Post List

  • March 8, 2011
  • 07:30 AM

To weigh or not to weigh?

by pennydeck in Feedback Solutions for Obesity

Trying to lose weight? Keep it off? Confusing advice is abundant and one aspect of this confusion centers on recommendations to weigh-in: should you weigh yourself daily? weekly? monthly? or not at all? While I’m certainly not the first to … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • March 8, 2011
  • 06:30 AM

Misplaced endotracheal tubes by paramedics in an urban emergency medical service system

by Rogue Medic in Rogue Medic

Here is a study that sets out to determine if one part of my statement is correct. Were we correctly placing endotracheal tubes before we even had the fancy technology of waveform capnography?... Read more »

  • March 8, 2011
  • 05:51 AM

Chiral condensates in a magnetic field: A collaboration

by Marco Frasca in The Gauge Connection

So far, it is more than twenty years that I publish in refereed journals and, notwithstanding a lot of exchange with my colleagues, I have never had the chance to work in a collaboration.  The opportunity come thanks to Marco Ruggieri (see here). Me and Marco met in Gent at the Conference “The Many faces [...]... Read more »

  • March 8, 2011
  • 05:30 AM

Testing bacterial vulnerabilities

by Becky in It Takes 30

As regular readers of this blog know, I am not looking forward to living in a world without effective antibiotics at all.  (Well, I’m not insane.)  I was therefore interested in a recent paper (Wei et al. 2011.  Depletion of antibiotic targets has widely varying effects on growth.  PNAS doi:10.1073/pnas.1018301108) that takes a small step [...]... Read more »

Wei JR, Krishnamoorthy V, Murphy K, Kim JH, Schnappinger D, Alber T, Sassetti CM, Rhee KY, & Rubin EJ. (2011) Depletion of antibiotic targets has widely varying effects on growth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 21368134  

  • March 8, 2011
  • 05:16 AM

How the Sun lost its spots

by Kelly Oakes in Basic Space

It may look like a static yellow ball from here, but in reality the Sun is alive with activity. Right now it is becoming more active each day as we get closer to the next solar maximum, which is expected … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • March 8, 2011
  • 05:00 AM

One Long Bear Nap*

by Nsikan Akpan in That's Basic Science

The peculiar metabolic traits of bear hibernation... Read more »

Tøien Ø, Blake J, Edgar DM, Grahn DA, Heller HC, & Barnes BM. (2011) Hibernation in black bears: independence of metabolic suppression from body temperature. Science (New York, N.Y.), 331(6019), 906-9. PMID: 21330544  

  • March 8, 2011
  • 04:43 AM

How anger can make us more rational

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Anger can de-bias our thinking
Imagine you're in a room with four people, one is lip-snarling angry, the others are calm. Who among them would you consider the most likely to think rationally? A surprising new study suggests that in at least one important respect it's actually the angry individual who will be the more rational decision maker. How come? Because they'll be less prone to the confirmation bias - our tendency to seek out information that supports our existing views.

Maia Young and her colleagues had 97 undergrads take part in what they thought were two separate experiments. The first involved them either recalling and writing about a time they'd been exceptionally angry (this was designed to make them angry), or a time they'd been sad, or about mundane events.

Next, all the participants read an introduction to the debate about whether hands-free kits make speaking on a mobile phone while driving any safer. All participants had been chosen because pre-study they believed that they do. The most important part came next, as the participants were presented with one-sentence summaries of eight articles, either in favour, or against, the idea that hands-free kits make driving safer. The participants had to choose five of these articles to read in full.

Which participants tended to choose to read more articles critical of hands-free kits and therefore contrary to their own position? It was the participants who'd earlier been made to feel angry. What's more, when the participants' attitudes were re-tested at the study end, it was the angry participants who'd shifted more from their original position on the debate.

These findings were supported in a follow-up involving 89 adults, with the controversial issue pertaining to who should be the next US president, in what was then the upcoming 2008 election. Once again, participants provoked into feeling angry tended to choose to read articles that ran counter to their original position (be that favouring Obama or McCain). Another detail was that this effect of anger was entirely explained by what the researchers called a 'moving against' tendency, measured by participants' agreement, after the anger induction, with statements like 'I wanted to assault something or someone'.

Young and her team said their results provided an example of anger leading to a cognitive pattern characterised by less bias. 'Although the hypothesis disconfirming behaviour that anger produces may well be an aggressive act, meant to move or fight against the opposition's opinion,' they said, 'its result is to provide those who feel angry with better information.'

What are the real-life implications of this result? The researchers conceded that it's unrealistic to make people angry as a way to improve their decision making. However, they said that in a work meeting, if someone is angry, they might be the one best placed to play the role of devil's advocate on behalf of the group. 'By encouraging angry group members to select information necessary for group discussion,' the researchers explained, 'the group as a whole may get the benefit of being exposed to diverse views and, as a result, achieve a more balanced perspective.'

Young, M., Tiedens, L., Jung, H., and Tsai, M. (2011). Mad enough to see the other side: Anger and the search for disconfirming information. Cognition and Emotion, 25 (1), 10-21 DOI: 10.1080/02699930903534105

... Read more »

  • March 8, 2011
  • 04:00 AM

The Leaking Pipeline of Women’s Academic Careers

by Rense Nieuwenhuis in Curving Normality

Female academics are a minority, compared to male academics. This overrepresentation of men is even stronger in higher ranking positions. The Leaking Pipeline hypothesis explains this discrepancy by focusing on the strongly selective nature of an academic career.... Read more »

  • March 8, 2011
  • 02:00 AM

Do prisoners have the right to die at home?

by SAGE Insight in SAGE Insight

Care or custody? An evaluation of palliative care in prisons in North West England   From Palliative Medicine There has been much reaction to the issue of granting prisoners compassionate leave to die at home. The high profile debate has been particularly fuelled by the decision to release the convicted Lockerie bomber to die at [...]... Read more »

  • March 7, 2011
  • 11:03 PM

Clinical research and the popular press: ibuprofen, heart attacks and re-written press releases

by Medical Media Watch in Medical Media Watch

Welcome to the business end of MMW’s research project. Over the course of the last two weeks my co-bloggers and I have been wringing every last drop of commentary from our finding that clinical studies published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 2005 and 2006 were not prime news fodder. Until now, the study [...]... Read more »

  • March 7, 2011
  • 08:27 PM

The importance of the cardiac physical exam?

by Science Exploiter in Science Exploits

If it hasn't seemed apparent enough in the previous posts, I once again want to stress the importance of the physical exam.  By taking the time to thoroughly examine the patient, which includes a thorough history, tragic events like this can be avoided.Numerous things should happen during any physical exam, but the cardiovascular exam should include: visual examination, palpation, and auscultation; with most of the focus on the neck and chest. So what to do...Take a few blood pressures.  Check each arm and one leg, normally the leg will have the higher blood pressure.  If not, add coarctation of the aorta to the differential. Feel for pulses.  While weak distal pulses does not have to mean pathology, left ventricular hypertrophy is one possible cause.  Keep in mind that LVH occurs due to conditions such as AS, IHSS, AR, MR, and event HTN.Look at the eyes.  Using the ophthalmoscope check for neovascularization, which suggests the blockage of arteries having resulted in the formation of new ones.  Two important disease entities to consider if you see this: diabetes, and coronary artery disease.Examine the neck.  This means giving more than a shear glance and looking at the internal jugular vein, which includes checking for differences during inspiration and expiration; and listening for bruits in the carotid arteries. Bruit: the turbulent flow of blood past an obstruction, otherwise understood as the abnormal sound blood makes as it passes an obstruction.  Because of the pumping of blood the bruit will make two sounds--the upstroke and the decline.  The importance lies in the speed of the upstroke and the speed of the decline, which together can aid in a diagnosis.Rapid upstroke, Rapid decline: aortic regurgitation Rapid upstroke, Delayed decline: IHSSDelayed upstroke, Delayed decline: aortic stenosisSlow upstroke, Normal decline: atherosclerosis, only occurs in the carotid with the plaqueInternal Jugular Vein: correlates with pressure in the right atrium.  The pulse should normally be seen around 5 centimeters above the Angle of Louis of the sternum.  To look for this the patient should lay on the table at an incline of 30 to 45 degrees.  For comparison: 10cm from the Angle is the mandible; at 12cm is the ear lobe.  Two important entities need consideration when checking the internal jugular: Hepatojugular Reflux: a sign of right atrial overload, will stay elevated on inspiration and expiration.Kussmual's Signs: distention of the internal jugular with inspiration; suggestive of pericardial effusion and impending respiratory failure.Next, move on to the chest.Palpate the chest.  Particularly check three areas:Apex: should be at the left 5th intercostal space at the midclavicular line, but can vary slightly depending on the heart's deviation.  However, barely feeling it during S4 suggests a small heart, where as a large heart will generally create a sensation across all palpating fingers during S3.Sternum: roughly located above the right ventricle.  Normally one will not feel it; only right ventricular hypertrophy is felt.  If felt you should add tricuspid regurgitation to your list, auscultating a systolic murmur in the tricuspid area would only further support this diagnosis.Sternal border: correlates well with the left atrium, and just like the right ventricle it will only be felt if enlarged.  With left atrial enlargement consider disease states such as mitral stenosis, mitral regurgitation, and dilated cardiomyopathy.Listen to the heart.  Listen for heart sounds and check for murmurs.  Focus on the four main areas:Aortic: the right 2nd intercostal spacePulmonic: the left 2nd intercostal spaceTricuspid: the left sternal borderMitral: the left 5th intercostal space at the midclavicular lineAnd of course: always take a good history! More on heart sounds and cardiac history taking later...Unfortunately the physical exam has lost its importance to many practitioners.  In lieu of looking, listening, and palpating CT, MRI, US, and XR have come in as replacements.  While radiographic and ultrasonographic imaging have benefits, they have downsides as well.  After all, a physical exam doesn't expose the patient to radiation, require a contrast medium, or cost any more money than the salary to employ the practitioner.  But in a society clamoring for big money lawsuits clinicians need to protect themselves, and imaging modalities can provide conclusive answers without the subjectivity of the clinician's skills.  Some medical schools require their students to do rotations in rural areas, which often lack the bells and whistles of large cities.  It is unfortunate that the bodies which govern medical education across the board don't mandate such training.  Only when one must go without reliance on imaging will he or she learn to appreciate a good physical exam.  Jauhar, S. (2006). The Demise of the Physical Exam New England Journal of Medicine, 354 (6), 548-551 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp068013... Read more »

Jauhar, S. (2006) The Demise of the Physical Exam. New England Journal of Medicine, 354(6), 548-551. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp068013  

  • March 7, 2011
  • 07:46 PM

The Hyena Who Saw the Canyon

by Laelaps in Laelaps

“Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived?” This question – the title of a review published in last week’s Nature – immediately sparked a flurry of news reports about an impending ecological catastrophe on a scale not seen in 65 million years. We are not witnessing a die-off as severe as any of the [...]... Read more »

M. Antón, A. Turner, M. J. Salesa, J. Morales. (2007) A complete skull of Chasmaporthetes lunensis (Carnivora, Hyaenidae) from the Spanish Pliocene site of La Puebla de Valverde (Teruel). Estudios Geológicos, 62(1), 375-388. info:/

Barnosky, A., Matzke, N., Tomiya, S., Wogan, G., Swartz, B., Quental, T., Marshall, C., McGuire, J., Lindsey, E., Maguire, K.... (2011) Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived?. Nature, 471(7336), 51-57. DOI: 10.1038/nature09678  

  • March 7, 2011
  • 06:48 PM

Sperm from Space?

by Kristopher Hite in Tom Paine's Ghost

The interwebs are exploding right now with buzz about a paper published in the Journal of Cosmology authored by a NASA scientist - Richard B. Hoover. The title of the controversial paper published online late last Friday is Fossils of Cyanobacteria in CI1 Carbonaceous Meteorites.

Hoover claims to have found evidence of extra terrestrial life.  

This isn't a new claim.  This evidence comes by microscopic observation of a freshly fractured meteorite that landed on earth in 1864.  If it is life it's been dead for awhile. 

A torrent of criticism has quickly spewed from the scientific community.   When a journal drops names like NASA, Harvard, and Smithsonian it is not something to brush aside without consideration.  But I have spent some time looking into this "Journal of Cosmology" and come up disappointment.

The fact that my University does not have any record of this journal's existence and I can not get to recognize any of the digital object identifiers (DOIs) attached to Dr. Hoover's paper are both red flags that this is a bunch of bollocks.  

I'm all for online open access journals but when peer review means you get a bunch of astrophysicists to weigh in on matters of microbial biology, Huston, we have a problem. 

The one figure from the paper that looks  interesting to me is figure 5. seems as though someone got a bit over-excited to crack open that rock.  

I tend to agree with PZ Meyers after looking at this paper myself.

"I think many confuse their wish to see evidence of extraterrestrial
life with the evidence for extraterrestrial life. Personally, I'd love
to see the discovery of life that originated elsewhere other than our
world — that would provide a radically different insight into evolution.
I know there has been evidence of organic molecules in space, and I
suspect that life does exist on other planets (possibly even other
planets in our solar system), but I'm not going to accept a claim of
discovery without adequate evidence.

And I'm sorry, but Hoover's paper
is poorly written, sloppy work that uses a non-biologist's impressions
of complex textures in a mineral to imply morphological evidence for
fossilized bacteria. You'd think NASA would know better: we had a
similar phenomenon a few years ago, in which people claimed to see a
"face on Mars," a claim that NASA effectively debunked. This is the same thing. It's a shame that NASA isn't being as quick to dismiss bad science this time around.

It is disheartening to see this kind of article be presented as "peer-reviewed" because it chips away the integrity of what peer-review actually means.  On the other hand the journal in question is willing to publish negative critiques of these claims in parallel to the paper.   So let's see what the scientists that actually study microorganisms have to say about these complex textures. 

Hoover, Richard B (2011). fossils of cyanobacteria in C11 carbonaceous meteorites Journal of Cosmology, 13... Read more »

Hoover, Richard B. (2011) fossils of cyanobacteria in C11 carbonaceous meteorites. Journal of Cosmology. info:/

  • March 7, 2011
  • 03:22 PM

A New Stem Cell Enters the Mix

by Sanford- Burnham in Beaker

The iPS cell approach to regenerative medicine is tantalizing because these cells could be derived from a patient’s own cells and are therefore less likely to face immune rejection. In the past few weeks, however, a slew of papers have indicated that the therapeutic potential of iPS cells might be limited by reprogramming errors and genomic instability. Now an alternative type of reprogrammed stem cell enters the mix. In PNAS, Dr. Evan Snyder and his collaborators outline a method to obtain a what they call "induced conditional self-renewing progenitor (ICSP) cells". Generated from progenitor cells, ICSP cells are easier to produce than iPS cells and show therapeutic benefit in a rodent stroke model.
... Read more »

  • March 7, 2011
  • 02:30 PM

Sadness, soreness and staying alert—all in the same place

by Lorimer Moseley in BodyInMind

Sadness, soreness and staying alert - are they all in the same place of the brain?... Read more »

Shackman AJ, Salomons TV, Slagter HA, Fox AS, Winter JJ, & Davidson RJ. (2011) The integration of negative affect, pain and cognitive control in the cingulate cortex. Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 12(3), 154-67. PMID: 21331082  

Dum RP, Levinthal DJ, & Strick PL. (2009) The spinothalamic system targets motor and sensory areas in the cerebral cortex of monkeys. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 29(45), 14223-35. PMID: 19906970  

Kanske P, Heissler J, Schönfelder S, Bongers A, & Wessa M. (2010) How to Regulate Emotion? Neural Networks for Reappraisal and Distraction. Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991). PMID: 21041200  

  • March 7, 2011
  • 12:46 PM

Hydrogen production with disorder-engineered nanoparticles

by Anna Goldstein in Berkeley Science Review Blog

One great example of nanomaterials that can address environmental problems is photocatalytic water splitting, which produces hydrogen gas through a chemical reaction that consumes only water and sunlight. This eco-friendly hydrogen can power zero-emissions fuel cells found in cars and a number of other emerging clean technologies. The goal is to replace conventional methods of manufacturing hydrogen, which generally consume fossil fuels and/or large amounts of electricity.

In photocatalysis, materials like titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles catalyze water splitting by absorbing light and transferring the light's energy to nearby water molecules. In turn, the water breaks apart into its constituent elements, hydrogen and oxygen. Because of the absorption properties of TiO2, artificially generated ultraviolet light is required for the reaction to proceed efficiently. However, in a recent publication in Science, a group of Berkeley Lab researchers have shown that a slightly modified version of TiO2 nanoparticles can split water under natural sunlight.

Continue reading →... Read more »

  • March 7, 2011
  • 12:17 PM

The roadless neighborhoods of Radburn, New Jersey

by Tim De Chant in Per Square Mile

Planners looking to imbue their development with a little old school appeal have a best friend in alleys. The petite thoroughfares tuck bland garage doors behind friendlier looking houses, shrink lots to squeeze in more housing, and leave sidewalks and streets that are free of driveways and curb cuts. Alleys have their charm, I admit. [...]... Read more »

Alexander Garvin. (2002) Residential Suburbs. The American City: What Works, What Doesn't, 305-343. info:other/0071373675

  • March 7, 2011
  • 12:00 PM

Gut Microbes and the Infant Brain: A Surprising Symbiosis

by Micah Manary in Small Things Considered

The ancient genes versus environment argument (i.e., nature versus nurture) about the development of the infant human brain has taken a swerve in a direction few thought possible. A recent paper by investigators from Sweden and Singapore reports on studies using a mouse model to demonstrate that the presence of the gut microbiota significantly influences the developing brain, influencing developmental pathways that affect both motor control and anxiety-related behaviors. The implications for human development are certainly not yet realized, but could be profound. Our anxiety, motor control, and even cognitive pathways are implicated in this paper. Microbes may indeed be subtly changing our brain early on—and for what purposes we cannot yet say. The article would imply that this interaction is beneficial to us, and thus indirectly to our microbiota, but the mere fact that microorganisms can shape our minds brings up many more questions about how humans develop their identity.... Read more »

Heijtz RD, Wang S, Anuar F, Qian Y, Björkholm B, Samuelsson A, Hibberd ML, Forssberg H, & Pettersson S. (2011) Normal gut microbiota modulates brain development and behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(7), 3047-52. PMID: 21282636  

  • March 7, 2011
  • 11:42 AM

Origins of Life – Darwin’s Little Warm Pond

by ogremkv in Cassandra's Tears

Origins of life is a tricky business.  We can’t know how it happened.  We weren’t there and chemical reactions and molecules just don’t fossilize well.  The point is not to show how it happened.  Likewise, the point is not (necessarily) … Continue reading →... Read more »

Costanzo, G., Pino, S., Ciciriello, F., & Di Mauro, E. (2009) Generation of Long RNA Chains in Water. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 284(48), 33206-33216. DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M109.041905  

  • March 7, 2011
  • 11:12 AM

Tyrannosaurus: Hyena of the Cretaceous

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Of all the organisms scientists have found in the fossil record, Tyrannosaurus rex is the most prominent ambassador for paleontology. No dinosaur hall is complete without at least some fragment of the tyrant dinosaur, and almost anything about the dinosaur is sure to get press coverage. We simply can’t get enough of old T. rex. [...]... Read more »

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