Post List

  • September 4, 2010
  • 08:33 AM

the original Whorf

by Chris in The Lousy Linguist

Guy Deutcher's NYT's article on how language affects thought continues to get buzz, as surely his book Through The Language Glass will when people read it (it was just released 3 days ago and is currently #234 on Amazon's book rank). One common reaction amongst bloggers is that Deutscher gives Whorf himself unfairly harsh treatment, and ultimately mis-represents Whorf's own opinions.For example, Kathryn Woolard, SLA President, says "Whorf’s own statements of his theory look little like the car........ Read more »

Benjamin Lee Whorf. (1940) Science and Linguistics. MIT Technology Review, 42(6). info:other/

  • September 4, 2010
  • 05:36 AM

Problems with Pitch: Congenital Amusia and Tone Languages

by Sarah in Curious!

What, exactly, is tone deafness? We've all known someone who claimed he or she was tone deaf or "couldn't carry a tune." However, congenital amusia, which seems to be true "deafness" to tone, affects only about 4% of the general population - that is, 4% of the almost exclusively Western populations that have been studied.
Congenital amusia is one of several different types of music perception impairments. A person with the disorder is born with a variety of symptoms, including an inability to re........ Read more »

  • September 4, 2010
  • 03:29 AM

Hey Gilbert Lewis: Has life evolved a use for deuterium? Or does it just tolerate it?

by Steve Koch in Steve Koch Research

Andy Maloney in our lab has been studying solvent (water) isotope effects on kinesin and microtubules in the gliding motility assay.  He has data showing a speed slow down from both heavy-hydrogen water (D2O; deuterium oxide) and heavy-oxygen water (H218O; oxygen-18 water). The preliminary results are very exciting to me, because I think varying the water isotopes may be a useful new knob for studying kinesin, molecular motors, and other biomolecular systems such as protein-DNA complexes. ........ Read more »

Gilbert N. Lewis. (1933) THE BIOCHEMISTRY OF WATER CONTAINING HYDROGEN ISOTOPE. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 55(8), 3503-3504. DOI: 10.1021/ja01335a509  

  • September 3, 2010
  • 11:28 PM

Investigating Metformin's Mechanisms

by Reason in Fight Aging!

Metformin is one of the known calorie restriction mimetics amongst drugs presently in use by the medical establishment. A calorie restriction mimetic is a drug that can reproduce some of the beneficial changes to metabolism exhibited during the practice of calorie restriction, which hopefully in turn leads to improved health and extended healthy life span. Metformin has been shown to modestly increase maximum life span in mice, though by much less than is possible through calorie restriction: ch........ Read more »

  • September 3, 2010
  • 08:19 PM

In other news: shrinking computer chips, string theory

by Joerg Heber in All That Matters

This week two noteworthy papers have been published that I did not get around to highlight here. In terms of topic they could not be more different, one about a possible new data storage material, and the other one about string theory! The next big thing in computing could be silicon! It is not often [...]... Read more »

Yao, J., Sun, Z., Zhong, L., Natelson, D., & Tour, J. M. (2010) Resistive Switches and Memories from Silicon Oxide. Nano Letters. DOI: 10.1021/nl102255r  

L. Borsten, D. Dahanayake, M. J. Duff, A. Marrani, & W. Rubens. (2010) Four-qubit entanglement from string theory. Phys.Rev.Lett.105:100507,2010. arXiv: 1005.4915v2

  • September 3, 2010
  • 06:48 PM

Psychological Flexibility Improves Your Health and Well-Being

by Ultimo167 in Strong Silent Types

Could it be that becoming more psychologically flexible could effectively heal much psychopathology? Kashdan and Rottenberg (2010) seem to think so.... Read more »

  • September 3, 2010
  • 06:31 PM

Open letter to anti-vaccinationists

by thomastu in Disease Prone

Some people have commented to me in person (and online) that I was a little brash in calling those violently opposed vaccinations as evil or ignorant. Also, that I might be completely shutting off dialogue and having people immediately list me as one of those pro-vaccination whores. I thought about this for a long time [...]... Read more »

  • September 3, 2010
  • 05:07 PM

Helper Microbes and Heavy Metals…

by microbialmodus in Microbial Modus

Last week, the American Society for Microbiology posted a story that caught my eye which highlighted the most recent work of Kim Lewis and his collaborators published in Chemistry and Biology in March (see citation below).  It caught my eye due to the term “siderophores” in the title.  You may be wondering why a strange [...]... Read more »

D'Onofrio A, Crawford JM, Stewart EJ, Witt K, Gavrish E, Epstein S, Clardy J, & Lewis K. (2010) Siderophores from neighboring organisms promote the growth of uncultured bacteria. Chemistry , 17(3), 254-64. PMID: 20338517  

  • September 3, 2010
  • 01:13 PM

Monster pythons of the Everglades: Inside Nature's Giants series 2, part II

by Darren Naish in Tetrapod Zoology

Episode 2 of series 2 of Inside Nature's Giants was devoted to pythons (for an article reviewing ep 1, go here). Specifically, to Burmese pythons Python molurus. And, quite right too. Snakes are among the weirdest and most phenomenally modified of tetrapods: in contrast to we boring tetrapodal tetrapods with our big limb girdles, long limbs and less than 100 vertebrae, we're talking about tubular reptiles with a few hundred vertebrae, stretched organs, distensible jaws and total or virtual a........ Read more »

  • September 3, 2010
  • 12:43 PM

Your Home: A Cancer Survival Tool?

by Kari Kenefick in Promega Connections

Research published in Cell, July 9, 2010, provides compelling evidence for an environmental component for cancer survival, that is a macro environmental component. While other studies have examined the effects of diet and exercise and even toxicological components on cancer susceptibility, Cao et al. studied mice living in an “enriched housing environment” that included more [...]... Read more »

  • September 3, 2010
  • 11:13 AM

Are "Antipsychotics" Antipsychotics?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

This is the question asked by Tilman Steinert & Martin Jandl in a letter to the journal Psychopharmacology.They point out that in the past 20 years, the word "antipsychotic" has exploded in popularity. Less than 100 academic papers were published with that word in the title in 1990, but now it's over 600.The older term for the same drugs was "neuroleptics". This terminology, however, has slowly but surely fallen into disuse over the same time period.To illustrate this they have a nice graph ........ Read more »

Tilman Steinert and Martin Jandl. (2010) Are antipsychotics antipsychotics? . Psychopharmacology. DOI: 10.1007/s00213-010-1927-3  

  • September 3, 2010
  • 10:44 AM

Human, quadruped: Uner Tan Syndrome, part 1

by gregdowney in Neuroanthropology

The photos that accompanied news releases about quadrupedal people living in Turkey, members of a family that allegedly could not walk except on hands and feet, looked staged when I first saw them. Three women and one man scrambling across rocky ground, the women in brightly coloured clothing, the sky radiant blue behind them, their eyes forward and backsides high in the air – like children engaged in some sort of awkward race at a field day or sporting carnival.
Members of a Turkish family ........ Read more »

Herz J, Boycott KM, & Parboosingh JS. (2008) "Devolution" of bipedality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(21). PMID: 18487453  

Humphrey, Nicholas, Stefan Mundlos, & Seval Türkmen. (2008) Genes and quadrupedal locomotion in humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science , 105(21). DOI: 10.1073 pnas.0802839105  

Susanne M. Morton,, & Amy J. Bastian. (2007) Mechanisms of cerebellar gait ataxia. The Cerebellum, 6(1), 79-86. DOI: 10.1080/14734220601187741  

Tayfun Ozcelik, Nurten Akarsu, Elif Uz, Safak Caglayan, Suleyman Gulsuner, Onur Emre Onat, Meliha Tan, & Uner Tan. (2008) Mutations in the very low-density lipoprotein receptor VLDLR cause cerebellar hypoplasia and quadrupedal locomotion in humans. . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(11), 4232-4236. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0710010105  

Ozcelik, Tayfun,, Nurten Akarsu,, Elif Uz,, Safak Caglayan,, Suleyman Gulsuner,, Onur Emre Onat,, Meliha Tan,, & Uner Tan. (2008) Reply to Herz et al. and Humphrey et al.: Genetic heterogeneity of cerebellar hypoplasia with quadrupedal locomotion. . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(23). DOI: 10.1073 pnas.0804078105  

Thelen, E.,, & Ulrich, B. D. (1991) Hidden skills: A dynamic systems analysis of treadmill stepping during the first year. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 56(1), 1-98. DOI: 10.2307/1166099  

  • September 3, 2010
  • 10:43 AM

My E. coli brother's keeper

by The Curious Wavefunction in The Curious Wavefunction

Would an anti-indole work?Antibiotic resistance is one of the best examples of evolution in real-time and it’s also one of the most serious medical problems of our time. Emerging resistance in bacteria like MRSA threatens to bring on a wave of epidemics that may remind us of past, more unseemly times.Given the threat that antibiotic resistance poses, it is paramount to understand the mechanisms behind this process. While considerable progress has been made in understanding the genetic basis of........ Read more »

Lee HH, Molla MN, Cantor CR, & Collins JJ. (2010) Bacterial charity work leads to population-wide resistance. Nature, 467(7311), 82-5. PMID: 20811456  

  • September 3, 2010
  • 10:14 AM

In Southern Utah, a Hadrosaur Left Quite an Impression

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

When Charles H. Sternberg and his sons excavated one of the first hadrosaur mummies ever found, in the summer of 1908, it was a major discovery. For nearly a century naturalists and paleontologists could only imagine what a dinosaur’s skin was like, but the Edmontosaurus the Sternbergs collected gave scientists an unprecedented look at the [...]... Read more »


  • September 3, 2010
  • 09:22 AM

How bacteria die - SGM series

by Lab Rat in Lab Rat

This is the second post of my SGM conference series and the topic is Microbial Death. I was very interested in this one as a topic, because the mechanisms that lead to bacterial death aren't something I've covered so much. It's generally assumed that antibiotics screw up whatever they target such that the bacteria can no longer survive, and when they aren't around the bacteria just keep dividing.There were two talks concerning antibiotics in bacterial death, the first addressing a theory that's ........ Read more »

Kohanski MA, Dwyer DJ, Hayete B, Lawrence CA, & Collins JJ. (2007) A common mechanism of cellular death induced by bactericidal antibiotics. Cell, 130(5), 797-810. PMID: 17803904  

Ivana Bjedov, Olivier Tenaillon, Bénédicte Gérard, Valeria Souza, Erick Denamur, Miroslav Radman, François Taddei, Ivan Matic. (2003) Stress-Induced Mutagenesis in Bacteria. Science, 1404-1409. DOI: 10.1126/science.1082240  

  • September 3, 2010
  • 09:17 AM

Dirty Browsers – Determining a menu for North America’s fossil camels

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Even with the young politician Jefferson Davis behind their adoption by the military, camels were a hard sell to the U.S. government. Along with other military men, Davis was convinced that camels could replace horses as the standard beasts of burden used by cavalry on the ever-expanding western frontier, but most congressmen and senators balked [...]... Read more »

  • September 3, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Six Sigma Cola

by David Bradley in SciScoop Science Forum

A management strategy developed by electronics giant Motorola in the 1980s could help Coca Cola reduce the amount of water it uses to make its products, cut overall energy demands and trim its carbon footprint, according to a study published in the International Journal of Six Sigma and Competitive Advantage. Numerous companies, including Volvo, Nokia [...]... Read more »

Tarek Sadraoui, Ayadi Afef, & Jallouli Fayza. (2010) Six Sigma: a new practice for reducing water consumption within Coca Cola industry. International Journal of Six Sigma and Competitive Advantage, 6(1/2), 53-76. DOI: 10.1504/IJSSCA.2010.034856  

  • September 3, 2010
  • 07:00 AM

European man, Y chromosomes & tea leaves

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

Sometimes in applied fields artistic license is constrained by the necessity of function to particular creative channels. Architecture comes to mind, at least before innovative technologies produced lighter and stronger materials, freeing up form from its straight-jacket (whether this was a positive development is a matter of taste). But there’s only so much you can [...]... Read more »

Myres NM, Rootsi S, Lin AA, Järve M, King RJ, Kutuev I, Cabrera VM, Khusnutdinova EK, Pshenichnov A, Yunusbayev B.... (2010) A major Y-chromosome haplogroup R1b Holocene era founder effect in Central and Western Europe. European journal of human genetics : EJHG. PMID: 20736979  

  • September 3, 2010
  • 06:36 AM

Using models to link different varieties of data

by Becky in It Takes 30

One of the fundamental problems in systems biology is that many important decisions get made at the level of individual cells, but most of the measurement techniques we have (mass spectroscopy, Western blots…) report data on the behavior of populations.  And much of the time it’s hard to relate what you see on the single-cell [...]... Read more »

Pfeifer AC, Kaschek D, Bachmann J, Klingmüller U, & Timmer J. (2010) Model-based extension of high-throughput to high-content data. BMC systems biology, 4(1), 106. PMID: 20687942  

  • September 3, 2010
  • 06:25 AM

What happens when you teach monkeys to use money?

by Duncan Hull in O'Really?

Freakonomics and its successor Superfreakonomics are two books by the economist Steven Levitt and his partner in crime Stephen Dubner that have a common theme running through them (quote): “People respond to incentives, although not necessarily in ways that are predictable and manifest. Therefore, one of the most powerful laws in the universe is the [...]... Read more »

Lakshminaryanan, V., Chen, M., & Santos, L. (2008) Endowment effect in capuchin monkeys. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 363(1511), 3837-3844. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0149  

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