Posts

April 18, 2015

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2:50 PM | Where agricultural technology doesn't work - rice terraces
This is a very handsome image of human transformed land. TPP's initial impression was that this was a marvelously fluid work of stained glass art. This image shows rice terraces in Yunnan China that literally show the topography of a valley most people would think is too steep for agriculture. This tells you how valuable land is in some places that people would go to so much trouble for agricultural use. Clearly any modern agricultural equipment bigger than a rototiller is simply useless. It's […]
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10:26 AM | Stone tools half a million years older than the first Homo species & someone else may have made them?
The 1st homo species is supposed to be Homo Habilis – (handy man). Who made these flaked tools? An older homo habilis or some of the more advanced ape-like upright walkers that are not related to Lucy? According to Daily Mail: “World’s oldest tools discovered: Stone flakes made by human ancestor 3.3 million year ago […]

April 17, 2015

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3:52 PM | Book in Brief: Sex on Earth
Panda sex may have no greater defender than Jules Howard. I mean, presumably the pandas themselves would be …
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2:00 PM | The brave new world of environmental genomics
A new special issue of Heredity reflects on the recent advances in environmental genomics (see other posts about eDNA here and here) and highlights the ways NGS can aid in characterizing complex biological systems. The cryptic, as well as the rare but active … Continue reading →
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2:00 PM | U.S. Atom Smasher has its Swan Song
The U.S. atom smasher (which is a phenomenal nickname for a particle collider facility) has made a new discovery concerning the Higgs boson particle! Sadly, the facility (actually named the Tevatron collider) in Batavia, Illinois was shut down in 2011. So this important paper is a little too late. Read more about what they found over […]
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12:10 PM | New Books Party: books that arrived recently | @GrrlScientist
Before heading out to a tropical island for your summer holidays, you might be interested to learn more about the critical role that islands play in the evolution of new species. Today, I share two important books with you, both of which explore the importance of islands as “natural laboratories” of evolution and ecologyThe Theory of Island Biogeography (Princeton Landmarks in Biology) by Robert H. MacArthur and Edward O. Wilson [220 pages, Princeton University Press; 2001; Guardian […]
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4:46 AM | Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: A Middle Jurassic trace fossil from southwestern Utah
Time for a trace fossil! This is one of my favorite ichnogenera (the trace fossil equivalent of a biological genus). It is Gyrochorte Heer, 1865, from the Middle Jurassic (Bathonian) Carmel Formation of southwestern Utah (near Gunlock; locality C/W-142). It was collected on an Independent Study field trip a long, long time ago with Steve […]

April 16, 2015

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11:39 PM | Space as a Matter of Attention
One of the interesting features of the book Attention and Meaning is the way different authors have personal stories about how they found their way to interest in attention. Chapter 4 is by Kai-Uwe Carstensen, whose web page either boasts...
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11:04 PM | #DNLeeLab: Rethinking my feeding enrichment biases
I’m rethinking my feeding enrichment protocols. My pouched rats, Cricetomys gambianus and C. ansorgei, are food generalists but in the lab we feed them commercially available rodent or rabbit... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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9:35 PM | Any help with apple experiment?
TPP is ready to begin a new apple experiment; the last one was a failure. With limited space, TPP has been looking at the columnar dwarf apple trees, basically a central shoot with lots of flowering spur branches. These are probably not ideal, but worth a try. The applke varieties that originally came in such columnar forms have not sounded particularly good; the descriptions make them sound like soft-fleshed apples of the McIntosh sort. A decent apple until you grow up. A local […]
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7:14 PM | Window Dressing
The window to the lab has been updated, courtesy of Zack Blount.
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6:43 PM | "Step Up, Twitter!" Message in a Bottle
Follow @DarinLHammond !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');An Empty Mind on Twitter's Water***Please note the disclosure at the end of this document, which I hereby sign electronically. Darin L. HammmondYou've got a couple of choices when you enter […]
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5:10 PM | Counting Chicks
It’s probably not a surprise that humans aren’t the only animals with a sense of numbers. While they’re probably not …Continue reading →

Rugani R, Vallortigara G, Priftis K & Regolin L (2015). Animal cognition. Number-space mapping in the newborn chick resembles humans' mental number line., Science (New York, N.Y.), 347 (6221) 534-6. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25635096

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3:44 PM | People Are Modifying Monitors to Make Gargantuan Geckos
Over the last several days a consortium of people interested in herpetology, weird animals, animal lore, and special effects have worked together to help resolve an incredible and bizarre ‘mystery’*.... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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2:00 PM | dN(eutralist) < dS(electionist) Part 5
The neutral theory predicts that species with small census (and effective) population sizes are subject to greater drift (or allele frequency fluctuations), and vice versa. In other words, species with larger population sizes are expected to maintain more neutral diversity … Continue reading →
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7:09 AM | A Few More Words About Morality
You really must check in on the big morality discussion over at Uncommon Descent. Barry Arrington has done another post on the subject. It’s just more snarling and buffoonery, but I do suggest browsing the comments. RDFish, the “idiot” who caused Arrington’s latest fit of apoplexy, has shown extraordinary patience and lucidity in responding point…
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2:41 AM | Don’t Abandon the Passive Voice in Scientific Writing for the Sake of Storytelling
If you’ve written a scientific paper recently, I’m willing to bet that, during the writing/editing process, someone told you to avoid writing in the passive voice (unless you’d already heard this advice before, and avoided it from the start!). This … Continue reading →
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2:17 AM | Solar is Technology Not Fuel
The title of this post comes from a Bloomberg article on the state of solar energy. The article in interesting…
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12:34 AM | A Day in the Life of …
Today was a great day – busy and wonderful. Pretty typical, I’m happy to say, though a bit busier than usual but all of it great. Woke up to beautiful Spring day in East Lansing and walked 1.7 miles to … Continue reading →

April 15, 2015

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9:00 PM | Battle for the “Bone Wars” Beasts
A few years back, shortly after he introduced me to a splendid fossil alligator, Peabody Museum of Natural …
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6:36 PM | What's in a name? They're blue and bell-shaped.
A pox on common names is certainly deserved in that they are never precise and often terribly confusing. Still people prefer a fuzzy, whuzzy, common name no matter the consequences.  While walking through our gardens, a friend asked TPP a question as a case in point, "Are those bluebells?"  Yes (In reference to image below.).  "Well, they looked a lot different in England."  How very true; how very observant. There you have it in a nutshell. There are no conventions on […]
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6:11 PM | Has Dennett Undercut His Own Position on Words as Memes?
Early in 2013 Dan Dennett had an interview posted at John Brockman’s Edge site, The Normal Well-Tempered Mind. He opened by announcing that he’d made a mistake early in his career, that he opted a conception of the brain-as-computer that was too simple. He’s now trying to revamp his sense of what the computational brain […]
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3:23 PM | Coloring book for up-tight flower people
Today is the last day of tax season, a date closely watched at the Phactor household; now it's time to help Mrs. Phactor unwind from the stress and work load of tax season. Perhaps there are more of you out there, not necessarily just tax preparers, but other people with stressful lives, people who need some help to relax, to cope. Well, here's just the thing a great mandala coloring book. A lot of the images are floral because such designs are based upon floral forms which themselves are based […]
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2:24 PM | Migration on the brain
If you’ve watched any number of nature shows in your lifetime, you’ve seen the astounding migrations made by salmonid fishes. You can count on seeing a shot of salmon darting against the current and catapulting themselves over turbulent falls (like … Continue reading →
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2:12 PM | Island Biogeography Revisited online bookclub: ch 1 | @GrrlScientist
Some of the comments from my bookclub provoked by opening chapter of Island Biogeography Revisted, an assessment of the continuing impact of MacArthur and Wilson’s seminal work, The Theory of Island BiogeographyThe first meeting of the BiK-F/Senckenberg Museum science book club took place outdoors in the garden, where we enjoyed one of the first warm and sunny days of the year whilst we ate lunch and listened to birdsongs. Although several members of the book club were traveling and could […]
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2:00 PM | Don’t Trust Your Data
Or more specifically, don’t always trust your own data analysis skills. As a PhD student soon to be on the Postdoc market I am eagerly learning all I can about bioinformatics and coding. Additionally, I really like it. So reading this review of the new book by  Vince Buffalo Bioinformatics Data Skills is both awesome and informative. […]
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12:00 PM | Boy Plants Are From Mars …..
Biology concepts – sexual dimorphism, plants, monoecious, dioecious, pistil, stamen, floral scent, ecology, ecological selectionCharles Darwin missed the boat on linking his sexual and natural selection in animals to plants as well. This is odd because he was quite the botanist and spent many years studying grasses and such with his son. The parallels between selection in plants and animals might have strengthened his initial argument, but there would still be dissent about the descent of […]

Davis, S., Dudle, D., Nawrocki, J., Freestone, L., Konieczny, P., Tobin, M. & Britton, M. (2014). Sexual Dimorphism of Staminate- and Pistillate-Phase Flowers of Saponaria officinalis (Bouncing Bet) Affects Pollinator Behavior and Seed Set, PLoS ONE, 9 (4) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093615

HEMBORG,. & BOND, W. (2005). Different rewards in female and male flowers can explain the evolution of sexual dimorphism in plants, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 85 (1) 97-109. DOI: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2005.00477.x

Bonduriansky, R., Maklakov, A., Zajitschek, F. & Brooks, R. (2008). Sexual selection, sexual conflict and the evolution of ageing and life span, Functional Ecology, 22 (3) 443-453. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2435.2008.01417.x

Pickup, M. & Barrett, S. (2011). Reversal of height dimorphism promotes pollen and seed dispersal in a wind-pollinated dioecious plant, Biology Letters, 8 (2) 245-248. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0950

Okamoto, T., Kawakita, A., Goto, R., Svensson, G. & Kato, M. (2013). Active pollination favours sexual dimorphism in floral scent, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 280 (1772) 20132280-20132280. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2280

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9:00 AM | Returns to self control – unemployment edition
A new paper in Psychological Science by Michael Daly and friends: Childhood Self-Control and Unemployment Throughout the Life Span: Evidence From Two British Cohort Studies The capacity for self-control may underlie successful labor-force entry and job retention, particularly in times of economic uncertainty. Analyzing unemployment data from two nationally representative British cohorts (N = 16,780), we […]
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7:17 AM | MaxEnt: the Second Law of Thermodynamics as a modeling principle in biology
Most people who’ve taken introductory physics probably remember learning the famous “Second Law of Thermodynamics”: in a closed system, entropy never decreases.  Roughly speaking, we can think of entropy as a quantity that thermodynamics maximizes given some set of constraints … Continue reading →
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5:44 AM | A Calm, Reasoned Discourse On Moral Philosophy From Uncommon Descent
I occasionally check in with the pro-ID blog Uncommon Descent, on the off chance they may have said something interesting. Sadly, the blog has mostly fallen on hard times. Nowadays it’s mostly just post after post whose only point is to demean and insult people, or to proffer absurd misunderstandings of thermodynamics. Sometimes, though, they…
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