A new study by researchers at the University of Southern California (USC), led by Professor Chuong Cheng Ming, reveals how stem cells contribute to the unique and complex patterns bird feathers have. Surprisingly, the study has implications in the field of regenerative medicine, say the researchers.Read More... Read more »
Lin, S., Foley, J., Jiang, T., Yeh, C., Wu, P., Foley, A., Yen, C., Huang, Y., Cheng, H., Chen, C.... (2013) Topology of Feather Melanocyte Progenitor Niche Allows Complex Pigment Patterns to Emerge. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1230374
Despite decades of research, relatively little is known about the identity of RNA molecules that are transported as part of the molecular process underpinning learning and memory.... Read more »
Office of Communications | Press Release. (2013) Scientists Create Novel Approach to Find RNAs Involved in Long-term Memory Storage. The Scripps Research Institute. info:/
The paper I wrote with Alfonso Farina and Matteo Sedehi about the link between the Tartaglia-Pascal triangle and quantum mechanics is now online (see here). This paper contains as a statement my theorem that provides a connection between the square root of a Wiener process and the Schrödinger equation that arose a lot of interest [...]... Read more »
Farina, A., Frasca, M., & Sedehi, M. (2013) Solving Schrödinger equation via Tartaglia/Pascal triangle: a possible link between stochastic processing and quantum mechanics. Signal, Image and Video Processing. DOI: 10.1007/s11760-013-0473-y
Marco Frasca. (2012) Quantum mechanics is the square root of a stochastic process. arXiv. arXiv: 1201.5091v2
Farina, A., Giompapa, S., Graziano, A., Liburdi, A., Ravanelli, M., & Zirilli, F. (2011) Tartaglia-Pascal’s triangle: a historical perspective with applications. Signal, Image and Video Processing, 7(1), 173-188. DOI: 10.1007/s11760-011-0228-6
The aim of this year’s Rare Disease Day, Rare Disorders Without Borders, was to promote the message that international collaboration between patients, clinicians and researchers is imperative to find cures for rare diseases. Indeed, this has been the feeling of … Continue reading →... Read more »
McCormack FX, Inoue Y, Moss J, Singer LG, Strange C, Nakata K, Barker AF, Chapman JT, Brantly ML, Stocks JM.... (2011) Efficacy and safety of sirolimus in lymphangioleiomyomatosis. The New England journal of medicine, 364(17), 1595-606. PMID: 21410393
O'Connor, D. (2013) Orphan drug designation – Europe, the USA and Japan. Expert Opinion on Orphan Drugs, 1(4), 255-259. DOI: 10.1517/21678707.2013.769876
Astronomers have found that the gravitational waves are produced even in the spacetime when the two stars, in the extreme conditions, move around each other. This is the proof of the Einstein's gravity theory in the one of the most extreme conditions yet studied.
Einstein's general theory of relativity:
Gravity is the cause of the curvature of spacetime created by the presence of mass and energy, according to the Einstein's general theory of relativity. When two stars move around each other, gravitational waves are produced, energy of the binary system loses out, and the orbital period decreases as the stars come close together.
Pair of stars for experiment:
This test has been done on the PSR J0348 0432, which is one of the great celestial objects in terms of gravity. You can read the features of the binary stars below;
Features of the binary stars
PSR J0348 0432
Extraordinarily heavy neutron star that releases radio waves, which are detectable by the radio telescopes on Earth
Twice as heavy as the Sun but only 20km across
Spins 25 times in a second
White dwarf star
Light in weight
Orbiting around the massive star every two and a half hours that is an extraordinarily short period of time.
"The unusual pair of stars is quite interesting in its own right but we've learned it is also a unique laboratory for testing the limits of one of our most fundamental physical theories, general relativity" says University of Toronto astronomy professor Marten van Kerkwijk, a member of the research team.
What researchers found?
Researchers found a minute but considerable change in the orbital period of the binary, of eight-millionths of a second per year. In order to detect the changes, they used very precise timing of the pulsar's spin-modulated emission with radio telescopes. This shrinking orbit is according to the prediction of the general relativity.
This gives “further confidence that Einstein's theory is a good description of nature – even though we know it is not a complete one, given the unresolved inconsistencies with quantum mechanics." van Kerkwijk said in a statement.
"We really are just at the beginning of our studies of this massive and bizarre stellar object," Bonn PhD student John Antoniadis, said. "It may become the new standard for testing general relativity as time goes on."
Antoniadis, J., Freire, P., Wex, N., Tauris, T., Lynch, R., van Kerkwijk, M., Kramer, M., Bassa, C., Dhillon, V., Driebe, T., Hessels, J., Kaspi, V., Kondratiev, V., Langer, N., Marsh, T., McLaughlin, M., Pennucci, T., Ransom, S., Stairs, I., van Leeuwen, J., Verbiest, J., & Whelan, D. (2013). A Massive Pulsar in a Compact Relativistic Binary Science, 340 (6131), 1233232-1233232 DOI: 10.1126/science.1233232... Read more »
Paleo Diet/Flexitarian Diet The Flexitarian Diet. It sounds like the antithesis of The Paleo Diet. The Paleo diet is very interesting, in psychological terms. It creates order and rules ofThe post The Paleo Diet vs. Flexitarian Diet appeared first on WODMasters Stiff Competition.... Read more »
Ströhle, A., & Hahn, A. (2011) Diets of modern hunter-gatherers vary substantially in their carbohydrate content depending on ecoenvironments: results from an ethnographic analysis. Nutrition Research, 31(6), 429-435. DOI: 10.1016/j.nutres.2011.05.003
Graham, J., Nosek, B., & Haidt, J. (2012) The Moral Stereotypes of Liberals and Conservatives: Exaggeration of Differences across the Political Spectrum. PLoS ONE, 7(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050092
As promised, I started using FISH-Quant to analyze my FISH images. I must say that I enjoy using FQ much better than the previous program that was developed by one of my lab members. I find FQ more intuitive, more informative, … Continue reading →... Read more »
Mueller, F., Senecal, A., Tantale, K., Marie-Nelly, H., Ly, N., Collin, O., Basyuk, E., Bertrand, E., Darzacq, X., & Zimmer, C. (2013) FISH-quant: automatic counting of transcripts in 3D FISH images. Nature Methods, 10(4), 277-278. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.2406
In a fair bit of science fiction, we see advanced alien species use some sort of shielding to walk around other planets or survive being ejected into space. Something around them flickers and a protective invisible bubble is raised, protecting them from a horrible death by dehydration as all the fluid in their bodies effectively boils away. As it turns out, that’s actually possible. [...]... Read more »
Takaku, Y., Suzuki, H., Ohta, I., Ishii, D., Muranaka, Y., Shimomura, M., & Hariyama, T. (2013) A thin polymer membrane, nano-suit, enhancing survival across the continuum between air and high vacuum. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1221341110
by amikulak in Daily Observations
Childhood sexual abuse can have devastating and long-lasting consequences for survivors, yet little research has focused on the factors associated with resiliency following childhood sexual abuse. New research published in The post Predicting Resilience in Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse appeared first on Association for Psychological Science.... Read more »
Whitelock, C., Lamb, M., & Rentfrow, P. (2013) Overcoming Trauma: Psychological and Demographic Characteristics of Child Sexual Abuse Survivors in Adulthood. Clinical Psychological Science. DOI: 10.1177/2167702613480136
University of Chicago researchers have created a synthetic compound that mimics the design principles that support persistent electronic coherence in biological light harvesting systems (or, to put it simply, in the leaves of the plants). This may give scientists new ideas for solar energy technologies.... Read more »
Hayes, D., Griffin, G., & Engel, G. (2013) Engineering Coherence Among Excited States in Synthetic Heterodimer Systems. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1233828
First some history: In 2007, CMS (Medicare) passed a Final Rule, which included the creation of an Independent Donor Advocate. The responsibilities of the IDA are as follows: (1) Representing and advising the donor; (2) protecting and promoting the interests of the donor; and (3) respecting the donor’s decision and ensuring that the donor’s decision … Continue reading »... Read more »
Steel, J., Dunlavy, A., Friday, M., Kingsley, K., Brower, D., Unruh, M., Tan, H., Shapiro, R., Peltz, M., Hardoby, M.... (2012) A National Survey of Independent Living Donor Advocates: The Need for Practice Guidelines. American Journal of Transplantation, 12(8), 2141-2149. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2012.04062.x
Schizophrenia is a disabling brain disorder characterized by psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions.Schizophrenia has a prevalence rate of about 1% of the population with relatively stable rates across nations and cultures.Early brain imaging studies focused on regional evidence of brain atrophy primarily in brain gray matter. However, with the development of diffusion tensor imaging, there is a growing body of research examining white matter changes in schizophrenia. White matter typically functions as connection pathways between brain regions allowing for functional circuitry.Alba-Ferrara and de Erausquin recently summarized what is known about white matter changes in schizophrenia in the journal Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience. Here are some of the key highlights from their review:The diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) measure of white matter integrity known as fractional anisotropy (FA) is an indirect measure that has limitationsFA is felt to reflect abnormalities in white matter myelinization that may produce functional brain impairmentBrain oligodendrocytes are key neuron components in myelin and abnormalities of oligodendrocytes have been identified in schizophreniaGenetic abnormalities identified in schizophrenia include genes related to oligodendrocyte development and regulationFA abnormalities in schizophrenia include evidence for both increased and decreased FA in multiple brain white matter bundles and brain regionsFA has been found to be increased in schizophrenia in the superior longitudinal fasciculus, arcuate fasciculus, corpus callosum, substantia nigra and ventral tegmental areasFA has been found to be decreased in schizophrenia in the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, right anterior corona radiata, left uncinate fasciculus, posterior corona radiata and in whole brainThe distribution of increases in FA are consistent with playing a role in the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, i.e. hallucinations and delusionsThe distribution of decreases in FA are consistent with playing a role in the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, i.e. lack of motivation, apathy, social withdrawalThe authors examined first-degree relatives of individuals with schizophrenia and found evidence of similar (but to a lesser degree) FA abnormalities that have been found in schizophrenic subjectsThese early findings suggest white matter pathology may play a key role in schizophrenia possibly by "aberrant axonal pruning through neurodevelopment leading to maintenance of inefficient/redundant neural networks as in the case of dopaminergic projections".The limitations of FA methodology makes it necessary to cautiously interpret these early studies, new improved white matter analytical techniques are neededI think the authors of this review have provided a good summary of what is known about white matter abnormalities in schizophrenia. Early findings are intriguing but need to be cautiously interpreted. Improved imaging techniques of brain white matter structure and function are needed.Readers with more interest in this topic can access the free full-text review by clicking on the reference below.Photo of sunset in Florida Keys is from the author's files.Alba-Ferrara, L., & de Erausquin, G. (2013). What does anisotropy measure? Insights from increased and decreased anisotropy in selective fiber tracts in schizophrenia Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 7 DOI: 10.3389/fnint.2013.00009... Read more »
Alba-Ferrara, L., & de Erausquin, G. (2013) What does anisotropy measure? Insights from increased and decreased anisotropy in selective fiber tracts in schizophrenia. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience. DOI: 10.3389/fnint.2013.00009
This blog will review two recent publications that explore environmentally friendly advances in biotechnology by exploiting halophilic organisms from the family Halobacteriaceae. Halophiles are found in all kingdoms of life. They employ two different survival mechanisms to cope with their typically inhospitable environment. … Continue reading →... Read more »
Karan Ram, Capes Melinda D, DasSarma Priya, & DasSarma Shiladitya. (2013) Cloning, overexpression, purification, and characterization of a polyextremophilic β-galactosidase from the Antarctic haloarchaeon Halorubrum lacusprofundi. BMC Biotechnology, 13(1), 3. DOI: 10.1186/1472-6750-13-3
Zhao Dahe, Cai Lei, Wu Jinhua, Li Ming, Liu Hailong, Han Jing, Zhou Jian, & Xiang Hua. (2013) Improving polyhydroxyalkanoate production by knocking out the genes involved in exopolysaccharide biosynthesis in Haloferax mediterranei. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 97(7), 3027-3036. DOI: 10.1007/s00253-012-4415-3
When galaxies form new stars, they sometimes do so in frantic episodes of activity known as starbursts. These events were commonplace in the early Universe, but are rarer in nearby galaxies. During these bursts, hundreds of millions of stars are born, and their combined effect can drive a powerful wind that travels out of the … Read More →... Read more »
Sanchayeeta Borthakur, Timothy Heckman, David Strickland, Vivienne Wild, & David Schiminovich. (2013) The Impact of Starbursts on the Circumgalactic Medium. The Astrophysical Journal. arXiv: 1303.1183v2
In a recent article appearing in Organizational Psychology Review, Pillutla and Thau make some very strongly worded arguments about the role of theory development in psychological science. I’ll start exploring their paper with a quote in their own words: The state of [industrial/organizational psychology] and its obsession with novel theoretical contributions is antithetical to the goals of [...]
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Pillutla, M., & Thau, S. (2013) Organizational sciences' obsession with "that's interesting!": Consequences and an alternative. Organizational Psychology Review, 3(2), 187-194. DOI: 10.1177/2041386613479963
Spinal cord injuries can lead to permanent disabilities such as paralysis. Research in rats and mice for new treatments involve severing nerve fibres, which can cause moderate or severe suffering. Professor Sue Barnett, University of Glasgow, who is a 3Rs Prize 2012 runner up, writes about an in vitro technique, funded by NC3Rs, to replace the use of rodents in her laboratory.... Read more »
Boomkamp, S., Riehle, M., Wood, J., Olson, M., & Barnett, S. (2012) The development of a rat in vitro model of spinal cord injury demonstrating the additive effects of rho and ROCK inhibitors on neurite outgrowth and myelination. Glia, 60(3), 441-456. DOI: 10.1002/glia.22278
Astronomers have found such a planetary system orbiting the star Kepler-62. This five-planet system has two worlds in the habitable zone – the distance from their star at which they receive enough light and warmth for liquid water to theoretically exist on their surfaces. Modeling by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) suggests that both planets are water worlds, their surfaces completely covered by a global ocean with no land in sight.... Read more »
David A. Aguilar, & Christine Pulliam. (2013) Two Water Worlds for the Price of One. C f A Press Room. info:/
Two computer models developed by the scientists from the University of New Hampshire show a detailed picture of how thermal power stations interact with climate, hydrology, and aquatic ecosystems. For example, models suggest that while rivers serve as “horizontal cooling towers” that provide an important service to the regional electricity sector, this comes at a cost to the environment.... Read more »
Stewart, R., Wollheim, W., Miara, A., Vörösmarty, C., Fekete, B., Lammers, R., & Rosenzweig, B. (2013) Horizontal cooling towers: riverine ecosystem services and the fate of thermoelectric heat in the contemporary Northeast US. Environmental Research Letters, 8(2), 25010. DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/025010
An international team of researchers, including Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, geochemist James Day, has found new evidence that material contained in oceanic lava flows originated in Earth’s ancient Archean crust. These findings support the theory that much of the Earth’s original crust has been recycled by the process of subduction, helping to explain how the Earth has formed and changed over time.... Read more »
Robert Monroe. (2013) Unique Chemistry Reveals Eruption of Ancient Materials Once at Earth’s Surface. UC San Diego News Center. info:/
When does the the term 'correlation does not equal causation' become a moot point? It's a question I've often pondered, having discussed the issue quite a few times on this blog for all manner of correlations and associations linked to autism (sorry, the autisms).The weight of the heart @ Wikipedia Is there, for example, a recognised tipping point where the weight of evidence correlating A with B might actually lead to the consensus that A causes B either wholly or partially?Yes, I know that science deals with probabilities not absolutes (something which we are all guilty of forgetting from time to time) and that science is generally quite reserved about its findings. But surely as per the example of smoking and lung cancer, there must be a time when the likelihood that A causes B creeps over the 'chance' explanation to something a little more concrete and directional?The reason for the question(s) follows the publication of a study by Jakob Christensen and colleagues* (open-access) which suggested that in large and pretty well-defined Danish cohort "maternal use of valproate during pregnancy was associated with a significantly increased risk of autism spectrum disorder and childhood autism in the offspring". Regular readers might remember that quite recently there was some similar chatter on this antiepileptic medication based on the Bromley paper (see here) but on an altogether smaller scale compared with the current dataset.There has been some media attention paid to the recent trial (see here and here) which is perhaps not surprising given the suggestion that approximately 1 in 20 mothers who were using valproate during pregnancy to control epilepsy or seizure disorders subsequently had a child with autism or an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The actual risk (absolute risk) was quoted as 2.5% and 4.4% respectively based on the 508 children exposed to valproate in-utero. Even the latest 'survey' figures of 1 in 50 children presenting with an ASD in the US are seemingly dwarfed by the Christensen findings.There are obviously caveats to all this talk about risk, and how risk is risk, not certainty. That also valproate is actually quite effective in controlling cases of epilepsy** is a point which should not get lost in any discussions on risk. Indeed when one reads such studies linking drug A to condition B, it's all too easy to forget that drug A is being taken for a reason; often a very important reason. Physicians generally do not enter lightly into such clinical decisions, particularly in light of past scandals of medication and pregnancy (see here). Not forgetting too that epilepsy can, in extreme cases kill***.Outside of the autism-valproate link (if I can call it that) the Christensen data also includes some other potentially interesting factoids, as per the suggestion that among children of mums with epilepsy who were not exposed to valproate during pregnancy (n=6152), the absolute risk of a diagnosis of autism and ASD were 1.02% and 2.44% respectively. I hasten to add that I'm not an expert on risk, absolute risk, but 2.44%, by my reckoning, equates as roundabout 1 in 40 with an ASD born to mums with epilepsy. I'm cautious not to read too much into this just in case I've got it completely wrong but if it is correctly interpreted, might imply some greater connection between offspring autism and a maternal history of epilepsy as per previous findings****.I'm not going to go through all the possible weaknesses in the Christensen paper because the manuscript does that quite well enough itself including some discussion on that folate-autism link. Likewise my previous post on valproate and offspring autism talked about some of the possible mechanisms to account for any effect, so again no need to cover all that ground. There is one tidbit to pick up on: "Valproate is a fatty acid derivative" so the authors report. I've often wondered about this point and the suggested mechanism of seizure control in some cases by use of the ketogenic diet impacting on fatty acids (see the paper by Chang and colleagues*****). Assuming the Chang findings are accurate, does this place more emphasis on the HDAC inhibition side of things when it comes to valproate and offspring autism risk?The question still remains about the 'correlation does not equal causation' mantra with prenatal valproate exposure and offspring autism in mind. The Christensen paper at the very least, makes a really strong case for a lot more detailed inspection of this potential association as once again the use of pharmacotherapy during pregnancy comes under the spotlight.Oh, and just in case you thought I was singling out valproate for special attention in relation to autism, have a look at the recent paper by Dheeraj Raj and colleagues****** (open-access) on prenatal antidepressant exposure and offspring autism risk again adding to the previous literature. Indeed it makes me wonder if that environmental exposome fish experiment carried out a while back might well be a model, albeit with revisions, we need to revisit.A song to close methinks. Something vintage and snazzy today.... Elvis and Viva Las Vegas.----------* Christensen J. et al. Prenatal valproate exposure and risk of autism spectrum disorders and childhood autism. JAMA. 2013; 309: 1696-1703.** Marson AG. et al. The SANAD study of effectiveness of valproate, lamotrigine, or topiramate for generalised and unclassifiable epilepsy: an unblinded randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2007; 369: 1016–1026.*** Berg A. Mortality in epilepsy. Epilepsy Curr. 2001; 1: 28.**** Leonard H. et al. Maternal health in pregnancy and intellectual disability in the offspring: a population-based study. Ann Epidemiol. 2006; 16: 448-454.***** Chang P. et al. Seizure control by ketogenic diet-associated medium chain fatty acids. Neuropharmacology. 2013; 69: 105-114.****** Raj D. et al. Parental depression, maternal antidepressant use during pregnancy, and risk of autism spectrum disorders: population based case-control study. BMJ. 2013; 346: f2059----------... Read more »
Jakob Christensen, Therese Koops Grønborg, Merete Juul Sørensen, Diana Schendel, Erik Thorlund Parner, Lars Henning Pedersen, & Mogens Vestergaard. (2013) Prenatal Valproate Exposure and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders and Childhood Autism. JAMA. info:/
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