through the eyes and relayed into the brain for perception. Decoding this process involves a systemic mapping between the [...]... Read more »
MIYAWAKI, Y., UCHIDA, H., YAMASHITA, O., SATO, M., MORITO, Y., TANABE, H., SADATO, N., & KAMITANI, Y. (2008) Visual Image Reconstruction from Human Brain Activity using a Combination of Multiscale Local Image Decoders. Neuron, 60(5), 915-929. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.11.004
The H1N1 flu has now been circulating for over 3 months and has landed on every continent (Antarctica doesn’t count as a continent in the medical world), infecting thousands of people. People continue to die at a steady pace and yesterday a girl in Brazil died with atypical symptoms (yes it is in Portuguese, [...]... Read more »
Shahangian, A., Chow, E., Tian, X., Kang, J., Ghaffari, A., Liu, S., Belperio, J., Cheng, G., & Deng, J. (2009) Type I IFNs mediate development of postinfluenza bacterial pneumonia in mice. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 119(7), 1910-1920. DOI: 10.1172/JCI35412
What happens when you take a very boring mechanism and combine it with a mechanism only marginally less boring? A really really interesting set of behaviors.Here I discussed one paper discussing why neurons might burst, on the abstract level - not how bursting comes about but how the brain might exploit bursting. That was one of three papers I've read discussing the phenomenon of resonance frequencies in neurons. This is the second. This paper briefly looks at the different ionic mechanisms a........ Read more »
Hutcheon, B. (2000) Resonance, oscillation and the intrinsic frequency preferences of neurons. Trends in Neurosciences, 23(5), 216-222. DOI: 10.1016/S0166-2236(00)01547-2
Will a pill containing the immunosuppressant drug rapamycin someday extend human lifespan a few years? In spite of the hopeful research announcements that appeared a few days ago, I wouldn't recommend getting one's hopes up just yet.This is a topic I've discussed before: Calorie restriction, TOR signaling, and aging. And for related stuff on mTOR: here.The executive summary is that inhibition of mTOR signaling has been shown to extend lifespan in yeast, roundworms, and fruit flies........ Read more »
Harrison, D., Strong, R., Sharp, Z., Nelson, J., Astle, C., Flurkey, K., Nadon, N., Wilkinson, J., Frenkel, K., Carter, C.... (2009) Rapamycin fed late in life extends lifespan in genetically heterogeneous mice. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08221
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