Post List

  • October 12, 2010
  • 09:23 AM

Colour My World: Red parrot feathers resist bacterial degradation

by GrrlScientist in GrrlScientist

Why do parrots have such brightly colored feathers? ... Read more »

Burtt, E., Schroeder, M., Smith, L., Sroka, J., & McGraw, K. (2010) Colourful parrot feathers resist bacterial degradation. Biology Letters. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.0716  

McGraw, K.J., & Nogare, M.C. (2004) Carotenoid pigments and the selectivity of psittacofulvin-based coloration systems in parrots. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 138(3), 229-233. DOI: 10.1016/j.cbpc.2004.03.011  

  • October 12, 2010
  • 09:20 AM

Can a magician trick people with autism?

by Jon Brock in Cracking the Enigma

Are people with autism susceptible to magical illusions? There are a number of reasons to suspect that they might not be.Firstly, magicians rely on misdirection. They'll use eye gaze and gesture to make sure the audience is looking one way, while they're secretly switching the cards or sneaking an elephant into a hat (or whatever it is they do). People with autism, it's argued, are less sensitive to these kinds of social cues, so perhaps they're not as easily misdirected.Second, as mentioned in........ Read more »

Kuhn G, Kourkoulou A, & Leekam SR. (2010) How Magic Changes Our Expectations About Autism. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS. PMID: 20855904  

  • October 12, 2010
  • 09:00 AM

Depression during pregnancy and birth complications.

by Nestor Lopez-Duran PhD in Child-Psych

Monday’s Briefs: Quick musings on child related research. Editor’s note: Due to the yesterday especial editorial on bullying and suicide, Monday’s brief comes to you a date late. Wednesday’s post will be published tomorrow as expected. We will review the latest study on vaccines and autism. The leading causes of childhood disabilities are prenatal and neonatal [...]... Read more »

  • October 12, 2010
  • 08:25 AM

Aspartame: Cause of or Solution to Obesity?

by Travis Saunders, MSc, CEP in Obesity Panacea

Image by Jake Spurlock
Last week fellow Plogster Steve Silberman forwarded me a link to this interesting article on the health effects of aspartame (the sweetener used in Diet Coke, among other things).  It discusses the evidence, or rather the lack of evidence linking aspartame with various types of cancer.  The article was well-outside of my area of expertise (I’m hoping that my PLoGs colleagues David and Melinda may share their 2 cents on the aspartame-cancer issue), but it did remind........ Read more »

  • October 12, 2010
  • 08:20 AM

Update: Unbalancing the Nitrogen Cycle

by Michael Windelspecht in RicochetScience

Use of Fertilizers is Unbalancing the Nitrogen Cycle
(image courtesy of NRCS)

One of our previous blog posts "Humans Versus the Nitrogen Cycle " introduced the idea that not only are humans unbalancing the carbon cycle, but also the nitrogen cycle, and outlined some of the possible consequences for aquatic life. Now, an article released in Science further details the extent of the damage.

The AAAS press release "Too Much of a Good Thing: Human Activities Overload Ecosystems with Nitrogen "........ Read more »

Canfield, D., Glazer, A., & Falkowski, P. (2010) The Evolution and Future of Earth's Nitrogen Cycle. Science, 330(6001), 192-196. DOI: 10.1126/science.1186120  

  • October 12, 2010
  • 08:05 AM

Guest Post: The cellular postal system: more postmen don’t spoil the delivery

by Becky in It Takes 30

Bodo Stern writes: Remember the children’s game “Telephone” in which the first participant whispers a phrase to their neighbor who in turn whispers what they believe to have heard to the next player, and so on? The phrase announced by the final player often differs substantially and in hilarious ways from the original message. Luckily, [...]... Read more »

  • October 12, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Like a virginalis, named for the very first time

by Zen Faulkes in Marmorkrebs

The new paper by Martin and colleagues is a significant one for the Marmorkrebs research community, because it seems to settle the problem of the species most closely related to Marmorkrebs pretty definitively. Marmorkrebs are most closely related to slough crayfish, Procambarus fallax. The picture at right compares the two; P. fallax is on top (Fig. 1 from Martin et al.)

It’s also noteworthy for being the first to tackle the thorny issue of a species name for Marmorkrebs. Martin and colleagu........ Read more »

Martin P, Dorn NJ,, Kawai T, van der Heiden C, & Scholtz G. (2010) The enigmatic Marmorkrebs (marbled crayfish) is the parthenogenetic form of Procambarus fallax (Hagen, 1870). Contributions to Zoology, 79(3), 107-118. info:/

  • October 12, 2010
  • 06:46 AM

Mice help identify promising prostate cancer treatment

by Paul Browne in SpeakingofResearch

Prostate cancer is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year, so the news today that in a clinical trial of more than 1,000 men a new drug named abiraterone acetate prolonged the lives of patients with advanced prostate cancer in a by an average of four months has been greeted with considerable excitement. [...]... Read more »

Barrie SE, Potter GA, Goddard PM, Haynes BP, Dowsett M, & Jarman M. (1994) Pharmacology of novel steroidal inhibitors of cytochrome P450(17) alpha (17 alpha-hydroxylase/C17-20 lyase). The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology, 50(5-6), 267-73. PMID: 7918112  

  • October 12, 2010
  • 05:54 AM

Pouches, pockets and sacs in the heads, necks and chests of mammals, part II: elephants have a pouch in the throat... or do they?

by Darren Naish in Tetrapod Zoology

Welcome to the second part of the series on the various pouches, sacs and pockets present in the heads, necks and chests of mammals. Last time we looked at the laryngeal sacs of primates (and, should you encounter unfamiliar anatomical terms in the following text, be sure to check out that first article for an anatomical primer). Comparatively speaking, the structures present in primates are well known... or, at least, their existence is comparatively well known. Less well known is the suggest........ Read more »

Garstang, M. (2004) Long-distance, low-frequency elephant communication. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 190(10), 791-805. DOI: 10.1007/s00359-004-0553-0  

  • October 12, 2010
  • 05:30 AM

Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and implications for US national security

by SAGE Insight in SAGE Insight

From International Relations Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program causes concern for a variety of reasons and in particular generates threats to US national security. This article outlines how the deep animosity between Pakistan and India has been a key driving force behind the nuclear program. They have fought three major wars against each other: India is [...]... Read more »

  • October 12, 2010
  • 02:21 AM

Video podcasts not ready to replace lectures

by Dr Shock in Dr Shock MD PhD

This disappointing result is recently published online at BMC medical education. Teachers are eager to use new information technology to teach. When I’m doing a lecture at our Med School, these lectures are made to podcasts and posted on Blackboard. Together with the slides students can rehears or listen to the lecture after worths when [...]

Related posts:iTunes can Replace Professors
Book review: Blogs, wikis, podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms
Twitter during Lecture........ Read more »

  • October 12, 2010
  • 02:00 AM

Research Blogging: The Postpartum Brain

by Dr Becca in Fumbling Towards Tenure Track

I describe a new paper that looks at spine density and cognitive function in the brains of postpartum female rats.... Read more »

  • October 11, 2010
  • 08:52 PM

Substantial equivalence

by Anastasia Bodnar in Biofortified

One important concept that is used in most countries to regulate products of genetic engineering is substantial equivalence. The way to determine substantial equivalence is comparative assessment. What do substantial equivalence and comparative assessment mean? Depending on the source we use, we might find different definitions and different opinions of how useful they are in determining the safety of products of genetic engineering. The USDA provides information on Food Safety Assessment and C........ Read more »

Kogel KH, Voll LM, Schäfer P, Jansen C, Wu Y, Langen G, Imani J, Hofmann J, Schmiedl A, Sonnewald S.... (2010) Transcriptome and metabolome profiling of field-grown transgenic barley lack induced differences but show cultivar-specific variances. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(14), 6198-203. PMID: 20308540  

Baker JM, Hawkins ND, Ward JL, Lovegrove A, Napier JA, Shewry PR, & Beale MH. (2006) A metabolomic study of substantial equivalence of field-grown genetically modified wheat. Plant biotechnology journal, 4(4), 381-92. PMID: 17177804  

  • October 11, 2010
  • 07:53 PM

Costridium virulence: What's essential?

by Michael Clarkson in Conformational Flux

Clostridium difficile is an intestinal pathogen that causes diarrhea in hospitals and other healthcare settings (including nursing homes). Present as a commensal bacterium in a significant fraction of the population, C. difficile is usually rather harmless, its numbers suppressed by competition with the intestinal flora. When its competitors are decimated by antibiotics, however, C. difficile flourishes, releasing toxins that cause inflammation and diarrhea, which can be dangerous because the in........ Read more »

Kuehne, S., Cartman, S., Heap, J., Kelly, M., Cockayne, A., & Minton, N. (2010) The role of toxin A and toxin B in Clostridium difficile infection. Nature, 467(7316), 711-713. DOI: 10.1038/nature09397  

  • October 11, 2010
  • 06:59 PM

This Week in the Universe: October 5th – October 11th

by S.C. Kavassalis in The Language of Bad Physics

Astrophysics and Gravitation:
Early Universe was Overheated, says NASA
Michael Shull, Kevin France, Charles Danforth, Britton Smith, & Jason Tumlinson (2010). Hubble/COS Observations of the Quasar HE 2347-4342: Probing the Epoch of He II Patchy Reionization at Redshifts z = 2.4-2.9 arXiv arXiv: 1008.2957v1
Credit: NASA/Michael Shull, University of Colorado
From the Press Release:
During a period of universal warming 11 billion years ago, quasars — the brilliant core of active galaxies ........ Read more »

Michael Shull, Kevin France, Charles Danforth, Britton Smith, & Jason Tumlinson. (2010) Hubble/COS Observations of the Quasar HE 2347-4342: Probing the Epoch of He II Patchy Reionization at Redshifts z . arXiv. arXiv: 1008.2957v1

Perez-Garcia, M., Silk, J., & Stone, J. (2010) Dark Matter, Neutron Stars, and Strange Quark Matter. Physical Review Letters, 105(14). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.105.141101  

SuperB Collaboration, E. Grauges et al., Francesco Forti, Blair N. Ratcliff, & David Aston. (2010) SuperB Progress Reports -- Detector. arXiv. arXiv: 1007.4241v1

Gary Felder, & Stephanie Erickson. (2010) CurvedLand: An Applet for Illustrating Curved Geometry without Embedding. arXiv. arXiv: 1010.1426v1

  • October 11, 2010
  • 06:34 PM

Pipefish: Battle of the Sexes Reversed

by Joris van Alphen in Joris van Alphen Photography Blog

Male pipefish may have lost the battle over parental care, but they haven’t lost the war.... Read more »

Sagebakken, G., Ahnesjo, I., Mobley, K., Goncalves, I., & Kvarnemo, C. (2009) Brooding fathers, not siblings, take up nutrients from embryos. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277(1683), 971-977. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.1767  

  • October 11, 2010
  • 04:50 PM

Will Global Warming Continue Even After Greenhouse Gas Removal?

by Michael Long in Phased

Computer simulations by Susan Solomon (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States) and coworkers suggest that heat trapped deep with the ocean, and only slowly released, will enable a continuation of global warming long after greenhouse gases have been removed from the atmosphere; longer warming will result the longer we wait to stop greenhouse gas emissions. This news feature was written on October 11, 2010.... Read more »

Susan Solomon,, John S. Daniel,, Todd J. Sanford,, Daniel M. Murphy,, Gian-Kasper Plattner,, Reto Knutti,, & Pierre Friedlingstein. (2010) Persistence of climate changes due to a range of greenhouse gases. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/10.1073/pnas.1006282107

  • October 11, 2010
  • 04:40 PM

My IVF story: conclusions

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

I discuss aging and reproductive health, reproductive choice, and the naturalistic fallacy in my concluding post on IVF.... Read more »

  • October 11, 2010
  • 03:30 PM

Location Location Location. Acupuncture and chronic shoulder pain – CAM or Sham?

by Lorimer Moseley in BodyInMind

Having written a number of posts on acupuncture (see here, here, and here) I guess my particular biases are reasonably apparent. So imagine my surprise when a large RCT published in the journal “Pain” reports a significant and substantial effect of Chinese acupuncture in comparison with sham acupuncture or conventional orthopaedic therapy for chronic shoulder [...]... Read more »

  • October 11, 2010
  • 02:40 PM

Where are you from? Where have you been?

by Dan in The Endolymph

In my opinion one of the most interesting questions asked about fish is where are you from?  Or where have you been?  Unfortunately, fish don’t carry around birth certificates that make answering these questions easy and uncomplicated…or do they?Enter otolith microchemistry.  In a sense the elemental makeup of the core of an otolith can act as a “birth certificate” for a fish.  The idea is that the elemental composition at the core of the otolith will reflect the che........ Read more »

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