Post List

  • September 13, 2010
  • 08:57 PM
  • 954 views

When Will the First Earth-like Planet Be Discovered?

by Samuel Arbesman in arbesman.net

With news of new extrasolar planets being released nearly weekly, there is a general feeling that we are in the midst of a singular moment in cosmic discovery. And the news a few weeks ago of a planet that is about the same size as Earth has provided the sense that the discovery of a [...]... Read more »

  • September 13, 2010
  • 08:00 PM
  • 1,324 views

In other news: you can even feel the goosebumps

by Joerg Heber in All That Matters

Flexible electronics has been promising a lot for a long time. Organics-based electronics on our clothes and other wonderful gadgets. However, the real potential of the truly bendy stuff hasn’t been compellingly demonstrated for a long time. Sure, you can make wires on a plastic substrate and hope for the best. Which often wasn’t very [...]... Read more »

Mannsfeld, S., Tee, B., Stoltenberg, R., Chen, C., Barman, S., Muir, B., Sokolov, A., Reese, C., & Bao, Z. (2010) Highly sensitive flexible pressure sensors with microstructured rubber dielectric layers. Nature Materials. DOI: 10.1038/NMAT2834  

Takei, K., Takahashi, T., Ho, J., Ko, H., Gillies, A., Leu, P., Fearing, R., & Javey, A. (2010) Nanowire active-matrix circuitry for low-voltage macroscale artificial skin. Nature Materials. DOI: 10.1038/NMAT2835  

  • September 13, 2010
  • 07:32 PM
  • 1,074 views

Shelter Dogs: Taking the Dog's-Eye View

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

At least one dog can be found in forty percent of US households, and forty percent of those owners allow their dogs to sleep on their beds. To put this in perspective, in a family with five children, two of them can be expected to become dog owners, and one of them will probably allow the dog to sleep on his or her bed. In an undergraduate lecture class of two hundred, eighty of those students come from homes with at least one pet dog. So as you might expect, dogs are a big business! In 2007, the pet industry was worth about $40 billion in the US, with dogs responsible for the largest share of that expense.

As well as providing pleasure and comfort, though, dogs can also be a source of pain and distress to humans. In the United States, dogs bite around 4.7 million people per year. In fact, by age twelve, an average American child has a 50% chance of having been bitten by a dog. In that same group of two hundred undergrads, one hundred of them have probably been bitten by a dog. Each year, around 2 million dogs are destroyed terminated executed euthanized killed in shelters.
Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »

Wynne, C. (2009) Editorial. Behavioural Processes, 81(3), 355-357. DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2009.04.007  

  • September 13, 2010
  • 07:13 PM
  • 986 views

Finding Truth in a Messy World

by jebyrnes in I'm a chordata, urochordata!

*-note, this was derived from a combination of emails between myself and my former phd advisor. See if you can pick out who is arguing what and where. It’s fun – well, for some of you, anyway. How do we know the world? This is a seemingly simple and vast question – one with no [...]... Read more »

  • September 13, 2010
  • 06:38 PM
  • 2,254 views

Magnetic Fields in Cosmology

by The Astronomist in The Astronomist.

The existence of magnetic fields on cosmologically large scales is an unsolved problem in astrophysics. Theory favors a universe that did not begin with any magnetic fields present and classical magnetohydrodynamics restricts the spontaneous emergence of a magnetic state under the influence of ideal forces. In a paper entitled Twisting Space-Time: Relativistic Origin of Seed Magnetic Field and Vorticity appearing Physical Review letters Swadesh Mahajan and Zensho Yoshida propose a universal magnetic field generating effect using ideal special relativistic fluid dynamics. Mahajan and Yoshida's insight was that in describing magnetic fields, which are mathematically equivalent to a vorticity, a careful application of ideal dynamics in the framework of distortions caused by special relativity may result in the spontaneous emergence of a magnetic state in contrast to the previous theoretical result.Magnetic fields are found to be important in every scale hierarchy of the universe. Most notably detailed images of galaxies paradoxically display regions of chaotic turbulence and beautiful grand coherent designs at once. Thus it is clear that turbulent motion on scales below hundreds of parsecs does not necessarily destroy coherent optical or magnetic features over scales of kiloparsecs. Indeed, magnetic fields are indirectly observed at optical and radio wavelengths by detecting the polarization of the electromagnetic field through the Faraday effect and also by the Zeeman splitting effect. The Faraday effect is the rotation of the linear polarization vector of light which occurs when polarized radiation passes through a magnetized and ionized medium. Radio observations are the most powerful technique and by measuring both the dispersion and polarization rotation the mean of the magnetic field along the line of sight can be measured. Such observations indicate a wide range of magnetic field are present in astrophysics. The image at right below shows the magnetic fields present in M51 which are likely similar in structure and strength to that of the Milky Way.The total radio continuum emission from the "whirlpool" galaxy M51 (distance estimates range between 13 and 30 million light years) is strongest at the inner edges of the optical spiral arms, probably due to the compression of magnetic fields by density waves. The vectors give the orientations of the regular magnetic fields as derived from the polarized emission. The field lines follow nicely the optical spiral arms. Unexpectedly, strong polarized emission is observed also between the optical arms which indicates the action of a dynamo. This image was observed with the VLA in its most compact configuration at 6cm radio wavelength (broadband continuum). As the VLA cannot detect the diffuse, large-scale radio emission, data from the Effelsberg 100-m telescope in Germany at the same wavelength was added. Investigator(s):  Rainer Beck (MPIfR Bonn, Germany), Cathy Horellou (Onsala Space Observatory). Image courtesy of NRAO/AUIMicroguass fields are present in galaxies at scales of a few kiloparsecs and on the much larger scales of megaparsecs ordered fields of perhaps a few orders of magnitude less are present in galaxy clusters. Magnetic fields in astronomy are controlled by induction of partially ionized gas. A common model for creating these magnetic fields is the dynamo effect wherein an electrically conductive fluid accelerated by some kinetic force generates convective motions in the fluid; it is plausible that a turbulent hydromagnetic dynamo of some kind coupled to an inverse cascade of magnetic energy wold give rise to regular galactic magnetic fields. Following the basic dynamo theory magnetic field lines can be simulated for galaxies which are consistent with observations. The dynamo theory is actually a mechanism for maintaining or growing fields rather than creating them, but it is expected that minuscule primordial magnetic field seeds in the early universe of cosmological origin drive the magnetic fields observed today.The magnetic dynamo and the primordial magnetic seed theories are both unsatisfactory. The model wherein the the large scale magnetic field in galaxies is the result of the twisting of a cosmological magnetic fields by galactic differential rotation is not satisfactory because a primordial field wound up by differential rotation ultimately decays in an effect known as flux expulsion. The primordial seed theory must explain the presence of large magnetic fields in higher redshift objects when the universe was much younger when the fields should not have had sufficient time to grow. Researchers disagree over what initial primordial field strength is necessary to create the magnetic fields seen today; estimates vary from as large as 10-9 gauss [1] to 10-30 gauss [2], but either way an alternative model would be welcome.Mahajan and Yoshida's work was motivated by the search for a universal mechanism for magnetic field generation. They key to creating a magnetic field is the vorticity of an ionized material which is analyzed in this paper with topological constraints. In mathematical terms fundamental cosmology requires a topological constraint on the vorticity of the universe (consider that you wouldn't expect the universe to have a preferred rotation), however this constraint can be broken by the application of special relativity. The problem of magnetic fields lies in the fact that vorticity must vanish for every ideal force such as the entropy conserving thermodynamic forces (this can be proven though the governing Hamiltonian dynamics of an ideal fluid where ultimately Kelvin's circulation theorem shows that if the initial state has no circulation the later sate will also be vorticity-free). Introduction of the Lorentz factor γ=(1-(v/c)2)-1/2 from special relativity destroys the exactness of the ideal thermodynamic force and allows spontaneous vorticity. The authors find a new term that provides a magnetic field growing mechanism as long as the kinetic energy is inhomogeneous. The authors mechanism can provide a finite seed for even mildly relativistic flows. They provide an example for very standard parameters (electron density n=1010 cm3, temperature T= 20 eV and velocity, v, compared to c of v/c=10-2) and find their relativistic drive mechanism remains dominate over other effects until magnetic fields of 1 gauss or so which is much larger than most magnetic fields ever observed, thus the relativistic drive is the only dominant effect. The relativistic drive mechanism will likely help us understand, among other things, the origin of magnetic fields in astrophysical and cosmic settings.References:[1] Beck, R., Brandenburg, A., Moss, D., Shukurov, A., & Sokoloff, D. (1996). GALACTIC MAGNETISM: Recent Developments and Perspectives Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 34 (1), 155-206 DOI: 10.1146/annurev.astro.34.1.155[2] ... Read more »

Beck, R., Brandenburg, A., Moss, D., Shukurov, A., & Sokoloff, D. (1996) GALACTIC MAGNETISM: Recent Developments and Perspectives. Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 34(1), 155-206. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.astro.34.1.155  

  • September 13, 2010
  • 05:56 PM
  • 1,262 views

Possibly the first ever photos of a live Bothrolycus ater. Or: a test of how much information exists on a really obscure snake.

by Darren Naish in Tetrapod Zoology



Regular readers will know that I like covering obscure animals... with luck, really obscure animals. The problem with such animals is that nice images hardly ever - sometimes never - exist. When they do exist, they're protected by copyright and are unavailable for use on a blog. I'm therefore eternally grateful when people are able (and kind enough) to send me photos of an obscure animal, and are able to give me permission to use them. Recently, herpetologist Kate Jackson of Whitman College, Washington, was kind enough to provide the photos you see here. Oh. My. God.



It's Bothrolycus ater: an extremely obscure African snake that (ahem, drumroll) may never have been photographed live before. Yes, this could well be a world first. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »

  • September 13, 2010
  • 05:20 PM
  • 974 views

An eye for an eye

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

Religious people are more likely to approve of capital punishment. That's something that's always intrigued me - partly because I find the idea of killing another human being in cold blood absolutely horrific. To be fair, however, there's a lot of variation between different religious groups in the support for the death penalty, and perhaps that holds at least a partial answer. Maybe there's something in the creed of certain religions, or sects within religions, that encourages notions of revenge and retributive justice.

When you look at the bare data, it seems that's likely to be the case. Evangelicals are more supportive than Catholics, for example. Black Protestants are even less supportive that the unaffiliated. Perhaps that's down to leadership. After all, some religious leaders are vocal in their support for the death penalty, but others are equally vocal in their rejection of it.

Kevin Wozniak and Andrew Lewis, Political Scientists at American University in Washington DC, set out to discover whether affiliation really does play a role in support for the death penalty. To this end, they mined data from the 1998 US General Social Survey (the last year in which the survey assessed all the items they needed).

Throwing all the data into the pot, they first adjusted for relevant non-religious factors. Men, for example, and right-wingers are more likely to support the death penalty. African-Americans, however, are less enthusiastic - no doubt because they are disproportionately likely to be on the receiving end.

Then they also adjusted for religious beliefs. So, for example, those who believe in a compassionate God are less supportive of the death penalty than those who believe in a harsh God. They also adjusted for Church attendance, Biblical literalism and a factor they called 'forgiveness' (which combines notions of a forgiving God with secular ideas of forgiveness).

When you take all this into account, they found that all Christian groups they looked at - Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, Black Protestant and Catholic - were still more in favour of the death penalty than the unaffiliated.

So it seems like there really is something intrinsic being religious that increases support for the death penalty - regardless of your views on the nature of your god.

Why this should be, they don't know. They were most interested in learning whether denominational leaders influence the attitudes of their flock. If this analysis is correct (and they point out that it may not be attuned to the right level of detail) then it seems like this is not the case. Despite the fact that many leaders are anti-death penalty (most notably the Catholics), their flocks seem undeterred.

What they couldn't determine was whether local leaders, the individual priests and pastors, can influence the attitudes of their parishioners. They may well be, but even if true it wouldn't alter the fact that the average religious person is a pro death penalty.

I suspect that this is shining a light on something fundamental about religion, which has to do with notions of good and evil, of us and them. What precisely that is, I don't know. But I suspect that support for the death penalty is actually a manifestation of intolerance, and of preferential support for your group or tribe, that seems to be such an  intrinsic part of religious belief.

Wozniak, K., & Lewis, A. (2010). Re-examining the effect of Christian denominational affiliation on death penalty support Journal of Criminal Justice DOI: 10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2010.07.011

This article by Tom Rees was first published on Epiphenom. It is licensed under Creative Commons.

... Read more »

  • September 13, 2010
  • 04:04 PM
  • 1,598 views

Scientific hubris, or: Everything you thought you knew about straight line fits is wrong

by sarah in One Small Step

Think you’ve got your least squares down to a tee? Think again. In a paper posted to the Arxiv in late August, David Hogg of NYU and his collaborators take us to task on our sloppy data fitting habits. And he’s not in the mood to mince his words. It is conventional to begin any [...]... Read more »

David W. Hogg, Jo Bovy, & Dustin Lang. (2010) Data analysis recipes: Fitting a model to data. Arxiv . arXiv: 1008.4686v1

  • September 13, 2010
  • 04:00 PM
  • 746 views

Whiplash, Compensation and Recovery

by Lorimer Moseley in BodyInMind

When you hurt your neck in a car accident, what are the chances that you will get better? Well, Michele Sterling’s research team has put aside its Jacaranda Gazing and Cane Toad Stomping, to gather some really helpful information on this. What is more, Sterlo has been so kind as to squeeze another nanosecond out [...]... Read more »

  • September 13, 2010
  • 03:43 PM
  • 550 views

Wyeth's Ghostwriters Falsely Promoted Hormone Replacement Therapy

by Michael Long in Phased

Adriane Fugh-Berman (Georgetown University, United States) exposes the campaign of Wyeth and DesignWrite to falsely market hormone replacement therapy in non-symptomatic women, thereby profiting from a medical treatment which is not based on science. This news feature was written on September 13, 2010.... Read more »

  • September 13, 2010
  • 03:36 PM
  • 795 views

Essential Skills for Living with Pain

by Bronwyn Thompson in Healthskills: Skills for Healthy Living

I could actually head this post with the title ‘Essential Skills for Living’ and leave out the pain part, because as I reflect on the events over the past week, and the aftermath as residents of Christchurch start to demolish then rebuild their homes and businesses, these same skills apply. How do people live well … Read more... Read more »

  • September 13, 2010
  • 03:17 PM
  • 486 views

In which I flog a dead horse

by Hadas Shema in Information Culture

In this post I'd like to revisit the Kouper paper (2010) and even more important, the way it was accepted among science bloggers. First of all, let's start with the blogs studied. The paper says that "The blogs were sampled via the Internet search for "science blogs" and "blogs about science" and by following scientific news on the moment of data collection in Summer, 2008". I'm not sure why Ms. Kouper felt the need to make both searches because Uncle Google, bless its PageRank heart, gives, as expected, very similar results for both searches (and an Information Science student should know that). This kind of sampling means the blogs studied will probably be the most popular at the time, which is indeed what happened. Pharyngula and The Panda Thumb aren't typical science blogs. Also, putting all the blogs in the research under one category is, in my opinion, wrong. One-person-blog isn't the same as Wired Science with its many writers. As A Blog Around the Clock puts it: "Wired Science is a blog owned by a media company. There's little wonder that Kouper's first conclusion was "Science blogs examined in this study are very heterogeneous." I believe an effort should have been made, at least, to categorize the blogs in a way that won't compare apples and oranges. A Blog Around the Clock does us a great service by revealing the doubts the blogger had about the paper, as a peer-reviewer, during the peer-review process. He criticizes the methodology (the small sample, the cut-off for the comments' content analysis at 15 comments) and the conclusions. Kouper's main conclusion was that: "It appears that science blogging can also be characterized as relying on reductive analysis and dependent reporting and drawing caustic and petty commentary." Perhaps the biggest problem of the paper is that the author expect science blogs and science bloggers to fit her ideas of the ways to engage the public in science. She thinks, for example, that “An interesting practical experiment would also be to reverse the roles of writers and readers and invite the so called “ordinary persons” to create and publish science blogs, i.e., to engage them in the practices of science blog writing rather than reading or commenting." To which The Panda's Thumb answered: "Hm? Why would that be interesting? And, for that matter, “ordinary persons” have the same access to blogging software as do scientists; nothing (except disinclination or disinterest) is stopping “ordinary persons” from blogging about anything they wish." It seems that Kouper sees science blogging as some sort of elitist activity, while I believe it is more of a meritocracy. If you want to blog about science, write well, and blog consistently, people will read you (though it might take a while). As opposed to Kouper, Kjellberg (2010) took a different approach to science blogging, by conducting 12 in-depth interviews with science bloggers who are also active researchers. I further discuss the paper here. Kjellberg's paper deals with less famous blogs and bloggers (and most of the blogs are in Swedish) , which could be part of the reason it hasn't gotten any attention from the blogosphere, as far as I can tell. The main reason I think it has gone unnoticed (so far) is that it isn't controversial enough. It fits more with the "storybook image" of science, as Cronin (1984) called it. Blog posts which say "I agree with the paper", are boring (and short). As Goodell (1977) said, "The famous scientist is controversial." ... Read more »

Kouper, I. (2010) Science blogs and public engagement with science: practices, challenges, and opportunities. Jcom, 9(1). info:/

  • September 13, 2010
  • 03:08 PM
  • 787 views

Fishin' in the membrane

by The Curious Wavefunction in The Curious Wavefunction

Since we were talking about GPCRs the other day, here's a nice overview of some of the experimental challenges associated with membrane proteins and how researchers are trying to overcome them. These challenges are associated not just with the crystallization, but with the whole shebang. Although many clever tricks have emerged, we have a long way to go, and at least a few of the tricks sound like brute trial and error.To begin with, it's not that easy to get your expression system to produce ample amounts of protein. As indicated, you often need liters of cell culture to get a few milligrams of protein. The workhorse for production is still good old E. coli. E. coli does not always fold membrane proteins well, but it still beats other expression systems because of its cost and efficiency. Researchers have discovered several tricks to coax E. coli to make better protein. For instance it turns out that cold, nutrient poor conditions and slower-growing bacteria produce better folded and functional protein (although the exact reasons are probably not known, I suspect it has to do with thermodynamics and the binding of chaperones). Adding lipids from higher organisms to the medium also seems to sometimes help.What’s more interesting are efforts to do away with cellular production altogether and just add reagents to cell lysates to jiggle the protein-production machinery. For some reason, wheat-germ lysates seem to work particularly well. There are companies willing to use these lysates to produce hundreds of milligrams of protein. One of the advantages of such cell-free systems is that you can add solubilizing agents and detergents to stabilize the proteins. A striking fact emerging from the article is how many private companies are engaged in developing such technology for membrane proteins; the end "credits" list at least a dozen corporate entities. The list should be encouraging to visionaries who see more fruitful academic-industrial collaborations in the future.Then of course, there’s the all-important problem of crystallization. Of the 50,000 or so structures in the PDB, hardly a dozen are of membrane proteins. Membrane proteins present the classic paradox; keep them stable in the membrane and methods like crystallography and NMR cannot study them, but take them out of the membrane and, divorced from the protective effects of the lipid bilayer, they fall apart. Scientists have worked for years and come up with dozens of tricks to circumvent this catch-22. Adding the right kind of detergents can help. In the landmark structure of the beta-2 adrenergic receptor that was solved in 2007, the researchers used two tricks: attaching a stabilizing antibody to essentially clamp two transmembrane helices together, and replacing a disordered section of the protein with a T4 lysozyme, both strategies geared toward stabilizing the protein.In the end though, there is really no general strategy and that’s still the cardinal bottleneck; as the article's title says, a "trillion tiny tweaks" are necessary to make your system work. What works for one specific membrane protein fails for another. As one of the pioneers in the field, Raymond Stevens from Scripps says, “People are always asking what the one strategy that worked is. The answer is there wasn’t one strategy, there were about fifteen”. This is why chemistry (or economics) is not like physics. Although there are general rules, every specific case still invokes its own principles. In fields like membrane protein chemistry, it is unlikely that a single holy-grail strategy could be discovered that could work for all of them. The medley of techniques applied to membrane proteins makes the science seem sometimes like black magic and trial-and-error. All this makes chemistry hard, but also very interesting; if only a dozen membrane proteins have their structures solved, think of how many more are waiting in the shadows, awaiting the fruits of our sweat and toil.Baker, M. (2010). Making membrane proteins for structures: a trillion tiny tweaks Nature Methods, 7 (6), 429-434 DOI: 10.1038/nmeth0610-429... Read more »

  • September 13, 2010
  • 01:00 PM
  • 1,795 views

Bacterial Physiology and Virulence: The Cultures Converge

by Fred Neidhardt in Small Things Considered

by Fred Neidhardt

Growth dominates the attention of many bacteriologists. It has done so for over a century, inspiring explorations into the complex biochemistry and physiology that produce new cells able to grow, survive harsh environments, and live to grow another day.

Likewise, since the earliest days of microbiology, virulence has been a central focus. In fact, studies of how bacteria cause disease have in sheer number dominated the field for the simple reason that more than intellectual curiosity has been involved: human health has demanded that one learn to cure infectious diseases and protect against them.

Until recently, researchers in these two arenas of microbial exploration shared precious little beyond basic technology and a knowledge of bacterial cell structure and function. ... Read more »

Dalebroux ZD, Svensson SL, Gaynor EC, & Swanson MS. (2010) ppGpp conjures bacterial virulence. Microbiology and molecular biology reviews : MMBR, 74(2), 171-99. PMID: 20508246  

  • September 13, 2010
  • 11:41 AM
  • 1,079 views

Feeding Your Internal Ecosystem

by Rob Mitchum in ScienceLife

The human body is not just an organism, it’s an ecosystem. To the billions of microscopic bacteria, viruses and fungi living in the various nooks and crannies of our intestines, mouth, nose, and other areas, we are the world, the environment that drives their evolution. Though scientists and physicians have long known that humans are [...]... Read more »

Poroyko V, White JR, Wang M, Donovan S, Alverdy J, Liu DC, & Morowitz MJ. (2010) Gut microbial gene expression in mother-fed and formula-fed piglets. PloS one, 5(8). PMID: 20805981  

  • September 13, 2010
  • 11:41 AM
  • 1,148 views

Late-Life Alcohol Consumption and Mortality Risk

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

A recent study from Dr. Charles Holahan and colleagues has been posted on the new articles section of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.  This study examined the role of alcohol consumption and mortality in a group of men and women between the ages of 55 and 65 followed for twenty years.  The media highlighted this study often headlining that heavy drinking was linked lower mortality rates than being abstinent from alcohol.  This study deserves further analysis and commentary.The authors note an important issue in studying those who chose to be abstinent from alcohol.  This is a complex heterogeneous group that is comprised of a significant number of potential confounding variables.  Abstinent groups include a significant number of former drinkers who have moved to being abstinent for a variety of reasons.  One component of the abstinent group is a group of former heavy problem drinkers who now do not drink.  Other potential confounding variables include: smoking status, physical activity levels, social support, socioeconomic status, depression and coping style.  The authors of the current study tried to control for these confounding variables as much as possible.The abtainer goup did show significant differences from drinkers including:lower socioeconomic statusless likely to be marriedcurrent health problemshigher smoking rates (except for rates similar to heavy drinkers)less physical activitymore depression symptomsless social support higher rates of an avoidant coping styleObviously, some of these factors might independently influence mortality and confound the effect of being abstinent from alcohol.Alcohol consumption groups were classified by:Abstinent from alcohol Light-consuming less than one drink per dayModerate-consuming one to less than three drinks per dayHeavy-drinking three or more drinks per dayThe raw twenty year mortality rates for men by drinking status are shown in the figure adapted from data published in the paper.  The death rates are in percent mortality over twenty years.  A typical U-shaped curve is noted with the highest death rates in the abstainers and heavy drinking groups.The authors controlled for all the the potential confounding variables by using a statistical technique called Cox Proportional Hazard modeling.  The analysis found that after controlling for all confounding variables, being in the abstinent group increased mortality rates by 49% compared to the moderate drinking group and being in the heavy alcohol drinking group increased mortality risk by 42%.  The authors note that this study supports previous studies showing a reduced mortality related to moderate alcohol consumption.  They note that this may be due to both a indirect and direct effect.  Abstinent groups have several confounding non-alcohol related characteristics that increase mortality.  But even controlling for these factors there appears to be a direct effect of moderate alcohol consumption.  The authors note this may be due to a protective effect on cardiovascular disease above any negative effects of moderate alcohol use on other causes of death such as cancer and cirrhosis.This study does not mean that those who choose abstinence should begin drinking moderately.  This is an association study, not a causal study.  However, it might be time for a large prospective study randomizing a group of abstinent individuals (without a previous drinking problem or family history of alcoholism) to continued abstinence compared to a moderate drinking protocol.  This type of study would help answer the question of whether changing drinking behavior would be a potential new intervention for reducing cardiovascular deaths.Photo of Dustin Johnson winner of 2010 BMW Champioship courtesy of Yates Photography.Holahan CJ, Schutte KK, Brennan PL, Holahan CK, Moos BS, & Moos RH (2010). Late-Life Alcohol Consumption and 20-Year Mortality. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research PMID: 20735372... Read more »

Holahan CJ, Schutte KK, Brennan PL, Holahan CK, Moos BS, & Moos RH. (2010) Late-Life Alcohol Consumption and 20-Year Mortality. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research. PMID: 20735372  

  • September 13, 2010
  • 11:12 AM
  • 541 views

Falling Waters

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Floods just aren’t what they used to be. The construction of dams has dramatically altered the flow of flood waters in more than half of the large rivers in the United States, and in many smaller waterways too, according to a new analysis.
Although rising rivers can wash away homes and threaten lives, ecologists have […] Read More »... Read more »

  • September 13, 2010
  • 11:10 AM
  • 390 views

Beyond the “gist”: What are we really looking at in a painting?

by Psychology 379 bloggers in Cognition & the Arts

As I walk through an art museum, I casually stroll around the exhibits stopping and pausing at various pieces that catch my eye. Usually the artists are Monet or Degas; I definitely have my favorites. But what is it about these paintings that catch our eyes? What kinds of things do we notice and pay [...]... Read more »

Locher, P., Krupinski, E., Mello-Thoms, C., & Nodine, C. (2008) Visual interest in pictorial art during an aesthetic experience. Spatial Vision, 21(1), 55-77. DOI: 10.1163/156856808782713762  

  • September 13, 2010
  • 11:03 AM
  • 1,128 views

Epigenetic Memories

by Michele in Promega Connections

Embryonic development in multicellular eukaryotic organisms is an intricate dance of signals that determine when and where genes are expressed, allowing the zygote to produce the cells that will ultimately differentiate in to the tissues and organs of the adult. Some of this gene expression is regulated by maternal and zygotic transcription factors, but much [...]... Read more »

Furuhashi, H., Takasaki, T., Rechtsteiner, A., Li, T., Kimura, H., Checchi, P., Strome, S., & Kelly, W. (2010) Trans-generational epigenetic regulation of C. elegans primordial germ cells. Epigenetics , 3(1), 15. DOI: 10.1186/1756-8935-3-15  

  • September 13, 2010
  • 10:54 AM
  • 525 views

Stegosaurus Week: A Rare Look at Soft Tissue

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking


Dinosaur skin impressions are pretty rare, and, even among the known collection of these soft-tissue traces, not all dinosaurs are equally well-represented. There are plenty of skin impressions from hadrosaurs, but stegosaurs are among the dinosaurs in which the skin texture is still largely unknown. Now, as reported by paleontologists Nicolai Christiansen and Emanuel Tschopp, [...]... Read more »

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