Post List

  • December 22, 2009
  • 07:24 AM

Sunday Protist -- Oligotrich Ciliates: another morphological acid trip

by Psi Wavefunction in Skeptic Wonder

Of course, no one noticed any delays in the posting of the Sunday Protist, because that never happened. Actually, I've been rather frazzled by this little fun activity that happens around this time of the year called 'finals', and thus had to desperately avoid any material I may find myself actually interested in, lest it hijacks my attention for too long. Also, I'll be mostly internetless starting tomorrow, and thus unable to blog. Coming back on 03 January. May or may not schedule a post, depe........ Read more »

Agatha S. (2004) A cladistic approach for the classification of oligotrichid ciliates (Ciliophora: Spirotricha). Acta Protozoologica , 43(3), 201-217. info:/

  • December 22, 2009
  • 07:00 AM

Using Private Knowledge To Anticipate How Others View Us

by Daniel Hawes in Ingenious Monkey | 20-two-5

Some knowledge about yourself is private knowledge that only you possess. Clearly, other people will not be able to use your private knowledge, when they formulate a judgment about something you did. So why do researchers find that people use their private knowledge as input, when anticipating how others view them?...... Read more »

Chambers JR, Epley N, Savitsky K, & Windschitl PD. (2008) Knowing too much: using private knowledge to predict how one is viewed by others. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 19(6), 542-8. PMID: 18578843  

  • December 22, 2009
  • 05:01 AM

The failures of a weed eradication program: lessons learned

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

The idea of eradicating a weed - i.e. killing every individual versus just controlling the spread - has an obvious appeal to a land manager. However, as Mark Gardner and fellow researchers found from a case study in the Galapagos Islands, eradication is very difficult and finding success requires that numerous ecological, financial, and social factors all line up....... Read more »

  • December 22, 2009
  • 12:00 AM

A natural history of the Earworm - the song that won't get out of your head

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Earworms are those songs that get lodged in your cranium, playing over and over and over. There's been surprisingly little published research on the phenomenon, although that hasn't stopped popular science writers like Oliver Sacks from speculating about it. There's an 'expert' in the form of Professor James Kellaris at the University of Cincinnati, but his investigations all appear to be unpublished. That hasn't stopped Kellaris' university from hosting a website devoted to earworms. And there'........ Read more »

  • December 22, 2009
  • 12:00 AM

Story behind the story for new #PLoSOne paper on Bayesian phylogenetics

by Jonathan Eisen in The Tree of Life

There is an interesting new paper in PLoS One" Long-Branch Attraction Bias and Inconsistency in Bayesian Phylogenetics" by Brian Kolaczkowski and Joseph Thornton. The work focuses on methods for inferring phylogenetic history and in particular two types of statistical approaches: Likelihood and Bayesian. These methods are related to each other in that both attempt to use statistical models of evolution and then test different possible phylogenetic trees related taxa by how well certain data set........ Read more »

  • December 21, 2009
  • 10:20 PM

Miocene “Monkey”: Pliopithecus canmatensis

by zinjanthropus in A Primate of Modern Aspect

What could possibly be a better Christmas present than a new fossil primate?  Nothing, that’s what!
The most recent addition to our family bush is a Pliopithecine from Spain named Pliopithecus canmatensis.  Pliopithecoids are gibbon-like in many ways, including their long limbs, large hands, and maybe the ability to brachiate.  However, the pliopithecoids are much too [...]... Read more »

  • December 21, 2009
  • 04:22 PM

Christian cancellation of the secular truce

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

People living in the UK will have noticed that Christians have been getting noisier in recent years. More clamour for more state-funded faith schools, more litigations, and more complaints against perceived anti-Christian bias.Evidence of a popular religious revival? Or the death throes of a once-powerful ideology? A team from Erasmus University in the Netherlands has some answers.It seems that when Christianity is popular, Christians are content with the idea of a firewall separating Church and........ Read more »

  • December 21, 2009
  • 04:02 PM

“Chameleon sequences’’, “surveying the human microbiota” and more, in my picks of the week from RB

by Alejandro Montenegro-Montero in MolBio Research Highlights

Another week has gone by and some very interesting molbio blog posts have been aggregated to Every week [see my opening post on the matter], I'll select some blog posts I consider particularly interesting in the field of molecular biology [see here to get a sense of the criteria that will be used], briefly describe them and list them here for you to check out.Note that I'm ... Read more »

Pleasance, E., Stephens, P., O’Meara, S., McBride, D., Meynert, A., Jones, D., Lin, M., Beare, D., Lau, K., Greenman, C.... (2009) A small-cell lung cancer genome with complex signatures of tobacco exposure. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08629  

Alexander, P., He, Y., Chen, Y., Orban, J., & Bryan, P. (2009) From the Cover: A minimal sequence code for switching protein structure and function. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(50), 21149-21154. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0906408106  

Costello, E., Lauber, C., Hamady, M., Fierer, N., Gordon, J., & Knight, R. (2009) Bacterial Community Variation in Human Body Habitats Across Space and Time. Science, 326(5960), 1694-1697. DOI: 10.1126/science.1177486  

  • December 21, 2009
  • 02:36 PM

PCBs escape burial in aquatic sediments, infiltrate terrestrial food webs, and put birds at risk

by David Raikow in River Continua

While other issues of ecological concern, like climate change, receive popular attention, the problems that initially raised environmental awareness, like pollution, take a back seat. Yet these problems are not only still with us, they are spreading.... Read more »

  • December 21, 2009
  • 02:35 PM

Multiple Sclerosis and Irrational Exuberance

by PalMD in White Coat Underground

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is fascinating illness that can range from mild annoyance to debilitating nightmare. The frightening nature and unclear cause of the disease makes it a magnet for questionable medical therapies (i.e. quackery). A piece published last week in (surprise!) the Huffington Post helps fuel the fires of suspicion and paranoia while failing to shed any light on the future of MS research.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the nervous system. Its victims develop symptoms bas........ Read more »

Frohman EM, Racke MK, & Raine CS. (2006) Multiple sclerosis--the plaque and its pathogenesis. The New England journal of medicine, 354(9), 942-55. PMID: 16510748  

Zamboni, P., Galeotti, R., Menegatti, E., Malagoni, A., Tacconi, G., Dall'Ara, S., Bartolomei, I., & Salvi, F. (2008) Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency in patients with multiple sclerosis. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery , 80(4), 392-399. DOI: 10.1136/jnnp.2008.157164  

Zamboni, P., Galeotti, R., Menegatti, E., Malagoni, A., Gianesini, S., Bartolomei, I., Mascoli, F., & Salvi, F. (2009) A prospective open-label study of endovascular treatment of chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency. Journal of Vascular Surgery, 50(6), 1348-1358000. DOI: 10.1016/j.jvs.2009.07.096  

  • December 21, 2009
  • 11:35 AM

Sex, Violence and The Male Warrior Hypothesis

by Shaheen Lakhan in Brain Blogger

Throughout the history of human civilization, wars have a common feature of being practiced primarily by males. This group aggression by males is a persistent trait of human behavior, seen across different continents among civilizations that have developed independent of each other.
Also, experimental evidence suggests that compared to females, male behavior and psychology is more [...]... Read more »

  • December 21, 2009
  • 09:29 AM

Broken Links

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Nutrient enrichment can cut off energy flow in aquatic food webs

... Read more »

Davis, J., Rosemond, A., Eggert, S., Cross, W., & Wallace, J. (2009) Long-term nutrient enrichment decouples predator and prey production. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0908497107  

  • December 21, 2009
  • 09:20 AM

Holiday Weight Gain: Fact or Fiction?

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

Today I'd like to revisit an issue which we first reported on last January, and which unfortunately appears to be happening again this holiday season. Several of our colleagues attend a major Canadian fitness chain (I have decided not to post the name yet, but it shouldn't be too hard to guess) which has a poster of a chubby gingerbread man on the wall throughout the holidays (both in 2008 and again this year). Under the gingerbread man is a caption that reads "The average perso........ Read more »

Yanovski JA, Yanovski SZ, Sovik KN, Nguyen TT, O'Neil PM, & Sebring NG. (2000) A prospective study of holiday weight gain. The New England journal of medicine, 342(12), 861-7. PMID: 10727591  

  • December 21, 2009
  • 09:00 AM

Noisy and Bistable Gene Expression: Why Genes and Environment Aren't Everything

by Tim Sampson in The Times Microbial

Classically, a cell's phenotype was thought to be a product of its genetic background and its environment. All changes within a cell would be due to the cell's genetic capability to react to the environmental changes happening around them. However, as we begin looking more in depth at cell populations at the single cell level, we are finding that this paradigm isn't always true.

In this two part series, I want to examine how genetically identical cells in equal environments can........ Read more »

Maamar H, Raj A, & Dubnau D. (2007) Noise in gene expression determines cell fate in Bacillus subtilis. Science (New York, N.Y.), 317(5837), 526-9. PMID: 17569828  

  • December 21, 2009
  • 08:42 AM

Connecting the Fifth Ape to the Sixth Mass Extinction

by Johnny in Ecographica

Recent research conducted out of UC Berkeley and Penn State University has quantitatively demonstrated that mammal diversity in North America has plummeted since the arrival of humans about 13,000 years ago. ... Read more »

  • December 21, 2009
  • 08:30 AM

What a deal! Marine protected areas undercharging users...

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

When it comes to marine protected areas, managers are charging recreational use fees that are substantially less than what visitors would be willing to pay. Two studies have coincidentally come out recently in different journals addressing this counterintuitive phenomenon.

On the surface, charging too little might not seem like such a big deal. However, many marine protected areas are located in poor countries where the management of the park is largely funded by collected fees.
... Read more »

  • December 21, 2009
  • 07:10 AM

Happy Christmas Lectures 2009

by Duncan Hull in O'Really?

If you weren’t able to attend this years Christmas lectures in person, they are televised tonight in the UK on More4 from 7pm. This year, they are given by Professor Sue Hartley [1] (pictured right) from the University of Sussex. Here is some blurb on the series from the Royal Institution called “The 300 million [...]... Read more »

  • December 21, 2009
  • 05:00 AM

Quantifying the environmental benefits of wetland restoration

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

A new study presents a model that could make the job of restoration planners much easier. Researchers created and tested a prototype for quantifying the amount that prospective restoration projects would reduce flooding and retain sediment and nutrients...... Read more »

  • December 21, 2009
  • 03:28 AM

check your caller i.d., it might be brain cancer

by Greg Fish in weird things

Ok, probably not since the jury is still out as to what risks cell phone use could have, but little things like doing studies and coming to a consensus based on empirical evidence won’t slow down the efforts of Maine State Representative Andrea Boland to propose a bill which would require that every cell phone [...]... Read more »

  • December 21, 2009
  • 03:00 AM

Radiation from medical imaging and cancer risk

by David Gorski in Science-Based Medicine

Science-based medicine consists of a balancing of risks and benefits for various interventions. This is sometimes a difficult topic for the lay public to understand, and sometimes physicians even forget it. My anecdotal experience suggests that probably surgeons are usually more aware of this basic fact because our interventions generally involve taking sharp objects to [...]... Read more »

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