Post List

  • March 10, 2010
  • 12:00 PM

Path Integration in Humans

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

I know you’ve all been waiting for it. We’ve talked about putting ants on stilts, kidnapping baby gerbils, and hijacking a truck full of geese. All in the name of science. Ants and gerbils taught us about the limitations of the path integration system, but also how amazingly cool it is. The geese suggested that [...]... Read more »

Landau, B., Spelke, E., & Gleitman, H. (1984) Spatial knowledge in a young blind child. Cognition, 16(3), 225-260. DOI: 10.1016/0010-0277(84)90029-5  

  • March 10, 2010
  • 11:42 AM

Environmental news round up

by Elements Science in Elements Science

Find out how climate change is affecting malaria, how ocean bacteria could be the key to producing clean fuels, how a tree purifies dirty water and more.... Read more »

  • March 10, 2010
  • 11:40 AM

Body mass index (BMI) as a measure of obesity and health: a critical appraisal

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

If you go to your physician's office and inquire about your weight status, he or she will measure your height and weight to derive your BMI (weight in kg divided by height in m squared). Then they will compare your BMI to that of established criteria to decide whether you are underweight (30 kg/m2) . Often times, this measure alone determines whether or not you receive lifestyle treatment. But how useful is this measure anyways? What does it tell you about your health? And finally, how helpful i........ Read more »

  • March 10, 2010
  • 10:24 AM

Gills: How Fish Avoid the “Pruney Fingers” Effect

by agoldstein in WiSci

Gills may not have originated for breathing purposes, as has been assumed.... Read more »

  • March 10, 2010
  • 09:58 AM

Asteroid Strike Confirmed as Dinosaur Killer

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Sixty-five million years ago, life on Earth suffered one of the worst mass extinctions of all time. It was an event that killed creatures across the spectrum of life’s diversity, from tiny marine invertebrates to the largest dinosaurs, but what could have caused it?
A number of hypotheses have been forwarded over the years, most of [...]... Read more »

Schulte, P., Alegret, L., Arenillas, I., Arz, J., Barton, P., Bown, P., Bralower, T., Christeson, G., Claeys, P., Cockell, C.... (2010) The Chicxulub Asteroid Impact and Mass Extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary. Science, 327(5970), 1214-1218. DOI: 10.1126/science.1177265  

  • March 10, 2010
  • 09:53 AM

Do Baby Einstein DVDs work? Exposing infants to educational dvds may affect their language development.

by Nestor Lopez-Duran PhD in Child-Psych

A few weeks ago I wrote a study that showed that exposing premature babies to Mozart music may lead to metabolic changes that facilitate weight gain and better medical outcomes. That study is an example of one credible and positive outcome that came out of the “Mozart effect’ craze. Unfortunately, most of the other claims, [...]... Read more »

Richert, R., Robb, M., Fender, J., & Wartella, E. (2010) Word Learning From Baby Videos. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. DOI: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.24  

  • March 10, 2010
  • 08:37 AM

Variable Expressivity and Epistasis, or, Why You Don’t Have Autism

by Rick Scavetta in DNA Dude


Variable expressivity and epistasis go hand in hand when talking about genetic disorders. Knowing what they mean will help you really understand the kind of complications researchers are up against. In this article I’ll illustrate these concepts using a recently published paper on the causes of autism as an example.
One of the genetic risk factors [...]... Read more »

Girirajan, S., Rosenfeld, J., Cooper, G., Antonacci, F., Siswara, P., Itsara, A., Vives, L., Walsh, T., McCarthy, S., Baker, C.... (2010) A recurrent 16p12.1 microdeletion supports a two-hit model for severe developmental delay. Nature Genetics, 42(3), 203-209. DOI: 10.1038/ng.534  

  • March 10, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

The impact of snorkeling on fish and macroalgae communities

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

A new study on snorkelers in the Mediterranean sea finds a rare piece of good news about human impacts on the marine environment.

Joachim Clauedet and fellow researchers looked at snorkeling within the Cerbère Banyuls Natural Marine Reserve in the French Mediterranean and found that the activity had no observable effect on the structure of fish or macroalgae communities.... Read more »

  • March 10, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Whatever happened to the audiophile?

by sciencebase in Sciencebase Science Blog

Back in the 1970s my parents had friends who had stacks of hi-fi separates with gold contact wiring and speaker stands on metal spikes. They were only playing Perry Como on vinyl, but that was their idea of fun, so good luck to them. When the CD emerged on to the market with its claims [...]Whatever happened to the audiophile? is a post from: Sciencebase Science Blog
... Read more »

Jerald Hughes. (2009) Emergent quality standards for digital entertainment experience goods: the case of consumer audio. Int. J. Services and Standards, 5(4), 333-353. info:/

  • March 10, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Rattling neuroethology’s windows

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

As I’ve written recently, I don’t feel all that at home and comfortable in the field of neuroscience. I feel much more at home in the discipline of neuroethology, which investigates the neural bases of naturally occurring animal behaviour. It is populated by people who still appreciate diversity.

Having said that neuroethology is my intellectual home, I would like to rattle the windows in my own house a bit.

Neuroethology has a bunch of great people working on cool stories. And yet it is n........ Read more »

Bullock, T. (1999) Neuroethology has pregnant agendas. Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, 185(4), 291-295. DOI: 10.1007/s003590050389  

  • March 10, 2010
  • 06:15 AM

Vaccinia virus in Brazil: What a long, strange trip

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

Krishna, milking a cow

Vaccinia virus is a widespread virus whose natural host remains unknown.  It turns out to be pretty good at jumping across species.
Vaccinia, of course, is the vaccine against smallpox.  Even though smallpox is eliminated in the wild,1 vaccinia is still very widely used in research and even, to some extent, in [...]... Read more »

Moussatché N, Damaso CR, & McFadden G. (2008) When good vaccines go wild: Feral Orthopoxvirus in developing countries and beyond. Journal of infection in developing countries, 2(3), 156-73. PMID: 19738346  

Alzhanova, D., Edwards, D., Hammarlund, E., Scholz, I., Horst, D., Wagner, M., Upton, C., Wiertz, E., Slifka, M., & Früh, K. (2009) Cowpox Virus Inhibits the Transporter Associated with Antigen Processing to Evade T Cell Recognition. Cell Host , 6(5), 433-445. DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2009.09.013  

Essbauer, S., Pfeffer, M., & Meyer, H. (2010) Zoonotic poxviruses☆. Veterinary Microbiology, 140(3-4), 229-236. DOI: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2009.08.026  

  • March 10, 2010
  • 05:18 AM

Are emotions in music universal?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

While there are plenty of theories on how music and emotion might be related (see Juslin & Västfjäll, 2008 for a overview), there is still little empirical support to decide on how far music and specific associated emotions - such as happiness, fear, sadness or anger - are merely a result of association and/or culturally determined, or in fact shared and a result of brain mechanisms that we all share. Last year Current Biology published an interesting study on the recognition of three basic em........ Read more »

Fritz, T., Jentschke, S., Gosselin, N., Sammler, D., Peretz, I., Turner, R., Friederici, A., & Koelsch, S. (2009) Universal Recognition of Three Basic Emotions in Music. Current Biology, 19(7), 573-576. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.02.058  

  • March 10, 2010
  • 05:11 AM

Self-Evident Victor of the Invert War

by Sam in Oceanographer's Choice

Invert war has been declared. Personally, I consider myself a lover, not a fighter. And all the inverts are worthy of love in my book. But, knowing that tempers may flare as biologists across the blogosphere come to the defense of their preferred spineless taxa, I thought it would be worth injecting a [...]... Read more »

  • March 10, 2010
  • 05:09 AM

Bridging the intention behaviour gap: Planning, self-efficacy, and action control in the adoption and maintenance of physical exercise

by PhD Blogger in Exercise Psychology

In this paper from 2005 Sniehottaet al. examine why although some people develop an intention to change their health behaviour many do not follow through from intention to action. The gap between the intention and behaviour has been called the ‘‘intention–behaviour gap.’’ The authors examine factors which can be used to reduce the gap. They examine action planning, perceived self-efficacy, and self-regulatory strategies to investigate what effect these can have on reducing disparity........ Read more »

  • March 10, 2010
  • 05:00 AM

'Sunday Protist' - Sorogena: A ciliate 'slime mould'!

by Psi Wavefunction in Skeptic Wonder

I realise it's not anywhere near Sunday anymore, but I'm rapidly approaching Busy Threat Level Red, at which point I'll just hide in my "No Zone" and refuse to do anything beyond the bare minimum to get by... I really shouldn't be doing this right now, but the poor protists have been neglected for a while. Mostly. You should go check out Saccamminid forams at the Catalogue of Organisms, but not at the expense of reading my post, of course ^_~Remember the tricky Mystery Micrograph #10? Probably n........ Read more »

  • March 10, 2010
  • 04:07 AM

“Cracked cancer code”? Not just yet

by Cancer Research UK in Cancer Research UK - Science Update

The Sunday Express has run a front page story stating that scientists have made a major breakthrough in cancer treatment “after cracking the ‘code’ behind the disease.”   Sadly the story is actually only based on a theory rather than on concrete scientific evidence.
The story comes from a paper in the Journal of Translational Medicine written [...]... Read more »

  • March 10, 2010
  • 12:31 AM

The remote rural community that thinks letting someone die is as bad as killing them

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

In recent years cognitive scientist Marc Hauser has gathered evidence that suggests we're born with a moral instinct. This moral intuition has been likened to the universal grammar that Chomsky famously suggested underlies our linguistic abilities - certain principles are set in stone, whilst the precise parameters can be set by culture. Thousands of people from multiple countries and different religions and demographic backgrounds have given their verdict on fictional scenarios presented online........ Read more »

  • March 9, 2010
  • 07:39 PM

Resting Metabolic Rate and Aging, Another of Metabolism's Complexities

by Reason in Fight Aging!

Metabolism, which might be broadly defined as the biochemical process of living, is absurdly complex. The way in which metabolism varies between individuals, and then changes over time with aging? Even more complex. This is one of the reasons why slowing aging by changing metabolic machinery - in effect creating a new human metabolism - looks very much like an inferior, harder path in comparison to attempts to restore the metabolism we have to the way it operates in youthful bodies. Complexity i........ Read more »

  • March 9, 2010
  • 07:24 PM

A Worm Free World

by Pamela Ronald in Tomorrow's Table

Check out this great post by Mary M on biofortifed. In it she reviews a new research paper that describes how the use of Bt could potentially save the lives of millions.

You can download a video about the researchers and their work here.

From Mary's post: "For some people, a great deal of the conflama around genetically-engineered (GE) crops has to do with the presence of a pesticide in the plant material--mainly the Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt protein--rather than coating the surface of t........ Read more »

  • March 9, 2010
  • 06:01 PM

Pyramidal thoughts

by Jan Husdal in

A promising title with promising content? Perhaps. If you are a supply chain or logistics professional, looking for a paper that discusses the intricacies of  managing a supply chain in a disaster area, how to prepare and how to recover, this is NOT it. However, if you are a supply chain or logistics academic or [ ... ]... Read more »

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