January 23, 2015

12:42 AM | #365papers How do we make sense of the world as scientists?
Hello everyone ! I am Paulette known in the twitter-sphere as @pinkyprincess. I originally majored in Chemical Engineering and worked in an organic synthesis lab for three years as an undergrad. I taught middle school chemistry for a year and … Continue reading →
12:34 AM | Evangelical Schools and Accreditation
Over at Debunking Christianity, John Loftus has a rathe […]

January 22, 2015

11:31 PM | Editorial: Mining the #365papers stream
2015 has started under the promising light of the #365papers star. It kicked-off as sort of a challenge, a provocative question that might sound like: do people that build their career on knowledge, hence papers, actually read enough of them? After all, … Continue reading →
11:07 PM | Absence of women from Middle East policy debates
For those who think about the underrepresentation of women in science meetings - this may be of interest: The mysterious absence of women from Middle East policy debates - The Washington Post.  65 percent of the events in Washington DC relating to the Middle East had no female speakers.  Disheartening and something that needs to be dealt with. -------- This is from the "Tree of Life Blog" of Jonathan Eisen, an evolutionary biologist and Open Access advocate at the University […]
8:38 PM | The Mediterranean’s Missing Sawfishes
In 1959, off the southern coast of France, a tuna boat hauled up a largetooth sawfish. The catch …
6:22 PM | Putting GMOs on a Tight Leash
Two papers appeared in the latest issue of Nature—one from Farren Isaacs’ group and the other from George Church and colleagues—that presented, developed, and demonstrated a strategy for limiting the spread of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in the event that they … Continue reading →
4:31 PM | Open Message to Congress on Net Neutrality
I get email. One of the email messages I got yesterday was from Battle for the Net, a group advocating strong net neutrality rules enforced by the FCC under Title II. In the House of Congress, there is a move by Reps. Thune and Upton to propose and pass legislation that claims to establish “net […]
3:38 PM | Mosquitos – fine-tuned by evolution to preferentially feed on humans
Would you look at that! The story of mosquitos, cheese and body odour has taken another leap into scientific respectability with a paper being published in the pinnacle of journals, Nature. “Evolution of mosquito preference for humans linked to an odorant receptor” by McBride and colleagues was published towards the end of last year and […]
3:00 PM | LaTeX hacks to save your life (and your co-authors’)
In light of this recent study by Knauff and Nejasmic (2014) that makes a lot of presumptive leaps on the utility and effectiveness of in scientific writing, my case for the utility of for every equation, reference, table, figure, and … Continue reading →
1:00 PM | This FREAKS me out
Today’s Recipe: Combine equal parts Thinking you’re alone when the appearance of another person almost stops your heart “Life, uh, finds a way” Frozen …and you’ll get this great article from Scientific American about a major new discovery: fish living under 740 meters of ice in Antarctica. Researchers drilled through the Ross Ice Shelf into […]
4:34 AM | The Meaning of Life
I’m not in the mood for heavy blogging just now, so how about we discuss something light and frivolous. Like the meaning of life. Back in July, I wrote this: Answers about our origins have no implications at all for questions of meaning and value. Arising through blind, uncaring forces in no way implies that…
12:47 AM | How Paleontologists Uncovered the World’s Biggest Rhino
Standing 16 feet tall at the shoulder and weighing 20 tons, Paraceratherium was one of the largest mammals …
12:20 AM | Winning vs. Not Losing
There’s an old ‘joke’. How fast do yo […]

January 21, 2015

3:09 PM | Cultural Evolution: Literary History, Popular Music, Cultural Beings, Temporality, and the Mesh
Another working paper (title above): SSRN: Abstract and introduction below. * * * * * Abstract: Culture is implemented in a material and biological substrate but has a distinct ontology and its phenomena belong to a distinct order of temporality. The evolution of culture proceeds by random variation among coordinators, the […]
3:00 PM | I can haz genome
Although cats indisputably rule the internet, dogs have been rocking the genomic world for quite some time.   NOT ANYMORE! A group of dedicated cat genomic enthusiasts recently met in San Diego to discuss moving forward on feline genomics. Read all about it over at Nature.  
2:41 PM | The imitation game: simulating the genetics of large populations
Computational simulations of genetic data are such a powerful and flexible tool for carrying out studies in molecular ecology. Do you want to know how much explanatory power your data provides? Simulate it! Predict the future response of species to … Continue reading →
12:45 PM | Evolving A Second Job
Biology concepts – protein moonlighting, undulipodia, evolution, basal body, centriole, GAPDH, intraflagellar transportToday’s post is on a multitasking cell structure. This would make Alton Brown proud, since he hates tools that do only one thing. The University of Miami of Florida football team runs through fire extinguisher blasts when they enter the stadium – maybe Alton can find a second use for his.Alton Brown from Food Network hates a unitasker. He wants all his kitchen […]

Henderson, B. & Martin, A. (2014). Protein moonlighting: a new factor in biology and medicine, Biochemical Society Transactions, 42 (6) 1671-1678. DOI: 10.1042/BST20140273

Kobayashi, T. & Dynlacht, B. (2011). Regulating the transition from centriole to basal body, The Journal of Cell Biology, 193 (3) 435-444. DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201101005

Debec, A., Sullivan, W. & Bettencourt-Dias, M. (2010). Centrioles: active players or passengers during mitosis?, Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 67 (13) 2173-2194. DOI: 10.1007/s00018-010-0323-9

Boisvieux-Ulrich E & Sandoz D (1991). Determination of ciliary polarity precedes differentiation in the epithelial cells of quail oviduct., Biology of the cell / under the auspices of the European Cell Biology Organization, 72 (1-2) 3-14. PMID:

8:08 AM | Today marks NINE YEARS of Tetrapod Zoology
Yet again, it’s January 21st and, yet again, Tetrapod Zoology is another year old. As of today, Tet Zoo has been going for nine years. I’ve discovered that children (should you produce and raise... -- Read more on
8:00 AM | Grade inflation and the Dunning-Kruger effect
The famous Dunning-Kruger effect, in the words of Dunning and Kruger, is a bias where: People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains in part, because: [P]eople who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate […]

January 20, 2015

9:40 PM | #365papers digest 3
Latest additions to the #365papers challenge, sort of restricted to papers in the molecular biology area (mostly). Before getting to the actual papers, a few tweets I am particularly fond of, starting with This week has taught me that I can … Continue reading →
6:59 PM | What’s In John’s Freezer… For You?
I mainly post here about my team’s research and interests, but today I felt like sharing something special and concrete: the contents of our freezers. They are not just John’s and there’s more than one freezer; thus there is room to share, within reason. So if you’re a researcher, especially in the UK/EU, needing unusual […]
6:55 PM | Science Word of the Day: Ornithogenic
When I considered how I might become a fossil, I mostly thought about the environment I’d have to …
6:41 PM | The Beaten Angels of our Nature. Is Steven Pinker right?
Could we affirm that we have become more peaceful than people from some centuries ago? Some renowned scientists say that we have become indeed more peaceable and they have some apparently good explanations for their statements. The evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker, a notorious scientist, one of the most influential contemporary thinkers, claims that human aggression […] The post The Beaten Angels of our Nature. Is Steven Pinker right? appeared first on Social Ethology.
5:16 PM | Tone and humidity
Does the weather effect the languages we speak? This week, Caleb Everett, Damian Blasi and I have a paper out in PNAS on the effects of humidity on the production and perception of lexical tone, and the subsequent predictions about the distribution of tone across the world. The basic principle behind studies of cultural evolution […]
3:29 PM | Issues in Cultural Evolution 2.2: ‘Cultural Genes’ are Out There in the World
I think the thing to do at this point is post a version of my own view of cultural evolution, but one that skips the terminology that I’ve recently adopted. In this version, which more or less centers on my 1996 article, Culture as an Evolutionary Arena, I adopt the term “meme” as the name […]
3:10 PM | Genetic drift as aliens playing bingo
This blog post is partly an experiment in writing for wordpress using r markdown, and partly an attempt to come up with an analogy for genetic drift that isn’t marbles in a pot. Ten points if you can guess what, … Continue reading →
1:34 PM | Time To Teach: Supporting Technology for Science Education in Special Education Classrooms
As regular readers of this blog are aware, I am deep proponent of science outreach to the under-served. However, I acknowledge one of the areas that I am weak and that’s in my science outreach... -- Read more on
1:03 PM | New to the genome sequencing $8 menu: Nextera library preps!
Researchers are thrifty. We’re always looking for ways to make our expensive supplies and reagents go the extra mile. This shit has been going on for decades – hell, probably even centuries: I remember when I was a kid and … Continue reading →
1:00 PM | No, Wi-Fi exposure is not killing your kids
Last week a blog post at Forbes on Wi-Fi devices went viral. That post, by fellow Forbes contributor Robert Szczerba, claimed that Wi-Fi exposures from cell phones, iPads, microwave ovens, and other mobile devices are "more dangerous to kids than previously thought."Szczerba claimed that Wi-Fi devices might be causing cancer, especially in children." It was illustrated with a photo of a toddler playing with a tablet PC, possibly an iPad.Well, that got some attention.The problem is, it's all […]
10:11 AM | Reminder for upcoming conferences
The deadline is approaching for several relevant call for papers: At this year’s International Congress of Phonetic Sciences in Glasgow there will be a special interest group on the Evolution of our phonetic capabilities. It will focus on the interaction between biological and cultural evolution and encourages work from different modalities too. The deadline is 16th Feb. […]
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