November 14, 2014

10:00 AM | Comet: it's not just a cleanser any more!
8:00 AM | When Marie Antoinette Pretended To Be A Milkmaid
Marie Antoinette was little more than a girl when she found herself a queen; it wasn't long before the boredom and the social pressures became too much. She spent an exorbitant amount of money building what she believed was the ideal, picturesque French farm, where she and a select few of her companions would spend entire days dressing as milkmaids and shepherdesses, pretending they were simple peasant girls. Perhaps it wasn't the wisest choice of pastime when the real starving peasants were […]

November 13, 2014

5:10 PM | DNews: Designer Creates a Typeface for Dyslexics
Dyslexia is by far the most common learning disability. But help may be on the way, in the form of an entirely new typeface dreamed up by a Dutch designer who suffers from the disease himself.
3:30 PM | Bilingual People Are Like Brain 'Bodybuilders'
People who speak two languages may have brains that are more efficient at language processing and other tasks, new research suggests.
1:36 PM | DNews: New Drug Presents an Alternative to Antibiotics
About 50,000 people a year die due to drug-resistant bacteria. Fortunately, help may be on the way in the form of a new drug being developed in Sweden that could both treat severe infections and also eliminate new strains of infectious bacteria.
10:00 AM | Evolution of malaria resistance: 70 years on...and on....and on
It was about 70 years ago that the complex problem of anemia, malaria, and genetic interactions, with their relation to hemoglobin was first beginning to be understood.  Sickle cell anemia and its association with a globin gene variant, and similar associations between malarial susceptibility and other genes (such as G6PD and Duffy and other globin gene mutations) were also rapidly identified in roughly the same decades.  The findings were showing that in areas of the world with […]
8:00 AM | The Famous Taxidermist Who Fought A Leopard With His Bare Hands
Need a dead stuffed animal? Better call Carl Akeley. This guy was the father of modern taxidermy, but he almost died on his first trip to Africa when he was attacked by an angry leopard. Out of bullets, Akeley was forced to fight the big cat with his bare hands. The post The Famous Taxidermist Who Fought A Leopard With His Bare Hands appeared first on KnowledgeNuts.
7:41 AM | Unusual cucumbers
Unusual cucumbers, grown at West Dean Gardens It seems to be Cucurbitaceae week on the blog. Fresh from talking about Gynostemma pentaphyllum, today’s post is about some unusual, and ornamental, cucumber varieties. Just before we moved house, Ryan and I had a much-needed weekend away on the south coast. We’d planned various visits, but whilst we were there I picked up a tourist information leaflet about West Dean Gardens. I’d heard of them, but hadn’t realised we […]

November 12, 2014

9:00 PM | Mother Kills Autistic Son to End Fictional Abuse
A Manhattan mother was found guilty in the death of her autistic son, who she killed because of a discredited communication technique. Continue reading →
7:00 PM | World's Oldest People Are Genetically Superior
Reaching a ripe old age seems to have little to do with lifestyle and a lot to do with genes, concludes a new study on 17 of the oldest people on the planet. Continue reading →
5:55 PM | Kew's Intoxication Season
Quite often, when I tell people that I’m an ethnobotanist (and explain what that means), they grin and joke that I must enjoy studying Cannabis. In fact, I have a pair of silver cannabis-leaf earrings that I sometimes wear as an ethnobotanist’s joke. But plant-based drugs are an interesting topic, so before we moved, Ryan and I took a day trip into London to visit Kew Gardens during their Intoxication Season – a celebration of mind-altering plants. Some of the species on […]
2:19 PM | On The Road: Mobility of Romans in Britains
The remains of the Roman Empire are found throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East- aqueducts, stadiums, roads, temples, and cemeteries dot the modern landscapes of many European countries. Their […]

Eckardt, H., Müldner, G. & Lewis, M. (2014). People on the move in Roman Britain, World Archaeology, 46 (4) 534-550. DOI: 10.1080/00438243.2014.931821

10:00 AM | On cancer genetics
What 'causes' cancer?  This was a very mysterious disease for a long time, and there were many theories about it.  Prominently, in the 1970s or so, a major idea was proposed by Nobel laureate Macfarlane Burnet, an eminent Australian immunologist.  The idea was known as the 'forbidden clone' theory and was about autoimmune disease but, more generally, about somatic mutation.  The idea of cancer as a somatic mutational disease made sense if cancer arose from single founder […]
8:00 AM | The Terrifying Race That Drove Its Entrants To Madness
In 1968, the Sunday Times announced it would sponsor a race for the first person to sail solo nonstop around the world. It seemed like a great adventure. But alone for months in grueling conditions, many of the entrants started to lose their grip on sanity. Only one man would finish the race. Others would pay the ultimate price. The post The Terrifying Race That Drove Its Entrants To Madness appeared first on KnowledgeNuts.
5:49 AM | Gynostemma
Gynostemma pentaphyllum, AKA Sweet vine tea One of the plants that Cassie Liveridge mentions in Homegrown Tea is one that I own, but which you very rarely see mentioned anywhere. I’ve had my Gynostemma pentaphyllum for four years, since buying it at the Eden Project. According to the label, it is hardy down to -10°C, but I think it has lived its entire life inside – mainly on the kitchen windowsill. It’s an odd plant. Some of the time it seems entirely happy on the […]
12:00 AM | How a Virus Spreads From Bats to Humans in 10 Steps
Deadly contagious viruses can infect multiple animals, including humans.

November 11, 2014

9:48 PM | Sigue en directo los últimos pasos de la misión Rosetta
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7:35 PM | Early, Heavy Pot Use Kills Parts of Brain: Study
If you smoke a LOT of pot, and you're a teen, your brain might take a beating later on.
4:52 PM | DNews: Virus Found That Makes You More Stupider
While poking around peoples' throats studying microbes, scientists stumbled upon a microorganism present in half their subjects -- one previously seen only in green algae in freshwater lakes and one with the unfortunate effect of making you dumb.
1:38 PM | DNews: Why Do We Scratch When It Makes an Itch Worse?
Ever scratch something so hard you make it bleed? Why on Earth would we persist with that type of behavior? Tara explains why the brain lets us get away with it.
12:00 PM | Chances Are You'll Live Longer Than You Think
Most Americans guessed wrong, when asked in 1992, how likely it was they'd live to be 75. Continue reading →
10:00 AM | Genomics: finding a lid to fit one's kettle?
I recently read Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy, and this led me to begin re-reading one of the books that was a precursor to the jumbled, chaotic, but often hilarious adventures of Tristram, namely, the 16th century Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais.  In the Preface to Book I, I noticed that Rabelais spoke of one Friar Lubin, who went to great lengths "to find a lid to fit his kettle."The context was Rabelais' argument that a lot of retrospective meanings were […]
8:00 AM | The Man Who Made Perfect Lincoln Forgeries And Died Penniless
Own any 18th- or 19th-century autographs? Perhaps a letter written by Abraham Lincoln or Benjamin Franklin? Well, you might want to let a professional check those out. They just might be counterfeits courtesy of Joseph Cosey, one of the most notorious (and talented) forgers in American history. But he wasn't in it for the money, despite his skill. He just liked tricking people. The post The Man Who Made Perfect Lincoln Forgeries And Died Penniless appeared first on KnowledgeNuts.
4:37 AM | Bones - Season 10, Episode 6 (Review)
The Lost Love in the Foreign LandEpisode SummaryWe open on Cam and Arastoo "making fesenjaan," as they say ("it's the hardest Persian dish!") when a dead body outside of Baltimore interrupts them.  A bunch of goats clearing a field found a dead body. Based on blowfly larvae, Hodgins puts time-of-death at 6 to 7 days ago. Brennan does some forensic-fu and figures that the deceased was a female of Asian descent based on the length of the hip axis. Wear on the mandibular dentition puts her in […]

November 10, 2014

5:10 PM | DNews: Math Model Desconstructs Hipsters
Hipsters are hard to define precisely, but we think we know them when we see them. Now mathematics has found a way to explain why hipsters end up being, well, just one more group conforming with norms.
1:22 PM | Opportunity costs, and tea
A lovely set-up for a spot of outdoor tea My problem with the garden at the moment is that I’m not seeing its possibilities – I’m seeing the opportunity cost of going down any particular route. The garden is (as they all are) of finite size. This shouldn’t be an issue, because I have finite resources of energy, time and money to lavish on it, so there will always be a limit to how many different things I can grow. But how to whittle down the list so that I don’t […]
10:00 AM | Dragonflies and innate understanding of physics
"The human mind possesses a basic probabilistic knowledge."  So say Fontanari et al. in a newly published paper in PNAS ("Probabilistic cognition in two indigenous Mayan groups").  They asked whether formal schooling was a necessary foundation for a sense of chance by comparing two unschooled Mayan groups with Mayan schoolchildren and a control, and determined that no formal education is required for making "correct probabilistic evaluations."This paper hit the popular news media. […]
8:00 AM | The Story You’ve Heard About The QWERTY Keyboard Is Probably Wrong
The development and the popularity of the standard QWERTY keyboard has absolutely nothing to do with the traditional story of developing a key arrangement on early typewriters that had keys far enough apart that they wouldn't stick together. Instead, the actual origins of the keyboard are a little murky. It's suggested now that it has more to do with Morse code than it does with mechanical necessity---the arrangement of the letters keeps certain ones together based on how they begin in the […]

November 09, 2014

11:57 AM | Pandan
The giant Pandan triffid surveys its domain Back in March this year, when I naively thought having a garden would be just weeks ago, I ordered some plants from Suttons. The Chilean guavas have spent all summer on the windowsill at work, but have now come home and are acclimatising to life outside in the garden. The current plan is for them to make a little hedge in the front garden – I’ll have to see whether they need some friends to help them fill the space. The kaffir lime […]
8:00 AM | The One Man Who Ruined Halloween With Poisoned Candy
We've all heard the urban legend about the sadist who poisons Halloween candy. It's a myth that just won't go away...and that's probably thanks to an incident that took place in 1974 when a young Texas boy died of cyanide-laced candy. Only the villain wasn't some random stranger...the killer was the boy's own father. The post The One Man Who Ruined Halloween With Poisoned Candy appeared first on KnowledgeNuts.
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