Today we are going back in time, to one of the seminal articles in road vulnerability that has laid the groundwork for many researchers, and has been cited by not few authors since it was first published. It is a conceptual paper that provides the basis for why road vulnerability needs to be a more important issue than it usually is considered as. It is also the first paper to develop a framework for measuring road vulnerability.... Read more »
Berdica, K. (2002) An introduction to road vulnerability: what has been done, is done and should be done. Transport Policy, 9(2), 117-127. DOI: 10.1016/S0967-070X(02)00011-2
Kissing is a great way to bond and show affection to your partner, but it also has some physical and health benefits you may not know about. Find out more.... Read more »
Coan, J., Schaefer, H., & Davidson, R. (2006) Lending a Hand: Social Regulation of the Neural Response to Threat. Psychological Science, 17(12), 1032-1039. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01832.x
Floyd, K., Boren, J., Hannawa, A., Hesse, C., McEwan, B., & Veksler, A. (2009) Kissing in Marital and Cohabiting Relationships: Effects on Blood Lipids, Stress, and Relationship Satisfaction. Western Journal of Communication, 73(2), 113-133. DOI: 10.1080/10570310902856071
A couple of years ago, I re-posted an old article of mine about homeopathy discussing its ludicrous claims, its feeble attempts to provide a scientific explanation for those claims, and basically pointing out that no solid evidence has ever been found that infinitely diluted solutions of spurious ingredients have any more beneficial effect on a [...]Homeopathy really doesn’t work is a post from: Sciencebase Science Blog
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What can one do with the nose? If one were Cleopatra of Egypt, she could rule Rome. If one were the unfortunate Sphinx of Egypt, his form minus the nose could become the wonderment of the World. If one were Tycho Brahe, he could remove the nose, for polishing amidst a heated debate or duel, [...]... Read more »
Tattersall, G., Andrade, D., & Abe, A. (2009) Heat Exchange from the Toucan Bill Reveals a Controllable Vascular Thermal Radiator. Science, 325(5939), 468-470. DOI: 10.1126/science.1175553
Can the internet prevent government corruption? You’re probably never going to meet an entirely honest politician, but according to a statistical study by US researchers of 170 countries the internet could provide the tools necessary to reduce corruption significantly.
Martha García-Murillo of the School of Information Studies, at Syracuse University, New York, modeled political, economic and [...]Post from: David Bradley's Sciencetext Tech TalkInternet against government corruption
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Martha García-Murillo. (2010) The effect of internet access on government corruption. Electronic Government, An International Journal, 7(1), 22-40. info:/
The word ‘microprocessor’ is generally used to designate VLSI and SLSI (Very/Super Large Scale Integrated circuits) devices which accept, decode and execute instructions presented in binary coded forms. They may be called the heart of the computer. RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer), on the other hand, is a type of microprocessor architecture that uses a simplified, yet highly-optimized set of instructions to deliver good performance. However, like ‘cell’ and ‘nucleus’, they too have been adopted in biology, and not without reason!Proteins are essential for cells as they perform various functions as enzymes, ion channels, receptors and so on. They are manufactured in the ribosomes, organelles present in the cytoplasm, under the instruction of messenger RNA (mRNA). This instruction code is encoded in the sequence of nucleotides that make the mRNA molecule. However, the sequence of nucleotides in mRNA is dictated in turn by the DNA that is present in the nucleus. Messenger RNA carries this message from the nucleus into the protein production units. But what would happen if we interfered with the ‘message’?RNA interference (RNAi) would occur affecting the regulation of gene expression. Micro RNAs (miRNA) are one of the small RNAs that regulate the expression of protein-encoding-genes, after the mRNA strand has formed. miRNAs have partly or fully complementary sequence to one or more mRNAs. This enables them to latch on to the mRNA molecule masking the ‘instruction codes’ in the mRNA strand, interfering with protein formation (translation). In other words, the gene has been silenced!miRNAs are first transcribed from DNA by the enzyme RNA polymerase II into primary miRNA (pri-miRNA). pri miRNA is then cleaved by another enzyme, RNAse III, called Drosha, into precursor miRNA (pre miRNA) (see the picture on the left). However, Drosha (an RNAase III endonuclease) is assisted by Pasha (partner of Drosha), another enzyme, in this task. Later, it was found out that these two resided in a 500 kilo Dalton complex, called the microprocessor (micro RNA processor). So far, all these have been happening in the nucleus of the cell. The pre miRNA then moves into the cytoplasm through the exportin 5 pathway. Next, Dicer, another RNase III endonuclease, makes a mature miRNA duplex, which is then ‘uploaded’ into a complex called RISC (RNA induced silencing complex). RISC then prevents translation of the mRNA strand, as the ‘partially’ complementary miRNA strand interferes with the translation of the mRNA molecule into specified amino acid sequences can not occur. We can compare complementarity of nucleotide bases in terms of a pair of gloves and its corresponding fingers. The information of the gloves' coordinates gets obliterated by the occupying fingers. This RISC dependent mechanism occurs in parts of the cytoplasm, called P bodies (‘p’ for processing).RNAi is very important for plants as they lack an immune system. Invading organisms can not dictate foreign protein formations as their RNAs are destroyed, not merely inhibited, as is usually seen in higher animals (animal miRNAs exhibit only imperfect homology to the mRNA in contrast to plants, and thus they only inhibit translation). Some of the tumor suppressor genes inhibit tumor formation by the action of miRNAs and not through protein formation. In humans, exploiting RNAi may be a useful tool in combating diseases such as cancer, AIDS etc. So it remains to be seen whether the microprocessor can bring a revolution in medicine and research as its counterpart in electronics did in the field of computing.Last modified: neverReference: Saumet, A., & Lecellier, C. (2006). Anti-viral RNA silencing: do we look like plants ? Retrovirology, 3 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1742-4690-3-3Processing of primary microRNAs by the Microprocessor complex. doi:10.1038/nature03049WikipediaThe Macro World of MicroRNA (pdf)... Read more »
Saumet, A., & Lecellier, C. (2006) Anti-viral RNA silencing: do we look like plants ?. Retrovirology, 3(1), 3. DOI: 10.1186/1742-4690-3-3
With Copenhagen on the horizon, is it time to check over the physics and chemistry behind the climate change debate? SciScoop has spoken to several scientists recently who would say so, some of whom consider the climate change debate nothing more than a hell-on-earth scenario to give governments a taxation stick with which to beat [...]... Read more »
Willett, K., Gillett, N., Jones, P., & Thorne, P. (2007) Attribution of observed surface humidity changes to human influence. Nature, 449(7163), 710-712. DOI: 10.1038/nature06207
Climate modeling is hard. The Earth’s climate system is complex, with infinite interactions and feedbacks that interact across scales. There is often uncertainty, and a result the models are inherently imprecise.Nonetheless, they’re a powerful tool, and they get better every day. Scaling down these models is critical to providing a better prediction of future climate and rainfall patterns. And a recent study in Environment, Development and Sustainability does exactly this to show what impacts of climate change might occur in Mexico.The paper analyzes the biophysical conditions of the landscape, and its human alterations, to determine the vulnerability and resilience of Mexico’s ecosystems as they experiences changes in climate. The researchers employ the Vulnerability Resilience Indicators Model (VRIM), a set of proxy indicators to characterize not only the capacity to cope with changes in climate, but also the sensitivity to such changes.The components of resilience include the human resources, economic capacity, and environmental capacity needed to adapt to changing conditions. These factors, represented by proxy indicators, are aggregated to generate an index score for each Mexican state. The sensitivity analysis, meanwhile, relies on water resources, food security, and the health of the regional ecosystems and the human population.The study first establishes baseline of resilience, delineated by state boundaries. Not all areas in Mexico are created equal. On balance, though, there are no indications that it’s better to be located on the coast vs. inland, north vs. south, etc. The only generalization might be that a smaller human imprint on the land (e.g., lower population density) leaves more undeveloped land to act as a buffer (thus increasing resilience).The main finding in terms of resilience and adaptability is that more developed (and, by implication, more densely populated) areas may be better equipped to deal with climate change.The people in these areas have more developed infrastructure, higher levels of economic well-being, and may already be endowed with greater natural resources, such as rainfall. Indeed, the authors note “three persistent concerns: economic development, water availability, and food security.” So while rich areas may have the wherewithal to adapt to climate change, the effects may actually be stronger in light of higher levels of pollution and environmental degradation in these rich areas.The inclusion of a general equilibrium model is a good example of an important potential shift in climate research, to include socio-economic factors – human dimensions, in other words – in addition to the natural science aspects of environmental change. While the natural science part advances, our understanding of humans’ pervasive impact on natural systems must catch up.Ibarrarán, M., Malone, E., & Brenkert, A. (2009). Climate change vulnerability and resilience: current status and trends for Mexico Environment, Development and Sustainability DOI: 10.1007/s10668-009-9201-8... Read more »
Ibarrarán, M., Malone, E., & Brenkert, A. (2009) Climate change vulnerability and resilience: current status and trends for Mexico. Environment, Development and Sustainability. DOI: 10.1007/s10668-009-9201-8
The wastewater released from industry often contains high levels of toxic heavy metals, which can kill organisms, damage ecosystems, and accumulate in the foodchain. Electroplating, lead smelting, mining, and countless other processes produce enormous volumes of such wastewater.
In a perfect world, remediation would be powered by a renewable energy supply, there would be no solid [...]Genetically engineered heavy metal fans is a post from: Sciencebase Science Blog
... Read more »
Bhupinder Dhir. (2010) Use of aquatic plants in removing heavy metals from wastewater. Int. J. Environmental Engineering, 2(1/2/3), 185-201. info:/
There's a great article in the current Nature Biotechnology (alas, you'll need a subscription to read the full text) titled "The challenges of sequencing by synthesis" as this post detailing the challenges around the current crop of sequencing-by-synthesis instruments. The paper was written by a number of the PIs on grants for $1K genome technology.While there is one short section on the problem of sample preparation, the heart of the paper can be found in the other headings: surface chemistryfluorescent labelsthe enzyme-substrate systemopticsthroughput versus accuracyread-length and phasing limitationsEach section is tightly written and well-balanced, with no obvious playing of favorites or bashing of anti-favorites present. Trade-offs are explored & the dreaded term (at least amongst scientists) "cost models" shows up; indeed there is more than a little bit of a nod to accounting -- but if sequencing is really going to be $1K/person on an ongoing basis the beans must be counted correctly!I won't try to summarize much in detail; it really is hard to distill such a concentrated draught any further. Most of the ideas presented as possible solutions can be viewed as evolutionary relative to the current platforms, though a few exotic concepts are floated as well (such as synthetic aperture optics. It is noteworthy that an explicit goal of the paper is to summarize the problem areas so that new minds can approach the problem; as implied by the section title list above this is clearly a multi-discipline problem. It does somewhat suggest the question whether Nature Biotechnology, a journal I am quite fond of, was the best place for this. If new minds are desired, perhaps Physical Review Letters would have been better. But that's a very minor quibble.Fuller CW, Middendorf LR, Benner SA, Church GM, Harris T, Huang X, Jovanovich SB, Nelson JR, Schloss JA, Schwartz DC, & Vezenov DV (2009). The challenges of sequencing by synthesis. Nature biotechnology, 27 (11), 1013-23 PMID: 19898456... Read more »
Another book by someone from ISCRIM? No, not this time, or perhaps, yes, after all, because several of the ISCRIM members have contributed to the chapters in this book, which is well worth taking a closer look at, particularly if risk modeling and decision-making is your field.... Read more »
Blackhurst, J. and Wu, T. (Eds.). (2009) Managing Supply Chain Risk and Vulnerability: Tools and Methods for Supply Chain Decision Makers . London: Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-84882-634-2
The question of whether dinosaurs were endothermic has been a rich source of controversy for decades. Although they were originally portrayed as sluggish reptiles that crept their “cold-blooded” way through the Mesozoic, over time evidence has suggested that they may have actually had active and athletic lifestyles, with fast-running metabolisms to match. Everything from growth rates to diet to integument has been used as evidence that dinosaurs, if not as fully “warm-blooded” as mammals, at least ran on a higher octane than many modern ectotherms. (“Cold-blooded” and “warm-blooded” are misleading terms; some ectothermic reptiles, such as large marine turtles, maintain consistently high body temperatures through behavioral adaptations, and some endothermic species, such as hummingbirds and bats, have a wildly variable body temperature that periodically drops low enough to drop them into torpor. Poikilothermic = variable temperature, homeothermic = consistent temperature, and endo- or ectotherms can be either.)
There is a new paper in PLoS ONE today that jumps into the fray of the dinosaur energetics question. Pontzer and Hutchinson (2009) test the hypothesis that dinosaurs were endothermic, using biomechanical analysis to model the metabolic rate of 13 bipedal dinosaurs, in addition to an outgroup ornithodiran, Marasuchus. They calculated metabolic demands of both walking and running using locomotor anatomy (limb length and active muscle volume), and compared their results to the aerobic capacity of extant ectotherms and endotherms. These comparisons can give us clues where the dinosaurs might have fallen along this metabolic spectrum.
So, what did they find? The results showed strong evidence that dinosaurs had aerobic capacities that exceeded the maximum limits of extant ecotherms. In other words, they were most likely endothermic to at least some degree, otherwise they could not have afforded the amount of energy that it apparently cost them just to move around. It is suggested that development of endothermy could be a reason for the long and extensive reign of the dinosaurs, which continues to this day in the form of their avian descendents.
It is certain that the debate over dinosaur energetics is far from resolved, but this study definitely adds a fascinating piece to the puzzle.
Pontzer, H., Allen, V., & Hutchinson, J. (2009). Biomechanics of Running Indicates Endothermy in Bipedal Dinosaurs PLoS ONE, 4 (11) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007783
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Pontzer, H., Allen, V., & Hutchinson, J. (2009) Biomechanics of Running Indicates Endothermy in Bipedal Dinosaurs. PLoS ONE, 4(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007783
Ancient Chinese road construction method preserves cliff ecosystems
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Cao, S., Ye, H., & Zhan, Y. (2009) Cliff roads: An ecological conservation technique for road construction in mountainous regions of China. Landscape and Urban Planning. DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2009.10.007
Tyler McQuade (Florida State University, Tallahassee) and coworkers have synthesized a common anti-inflammatory drug in 10 minutes, using a series of adjoining microreactors, in a continuous format. This news feature was written on November 10, 2009.... Read more »
Lo Gorton (Lund University, Sweden) and coworkers have developed a prototype biosensor based on hardy bacteria. This news feature was written on November 10, 2009.... Read more »
Coman, V., Gustavsson, T., Finkelsteinas, A., von Wachenfeldt, C., Hägerhäll, C., & Gorton, L. (2009) Electrical Wiring of Live, Metabolically Enhanced Bacillus subtilis Cells with Flexible Osmium-Redox Polymers. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 131(44), 16171-16176. DOI: 10.1021/ja905442a
The article I am discussing in
this post is the 2008 Heinz Lehmann Award paper, published in the
open-access Canadian journal, Journal of Psychiatry &
Neuroscience. It really covers two topics: translational
research, and antipsychotic polypharmacy in which one of the
antipsychotic medications is clozapine.
research is research that is intended to advance the process of
translating basic science into clinically useful knowledge. Clozapine
is the most effective antipsychotic drug we have. It typically is
used for persons with schizophrenia, who do not respond to other
medications. Polypharmacy is the practice of combining two or
more medications in the same person, at the same time.
The authors describe the process of translational research, and
illustrate the application of the process to a particularly vexing
problem in psychiatry. Even though clozapine is the most
effective drug, many patients who do not have a satisfactory
response. Clozapine carries more risk, compared to other
antipsychotics, of serious adverse effects. Polypharmacy
increases the risk.
When a person is not having a satisfactory response to clozapine, the
doctor and patient may be tempted to add another medication in an
effort to improve the response. But it would not make sense to do
that, unless the potential benefits outweigh the potential risk.
At present, little is known about either the potential benefits, or the
magnitude of the potential risk.
If the condition being treated were not serious, it would not make
sense to multiply the risk. However, schizophrenia can be
terribly debilitating, and can cause considerable distress. So we
really want to be able to solve this problem, but we want to solve it
with a reasonable risk-benefit balance.
translational research approach to poor treatment response in patients
with schizophrenia: clozapine-antipsychotic polypharmacy
William G. Honer, MD; Ric M. Procyshyn, PhD; Eric Y.H. Chen, MD; G.
William MacEwan, MD; Alasdair M. Barr, PhD
J Psychiatry Neurosci 2009;34(6):433-42.
Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
William G. Honer, MD, Ric M. Procyshyn, PhD, Eric Y.H. Chen, MD, G. William MacEwan, MD, & Alasdair M. Barr, PhD. (2009) A translational research approach to poor treatment response in patients with schizophrenia: clozapine–antipsychotic polypharmacy. J Psychiatry Neurosci, 39(6), 433-442. info:/
The pursuit of love may be more a cooperative team sport than a one-on-one pick-up game. New research reveals that both sexes cooperate to achieve romantic goals. Find out more.... Read more »
Ackerman, J., & Kenrick, D. (2009) Cooperative Courtship: Helping Friends Raise and Raze Relationship Barriers. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(10), 1285-1300. DOI: 10.1177/0146167209335640
There’s an old adage that pops up all the time not just in reference to conservation, but in the subject area of “you name it.” And for this very reason it has become quite ubiquitous. It goes something like “Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it” or some variation there in [...]... Read more »
BOYER, A. (2009) Consistent Ecological Selectivity through Time in Pacific Island Avian Extinctions. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01341.x
In 1995 scientists Raul J. Cano and Monica K. Borucki uncovered endospores from a bacteria related to Bacillus sphaericus, a fungal bacteria, in the stomach of a bee. Endospores are dormant spores, surrounded by a thick protein wall, and created by bacteria in response to environmental stress. In this dormant, dehydrated state, Bacillus endospores can [...]... Read more »
Cano, R., & Borucki, M. (1995) Revival and identification of bacterial spores in 25- to 40-million-year-old Dominican amber. Science, 268(5213), 1060-1064. DOI: 10.1126/science.7538699
Valery Fortie is the National Awareness Coordinator of
Mediterraneanbook.com, a directory of news source focused on healthy
eating habits. The author suggests that the Mediterranean Diet can help ward off many diseases and illnesses.
One of those serious and potentially life threatening diseases is breast
cancer. With a risk of one in seven people developing breast cancer in
their lifetime, [...]... Read more »
Cottet, V., Touvier, M., Fournier, A., Touillaud, M., Lafay, L., Clavel-Chapelon, F., & Boutron-Ruault, M. (2009) Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Risk and Dietary Patterns in the E3N-EPIC Prospective Cohort Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 170(10), 1257-1267. DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwp257
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