Post List

  • December 17, 2009
  • 10:49 PM

BOGUS: Today Tonight on Fish Oil, Weight Loss and Holograms

by Michael Slezak in Good, Bad, and Bogus

I’ve been reluctant to call bogus on science reporting from shows like Today Tonight or A Current Affair because, well, it’s just too easy. That, and I don’t watch them.
It feels kind of cheap picking on Today Tonight when they feel the necessity to put at the bottom of the idiotic reporting on their website [...]... Read more »

Hagen KB, Byfuglien MG, Falzon L, Olsen SU, & Smedslund G. (2009) Dietary interventions for rheumatoid arthritis. Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online). PMID: 19160281  

Leon, H., Shibata, M., Sivakumaran, S., Dorgan, M., Chatterley, T., & Tsuyuki, R. (2008) Effect of fish oil on arrhythmias and mortality: systematic review. BMJ, 337(dec23 2). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.a2931  

  • December 17, 2009
  • 10:22 PM

A Doublet of Solid Tumor Genomes

by Keith Robison in Omics! Omics!

Nature this week published two papers describing the complete sequencing of a cancer cell line (small cell lung cancer (SCLC) NCI-H209 and melanoma COLO-829) each along with a "normal" cell line from the same individual. I'll confess a certain degree of disappointment at first as these papers are not rich in the information of greatest interest to me, but they have grown on me. Plus, it's rather churlish to complain when I have nothing comparable to offer myself.Both papers have a good deal of........ 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  

Pleasance, E., Cheetham, R., Stephens, P., McBride, D., Humphray, S., Greenman, C., Varela, I., Lin, M., Ordóñez, G., Bignell, G.... (2009) A comprehensive catalogue of somatic mutations from a human cancer genome. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08658  

  • December 17, 2009
  • 09:53 PM

Neti Pots for Sinus Congestion: Validated science?

by Scott in Science-Based Pharmacy

Neti pots have moved from the fringe to the mainstream over the past few years. Traditionally used to treat sinus problems, their popularity exploded in 2007 when Oprah covered them on her show. Requests flooded the pharmacy I worked at. The pharmacy’s owner ordered in a case, and they  disappeared in days. Given Oprah’s poor record at identifying credible sources of medical information, [...]... Read more »

Pynnonen, M., Mukerji, S., Kim, H., Adams, M., & Terrell, J. (2007) Nasal Saline for Chronic Sinonasal Symptoms: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Archives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, 133(11), 1115-1120. DOI: 10.1001/archotol.133.11.1115  

  • December 17, 2009
  • 08:30 PM

What’s More Potent, Testosterone or the Power of Belief?

by David DiSalvo in Neuronarrative

When most people think of testosterone, words like “aggression,” “dominance,” and “violence” usually come to mind. Those words are memetically linked with testosterone the way “expensive” is linked with diamonds, and most of us have adopted the linkage without thinking much about it. Collectively, we’ve adopted a “folk hypothesis” about testosterone–a generalized presupposition grounded in folk wisdom assumed to be correct........ Read more »

  • December 17, 2009
  • 05:46 PM

Mapping our microbes

by geekheartsscience in geek!

Researchers have successfully mapped the different microbial communities over the whole body according to research by Costello and colleagues published in Science this week.
The human body is home to trillions of bacteria, so many that in fact bacteria outnumber our own cells by 10 to 1. The human body’s microbiota (the microorganisms that live inside [...]... Read more »

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 17, 2009
  • 04:54 PM

Feeling the pain of others

by Mo in Neurophilosophy

HOW do you react when you see somebody else in pain? Most of us can empathize with someone who is sick or has been injuered - we can quite easily put ourselves "in their shoes" and understand, to some extent, what they are feeling. We can share their emotional experience, because observing their pain activates regions of the brain which are involved in processing the emotional aspects of pain.
But can seeing somebody else in pain actually cause pain in the observer? People with mirror-touch syna........ Read more »

  • December 17, 2009
  • 04:48 PM

How many slices does it take to accurately judge personality and intelligence?

by Dave Munger in Cognitive Daily

Suppose your organization is interviewing candidates for an important job. Would it be better for one trusted person to have an extended interview with them, or for several people to talk to them for less time? How many people would you need to conduct the interviews? Would three be enough? Would ten be too many? If ten is good, wouldn't twenty be even better?

We've discussed thin-slicing studies before -- the idea that a few brief exposures to an individual can give just as accurate an impress........ Read more »

Borkenau, P., Mauer, N., Riemann, R., Spinath, F., & Angleitner, A. (2004) Thin Slices of Behavior as Cues of Personality and Intelligence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86(4), 599-614. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.86.4.599  

  • December 17, 2009
  • 02:19 PM
  • 1,807 views and PLoS work together to measure the impact of journal articles

by Dave Munger in News

With over 800,000 journal articles published in 2008 alone, it’s impossible even for experts to read all the peer-reviewed research published in their fields. So how do they choose which articles to read? How do non-experts decide which articles are the most important? Until recently, there really wasn’t an effective way to assess the importance [...]... Read more »

  • December 17, 2009
  • 02:00 PM

People really are happier in those US states identified as having better 'quality of life'

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

With our political leaders giving serious consideration to adopting population well-being, or 'happiness', as their ultimate goal (rather than economic prosperity), there is a greater need than ever to ensure that our scientific measures of the concept are valid. Prior research in this area has tended to involve asking large samples of people how satisfied they are with their lives. But how do we know that their answers are really trustworthy and accurate? Now Andrew Oswald and Stephen Wu have c........ Read more »

AJ Oswald, & S Wu. (2009) Objective confirmation of subjective measures of human well-being: Evidence from the USA. Science. info:/

  • December 17, 2009
  • 11:22 AM

Don't Try This At Home

by Brian Koberlein in Upon Reflection

Electricity plays a central role in our modern lives. It lights our homes, starts our cars, and runs the computer from which you read this journal. It's hard to believe that not long ago we knew almost nothing about this...... Read more »

  • December 17, 2009
  • 10:11 AM

Caring for children with autism: Avoiding time pressure for better mental health?

by Nestor Lopez-Duran PhD in Child-Psych

Caring for children with autism, especially those with severe autism, is often extremely challenging for the entire family. Some children with autism require continuous monitoring throughout their childhoods and beyond, and the costs associated with the most common interventions and assessments can place major strains on the family’s resources. While some studies have found that mothers of children with [...]... Read more »

  • December 17, 2009
  • 09:35 AM

Mendel gets complicated

by Kent in Uncommon Ground

One of the principles we teach in introductory biology is that in diploids the relationship between genotype and phenotype depends only on the alleles that an individual carries, not on the parent from which it inherited those alleles. For example,...... Read more »

Kong, A., Steinthorsdottir, V., Masson, G., Thorleifsson, G., Sulem, P., Besenbacher, S., Jonasdottir, A., Sigurdsson, A., Kristinsson, K., Jonasdottir, A.... (2009) Parental origin of sequence variants associated with complex diseases. Nature, 462(7275), 868-874. DOI: 10.1038/nature08625  

  • December 17, 2009
  • 06:45 AM

Climate change, overfishing: together catastrophic for shallow reefs

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

... Read more »

  • December 17, 2009
  • 06:26 AM

The ever-changing world of dendritic spines

by kubke in Building Blogs of Science

Santiago Ramón y Cajal originally described spines in the dendrites of neurons in the cerebellum back in the late 19th century, but it wasn’t until the mid 1950’s with the development of the electron microscope that these structures were shown to be synaptic structures. Although it has been known that the number of dendritic spines [...]... Read more »

  • December 17, 2009
  • 05:30 AM

(Podcast) Obesity's dangerous. Period.

by Yoni Freedhoff in Weighty Matters

Why?Not sure.But Dr. Jennifer Kuk and Dr. Chris Arden from my undergraduate Alma mater York University in Toronto recently published a paper that looked at 6,011 adults and then subdivided them into those who were "metabolically normal" and obese and "metabolically abnormal" and obese and then followed those individuals' mortality rates over the course of 10 years.The results?Obesity doesn't generally occur in the absence of metabolic abnormalities (only about 6% of the obese folks fall into thi........ Read more »

  • December 16, 2009
  • 09:51 PM

Parastie competition enhances host survival

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

Contracting a parasite is bad. But is getting colonized by multiple parasitic species worse? This is an interesting and important question. The host is a resource, which can support a limited number of parasitic individuals, and so how does competition affect parasitic species and host mortality?This was the premise of a recent paper by Oliver Balmer and colleagues, studying trypanosome infection of mice hosts. They engineered two transgeneic strains of the protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma brucei........ Read more »

  • December 16, 2009
  • 09:51 PM

A single residue dictates a fold

by Michael Clarkson in Conformational Flux

Anfinsen's dogma — that the amino acid sequence of a protein uniquely determines its structure — naturally leads one to the idea that identity between amino acid sequences means identity between structures. This has proven to be a successful paradigm: sequence similarity reliably predicts structural and functional similarity. Evidence accruing in recent years, however, suggests that for small proteins, at least, this assumption may not be entirely safe. Adding to this view, in a........ Read more »

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  

  • December 16, 2009
  • 07:56 PM

say, how far away is that black hole?

by Greg Fish in weird things

Trying to pin down the distance between our planet and a nearby black hole is a very tricky business. By virtue of being pinpoints of self-gravitating energy, black holes are usually about the size of a big city and very hard to observe directly. Their small size is also what makes it so difficult to [...]... Read more »

J. C. A. Miller-Jones, P. G. Jonker, V. Dhawan, W. Brisken, M. P. Rupen, G. Nelemans, & E. Gallo. (2009) The first accurate parallax distance to a black hole. ApJ Letters. arXiv: 0910.5253v1

  • December 16, 2009
  • 04:38 PM

On cancer genomes

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

We’re just dipping our toes into the oceans of information from large-scale genome sequencing. We’re at the point now where sequencing a human genome is, not routine, but not extraordinary. The most recent examples of this are two groups who sequenced the genome of a cancer (one group did a lung cancer, the [...]... 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  

Pleasance, E., Cheetham, R., Stephens, P., McBride, D., Humphray, S., Greenman, C., Varela, I., Lin, M., Ordóñez, G., Bignell, G.... (2009) A comprehensive catalogue of somatic mutations from a human cancer genome. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08658  

  • December 16, 2009
  • 04:08 PM

Atypical Antipsychotics For Depression: Now With "Considerable Evidence"

by CL Psych in Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry

I've been wanting to write about this for months. Here goes. We know that antipsychotics are the new panacea for all things mental health-related, including depression (1, 2, 3). But critics kept pointing to a pesky lack of evidence that such treatments actually worked. Bristol-Myers Squibb, manufacturer of Abilify, has been running a disinformation campaign in medical journals to tout its drug as an antidepressant. Their attempts to paint a positive picture of Abilify's antidepressant prop........ Read more »

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SMG Technology.

To learn more, visit