Post List

  • September 26, 2010
  • 03:08 AM

Foodies Eat Masculinity for Breakfast

by Ultimo167 in Strong Silent Types

What part does gender have to play in the practice of food, and eating? Apparently, acording to Cairns et al. (2010), quite a lot. Moreover, it would seem that men hog the public spotlight of culinary high art while women are confined to boiling eggs for the masses, at home.... Read more »

  • September 25, 2010
  • 07:40 PM

Another Possible Chacoan Effigy Vessel

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Effigy vessels are very rare in the prehistoric Southwest, and human effigy vessels even more so.  Most known examples, especially in the Anasazi area, are of animals, and by far the most common of these are the so-called “duck pots,” a distinctive type of vessel shape that is often considered to be a representation of [...]... Read more »

  • September 25, 2010
  • 02:48 PM

It's not what you publish, it's where you publish it

by Hadas Shema in Information Culture

Last post I mentioned the Matthew Effect, or "The rich get richer." In Bibliometrics, it means that the more you're cited and/or the more you publish, the more you'll continue to get cited/publish. When applied to journals, that means that papers published in high-impact journals get cited more often. As a result, the IF of the journals remains high, and so on. In short, a positive feedback loop. However, there's always a question of quality. Perhaps the papers published in high-impact journals are, indeed, better? Lariviere and Gingras (2010) tried to solve the problem by using duplicates: the same paper published twice, in a high IF journal and in a low IF journal. In order to find those papers, they searched the WoS database, comparing papers according to their names, first authors and the number of cited references. Out of 4,918 pairs of papers identified they ended up using 4,532. The publication year of the pairs was either identical of in the one year range in about 80% of the papers. They compared the average numbers of citations and average of relative citations for disciplines with more than 30 duplicates. The biggest Matthew Effect was found in the clinical medicine (21.46 for high IF, 12.08 for low IF) and Biomedical Research. (19.77 and 8.15). Significant differences were also found for Chemistry, Engineering and Technology, Physics and Social Sciences. However, there weren’t significant differences for Biology, Earth and Space, Health (Social Sciences), Math and Psychology. Personally, I wonder if part of the effect can be accounted for the pay walls: libraries tend to buy more subscriptions to high-impact journals, so the chances of getting access to a paper in one of those journals is higher. Speaking of the Matthew Effect, John Wilbanks, vice president of science at Creative Commons, just published a short article in Seed Magazine about the subject. He points out that in 1968 (the year Merton named the “Matthew Effect”) “the average age of a biomedical researcher in the US receiving his or her first significant funding was 35 or younger.” Today, it’s almost 42 for NIH grants. That means that fewer young, talented scientists get opportunities for independent research, while the already established scientists get even more funding. Wilbanks recommends that we “start rethinking the way we reward and fund science and assess researchers using more than just citations.” All I can say, Mr. Wilbanks, is that Bibliometricans are working on it…P.S. Of course, as soon as I finished this post I ran into this post in The Scholarly Kitchen about the very same paper. Oh, well.Lariviere, V. & Gingras, Y. (2010). The impact factor’s Matthew effect: a natural experiment in bibliometrics Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 2 (61), 424-427 : 10.1002/asi.21232... Read more »

V. Lariviere, & Y. Gingras. (2010) The impact factor’s Matthew effect: a natural experiment in bibliometrics. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 2(61), 424-427. info:/10.1002/asi.21232

  • September 25, 2010
  • 01:25 PM

Kinetic Traps of Single Biomolecule Refolding

by Michael Long in Phased

David Rueda (Wayne State University, United States) and coworkers have quantitated kinetic barriers to refolding in DNA and RNA, uncovering rare and transient events only addressable on the single molecule level. This news feature was written on September 25, 2010.... Read more »

Zhao, R., Marshall, M., Alemán, E. A., Lamichhane, R., Feig, A., & Rueda, D. (2010) Laser-Assisted Single-Molecule Refolding (LASR). Biophysical Journal, 99(6), 1925-1931. DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2010.07.019  

  • September 25, 2010
  • 01:16 PM

Is eating 6 meals a day instead of 3 a better weight loss strategy?

by Psychothalamus in Psychothalamus

I’ve come across a significant number of non-peer reviewed articles on the internet about weight loss, body building etc. that advocates eating 6 meals a day (just Google "3 meals or 6 meals" to see what I mean). Reasons given for doing so includes less fluctuation in blood glucose and lower fat storage among others. But is eating 6 meals instead of 3 a day really beneficial for someone trying to cut some flab? Some researchers think not.In an article published in Obesity, Leidy and colleagues (2010) investigated how differing amount of dietary protein and eating frequency influences our perceived appetite and satiety levels during weight loss. In a 12 week experiment, 27 obese men were randomized into either the high protein or normal protein group and were required to engaged in a weight-loss diet that is 750kcal/day lower than their daily needs. Beginning on the 7th week, all participants alternated between 3 meals a day or 6 meals a day, each lasting for 3 days. Information on their perception of daily hunger, desire to eat and thinking about food were recorded and compared.ResultsThe high protein group felt fuller, had lower desire to snack at night and thought less about food than the normal protein group.Eating 3 or 6 meals a day did not have any effect on hunger, fullness, desire to eat nor preoccupation with thoughts of food.The take-home message? Getting on a high protein diet appears to be a viable weight loss strategy because it gives you better control over your appetite and satiety but switching to a 6 meals a day strategy appears not to be helpful in these areas.Furthermore, some previous studies have found a relationship between higher meal frequency and higher colon cancer risk (eg. Shoff et al, 2000 (for women), Wei et al. 2004(for men)). So I were you, I'll think twice about adopting that 6 meals a day plan too readily.  Leidy HJ, Tang M, Armstrong CL, Martin CB, & Campbell WW (2010). The Effects of Consuming Frequent, Higher Protein Meals on Appetite and Satiety During Weight Loss in Overweight/Obese Men. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.) PMID: 20847729Wei, J., Connelly, A., Satia, J., Martin, C., & Sandler, R. (2004). Eating Frequency and Colon Cancer Risk Nutrition and Cancer, 50 (1), 16-22 DOI: 10.1207/s15327914nc5001_3Shoff, S., Newcomb, P., & Longnecker, M. (1997). Frequency of eating and risk of colorectal cancer in women Nutrition and Cancer, 27 (1), 22-25 DOI: 10.1080/01635589709514496   ... Read more »

  • September 25, 2010
  • 09:38 AM

Social Work Radicalism Repels Childhood Adversity

by Ultimo167 in Strong Silent Types

Social work, as a profession, has a long-standing, historical involvement in child protection. This article by Davidson et al. (2010) suggests we should stop to regroup to get a clearer picture of what childhood adversity really is, in all its inglorious complexity.... Read more »

Davidson, G., Devaney, J., & Spratt, T. (2010) The Impact of Adversity in Childhood on Outcomes in Adulthood: Research Lessons and Limitations. Journal of Social Work. info:/

  • September 25, 2010
  • 09:13 AM

The Structural Basis of Peptide-Protein Binding Strategies

by Nir London in Macromolecular Modeling Blog

How can peptides overcome the entropic cost involved in switching from an unstructured, flexible peptide to a rigid, well-defined bound structure? What are the strategies used by peptides in order to bind their protein receptor? How is this different than protein-protein interactions? In this work we performed A structure-based analysis of peptide-protein interactions to try and answer these questions.

... Read more »

London N, Movshovitz-Attias D, & Schueler-Furman O. (2010) The structural basis of peptide-protein binding strategies. Structure (London, England : 1993), 18(2), 188-99. PMID: 20159464  

  • September 25, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

The Price of Happiness

by Shaheen Lakhan in Brain Blogger

Much research has focused on what makes people happy, but there are no definitive conclusions. For ages, adages that money does not equal happiness have been repeated by philosophers, religious leaders, and cultural icons. Now, a new study debunks that myth. An analysis of income and happiness in the United States reveals that a salary [...]... Read more »

  • September 24, 2010
  • 10:57 PM

Manganese in drinking water

by Ashartus in exposure/effect

A new study has been appearing in news reports over the past couple of days: a group of researchers found that children drinking water with high levels of manganese had lower IQs than children drinking water with lower levels of manganese. Obviously no parent wants their children to have a lower IQ, but the media [...]... Read more »

Bouchard, M., Sauvé, S., Barbeau, B., Legrand, M., Brodeur, M., Bouffard, T., Limoges, E., Bellinger, D., & Mergler, D. (2010) Intellectual Impairment in School-Age Children Exposed to Manganese from Drinking Water. Environmental Health Perspectives. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1002321  

  • September 24, 2010
  • 06:50 PM

How vaccines work Pt.2

by James Byrne in Disease Prone

In my last post I spoke about how vaccines work from the point of view of the person receiving the jab or pill. In that case we were talking about immunological memory but vaccines also work in another very important way from the point of view of the community and it is referred to as ‘herd immunity’.... Read more »

Fung KS, Yeung WL, Wong TW, So KW, & Cheng AF. (2004) Pertussis--a re-emerging infection?. The Journal of infection, 48(2), 145-8. PMID: 14720490  

  • September 24, 2010
  • 06:41 PM

How Vaccines Work Pt.2

by James Byrne in Disease Prone

In my last post I spoke about how vaccines work from the point of view of the person receiving the jab or pill. In that case we were talking about immunological memory but vaccines also work in another very important way from the point of view of the community and it is referred to as [...]... Read more »

Fung KS, Yeung WL, Wong TW, So KW, & Cheng AF. (2004) Pertussis--a re-emerging infection?. The Journal of infection, 48(2), 145-8. PMID: 14720490  

  • September 24, 2010
  • 11:23 AM

Risk, Insurance, LUST, and Fish

by Noam Ross in Noam Ross

Two papers crossed my desk yesterday highlighting the role insurance can play in mitigating environmental risk.  The first, by Yin et. al. in Risk Analysis, discusses three appoaches to mitigating the risk of leaking underground storage tanks (a problem with the fantastic acronym LUST).  
Large fines for spills, as it turns out, are not a particularly efficient enforcement tool, as most LUSTs are owned by small businesses like gas stations that would likely go bankrupt before paying all the fines and cleanup costs.  Many large firms outsource or spin off their tank operations to smaller companies so that they can declare bankruptcy in such an event.
Another option is to have a set of safety regulations that are strictly enforced.  However, the EPA and state regulators have lacked the resources to send inspectors into the field to make sure USTs are up to code.
Mandating insurance for tank owners, on the other hand, lowers the burden on regulators and also spreads the cost to operators out into a string of premium payments.  Some states have created public quasi-insurance funds by forcing industry to pay for cleanups through a gasoline tax.  However, it turns out that private insurers are better and forcing their customers to manage their tanks for safety.  The authors are able to show that in states that have robust private insurance markets for LUSTs, there are about 35% fewer spills.
In Ecological Econmics, D.S. Holland writes about possible insurance options for fishery markets.  Some fisheries have total bycatch quotas, meaning that the fishery is shut down when a total amount of bycatch is caught.  For example, if, collectively, all the Pacific flounder fisherman catch 20 loggerhead turtles, then regulators declare no more Paciifc flounder fishing for the year.
This can lead a "race to fish", where fisherman try to catch all they can before the fishery is shut down.  Holland explores the possibility of bycatch insurance where fisherman are compensated for a loss of revenue if the fishery is shut down earlier than expected.  This is only tangentially related to the LUST insurance above, but it again creates an interesting situation where the insurance company is incentivized to reduce its clients' environmental damages.  In this case, would insurers force fisherman to find ways to reduce bycatch?
I'm interested to see how insurance models scale up to addressing large scale, systemic ecological risks.  There's an intruiging example of the potential of private insurance in the underwriting of reforestation in the Panama Canal.  Where else is it applicable?
(For more on lust, see Christine O'Donnell.)
Yin, H., Pfaff, A., & Kunreuther, H. (2010). Can Environmental Insurance Succeed Where Other Strategies Fail? The Case of Underground Storage Tanks Risk Analysis DOI: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2010.01479.x
Holland, D.S. (2010). Markets, pooling and insurance for managing bycatch in fisheries Ecological Economics : 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.08.015... Read more »

Holland, D.S. (2010) Markets, pooling and insurance for managing bycatch in fisherie. Ecological Economics. info:/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.08.015

  • September 24, 2010
  • 11:15 AM

What species of skate is for dinner? New research challenges elasmobranch fisheries policy

by WhySharksMatter in Southern Fried Science

I write a lot about shark conservation issues, but I rarely focus on their fellow elasmobranchs. Rays and skates have similar life history strategies as sharks, and many species are similarly overfished.  A friend just sent me a cool paper about the conservation of skates, which provides an excellent opportunity to remedy this oversight.
A major issue [...]... Read more »

  • September 24, 2010
  • 11:02 AM

Is weight loss associated with increased risk of early mortality?

by Peter Janiszewski, Ph.D. in Obesity Panacea

The current recommendations from major health organizations stipulate that if an individual has a BMI in the obese range (>30 kg/m2), they should be counseled to lose at least 5-10% of their body weight. This advice appears to make some sense given that increasing body weight is generally associated with heightened risk of various diseases, and that reduction of body weight usually improves levels of risk factors for disease (e.g blood pressure, triglycerides, etc). However, the literature has been much more complicated in terms of the effect of weight loss on risk of early mortality.
Adding to that literature is a study by Ingram and Mussolino published in The International Journal of Obesity. In essence this study showed that weight loss of 15% or more was associated with an increased risk of death from all causes among overweight men and among overweight and obese women.

In the study, a sample of 6117 adults above 50 years of age from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2888 men and 3229 women) were followed from 1988/94 to 2000.
Quite simply, the authors divided the sample into 3 categories of weight loss (<5%, 5-15%, and >15%) and evaluated the prospective risk of mortality depending on the degree of weight loss, with separate analyses in each gender and even within different BMI categories (normal weight, overweight, and obese).
While that may sound straightforward, the way they ascertained the degree of weight loss is quite a bit more convoluted. First they asked the subjects at baseline: ‘Up to the present time, what is the most you have ever weighed? (FEMALES): Do not include any times when you were pregnant.’
They then measured the participants’ body weight.
Finally, they calculated the subjects’ percent weight loss as:
((maximum weight – baseline weight)/maximum weight) x 100
During the follow-up time, there were 1602 deaths (835 men and 767 women). Interestingly, in contrast to persons with little or no weight loss (<5%, reference category), there was greater risk of early all-cause mortality among those who lost >15% of their maximum body weight, a finding which was statistically significant in overweight men, and in women of all weight categories (normal, overweight, and obese).
While these results may shock some of our readers, similar findings have been reported in numerous other studies. However, many such studies are confounded by various issues making the interpretation of their results rather difficult.
The major limitation to studies ascertaining the relationship between weight loss and mortality risk is delineating intentional (dieting, exercise, etc.) weight loss from unintentional weight loss (loss of body weight due to underlying disease, such as cancer). However, even studies that did separate between intentional and unintentional weight loss have shown conflicting results, suggesting that despite having positive effects on various indicators of health, weight loss may have a negative impact on longevity. Of course, even among those individuals who intentionally lose weight – the methods of doing so can vary widely, with some undertaking dangerous fad diets, extreme exercise or a regular regimen of random and often dangerous diet pills.
In this current study, all analyses were adjusted for age, race-ethnicity (white, black, Mexican-American), cigarette smoking status (current, former, and never), and history of health conditions related to excess weight and/or to weight loss. To try and control for unintentional weight loss, in addition to controlling for pre-existing health conditions statistically, respondents who died within 3 years of the baseline examination were also excluded.
Despite the new addition to the literature, the issue of weight loss and mortality is far from being sorted out. The concern is always that our ever increasingly obese population will see such findings as a reason to discontinue healthy lifestyle behaviors, or as a reason to maintain their currently poor lifestyle. It is key to remember that a healthy lifestyle has positive health effects regardless of what happens to one’s body weight.
Ingram, D., & Mussolino, M. (2010). Weight loss from maximum body weight and mortality: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Linked Mortality File International Journal of Obesity, 34 (6), 1044-1050 DOI: 10.1038/ijo.2010.41

... Read more »

  • September 24, 2010
  • 10:32 AM

What Killed Europe’s Hyenas?

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Mass extinctions are often typified by the catastrophic loss of charismatic animals. Even though ammonites, pterosaurs, many forms of marine reptiles, and even some lineages of mammals all succumbed during the great dying at the end of the Cretaceous, that event will always be cast as the unexpected curtain-fall on the Age of the Dinosaurs. [...]... Read more »

  • September 24, 2010
  • 09:44 AM

Nikita Malavia: From Mumbai to MIT

by Susan Steinhardt in The PostDoc Forum

PostDoc Nikita Malavia is our featured scientist of the month. Follow Nikita on LinkedIn and Twitter.
How did you first become interested in the science field?
For me it started in high school back home in Mumbai, India. I was always interested and good in math and science especially chemistry and biology. Doing well in [...]... Read more »

Malavia NK, Mih JD, Raub CB, Dinh BT, & George SC. (2008) IL-13 induces a bronchial epithelial phenotype that is profibrotic. Respiratory research, 27. PMID: 18348727  

Malavia NK, Raub CB, Mahon SB, Brenner M, Panettieri RA Jr, & George SC. (2009) Airway epithelium stimulates smooth muscle proliferation. American journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology, 41(3), 297-304. PMID: 19151317  

  • September 24, 2010
  • 08:46 AM

Symbiotic Foreclosure: coral bleaching predictions and a potential acclimation mechanism

by Uncharted Atolls in Uncharted Atolls

NOAA—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—issued a press release on September 22nd declaring coral bleaching likely in the Caribbean.  NOAA reports that: With temperatures above-average all year, NOAA’s models show a strong potential for bleaching in the southern and southeastern … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • September 24, 2010
  • 08:38 AM

Introducing Peptide-Protein Interactions

by Nir London in Macromolecular Modeling Blog

Peptide-protein interactions are gaining much interest of late. The Furman group have recently published a series of papers on the subject of peptide-protein interactions (disclaimer - these were partly authored by yours truly). In this post I will introduce the subject and the motivation to investigate these interactions and in later posts of this 'mini-series' I will get into more details on this on-going research.

... Read more »

  • September 24, 2010
  • 08:30 AM

Goodbye, milk—hello, added sugar!

by Melinda Moyer in Body Politic

As usual, my readers are raising interesting questions in the comments section (thanks, guys! You’re awesome). In response to my post yesterday highlighting how our food portions have changed (as in, exploded) over the past 20 years, commenter AEK said, “It would be interesting to note how much added sugar was in the foods at both measurement periods.” It’s a point I’ve frequently considered myself, so I decided to do some digging.
As it turns out—and you might guess—our consumption of added sugars has increased over the years. (Note that added sugars are defined as white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose, crystal dextrose, saccharin, and aspartame—I had no idea there were so many!—that are eaten separately or used as ingredients in processed or prepared foods.) In a study published in August in Nutrients, researchers at the University of Connecticut, Ansan College in Korea, and Michigan State University analyzed data collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) I and III, comparing what subjects said they had eaten over the past 24 hours in 1971-1975 with what subjects said they had eaten over the past 24 hours in 1988-1994.
Granted, these data aren’t particularly up-to-date, but nevertheless the findings suggest a trend that is probably continuing today. As the authors note, “compared with NHANES I, the mean dietary intake levels in NHANES III were greater for total energy intake (+144 kcal d−1; +7%), total sugar intake (+10 g d−1; +8%), intake of added sugars, (+9 g d−1; +12%), and total carbohydrate intake (+40 g d−1; +18%).” In other words: we ate more junk food in the 90s. Surprise!
Interestingly, though, the results differed significantly by age. People under 18 actually ate three percent fewer calories in 1988-1994 than they did in 1971-1975, but their consumption of added sugars still jumped by five percent.  People over 19, on the other hand, ate 11 percent more calories in 1994, and their added sugar consumption skyrocketed by 18 percent.
Perhaps my favorite part of the study is the researchers’ analysis of exactly what people ate in 1971 versus 1994. The biggest change: people stopped drinking so much milk, replacing the calories in part with grains and carbonated beverages. The paper explains,
The most salient feature of the changes in food items contributing to total energy intake is the rise of “mixtures of mainly grain” from relatively insignificant to the most significant contributor in both age subgroups. This food item includes mixtures having a grain product as a main ingredient, such as burritos, tacos, pizza, egg rolls, quiche, spaghetti with sauce, rice and pasta mixtures; frozen meals in which the main course is a grain mixture; noodle and rice soups; and baby-food macaroni and spaghetti mixtures.
I’m speculating here, but the bye-bye-milk trend may help explain why kids consumed more in the 70s than they did in 90s—after all, a few glasses of milk a day add up to quite a few calories. Today, I’m guessing the anti-milk trend is continuing—how many people under the age of 10 drink milk (and no, McDonald’s milkshakes don’t count)? I’m guessing not a lot, but I’m also guessing that by now, we’ve found some pretty efficient ways to make up the calories. And then some.
Ock K. Chun, Chin E. Chung , Ying Wang, Andrea Padgitt, Won O. Song (2010). Changes in Intakes of Total and Added Sugar and their Contribution to Energy Intake in the U.S. Nutrients, 2, 834-854 : 10.3390/nu2080834
... Read more »

Ock K. Chun, Chin E. Chung , Ying Wang, Andrea Padgitt, Won O. Song. (2010) Changes in Intakes of Total and Added Sugar and their Contribution to Energy Intake in the U.S. Nutrients, 834-854. info:/10.3390/nu2080834

  • September 24, 2010
  • 08:22 AM

Language, Thought, and Space (V): Comparing Different Species

by Michael in A Replicated Typo 2.0

As I’ve talked about in my last posts (see I, II, III, and IV) different cultures employ different coordinate systems or Frames of References (FoR) when talking about space.  FoRs
“serve to specify the directional relationships between objects in space, in reference to a shared referential anchor” (Haun et al. 2006: 17568)
As shown in my last post . . . → Read More: Language, Thought, and Space (V): Comparing Different Species... Read more »

Haun DB, Rapold CJ, Call J, Janzen G, & Levinson SC. (2006) Cognitive cladistics and cultural override in Hominid spatial cognition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 103(46), 17568-73. PMID: 17079489  

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