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Posts

April 04, 2014

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1:41 PM | Lunar dust mission still chasing mystery of ‘horizon glow’
NASA is preparing one last blast for its expired Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft — a controlled crash into the Moon’s surface, probably on 21 April. But before it goes, LADEE will take a final shot at unraveling one of the top mysteries it went to the Moon to uncover.  Read more
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1:21 PM | European Commission report urges legal reform to help scientists text-mine research papers
European copyright law should change to help researchers use computer programs to extract facts and data from published research papers, legal experts have urged in a report [pdf] for the European Commission published today.  Read more
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1:00 PM | What we’re reading: Coevolving diversity, gut microbiota and gas, and killing the phrase “next-generation sequencing”
In the journals Boots M., A. White, A. Best, and R. Bowers. 2014. How specificity and epidemiology drive the coevolution of static trait diversity in hosts and parasites. Evolution. doi: 10.1111/evo.12393 We examine theoretically how epidemiological feedbacks and the characteristics … Continue reading →
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1:00 PM | Science online, footprints of destruction edition
This week, at The Molecular Ecologist: Results from a reader survey on peer review and anonymity.And at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! The science-y joys of Twitter.Well, barring massive global environmental changes. Hummingbird diversification is still going strong after 22 million years.Ow. A graduate student studying bees has run a side project on the worst parts of the body to get stung.Preach. "The words 'in my opinion' are not themselves some kind of rhetorical vaccine. They can, […]
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10:38 AM | 47. Sanctuary Update
Above is a ‘Blue Groper’ peering at us from Cabbage Tree Bay, the marine reserve near Sydney where a lot of the animals on this website live. A few months ago I wrote a post about the state government’s plan … Continue reading →
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12:42 AM | Tyson vs. Swimme: Cage Match Wonder-Off
Yesterday was UNCG’s Chautaqua on environmental education.  Last night was a screening of Brian Swimme in the one-hour version of The Journey of the Universe.  Co-executive producer John Grim introduced it and led the after-discussion.  He suggested at one point that we might usefully compare JotU with Neil de Grasse Tyson’s new Cosmos series, the first episode of which my son walked out on because it was too trippy.  He had the same reaction when I came […]

April 03, 2014

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9:58 PM | Mississippi Doesn’t Know What Can of Worms They Just Opened
So, the governor of Mississippi has just declared to the world that he is the leader of a hugely backward state and the state couldn’t care less about the US Constitution. Today, he sighed a bill into law. Bill SB-268 1 says (in part) This act shall be known and may be cited as the Mississippi […]
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4:38 PM | Do we sign our peer reviews? Mostly, no.
Last week, inspired by discussions with my co-bloggers and a post by Terry McGlynn, I asked our readers to tell me whether they do peer review anonymously, and why. A total of 87 folks responded to a brief online survey, … Continue reading →
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3:22 PM | Journals must boost data sharing
Here’s the text from Tim’s recent (3rd April) Correspondence piece in Nature The journal ecosystem is a powerful filter of scientific literature, promoting the best work into the best journals. Why not use a similar mechanism to encourage more comprehensive … Continue reading →
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2:59 PM | Push notifications in R!
Despite its great litany of flaws, I love R. I love it super-hard. One of the best things about it is that people are always making weird packages that solve your problems; one of the annoying things is that you tend to find them just after they’d have been really useful, and that maybe they […]
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2:20 PM | United States of Koch & Adelson - Bought and paid for
You want to see the bill of sale?  Well, just look at the list of donations from "individual donors", citizens in every conservative sense, a for-sale universe where money is speech and corporations are people. So this cartoon, a scene from a multiverse, is for you SCOTUS, and especially its chief. Man, do these justices have screwed up concepts of how a for-and-by-the-people democracy works.  HT to Pharyngula.  BTW Scenes from a Multiverse is a seriously funny cartoon. […]
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11:23 AM | Who knew? Popular teens are not immune to bullying either
Turns out being popular might not save you from sneering, jabbing and harassment in school yards, a new University of California study concludes – and it’s even worse if you’re a girl, poor or “physically vulnerable.” In fact, becoming popular increases the risk of getting bullied, and worsens the negative consequences of being victimized, according to the same study.  Read more
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10:21 AM | Scientific Data conferences & events calendar
The Scientific Data team is traveling heavily over the next two months as we run-up to our formal launch in late May 2014. If you are attending one of these meetings, we would be delighted to meet you and learn about your data. And, don't miss the special events we will be hosting at AACR and EGU this year!
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3:44 AM | Closed access irony award: Christine Greenhow & Benjamin Gleason on social media and scholars
Well, isn't this ironic.  There are a few news stories I was pointed to about a recent paper from Christine Greenhow & Benjamin Gleason at Michigan State.  Here is one of the stories: Why scholars don't trust social media? | Business Standard.  And here is a link to the paper: Social scholarship: Reconsidering scholarly practices in the age of social media. In the news story linked above one of the authors of the study is reported to have said:"Only a minority […]
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3:17 AM | Springy things
It's about time that some springy things happened. A few clumps of snowdrops are now in flowering. Both early and standard crocus have begun flowering, which sort of belies the "early" concept, and the proof is right there, the bits of yellow petals left from the bunny breakfast. Scilla is also starting to flower, although full flowering will be a bit later when the thousands and thousands of them will turn the lawn blue. This is just great; Scilla is not liked by bunnies so […]

April 02, 2014

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10:49 PM | It’s Still a Dog
I’d like to take a minute to examine this common claim of creationists. When creationists claim “X is still a Y.” They are using this as an argument against macro-evolution. That is that species can change over time and maybe speciation can occur[1], but larger changes between higher taxonomic groups don’t occur. In other words, birds are birds and […]
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10:40 PM | On Time and Space
The long-term evolution experiment (LTEE) began in 1988, and the E. coli populations are approaching 60,000 generations.  That’s a long time for an experiment, and I hope it continues for much, much longer. But when I give talks about the … Continue reading →
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8:07 PM | Live 3-D X-ray video of a fly’s muscles in mid-flight
Flies are incredibly agile on the wing, pulling off twists and turns that outstrip anything we’ve accomplished. Their flight is …Continue reading →

Walker, S., Schwyn, D., Mokso, R., Wicklein, M., Müller, T., Doube, M., Stampanoni, M., Krapp, H. & Taylor, G. (2014). In Vivo Time-Resolved Microtomography Reveals the Mechanics of the Blowfly Flight Motor, PLoS Biology, 12 (3) DOI:

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7:33 PM | Dinosaur Antetonitrus Set the Stage for Sauropods
Do you wanna evolve a sauropod? The Triassic’s the perfect time. Down on four legs instead of two, …
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3:30 PM | Did Hobbits Exist?
Transcript: Everyone knows that Lord of the Rings is a work of fiction.  There is no evidence that JRR Tolkien’s elves, wizards, dwarves or orcs ever existed.  But recent discoveries have raised an important question: did hobbits actually exist?   In September 2003 a team of archaeologists led by Peter Brown and Mike Morwood unearthed […]Did Hobbits Exist? was first posted on April 2, 2014 at 3:30 pm.©2013 "The Advanced Apes". Use of this feed is for personal […]
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2:56 PM | Biologist claims controversial stem-cell method might work
A Hong Kong developmental biologist says he has succeeded in reproducing a method of reprogramming cells to an embryonic like state by applying mechanical stress. The surprising new development, which the author describes as a “megatwist”, took place on 1 April, the same day that the Japanese researcher who invented the method was found guilty of scientific misconduct. The new claim, however, has been greeted with scepticism.  Read more
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12:00 PM | It’s Not Just Chili Peppers That Are Hot
Biology concepts – cinnamaldehyde, nasal hyperreactivity, piperine, allyl isothiocyanate, eugenol, gingerol, tinyatoxin, osmotic stress, agonist/antagonistThe last few years have seen the rise and fall of The Cinnamon Challenge. I can’t tell you why it came, but I can explain why it went. And the reason relates to the capsaicin receptors we have been talking about.Don’t think cinnamon candy can be hot. Your unbearably hot cinnamon bears from Jelly Belly and your Atomic […]

Holland C, van Drunen C, Denyer J, Smart K, Segboer C, Terreehorst I, Newlands A, Beerahee M, Fokkens W & Tsitoura DC & (2013). Inhibition of capsaicin-driven nasal hyper-reactivity by SB-705498, a TRPV1 antagonist., British journal of clinical pharmacology, PMID:

Chung G, Im ST, Kim YH, Jung SJ, Rhyu MR & Oh SB (2014). Activation of transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 by eugenol., Neuroscience, 261 153-60. PMID:

Alpizar YA, Boonen B, Gees M, Sanchez A, Nilius B, Voets T & Talavera K (2014). Allyl isothiocyanate sensitizes TRPV1 to heat stimulation., Pflugers Archiv : European journal of physiology, 466 (3) 507-15. PMID:

Ciura S, Liedtke W & Bourque CW (2011). Hypertonicity sensing in organum vasculosum lamina terminalis neurons: a mechanical process involving TRPV1 but not TRPV4., The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 31 (41) 14669-76. PMID:

Sudbury JR, Ciura S, Sharif-Naeini R & Bourque CW (2010). Osmotic and thermal control of magnocellular neurosecretory neurons--role of an N-terminal variant of trpv1., The European journal of neuroscience, 32 (12) 2022-30. PMID:

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9:00 AM | Digital lab notebook
brightcove.createExperiences();  … Read more
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8:37 AM | Strong earthquake hits northern Chile
Chile declared three regions to be disaster areas after a powerful earthquake killed at least five in northern Chile.  Read more
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3:01 AM | Ancient Carnivorous Frog Was Small in Stature, But Sported Thorns
Beelzebufo differs from all known living and extinct frogs in that it possessed long bony spikes protruding from its head like devilish horns and similar spines down the vertebrae of its back.
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12:33 AM | A night of science and stars at the Chabot Space & Science Museum with OZY and me
There has been much talk about new media organizations as of late. Whom and which are innovative enough, new enough, dynamic enough? Diverse enough? Well, it’s still too early to call it but I... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

April 01, 2014

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11:31 PM | It’s Not That Big a Deal
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed my manic/depressive nature. I tend to be a pessimist and only really cool stuff that happens (or I learn) can change that for a while. As such, I tend to see things in the worst possible light. Believe me, I’ve been worse. […]
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11:25 PM | RiffTrax Roasts NatGeo TV
Tonight, three stars from the classic comedy show Mystery Science Theater 3000 are going to do something I …
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10:29 PM | Webinaring Bayes
Yesterday, I gave my first webinar, or online lecture if you want. The occasion was that a few people from another university asked me if I could give an introductory lecture about Bayesian statistics, and because traveling would have cost me a full day, I suggested doing a “virtual visit” instead. It’s a funny coincidence…
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9:43 PM | Paul Ryan. Budget proposal. April 1st?
Oh, those funsters of the GnOPe!  All those cuts to social welfare programs and federal pensions; no one could seriously propose such a thing, so it's an April Fools joke!  Why if it's not, you'd get the idea that the GnOPe doesn't think people need any public assistance ever.  And certainly let's do away with Pell grants so that people who can't afford college will have one less way to better their position.  Why you'd think Ryan Paul (brother/cousin of Rand?) doesn't […]
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