Post List

  • November 27, 2009
  • 02:49 AM

Road Vulnerability

by Jan Husdal in

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 »

  • November 26, 2009
  • 05:02 PM

Happy worshippers, unhappy believers

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn, a social scientist at Harvard, has been looking at religion and happiness around the world. What he's found is really quite remarkable.First, some background. Previous studies, mostly done in religious countries like the USA, have tended to find that religious people are, on average, happier (in fact, what's usually measured is 'life satisfaction', since happiness is difficult to compare across cultures).But simple 'average' levels of happiness obscure a lot of detail. Earl........ Read more »

  • November 26, 2009
  • 03:58 PM

America, Clean Your Plate

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

U.S. wastes almost 40 percent of its food supply

... Read more »

  • November 26, 2009
  • 01:00 PM

Shell shock: Is the new way to dispatch a lobster a better way?

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

When you’re a crustacean neurobiologist, cooking a lobster is a topic you’d better be familiar with, because you will be asked about it. (See posts in February 2005; May 2003; maybe this subject needs to get its own label.)

The Daily Mail has an article on the latest effort to deal with concerns that boiling lobster alive is inhumane. The title claims it’s a way “to kill a lobster with kindness.” This potentially more humane alternative to boiling?

........ Read more »

Elwood, R., & Appel, M. (2009) Pain experience in hermit crabs?. Animal Behaviour, 77(5), 1243-1246. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.01.028  

  • November 26, 2009
  • 10:46 AM

From Promiscuous to Palatable, the Making of a Thanksgiving Day Entree

by Johnny in Ecographica

In reflecting on Franklin’s impeachment of the eagle’s morality, it becomes blatantly apparent that his basis for turkey endorsement was not derived from the appraising of the two birds’ sexual fidelity or familial loyalty. If Franklin would have objectively weighed the family values displayed by the bald eagle against those shown by the turkey, he would have undoubtedly praised the eagle for its habit of committing to more-or-less monogamous relationships, and he would have s........ Read more »

  • November 26, 2009
  • 04:34 AM

Foreign subtitles can help comprehension of a second language in a regional accent

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

My recent efforts at speaking French whilst in the French-speaking part of Switzerland mostly provoked derisory laughter from the natives, so I know all about difficulties with accent and pronunciation. According to a new study, I could benefit from watching French films with French, but not English, subtitles. Like the boundaries between colours, the boundaries between verbal sounds (or "phonemes") are somewhat arbitrary, and they can especially vary according to regional accent. Now the psycho........ Read more »

  • November 25, 2009
  • 10:13 PM

Taking below-ground processes seriously: plant coexistence and soil depth

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

Some of the earliest ecologists, like Eugen Warming and Christen Raunkiaer, were enthralled with the minutia of the differences in plant life forms and how these differences determined where plants lived. They realized that differences in plant growth forms corresponded to how different plants made their way in the world. Since this early era, understanding the mechanisms of plant competition is one of the most widely-studied aspects of ecology. This is such an important aspect of ecology becaus........ Read more »

  • November 25, 2009
  • 08:43 PM

Thoughts on Synthesis in Aging Research

by Reason in Fight Aging!

I stumbled across some thoughts from the field of neuroscience earlier today, and thought I'd share. Scientific journals publish more than just research findings, after all. You'll also find the occasional deep editorial, opinion piece, or words of wisdom: The brain is responsible for providing everything from the basic involuntary physiological events that allow one to breathe and live, to the conscious actions and thoughts that dictate the very essence of mankind. As such, the preservation of ........ Read more »

  • November 25, 2009
  • 03:41 PM

Endosymbiosis - a big tangled mess of algae

by Lab Rat in Lab Rat

Next term I'm taking a short course on plastid evolution (e.g chloroplasts), as it was the choice that came closest to my beloved bacteria. While I hold no great love for the inner workings of multicellular creatures, I'm forced to admit that there is something quite special about eukaryotic cells. They're full of little compartments, closed off organelles and selfishly horded genomes, including bacterial genomes within their mitochondria and chloroplasts. Also Psi Curious writes about plastid-c........ Read more »

Elias M, & Archibald JM. (2009) Sizing up the genomic footprint of endosymbiosis. BioEssays : news and reviews in molecular, cellular and developmental biology, 31(12), 1273-1279. PMID: 19921698  

  • November 25, 2009
  • 02:24 PM

Ethical debate: A potential new species, or an invasive pest?

by whysharksmatter in Southern Fried Science

Critics of evolution often ask why new species aren’t still evolving. Although most scientists know that new species ARE still evolving, many members of the American public don’t understand this concept. Recently, marine geneticists at Pepperdine University made a discovery that blurs the boundaries between evolutionary biology and conservation. This discovery is the subject [...]... Read more »

  • November 25, 2009
  • 01:18 PM

Sex was a Costly Affair for Ceratopsian Dinosaurs

by Johnny in Ecographica

Drawing reliable conclusions on the subject of population-level processes can be difficult, particularly when that population happens to be extinct and is only known from the fossil record. Without numerous, quantitatively significant, representatives from a population, discussions of maturation rates, reproductive cycles and mortality rates are all but impossible. However, a mass kill event documented in the Lujiatun Bed of the Lower Cretaceous (Yixian Formation, Liaoning Province of China) pr........ Read more »

Erickson, G., Makovicky, P., Inouye, B., Zhou, C., . (2009) Initial Insights Into Ornithischian Dinosaur Population Biology . The Anatomical Record, 292(9), 1514-1521. info:/

  • November 25, 2009
  • 01:13 PM

The Most Super Eruption of a Supervolcano

by CM in The Iapetus Beat

About 73,000 years ago in what is now Sumatra, Indonesia, Mount Toba exploded in the largest eruption since the appearance of Homo sapiens. This enormous eruption (a supereruption of a supervolcano in the new parlance) spewed 2800 km3 of pyroclastic material from a 100 by 30 km caldera. That is a hell of a lot – almost three times more than Yellowstone 600,000 years ago and even more than the giant (super) Yellowstone Huckleberry Ridge eruption of 2 million years ago. Toba was probably the big........ Read more »

  • November 25, 2009
  • 12:03 PM

Is therapy for child depression effective?

by Nestor Lopez-Duran PhD in Child-Psych

This week I was reading the current issue of Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, which included a large meta-analysis comparing different kinds of therapy for the treatment of depression in adults. I have previously discussed the concept of meta-analysis (see for example a review of this meta-analysis of the effectiveness of different parenting practices). In [...]... Read more »

  • November 25, 2009
  • 09:00 AM

How Raptor Talons Fit Their Prey

by John Beetham in A DC Birding Blog

Most birders learn through field guides that different raptor groups have recognizable body shapes adapted to the way they hunt. Accipiters, for example, have short rounded wings and long tails to facilitate short pursuits through close quarters. This is, in fact, a key to identifying many raptors in the field. Close study of raptors reveals even more subtle anatomical differences. A newly published article in PLoS ONE relates differences in the shapes of raptor talons to how they kill their pre........ Read more »

  • November 25, 2009
  • 08:31 AM

A cautionary tale: botanical gardens and the hybridization of endangered species

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

Botanical gardens play an important role in conserving plant species that are highly endangered or even extinct in the wild. But as a new study shows, botanical gardens can pose their own dangers for these at-risk species, specifically from hybridization with other plants in the collection.... Read more »

  • November 25, 2009
  • 08:29 AM

Neck-breaking, disembowelling, constricting and fishing - the violent world of raptors

by Ed Yong in Not Exactly Rocket Science

The role of Velociraptor's infamous claw has received much attention from scientists ever since they clicked their way across a movie kitchen. In comparison, the formidable claws of living raptors (birds of prey) have received little attention. Eagles, hawks, falcons and owls are some of the most widespread and well-liked of all birds. They are superb hunters and even though it's always been suspected that they use their talons to kill, we know amazingly little about their techniques.

Denver ........ Read more »

  • November 25, 2009
  • 08:27 AM

Malaria in 3D: bioluminescence imaging

by 96well in Reportergene

In a recent Plos One paper, Ploemen and colleagues (Nijmegen Medical Centre) use previously generated luciferase-bearing malaria parasites (PbGFP-Luccon) to study the spatio-temporal development of malaria infection in liver of living infected mice. The final aim of the paper is to propose 3D-imaging to explore the effect of drug and vaccines on P. falciparum infection without surgery and other invasive methodologies in the mouse. Interestingly, they report good tri-dimensional plasmodium tracki........ Read more »

Ploemen, I., Prudêncio, M., Douradinha, B., Ramesar, J., Fonager, J., van Gemert, G., Luty, A., Hermsen, C., Sauerwein, R., Baptista, F.... (2009) Visualisation and Quantitative Analysis of the Rodent Malaria Liver Stage by Real Time Imaging. PLoS ONE, 4(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007881  

  • November 25, 2009
  • 08:04 AM

Mental Illness vs. Suicide

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Do countries with more mental illness have more suicides? At first glance, it seems as though the answer must be "yes". Although not all suicides are related to mental illness, unsurprisingly people with mental illness do have a much higher suicide rate than people without. So, all other things being equal, the rate of mental illness in a country should correlate with the suicide rate. Of course, all other things are not equal, and other factors might come into play such as the quality of mental........ Read more »

  • November 25, 2009
  • 08:00 AM

Come on, let me hear you sing with tailfeathers

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

Hummingbirds are amazing animals, but one of their less appreciated talents is their vocal abilities. Hummingbirds are one of the few animals that engage in vocal learning, for instance, which puts them in a small group with humans and a few other bird groups. The males learn songs because, as in other species, the lady birds find a good song... sexy.

Authors Clarke and Feo had previously shown that during courtship, male hummingbirds in one genus, Calypte (Calypte costae shown above; Calypte a........ Read more »

  • November 25, 2009
  • 07:00 AM

Clinical benefit of lentiviral gene therapy in two patients with a rare neurologic disease

by Vincent Racaniello in virology blog

X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) is a rare neurologic disease caused by a defect in a gene required for normal ABCD1 transporter function. The lack of this function leads to progressive demyelination, severe neurologic disease and death in males, often in childhood. ALD disease progression can be controlled by allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) in those patients [...]... Read more »

Cartier N, Hacein-Bey-Abina S, Bartholomae CC, Veres G, Schmidt M, Kutschera I, Vidaud M, Abel U, Dal-Cortivo L, Caccavelli L.... (2009) Hematopoietic stem cell gene therapy with a lentiviral vector in X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy. Science (New York, N.Y.), 326(5954), 818-23. PMID: 19892975  

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