Post List

  • August 14, 2009
  • 12:06 PM

Chinese coal demand will kill us all, maybe

by Henrik Karlstrøm in STS Guru

Interesting stuff on China's coal demand and GDP growth in this article in Energy Policy. Especially interesting are the implications regarding the trustworthiness of the reports and predictions of the large energy institutions of the world. But first, to quote from the abstract:

"[T]his paper demonstrates that even with conservative assumptions about Chinese GDP growth and income elasticity of electric demand to 2025, the country will likely experience much higher coal demand and e........ Read more »

  • August 14, 2009
  • 10:45 AM

Making sense of changing risk predictions from personal genomics

by dgmacarthur in Genetic Future

Mihaescu, R., van Hoek, M., Sijbrands, E., Uitterlinden, A., Witteman, J., Hofman, A., van Duijn, C., & Janssens, A. (2009). Evaluation of risk prediction updates from commercial genome-wide scans Genetics in Medicine, 11 (8), 588-594 DOI: 10.1097/GIM.0b013e3181b13a4fCaroline Wright from the Public Health Genomics Foundation has a concise post describing the results from a recent paper in Genetic Medicine. The paper evaluates the probability that personal genomics customers will find that th........ Read more »

Mihaescu, R., van Hoek, M., Sijbrands, E., Uitterlinden, A., Witteman, J., Hofman, A., van Duijn, C., & Janssens, A. (2009) Evaluation of risk prediction updates from commercial genome-wide scans. Genetics in Medicine, 11(8), 588-594. DOI: 10.1097/GIM.0b013e3181b13a4f  

  • August 14, 2009
  • 09:00 AM

The Reality of the Brain-Computer Interface

by Shaheen Lakhan in Brain Blogger

Imagine having the ability to turn on the television and change the channel without using a remote control or typing emails using just the power of your thoughts. Even behind the media hype, brain-computer interface technology may someday restore communication and mobility in persons with disabling diseases.... Read more »

Velliste M, Perel S, Spalding MC, Whitford AS, & Schwartz AB. (2998) Cortical control of a prosthetic arm for self-feeding. Nature, 453(7198), 1098-1101. DOI: 10.1038/nature06996  

  • August 14, 2009
  • 08:41 AM

Bipedalism: From the ground-up or trees-down?

by Laelaps in Laelaps

A male western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), photographed at the Bronx Zoo.

The origin of human bipedalism has long been a hot topic among paleoanthropologists. At the very least it is seen as something of a marker for the emergence of the first hominin, yet it remains unclear whether the earliest hominins evolved from a terrestrial, knuckle-walking ancestor or a more arboreal ape. A common interpretation is that since our closest living relatives, gorillas and chimpanzees, are both knuckle-wa........ Read more »

  • August 14, 2009
  • 08:40 AM

How does your brain work out what’s alive?

by Jacob Aron in Just A Theory

Picture a dog playing with a ball. The dog is alive, and the ball is inanimate. Obvious stuff, but how do we know? You might think our brains use visual cues to sort the living from the non-living, but research published in the journal Neuron this week proves it’s a little more complicated.
A team of [...]... Read more »

  • August 14, 2009
  • 07:30 AM

On cancer mortality

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

[Cancer] mortality has been systematically decreasing among younger individuals for many decades. … the cancer mortality rates for 30 to 59 year olds born between 1945 and 1954 was 29% lower than for people of the same age born three decades earlier.  … substantial changes in cancer mortality risk across the life span have been [...]... Read more »

  • August 14, 2009
  • 06:55 AM

Cancer stem cell breakthrough

by Cancer Research UK in Cancer Research UK - Science Update

It’s always exciting to see headlines about scientific breakthroughs, and today is no exception – we have “Breakthrough found to kill cancer spread”, “Scientists make breakthrough in fight against deadliest cancer cells” and the ambitious “Cancer – The end?”
The headlines came after researchers in Boston, US, discovered a way to target cancer stem cells – [...]... Read more »

  • August 14, 2009
  • 05:48 AM

On the Integration of Tactile, Proprioceptive and Visual Signals by the Brain

by Varun in Wissenschaft

The integration of different sensory inputs in the brain is crucial not only for taking appropriate motor actions but also for body perception and awareness of the bodily self. Integration occurs in higher areas in the brain usually in areas belonging to the parietal lobe1) Integrating Vision and Proprioception in Area 5 ( Graziano et. al (2000))Brodmann Area 5 (or Area 5) is part of the parietal cortex in humans, and in monkeys, is a subdivision of the parietal lobe, occupying primarily the su........ Read more »

  • August 14, 2009
  • 02:45 AM

Chocolate Consumption Increased in Parkinson’s Disease

by Dr Shock in Dr Shock MD PhD

Chocolate is not an antidepressant. Interaction between chocolate and neurotransmitter systems in the brain, such as serotonin, that contribute to appetite, reward and mood regulation were studied but no antidepressant mechanism of chocolate was found.
Most possible psychoactive substances in chocolate are metabolized in the blood by an enzyme (monoamineoxydase A), these substances are unable to [...]... Read more »

Wolz, M., Kaminsky, A., Löhle, M., Koch, R., Storch, A., & Reichmann, H. (2009) Chocolate consumption is increased in Parkinson’s disease. Journal of Neurology, 256(3), 488-492. DOI: 10.1007/s00415-009-0118-9  

  • August 14, 2009
  • 02:22 AM

Do adults with Asperger syndrome really have ToM?

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

People with autism are known to lack the ability to automatically attribute mental states to self and others also known as "mindblindness". A result of this impairment is failure on verbally instructed false-belief tasks. However, people with Asperger syndrome, a milder form of autism, seem to pass with flying colors. This presents a problem for the "mindblindness" theory. So do people with Asperger syndrome really have a theory of mind (ToM) contrary to popular theory?Senju, Southgate, White, a........ Read more »

  • August 14, 2009
  • 01:04 AM

Eastern vs. Western emoticons

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Asian Smiley Emoticons Plush - Set Of 6In a study of cultural differences in the recognition of facial expressions......eye movements of 13 Western Caucasian and 13 East Asian people [were recorded] while they observed pictures of expressive faces and put them into categories: happy, sad, surprised, fearful, disgusted, angry, or neutral. The faces were standardized according to the so-called Facial Action Coding System (FACS) such that each expression displayed a specific combination of facial m........ Read more »

Jack RE, Blais C, Scheepers C, Schyns PG, Caldara R. (2009) Cultural Confusions Show that Facial Expressions Are Not Universal. Current Biology. info:/

  • August 14, 2009
  • 12:00 AM

Intervention helps reduce homophobia

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

A problem with interventions that use role-playing to beat prejudice is that bigots usually aren't motivated to take the perspective of the groups that they discriminate against. In a new study, Gordon Hodson and colleagues have tested the effectiveness of an unusual alien-themed intervention for reducing homophobia that involves participants taking the perspective of a homosexual person, without really realising that that is what they're doing.Hodson's team tested the homophobic tendencies of 1........ Read more »

  • August 13, 2009
  • 09:30 PM

Cyclization Reactions and Angelmarin Synthesis

by Steve W in Bridgehead Carbons

The first total synthesis of (+)-Angelmarin includes some neat cyclization reactions. They started with Umbelliferone which you can buy, and synthesized angelmarin by way of columbianetin.I'm always curious about where the names of these compounds come from. The systematic names are probably rather cumbersome, so these common names are useful. Umbelliferone is found in plants of the Umbelliferae family - which includes carrots. Also named for plant species, angelmarin was isolated from Angeli........ Read more »

Magolan, J., & Coster, M. (2009) Total Synthesis of ( )-Angelmarin. The Journal of Organic Chemistry, 74(14), 5083-5086. DOI: 10.1021/jo900613u  

  • August 13, 2009
  • 07:00 PM

Climate Change and Climate Change Refugees, Part I

by Elements Team in Elements

By: Rosemary Stephen, Elements: Environmental Health Intelligence

Part I:
The Current State
Climate change is a serious global problem resulting in disrupted weather patterns, violent storms, rising global temperatures and rising ocean levels. Climate change is also displacing people; small family groups to whole populations are being forced to leave their homelands due to environmental changes that [...]... Read more »

Rosemary Stephen. (2009) Climate Change and Climate Change Refugees, Part I. Elements: Environmental Health Intelligence. info:/

  • August 13, 2009
  • 05:36 PM

Sex and face recognition: Are male and female faces processed completely separately?

by Dave Munger in Cognitive Daily

Take a look at these photos of Jim and Nora:

They've clearly been distorted (using the "spherize" filter in Photoshop), but in opposite directions. Jim's been "expanded" to make more spherical, while Nora has been "contracted" to look more concave. If you look at these photos for a while, you might have difficulty recognizing how Jim and Nora look normally.

This is an aftereffect. Aftereffects can be experienced in a number of ways, with dizziness being perhaps the most frequently observed........ Read more »

  • August 13, 2009
  • 05:18 PM


by TomJoe in (It's a ...) Micro World (... after all)

Came across this article in the New Scientist. It's a lovely piece of modern day molecular biology doing some forensic work to rediscover a species that was thought to have died out a couple of hundred years ago. The bird in question is the Tasman Booby (Sula tasmani).It has been speculated that this bird has been extinct since around 1790, though evidence has suggested that these birds might still be around. From my reading of the papers, it appears that the call for extinction of the Tasman Bo........ Read more »

Steeves, T., Holdaway, R., Hale, M., McLay, E., McAllan, I., Christian, M., Hauber, M., & Bunce, M. (2009) Merging ancient and modern DNA: extinct seabird taxon rediscovered in the North Tasman Sea. Biology Letters. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2009.0478  

  • August 13, 2009
  • 05:18 PM

A Big Boost for a Revolutionary Theory

by AK in AK's Rambling Thoughts

One of my more favorite reads was Aaron Filler's Upright Ape:  A New Origin of the Species[3], shortly after it was published.  The suggestion(s) regarding human evolution were attractive and revolutionary, while the discussions of homeotic mutations and their mechanisms (based upon peer-reviewed work[4]) were enlightening and form part of the foundation of my own approach to understanding how mutation, development, and Darwinian selection work together (a subject I haven't blogged mu........ Read more »

  • August 13, 2009
  • 04:51 PM

A new study claims to have identified mirror neurons in the human brain

by Greg Hickok in Talking Brains

In case you haven't seen it yet, there is a new paper in J. Neuroscience that reports the existence of mirror neurons in human inferior frontal gyrus (~Broca's area). It used a repetition suppression fMRI paradigm and found a suppression effect (different same) both when subjects executed and then observed the same action and when subjects observed and then executed the same action. This appears to be the best evidence yet for the existence of mirror neurons in humans: an effect was found in b........ Read more »

Kilner, J., Neal, A., Weiskopf, N., Friston, K., & Frith, C. (2009) Evidence of Mirror Neurons in Human Inferior Frontal Gyrus. Journal of Neuroscience, 29(32), 10153-10159. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2668-09.2009  

  • August 13, 2009
  • 04:07 PM

Early-exposure to a high fat diet shapes future preference

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

It goes without saying that the US is currently experiencing a rapidly growing obesity epidemic. Researchers from various fields continue to look for possible causes and solutions to such a deleterious medical condition. A recent study conducted by Teegarden, Scott, and Bale seem to have advanced our understanding of obesity just a bit further. In a 10 day macronutrient choice preference test they found that high fat diet early-exposed mice exhibited a significantly greater preference for a high........ Read more »

  • August 13, 2009
  • 02:53 PM

Climate change and coffee pests

by Julie Craves in Coffee & Conservation

A paper just published in the journal PLoS ONE explores the impact of climate change on the life history and distribution of the world's worst coffee pest, a minute beetle called the coffee berry borer (CBB), Hypothenemus hampei.

... Read more »

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