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Posts

April 09, 2014

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6:06 PM | One in eight global deaths due to air pollution, WHO reports
The World Health Organization has released a new estimate of the number of premature deaths linked to air pollution: In 2012, approximately seven million deaths -- one in eight of those occurring worldwide -- resulted from exposure to air pollution. The vast majority of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries, with much of the burden falling in South East Asia and the Western Pacific.
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5:55 PM | Acid-bath stem cell scientist apologizes and appeals
Haruko Obokata, the Japanese scientist at the centre of a controversy over studies purporting to turn mature cells to stem cells simply by bathing them in acid or subjecting them to mechanical stress, today apologized for her errors in the work.  Read more
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5:55 PM | Acid-bath stem cell scientist apologizes and appeals
Haruko Obokata, the Japanese scientist at the centre of a controversy over studies purporting to turn mature cells to stem cells simply by bathing them in acid or subjecting them to mechanical stress, today apologized for her errors in the work.  Read more
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4:47 PM | Update: Plant Health News (09 Apr 14)
Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the banana plants that can fight off nematodes, the effect of pesticides on earthworms and training for farmers in Gambia on rice crop husbandry. Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news! Bats can help protect rice […]
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4:06 PM | Small sperm whale species share a diet
Wild ThingsAnimals by Sarah Zielinski 12:30pm, April 9, 2014 From the air, dwarf and pygmy sperm whales look similar. Their diets are similar, too, scientists have found.UNCW/NOAA scientific permit No. 948-1692-00Herman Melville may have made the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) famous with Moby Dick, but there are other good reasons why you may not be familiar with the huge […]
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3:18 PM | Telomere length: a new measure of chronic stress in wildlife? | @GrrlScientist
Two independent studies find a positive relationship between social environment and telomere length. The first study -- that nearly everyone has heard about -- is in children. The second study -- that few have heard about -- is in pet grey parrots. The second study raises the question: might telomere length be developed a new way to measure chronic stress -- in animals? Telomeres, the DNA-protein caps that prevent chromosomal fraying, are positively affected by social stress, according to two […]

Mitchell C., Hobcraft J., McLanahan S.S., Siegel S.R., Berg A., Brooks-Gunn J., Garfinkel I. & Notterman D. Social disadvantage, genetic sensitivity, and children's telomere length, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI:

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3:17 PM | Have you tried optogenetics?
It has become pretty common to see someone, after a neuroscience talk, ask, “Interesting – but have you tried doing this with optogenetics?” As if this technique to precisely activate neurons was something that was trivial to implement. It’s not, obviously, it’s quite expensive and hard (for many systems). Otherwise everyone would be doing it already! Who […]
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1:11 PM | Stunted butterfly wings linked to food shortages during caterpillar phase
A lack of food during a critical stage of larval development may impair the growth of adult monarch butterfly wings, with potentially disastrous consequences for the migration success of this species.  Butterflies have a complex lifecycle, undergoing an astonishing transformation from caterpillar to adult butterfly. During the larval stage, the caterpillar must consume vast quantities […]

Johnson H, Solensky MJ, Satterfield DA & Davis AK (2014). Does Skipping a Meal Matter to a Butterfly's Appearance? Effects of Larval Food Stress on Wing Morphology and Color in Monarch Butterflies., PLoS ONE, 9 (4) PMID:

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12:00 PM | The field ecology of a gut microbe inside bullet ants
This is the latest paper from my lab, which I’m really excited about. When we designed the project, several people told us that it would be useless. “It’s pointless to study the ecology of a symbiotic microbe in the wild when we have yet to specify its function inside the host.” It was only two […]
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11:15 AM | The importance of knowing and recognizing the limits of your knowledge
At some point in every qualifying exam, there will be a question that the student doesn’t know the answer to. Actually, that’s not quite accurate – this doesn’t happen just once; it happens repeatedly, in every qualifying exam. That’s part … Continue reading →
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10:32 AM | Eyewire: Solving mysteries of the brain through gaming
While some may be familiar with the concept–made famous by Foldit, a pioneer online video puzzle where you “fold” protein as part of a University of Washington research project–the crowd at Bibliotheca Alexandria were blown away by a similar game model: Eyewire, neurology’s first ever computation game, open to laypeople.  Read more
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10:32 AM | Eyewire: Solving mysteries of the brain through gaming
While some may be familiar with the concept–made famous by Foldit, a pioneer online video puzzle where you “fold” protein as part of a University of Washington research project–the crowd at Bibliotheca Alexandria were blown away by a similar game model: Eyewire, neurology’s first ever computation game, open to laypeople.  Read more
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8:00 AM | Windback Wednesday: Entrepreneurship
The word entrepreneur comes from the 13th century french verb entreprendre, which literally translates to “to do something” or “to undertake”. By the 16th century, the word entrepreneur had developed a meaning of its own: someone who undertakes a business venture. It’s distinguishing features, according to Richard Cantillon (an 18th century economist), are an understanding of risk and being prepared to do business without guaranteed profits. Sounds scary, but it […]
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8:00 AM | Windback Wednesday: Entrepreneurship
The word entrepreneur comes from the 13th century french verb entreprendre, which literally translates to “to do something” or “to undertake”. By the 16th century, the word entrepreneur had developed a meaning of its own: someone who undertakes a business venture. It’s distinguishing features, according to Richard Cantillon (an 18th century economist), are an understanding of risk and being prepared to do business without guaranteed profits. Sounds scary, but it […]
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7:58 AM | After a baby and a book Under the Banyan is back
I’ve been away from this blog for nearly a year, but I have returned today to bring it back to life. It has been a busy time. My main reason for putting the blog on hold is pictured below, hiding … Continue reading →
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2:01 AM | Your fish has dark eyes? It might be stressed.
Some time ago in a laboratory in Brazil, a research assistant sat for six hours in front of fourteen fish aquaria, each slightly larger than a car battery. One fish, the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus L.) swam inside each aquarium. The assistant snapped close-up photos of the tilapia’s eyes every thirty minutes. Science owes much gratitude to such […]
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12:33 AM | Monthly Map
Ireland looks into dairy cows, the UK eyes synthetic biology, and the Philippines grapples with Bt eggplant. (You want it big? Click the image.)  … Read more
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12:33 AM | Monthly Map
Ireland looks into dairy cows, the UK eyes synthetic biology, and the Philippines grapples with Bt eggplant. (You want it big? Click the image.)  … Read more

April 08, 2014

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11:20 PM | Here are the slides from my talk on blogging
My talk on blogging at Virginia Tech went over quite well. Enjoyed the whole visit, it was very well organized (thanks Alex and Greg!) and I had a bunch of really interesting conversations. For folks at Virginia Tech and elsewhere … Continue reading →
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7:29 PM | ‘Primitive’ cardiovascular systems
A 520-million year old cardiovascular system: It was both modern and unsophisticated. A simple, tubelike heart was buried in the creature’s belly—or thorax—and shot single blood vessels into the 20 or so segments of its primitive body. In contrast, x-ray scans of the specimen revealed profoundly intricate channels in the head and neck. The brain […]
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4:01 PM | Pictures say a thousand words: OSHA Silica Hearings week #3
OSHA's public hearing on its proposed regulation on respirable crystalline silica concluded last week. Some of the final witnesses included the American Petroleum Institute and the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund.
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3:23 PM | Plantwise Newsletter out now!
Check out the latest news and updates on activities of Plantwise and partners around the world. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox by emailing plantwise@cabi.org  Filed under: Agriculture Tagged: media, news, Plantwise, subscribe
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3:05 PM | Information theory of behavior
Biology can tell us what but theory tells us why. There is a new issue of Current Opinion in Neurobiology that focuses on the theory and computation in neuroscience. There’s tons of great stuff there, from learning and memory to the meaning of a spike to the structure of circuitry. I have an article in this issue and […]

Sharpee, T., Calhoun, A. & Chalasani, S. (2014). Information theory of adaptation in neurons, behavior, and mood, Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 25 47-53. DOI:

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2:42 PM | Imagine not getting the PhD you’d been working towards… #datadramas
What would happen if you lost all of your research data? The loss of scientific data can have a devastating impact on careers. Imagine if you lost all of the research data you’d been diligently collecting for four years. Now imagine the knock-on effect; you wouldn’t get the PhD you’d been working towards and your future career would be impacted. This nightmare situation actually happened to Billy Hinchen. Hear his story.  Read more
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2:42 PM | Imagine not getting the PhD you’d been working towards… #datadramas
What would happen if you lost all of your research data? The loss of scientific data can have a devastating impact on careers. Imagine if you lost all of the research data you’d been diligently collecting for four years. Now imagine the knock-on effect; you wouldn’t get the PhD you’d been working towards and your future career would be impacted. This nightmare situation actually happened to Billy Hinchen. Hear his story.  Read more
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2:09 PM | Batmen (may) save your bank and put rice on your plate
[Another version of this article was first published on SciDev.net] Bats that prey on a major insect pest of paddy in Thailand could help ensure food security and save paddy harvest worth millions of dollars, according to a paper published in Biological Conservation. A team of German and Thai scientists modeled the predation of the […]
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12:16 PM | Hubbard Fellowship Blog – First Burn of the Season
It’s burn season on the Platte and our team is foaming at the mouth to get some fire on the ground. Prescribed fire is completely dependent on suitable weather conditions, so almost every day we wake up hopeful to burn, … Continue reading →
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12:00 PM | Readers Write In: What is this Ohio Snake?
I found this snake in my yard in Northeast Ohio. It is not aggressive at all and is prob less than 12 inches do you know what it is? I did not keep this snake I let him go. I only kept him long enough to take pictures I just want to make sure there aren't dangerous snakes around my house! Kara Ohio Readers: What is this Snake? ----- Snake Identification Post Ground Rules -Guesses
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11:21 AM | Emily Anthes discusses how biotechnology is shaping the future of our furry and feathered friends
Emily Anthes is a science journalist and author. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, Scientific American, Psychology Today, BBC Future, SEED, Discover, Popular Science, Slate, The Boston Globe, and elsewhere.  Read more
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11:21 AM | Emily Anthes discusses how biotechnology is shaping the future of our furry and feathered friends
Emily Anthes is a science journalist and author. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, Scientific American, Psychology Today, BBC Future, SEED, Discover, Popular Science, Slate, The Boston Globe, and elsewhere.  Read more
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