Post List

  • February 3, 2010
  • 11:01 AM

Tree Plantations as Biological Deserts

by Johnny in Ecographica

If I had a nickel for every time a biologist told me that tree plantations are nothing but “biological deserts” I’d be a rich man!

Well, at least a rich-er man anyway…
... Read more »

  • February 3, 2010
  • 10:55 AM

Accelerated Twins: The Answer

by Chad Orzel in Uncertain Principles

Yesterday's post on a variation of the "Twin Paradox" with both twins accelerating was very successful-- 337 people voted in the first poll question, as of a little before 9am, and the comments to the original post are full of lively discussion. That's awesome.

I wish I could take credit for it, but the problem posed is not original to me. It comes from a 1989 paper in the American Journal of Physics, which also includes the following illustration setting up the situation:

The article contai........ Read more »

  • February 3, 2010
  • 10:53 AM

Story behind the science: #PLoS Genetics "Evolutionary mirages" paper

by Jonathan Eisen in The Tree of Life

So there is this cool new paper out in PLoS Genetics: Evolutionary Mirages: Selection on Binding Site Composition Creates the Illusion of Conserved Grammars in Drosophila Enhancers. and I have wanted to write about it for a week or so. You see, the paper is about something I have been interested in for most of my career - how the particular processes by which mutations occur can sometimes be biased (i.e., some types of mutations are more common than others) and that these biases can create high........ Read more »

  • February 3, 2010
  • 10:37 AM

Journal Retracts Autism Research

by Shaheen Lakhan in Brain Blogger

In 1998, a landmark study was published in the medical journal The Lancet. It was the first major research that suggested a link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. Almost immediately following publication, the rates of vaccination plummeted and the incidence of measles escalated among children. Since then, the subject has been the source [...]... Read more »

  • February 3, 2010
  • 10:10 AM

Girls and Math - Part II : Teacher Anxiety

by Daniel Hawes in Ingenious Monkey | 20-two-5

A study in PNAS looks at the link between teacher anxiety and the gender gap in math achievement...... Read more »

Beilock, S., Gunderson, E., Ramirez, G., & Levine, S. (2010) Female teachers' math anxiety affects girls' math achievement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(5), 1860-1863. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0910967107  

  • February 3, 2010
  • 10:05 AM

Dethroning the Red Queen?

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

Regular readers of Denim and Tweed know that I'm fascinated by the evolution of species interactions: interactions between plants and nitrogen-fixing bacteria, Joshua trees and yucca moths, parasitoid wasps and butterflies, and between ants and the trees they guard. I tend to think that coevolutionary interactions not only determine the health of natural populations, but shape their evolutionary history. But would I feel that way if I were a paleontologist?

Running just to stay in place

The id........ Read more »

Futuyma, D. (1987) On the role of species in anagenesis. The American Naturalist, 130(3), 465-73. DOI: 10.1086/284724  

Van Valen, L. (1973) A new evolutionary law. Evolutionary Theory, 1(1), 1-30. info:/

  • February 3, 2010
  • 09:22 AM

Skepticism or denial?

by Andy Russell in Our Clouded Hills

Whilst I would describe myself as a scientific skeptic, in that I will try to investigate claims before coming to a judgement, I would not say I was a “climate change skeptic”. This term is often used to label those that are irrationally dismissive of the scientific evidence (or worse). Several commentators on [...]... Read more »

M. J. Menne, C. N. Williams, & M. A. Palecki. (2010) On the reliability of the U.S. Surface Temperature Record. Journal of Geophysical Research. info:/doi:10.1029/2009JD013094

  • February 3, 2010
  • 08:24 AM

Salamander Longshanks – breed them out

by CJA Bradshaw in ConservationBytes

Patrick McGoohan in his role as the less-than-sentimental King Edward ‘Longshanks’ in the 1995 production of ‘Braveheart’ said it best in his references to the invocation of ius primæ noctis:

If we can’t get them out, we’ll breed them out

What a charmer.
Dabbling in molecular ecology myself over the past few years with some gel-jockey types (e.g., [...]... Read more »

Fitzpatrick, B., Johnson, J., Kump, D., Smith, J., Voss, S., & Shaffer, H. (2010) Rapid spread of invasive genes into a threatened native species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0911802107  

  • February 3, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Science based risk assessment

by sciencebase in Sciencebase Science Blog

Ask people why the enter the lottery and they will usually tell you that “you’ve got to be in it to win it”. As far as it goes that’s true, but it still doesn’t get around the odds of you picking the right numbers being vanishingly (although not quite homeopathically) small at 14 million to [...]Science based risk assessment is a post from: Sciencebase Science Blog
... Read more »

Terje Aven. (2009) A new scientific framework for quantitative risk assessments. Int. J. Business Continuity and Risk Management, 1(1), 67-77. info:/

  • February 3, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

When the going gets tough, do the puffs get going?

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

You would think that having a dedicated set of neurons that triggered super-fast escape responses to get away from fast predator attacks and other sudden events in your area would be something that you’d want to keep around. This is usually so, but it turns out, not always. This is a problem I’ve been struggling with for some time now, and I’m thrilled to bits to find another example.

Fish have a group of neurons that trigger escape responses called C-starts, so called because the fish b........ Read more »

  • February 3, 2010
  • 07:45 AM

The Attraction of Curves

by Brian Koberlein in Upon Reflection

Figure 1: Newton's gravity predicts an elliptical orbit for Mercury (similar to the red path). Mercury's orbit actually shifts over time (similar to the path in blue). Mercury's motion agrees with Einstein's model of gravity. (Source: Wikipedia) Last time I...... Read more »

Dyson, F., Eddington, A., & Davidson, C. (1920) A Determination of the Deflection of Light by the Sun's Gravitational Field, from Observations Made at the Total Eclipse of May 29, 1919. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Containing Papers of a Mathematical or Physical Character (1896-1934), 220(1), 291-333. DOI: 10.1098/rsta.1920.0009  

  • February 3, 2010
  • 07:05 AM

Imaging the Brain Better, Faster,Thinner

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

A lot of the studies that I cast my Neuroskeptical eye over are related to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).This is because, in my opinion, quite a lot of today's fMRI work suffers from methodological flaws. But that's not to say that all fMRI work is suspect, or, worse, that there's something inherently unscientific about fMRI as such. fMRI's a tool, an amazing one in a lot of ways, but like any tool it needs to be used well. Along with others, I've criticized various aspects of re........ Read more »

Sabatinelli D, Lang PJ, Bradley MM, Costa VD, & Keil A. (2009) The timing of emotional discrimination in human amygdala and ventral visual cortex. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 29(47), 14864-8. PMID: 19940182  

  • February 3, 2010
  • 07:00 AM

Following the money: do conservation expenditures match priorities?

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

... Read more »

  • February 3, 2010
  • 06:59 AM

Now playing: Viral plaque formation

by Vincent Racaniello in virology blog

One of the most important procedures in virology is measuring the virus titer – the concentration of viruses in a sample. A widely used approach for determining the quantity of infectious virus is the plaque assay. In this technique, the spread of progeny viruses released by individually infected cells is restricted to neighboring cells by [...]... Read more »

  • February 3, 2010
  • 06:43 AM

Do you love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo?

by judithharvey in NASGP

A 1980s cult advertising campaign posed sharing your tube of cheap caramels as an existential crisis. A 21st century version of the dilemma involves higher stakes. Would you offer one of your kidneys to a member of your family? To a friend? To a stranger?
The first successful living donor kidney transplant was performed in 1954. [...]... Read more »

Ferriman, A. (2008) Becoming a live kidney donor. BMJ, 336(7657), 1374-1376. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.a277  

  • February 3, 2010
  • 06:15 AM

Tumors as ecosystems

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

Clonal evolution during in situ to invasive breast carcinoma progression1

What’s a tumor?
In some ways, that’s a bad question (never mind the answer) because it implies that a tumor is a single thing. But we know that’s not true. A tumor, by the time we can detect it, is a collection of many cells, [...]... Read more »

  • February 3, 2010
  • 05:05 AM

Shiny, swanky car boosts men's appeal to women, but not women's appeal to men

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

It's a widely held, if much derided, belief that ownership of a prestige sports car can increase a man's sex appeal to women. Indeed, there's a scene in the American sit-com Friends in which Joey dons a ridiculous Porsche-branded costume of peak cap, gloves, jacket and trousers, so determined is he to convince female passers-by that he owns a fast, shiny car. Now Michael Dunn and Robert Searle have tested the shiny car effect scientifically, looking at the effect of apparent car ownership on bot........ Read more »

  • February 3, 2010
  • 12:12 AM

Mild Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Fixation

by Michael Long in Phased

Satoshi Minakata (Osaka University) and coworkers have converted carbon dioxide into a synthetically-useful chemical under mild conditions, providing hope for practical atmospheric cleanup and a halt to global warming. This news feature was written on February 2, 2010.... Read more »

  • February 2, 2010
  • 10:19 PM

‘Safe’ Water-Based Drill Cuttings Affect Seafloor Animals

by Kevin Zelnio in Deep Sea News

Oil and gas extraction is pervasive among the coasts of the world. In many areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of west Africa, resource exploration companies have been moving into pretty deep waters. Many rigs use water-based muds in the drilling process. It is considered to the best alternative because [...]... Read more »

Hilde C. Trannum, Hans C. Nilsson, Morten T. Schaanning, & Sigurd Øxnevad. (2009) Effects of sedimentation from water-based drill cuttings and natural sediment on benthic macrofaunal community structure and ecosystem processes. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. info:/10.1016/j.jembe.2009.12.004

  • February 2, 2010
  • 09:41 PM

More on abstinence

by Ryan in Evidence-Based Public Health

A recent paper describes a significant benefit from abstinence-only education. The story is more complicated...... Read more »

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