Post List

  • July 5, 2009
  • 11:13 AM

Afterbirth: It’s What’s For Dinner

by Tye in Uncommon Dissent

Get ready to be intrigued and grossed out while Joel Stein documents the journey of his wife’s placenta from life-giving baby bag to encapsulated pill that is supposed to “ward off postpartum depression and increase milk supply” when his wife eats it.  He’s even got a video of the preparation and unless you’re ready to [...]... Read more »

  • July 4, 2009
  • 07:27 PM

Role of the second messenger cyclic diguanylate (c-di-GMP) in the Lyme disease spirochete

by Microbe Fan in Spirochetes Unwound

Second messengers are the intracellular intermediaries that transmit the signals received from the environment (first messenger) to the cellular machinery that generates the appropriate response. Well known examples of second messengers in mammalian cells include cyclic AMP, cyclic GMP, calcium ion, and inositol triphosphate. A second messenger unique to bacteria is cyclic diguanylate, abbreviated c-di-GMP. First described in the 1980s, c-di-GMP is only now attracting wide interest among thos........ Read more »

  • July 4, 2009
  • 03:00 PM

By eating fruit, birds protect Serengeti forests from beetles

by Ed Yong in Not Exactly Rocket Science

Walks through a forest are often made all the more enjoyable by the chance to watch brightly coloured birds flit between the trees. But birds are not just mere inhabitants of forests - in some parts of the world, they are the key to the trees' survival.

The Serengeti is one such place. Since 1950, around 70-80% of riverside forests have disappeared from this area. Fires seem to be a particular problem, opening large gaps in the canopy that forests can't seem to recover from. To understand why G........ Read more »

  • July 4, 2009
  • 05:10 AM

From predator to plant in one gulp

by Iddo Friedberg in Byte Size Biology

Imagine a creature that swims and preys on others. But once it eats a certain kind of algae, the algae grows inside it, the predator loses its ability to prey and starts using sunlight to make its food. Its preying mouth is replaced by an eye that is needed to find sunlight. This is the Hatena: "enigma" in Japanese. The kicker: when Hatena reproduces, one offspring is a peaceful photosynthesizer with the sun-seeking eye, while the other is yet again a predator with the voracious mouth. Well, at ........ Read more »

  • July 3, 2009
  • 10:00 PM

Is CBT Worthless?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

According to a new meta-analysis in Psychological Medicine (Lynch et al., 2009), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is not helpful for those with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and any improvements seen in major depression are rather small:Conclusions: CBT is no better than non-specific control interventions in the treatment of schizophrenia and does not reduce relapse rates. It is effective in major depression but the size of the effect is small in treatment studies. On present evidence CB........ Read more »

  • July 3, 2009
  • 03:15 PM

Science News: Week of June 28, 2009

by Susan Steinhardt in BioData Blogs

Our weekly compilation of science news for the week of June 28, 2009.... Read more »

Purcell, S., Wray, N., Stone, J., Visscher, P., O'Donovan, M., Sullivan, P., Sklar, P., Purcell (Leader), S., Stone, J., Sullivan, P.... (2009) Common polygenic variation contributes to risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08185  

Kragl, M., Knapp, D., Nacu, E., Khattak, S., Maden, M., Epperlein, H., & Tanaka, E. (2009) Cells keep a memory of their tissue origin during axolotl limb regeneration. Nature, 460(7251), 60-65. DOI: 10.1038/nature08152  

  • July 3, 2009
  • 02:56 PM

More fun with bees and fruit…guess what keeps them from stinging you?

by Cheshire in Cheshire

Awhile ago, I wrote a post about honeybee attack pheromones. It’s a strange coincidence that the chemical that makes things taste like bananas cues bees into attack. Well, in this issue of Medical Entomology (which has some other cool articles that I might blag about), some scientists looked a chemical that keeps bees from attacking.
I’m [...]... Read more »

  • July 3, 2009
  • 01:00 PM

A New Twist on Transgenes and Allergies

by Karl Haro von Mogel in Biofortified

When you bring up GE crops to people, one of the common objections is “Can’t these GMOs cause allergies?” Sure it is possible, as with any plant genetic modification (including breeding), which is why GE crops are tested for allergenicity according to regulations.

But now, it seems, the opposite may be true. “Can’t we use GMOs to eliminate allergies?”
One Japanese researcher and his team are having some success with that possibility.... Read more »

  • July 3, 2009
  • 11:25 AM

Sex-differences in obesity related metabolic risk in elderly men and women

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

Believe it or not fat cells are some of the coolest cells in the human body.  When I first came to do my Master's at Queen's, I just assumed that fat cells were a bad thing, and the fewer you had the better.  Sure, you needed a minimum amount of fat to protect your organs and avoid reproductive problems, but otherwise I didn't think that fat cells were all that important.  Just a passive depot that stores excess calories, right?  Wrong.One of the very coolest t........ Read more »

Saunders, T., Davidson, L., Janiszewski, P., Despres, J., Hudson, R., & Ross, R. (2009) Associations of the Limb Fat to Trunk Fat Ratio With Markers of Cardiometabolic Risk in Elderly Men and Women. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glp079  

  • July 3, 2009
  • 11:21 AM

Chiropractic and ethics in the BJGP

by Euan in Dr Euan Lawson| Doctor Writer

The regular half page advert for the General Chiropractic Council appears in the BJGP as usual this month.

I am sure there is little or no editorial control over the advertising in a journal but I couldn’t help but notice that this month their advert is plastered directly opposite Prof Ernst’s article: ‘Ethics of complementary medicine: [...]... Read more »

Ernst, E. (2009) Ethics of complementary medicine: practical issues. British Journal of General Practice, 59(564), 517-519. DOI: 10.3399/bjgp09x453404  

Buckley, B. (2009) Commentary: Conventional medicine is less than perfect. British Journal of General Practice, 59(564), 519-519. DOI: 10.3399/bjgp09x453558  

  • July 3, 2009
  • 11:15 AM

Cretaceous Billabong Yields New Dinosaurs

by Johnny in Ecographica

Two newly identified sauropods and a new theropod have been excavated from the base of the Winton Formation near central Queensland. Fossilized pollens in-strata with the vertebrate remains indicate a Phimopollenites pannosus palynomorph Zone sequence and are thought to be Albian in age - about 100 million years old. In regards to ecology, cursory examinations of taphonomy and sedimentology show that the depositional conditions associated with the finds are akin to those found in modern oxbow ........ Read more »

Hocknull, S., White, M., Tischler, T., Cook, A., Calleja, N., Sloan, T., & Elliott, D. (2009) New Mid-Cretaceous (Latest Albian) Dinosaurs from Winton, Queensland, Australia. PLoS ONE, 4(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006190  

  • July 3, 2009
  • 10:19 AM

Evolutionary origins of the nervous system

by Mo in Neurophilosophy

THE HUMAN BRAIN is a true marvel of nature. This jelly-like 1.5kg mass inside our skulls, containing hundreds of billions of cells which between them form something like a quadrillion connections, is responsible for our every action, emotion and thought. How did this remarkable and extraordinarily complex structure evolve? This question poses a huge challenge to researchers; brain evolution surely involved thousands of discrete, incremental steps, which occurred in the mists of deep time across ........ Read more »

  • July 3, 2009
  • 09:30 AM

Why Do Schizophrenics Smoke Cigarettes?

by Shaheen Lakhan in Brain Blogger

For health care workers in psychiatric hospitals, it is no secret: one of the major issues confronting psychiatric facilities seeking to institute blanket no-smoking policies concerns chronic inpatients with schizophrenia. Patients with schizophrenia are almost always heavy cigarette smokers, given a choice. As Edward Lyon wrote in an analysis of studies and surveys performed throughout [...]... Read more »

  • July 3, 2009
  • 06:43 AM

The synapses of Theseus

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

The Greek hero Theseus had a ship that was used in an annual ceremony. As the ship aged, the plans would slowly rot and were, over the years, replaced. Eventually, after many years, every one of the planks was replaced. Is it the same ship? This philosophical problem plagued the Greeks, and highlights the tension between stability and change.This problem reappears in neurobiology in many ways. Neurons must have some stability or processing information becomes impossible. Neurons must be able to ........ Read more »

  • July 3, 2009
  • 02:44 AM

It's called sfdkshfsk ... Stand back!

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

If you want people to recognise that a substance is dangerous - give it a complicated, hard-to-pronounce name. That's the implication of a new study that suggests we use a simple rule-of-thumb when judging risk. If something is easy to process and digest - for example, by virtue of being easy to pronounce - we tend to assume that it's familiar and safe. By contrast, if it seems hard to process, we assume it's novel and likely to be risky. These kinds of mental short cuts are known as heuristics ........ Read more »

  • July 3, 2009
  • 02:34 AM

An Australian Dinosaur Extravaganza

by Andrew Farke in The Open Source Paleontologist

The Cretaceous of Gondwana - the formerly connected southern landmasses of Antarctica, Australia, South America, Africa, India, Madagascar, and Arabia - is a sticky problem. The terrestrial fossil record is spotty at best in most locations, and tremendous geographic and temporal gaps remain. As a consequence, there is considerable debate about the sequence of the tectonic breakup of Gondwana and even the very identity and relationships of some of its dinosaurs and other Mesozoic beasts. Once in ........ Read more »

Hocknull, S., White, M., Tischler, T., Cook, A., Calleja, N., Sloan, T., & Elliott, D. (2009) New mid-Cretaceous (Latest Albian) dinosaurs from Winton, Queensland, Australia. PLoS ONE, 4(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006190  

  • July 3, 2009
  • 01:57 AM

Friday Weird Science: Echidnas like it cold and torpid

by Evil Monkey in Neurotopia

Ok, I'll admit, this post is kind of stolen from the fabulous Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science, who just won the Association of British Science Writers' Best Newcomer award! Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, Ed. :)

Well, the post isn't stolen, but the subject is. And it's actually been a little disappointing. When I first scanned the title, I thought it said "echinoderm", rather than "echidna", and I thought "Starfish sex!!! w00t1!!!" But no. Instead of talking about t........ Read more »

  • July 2, 2009
  • 08:14 PM

The BCA “Plethora of evidence”: The Fallon Paper

by colinhockings in Blue Genes

After a long, long wait, the BCA finally published its list of ‘evidence’ on the Simon Singh case. Read the Lay Scientist’s appraisal for an indication of how poor the evidence is. It consists entirely of irrelevant articles and poor studies but there was one paper that no-one could find. It is by Joan M. [...]... Read more »

  • July 2, 2009
  • 05:10 PM

Sen et al (2007) Learning to Identify Beneficial Partners

by Samuel Joseph in linklens

Cited by 4 [ATGSATOP]So this is another paper in my attempt to finish the background reading for an invited paper in the AP2PC'07 workshop proceedings.  I believe I found this one following a citation trail from Ben-Ami and Shehory (2007) and I think I grabbed it because it had "learning" in the title.  Peer to Peer is mentioned in passing, but this paper is really about a multi-agent system where individual agents have learning capabilities.  I know the first author from a panel ........ Read more »

Sandip Sen, Anil Gursel, & Stephane Airiau. (2007) Learning to identify beneficial partners. Working Notes of the Adaptive and Learning Agents Workshop at AAMAS.

  • July 2, 2009
  • 03:56 PM

Sinning saints and other quandaries

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

Priests and other moral figureheads sometimes go bad. That's inevitable, given that there are so many of them. Still, it makes you wonder if there's something more complex going on. Could it be that moral authority actually contributes to immorality?Back in 2007 there was a study that suggested one way this could happen. People who are convinced of their moral correctness were found to actually be more likely to cheat - because they were more likely to feel that their cheating could be justified........ Read more »

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