Post List

  • August 1, 2010
  • 06:04 PM

Man as "Monkeys Wearing Pants": Why Humans Make Poor Money Choices

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

I don't read many economic blogs but one I do follow is Barry Rithholtz's The Big Picture.  Barry acknowledges the limitations of human decision making and knowledge.  His economic approach is a refreshing humbleness.  He has stated that we need to remember that man is not far removed from our primate ancestors---we are basically "monkeys wearing pants".   Understanding this, his investment approach is to know that all decisions may be influenced by bias of our monkey-based b........ Read more »

  • August 1, 2010
  • 05:56 PM

“Cosmological Models with No Big Bang” by Wun-Yi Shu

by S.C. Kavassalis in The Language of Bad Physics

Why Shu's “Cosmological Models with No Big Bang” does not suggest a valid cosmological model.... Read more »

Wun-Yi Shu. (2010) Cosmological Models with No Big Bang. arXiv. arXiv: 1007.1750v1

Perlmutter, S., Aldering, G., Goldhaber, G., Knop, R., Nugent, P., Castro, P., Deustua, S., Fabbro, S., Goobar, A., Groom, D.... (1999) Measurements of Ω and Λ from 42 High‐Redshift Supernovae. The Astrophysical Journal, 517(2), 565-586. DOI: 10.1086/307221  

Bianchi, E., Rovelli, C., & Kolb, R. (2010) Cosmology forum: Is dark energy really a mystery?. Nature, 466(7304), 321-322. DOI: 10.1038/466321a  

Sean M. Carroll. (2000) The Cosmological Constant. LivingRev.Rel.4:1,2001. arXiv: astro-ph/0004075v2

  • August 1, 2010
  • 10:00 AM

Serotonin in the octopus learning system.

by Mike Mike in Cephalove

          (Note: I apologize if this post seems jargon-ey.  I've tried to explain or reference any hard to get terms, but I do assume that readers know the very basics of neural functioning.  If you need a primer on this, check out wikipedia's page on neurons or this great tutorial.  Feel free to post in the comments if there's anything you want explained more thoroughly, and I'll give it a crack.)      &........ Read more »

  • August 1, 2010
  • 06:05 AM

azolla & endosymbiosis

by alison in bioblog

There are other photosynthesisers besides Volvox, living in our fishpond. Bigger plants include waterlilies, various sedges, & Elodea. And at this time of year the surface is covered by a carpet of duckweed, but when summer comes the Azolla will tend to take...... Read more »

L.Ran, J.Larsson, T.Vigil-Stenman, J.A.A.Nylander, K.Ininbergs, W-W.Zheng, A.Lapidus, S.Lowry, R.Haselkorn . (2010) Genome erosion in a nitrogen-fixing vertically transmitted endosymbiotic multicellular cyanobacterium. PLoS ONE, 5(7). info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0011486

  • August 1, 2010
  • 03:38 AM

alt cosmology paper reinvents the big crunch

by Greg Fish in weird things

Extending my previous note on the state of many papers submitted to arXiv today, the view hungry editors at the Technology Review blog decided to do a very, very generous write-up for a paper that predicts a universe with no Big Bang and while explaining a few odd observations related to certain supernovae, forgets to [...]... Read more »

Wun-Yi Shu. (2010) Cosmological Models with No Big Bang. n/a. arXiv: 1007.1750v1

  • July 31, 2010
  • 04:37 PM

The Power of Touch

by Livia Blackburne in A Brain Scientist's Take on Writing

Touch imagery has always been a useful storytelling tool. Even when we're not putting together a lyrical masterpiece, it sneaks into our language. We talk about warm smiles, slippery personalities, getting caught between a rock and a hard place.

As it turns out, touch imagery might be more than just a product of an overactive metaphor engine. It may have something to do with the underlying way our brain structures our thoughts. Psychologists sometimes call it the scaffolded mind hypothesi........ Read more »

  • July 31, 2010
  • 02:48 PM

Newsflash: a possible mechanism for Parkinson’s disease

by Sam W in From C to Carnivore

Mutations in the allele LRRK2 is used to test for Parkinson’s disease. It’s a gain-of-function mutation that causes familial as well as sporadical Parkinson’s. But so far, no one really knew what LRRK2 actually does. Now, a new study shows that pathogenic (=disease causing) LRRK2 prevents the correct function of certain miRNAs. miRNAs are RNAs [...]... Read more »

  • July 31, 2010
  • 12:35 PM

Motor imagery enhances object recognition

by Mo in Neurophilosophy

THOUGHTS and actions are intimately linked, and the mere thought of an action is much like actually performing it. The brain prepares for an action by generating a motor simulation of it, praticising its execution of the movements by going through the motions invisibly. Seeing a manipulable object such as a tool, for example, automatically triggers a simulation of using it - a mental image of reaching out and grasping it with the hand that is nearest to the handle.  

Motor simulations and ........ Read more »

  • July 31, 2010
  • 12:20 PM

The Jaws of Death: How Spiny Dogfish Destroy Their Prey

by Chuck in Ya Like Dags?

One of the paradoxes of public opinion on dogfish is that they’re simultaneously considered a swimming wall of teeth annihilating everything in their path and wussy, poor excuses for sharks.  I’ve heard a lot of hearsay about the “weak bite” … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • July 31, 2010
  • 10:44 AM

Feel like I-dosing?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

A few months ago my facebook friends in the US started mentioning it. Only a few weeks later it appeared in the news in Europe, generating a lot of noise in Belgium last week when I-dosing or ‘binaural beats’ were condemned as a form of narcotics.The phenomenon of ‘binaural beats’ was first described in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove. It is the sensation of hearing interference beats when two slightly different frequencies are played separately to each ear. The rate of the ‘perceived’........ Read more »

  • July 31, 2010
  • 12:11 AM

A huge scan through cancer genomes

by Keith Robison in Omics! Omics!

Genentech and Affymetrix just published a huge paper in Nature using a novel technology to scan 4Mb in 441 tumor genomes for mutations, the largest number of tumor samples screened for many genes. Dan Koboldt over at MassGenomics has given a nice overview of the paper, but there are some bits I'd like to fill in as well. I'll blame some of my sloth in getting this out to the fact I was reading back through a chain of papers to really understand the core technique, but that's a weak excuse.It's........ Read more »

Kan Z, Jaiswal BS, Stinson J, Janakiraman V, Bhatt D, Stern HM, Yue P, Haverty PM, Bourgon R, Zheng J.... (2010) Diverse somatic mutation patterns and pathway alterations in human cancers. Nature. PMID: 20668451  

  • July 30, 2010
  • 10:32 PM

Men Murdering the Women They Love

by Ultimo167 in Strong Silent Types

The underlying motivation for why 15 men in Israel had murdered or attempted to murder their female partners is explored here with considerable insight and tact by Elisha et al. (2009). The authors call for increased research into the 'types' of men who perpetrate such despicable acts.... Read more »

  • July 30, 2010
  • 07:26 PM

Viruses are (NOT) objectively better than bacteria

by James Byrne in Disease Prone

Thomas approached me long ago with a simple yet misguided premise; viruses are objectively better than bacteria. I’ve been playfully criticising virology for years and it sounds like I finally broke him. In any case we went back to our respective corners to put forward our respective cases. We each wrote our own arguments separately and next week you will hear our rebuttals. You got to read Thomas’ attempt at an argument last week so without any further ado…
Viruses are objec........ Read more »

  • July 30, 2010
  • 06:04 PM

Fish Market: Competition gets clients better treatment from cleaner fish

by Matt Soniak in

Game theory models based on repeated interactions between two individuals have often been the framework for understanding cooperative interactions in humans, but these models rarely apply in nature. Non-human animals, after all, rarely find themselves in situations like the “prisoner’s dilemma.”
Instead, partner choice and competition are emerging as the framework for understanding cooperation in the [...]... Read more »

  • July 30, 2010
  • 04:00 PM

Does drinking beer increase your attractiveness .... to mosquitoes?

by Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog

The anopheles mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, is the primary vector for human malaria. Mosquitoes in general, the A. gambiae included, find their prey by tracking body odor exuded from the breath and skin. Apparently, the composition of body odor determines A. gambiae's preference for one individual over another. It has been known for some time now that A. gambiae preferentially seek out and draw blood from pregnant women (Linsay et al 2000; Ansell et al 2002; Himeidan, Elbashir and Adam 2004), ........ Read more »

Lefèvre, T., Gouagna, L., Dabiré, K., Elguero, E., Fontenille, D., Renaud, F., Costantini, C., & Thomas, F. (2010) Beer Consumption Increases Human Attractiveness to Malaria Mosquitoes. PLoS ONE, 5(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009546  

  • July 30, 2010
  • 03:30 PM

Koreans, not quite the purest race?

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

PLoS One has a paper out on Korean (South) population genetics and phylogeography, Gene Flow between the Korean Peninsula and Its Neighboring Countries:
SNP markers provide the primary data for population structure analysis. In this study, we employed whole-genome autosomal SNPs as a marker set (54,836 SNP markers) and tested their possible effects on genetic ancestry [...]... Read more »

Jung J0, Kang H, Cho YS, Oh JH, & Ryu MH. (2010) Gene Flow between the Korean Peninsula and Its Neighboring Countries. PLoS ONE. info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0011855

  • July 30, 2010
  • 02:41 PM

It’s all in the toes – Why Old World monkeys change their limb posture to run

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Just by looking at its limbs, you can tell that a cheetah is born to run. Not only does this felid have non-retractable claws which act like cleats on a runner's shoe - a unique feature among big cats - but it also has the familiar tip-toe limb posture which allows the carnivore to reach [...]... Read more »

  • July 30, 2010
  • 02:28 PM

What Makes Humans Unique ?(III): Self-Domestication, Social Cognition, and Physical Cognition

by Michael in A Replicated Typo 2.0

In my last post I summed up some proposals for what (among other things) makes human cognition unique. But one thing that we should bear in mind, I think, is that our cognitive style may more be something of an idiosyncrasy due to a highly specific cognitive specialization instead of a definitive quantitative and qualitative advance over other styles of animal cognition. In this post I will look at studies which further point in that direction.... Read more »

Hare, B., & Tomasello, M. (2005) Human-like social skills in dogs?. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9(9), 439-444. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2005.07.003  

  • July 30, 2010
  • 11:26 AM

Somatic Mutations in Four Human Cancers

by Daniel Koboldt in Massgenomics

In a letter to Nature this week, a group from Genentech presents an elegant analysis of 2,576 somatic mutations across 441 tumors comprised of breast, lung, ovarian, and prostate cancer types and subtypes. Using something called “mismatch repair detection” (MRD) technology, the authors surveyed 1,507 candidate genes spanning some 4 megabases of sequence, largely comprised [...]... Read more »

Kan Z, Jaiswal BS, Stinson J, Janakiraman V, Bhatt D, Stern HM, Yue P, Haverty PM, Bourgon R, Zheng J.... (2010) Diverse somatic mutation patterns and pathway alterations in human cancers. Nature. PMID: 20668451  

  • July 30, 2010
  • 11:23 AM

It takes one to know one?

by Kris-Stella in Coffee Shop Philosophy

Are most people nice, happy, trustworthy and interesting? Or do people usually strike you as cold, grumpy and not to be trusted? How you answer can tell us something about you. In a recent psychology article, Wood et al. explore "perceiver effects", or in other words how your own personality affects your perception of others.They show that our personality affects perceptions of others with respect to one major factor: how positively we view other people. If we see others as relatively happy, we ........ Read more »

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