Posts

September 01, 2014

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12:48 PM | The changing life appearance of dinosaurs
Anyone who knows anything about Mesozoic dinosaurs will be – or certainly should be – familiar with the fact that our view of what these animals looked like in life has changed substantially within... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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12:30 PM | Do high voltage power lines cause cancer?
This could be a very short article. I could just write “no, power lines don’t cause cancer"—but that wouldn't explain why so many people believe otherwise. And it won’t help people who are thinking about buying a home that has power lines nearby. So let’s look at this question a bit more closely.For the past century or more, humans have been surrounding ourselves with an ever-growing array of electrical devices. All of these devices create electrical or magnetic […]
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10:45 AM | A feathered river across the sky by Joel Greenberg – review
One hundred years ago today, the last passenger pigeon, a captive-bred adult named Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo. Since we knew that she was the last of her kind, her body was frozen into a 300-pound block of ice before she was shipped by train to the Smithsonian Institution, where she was skinned, dissected and preserved as a mount. Although none of the people who knew the living bird are themselves still alive today, we can still learn more... Read more
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10:05 AM | How Starvation Causes Heritable Changes
A growing body of evidence is pointing towards unknown inheritance mechanisms th...
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8:34 AM | A feathered river across the sky by Joel Greenberg - review | @GrrlScientist
This comprehensive book meticulously documents much that is known about the iconic extinct passenger pigeon.One hundred years ago today, the last passenger pigeon, a captive-bred adult named Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo. Since we knew that she was the last of her kind, her body was frozen into a 300-pound block of ice before she was shipped by train to the Smithsonian Institution, where she was skinned, dissected and preserved as a mount. History suggests that few things stimulate human […]
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2:13 AM | POTW Returns
If that last post did not satisfy your need for brain food, then let me mention that as of today the Problem of the Week returns. This semester’s theme: Fun With Arithmetic! What’s that? You don’t like arithmetic? Well, let’s see if you’re still saying that at the end of the term. In general I…
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2:06 AM | Sunday Chess Problem
The Sinquefield Cup is turning out to be not just one of the strongest chess tournaments in history, but also one of the most exciting. In today’s round five all three games ended decisively, but the commentators were lamenting that the games were not as thrilling as in previous rounds. The sensation of the tournament…
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1:41 AM | First Wooster paleontology field trip of the year: the glorious Ordovician of Ohio
Today the Invertebrate Paleontology class at The College of Wooster drove south to one of our favorite outcrops: the Waynesville, Liberty and Whitewater Formations (= Bull Fork Formation) at the emergency spillway in Caesar Creek State Park. I enjoy taking students to this extensive exposure because it has diverse fossils, is easy for beginners, and […]

August 31, 2014

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9:20 PM | The Shape of the Neuron in Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is defined by its core symptomatology, which includes thought disorder, psychosis (including delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia), and negative symptoms, the latter which include things like apathy, depression, and executive […]
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5:18 PM | Carnival of Evolution #75: A journey
It’s the start of a new month and that means it’s time again for the Carnival of Evolution and this time it’s a special one, the 75th edition! So all aboard […]
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3:04 PM | Deep Future of Big History
NEW PAPER: Deep Future of Big History: Cultural Evolution, Technoculture, and Omega Civilization  The epic of evolution has always set my imagination on fire.  Throughout the 13.8 billion years of cosmic existence an interconnected chain of events has resulted in the generation of culture, technology, language, and mind.  What is the nature of this evolutionary […]Deep Future of Big History was first posted on August 31, 2014 at 3:04 pm.©2013 "The Advanced Apes". Use […]
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12:06 PM | Showdown: Scientific Data vs. Conclusions (POLL)
A short post that guest-tweeting at the  Biotweeps account on Twitter got me thinking about– featuring a poll. Imagine this: two scientists (colleagues, if you’re a scientist) are arguing thusly. Say it’s an argument about a classic paper in which much of the data subjected to detailed statistical analyses are quantitative guesses, not hard measurements. […]
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9:46 AM | A week of links
Links this week: Daniel McFadden on how people make choices. Not that new but only spotted this week – Gerd Gigerenzer has a great rants on statistics. (HT: Noah Smith) Forty per cent of modern Chinese are patrilineal descendants of only three super-grandfathers from 6,000 years ago. (HT: Carl Zimmer) Anti-marijuana advocates funded by drug companies. […]

August 30, 2014

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6:33 PM | Filesnakes, Wartsnakes, or Elephant Trunksnakes
Arafura Filesnake (Acrochordus arafurae)In the swamps, marshes, streams, and estuaries of northern Australia and southeastern Asia live ancient snakes as thick as your arm, with tongues as thin as a thread, skin as rough as a file, and a disposition as gentle as a lamb. These snakes comprise the family Acrochordidae (from the Greek akrochordon, wart), and are known as filesnakes1, wartsnakes, or elephant trunksnakes. In Indonesian they are known as karung, which means 'sack'; in Thai, […]
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6:20 PM | Sources of error: the twisted rationality of double standards
I’ve written before about righteous indignation, but haven’t even touched its most peculiar property: asymmetry. Ever wondered why people like me find it easy to feel anger towards Tony Blair, but don’t seem to feel the same towards Abu Bakr…Read more ›
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5:37 PM | A tale of salt and gender: participation of women in halophile research
Interesting paper on women in science of direct relevance to my work: Frontiers | Salty sisters: The women of halophiles | Extreme Microbiology.  I have been working on halophilic archaea for many years (since introduced to them in graduate school) and published papers on this topic (e.g., see The Complete Genome Sequence of Haloferax volcanii DS2, a Model Archaeon and Sequencing of seven haloarchaeal genomes reveals patterns of genomic flux and more coming). […]
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3:39 PM | Mesquite "A modular system for evolutionary analysis" v3.0 released from Team Maddison
Just found out about this on Facebook via Rod Page: Mesquite V3.0  has been released.  Mesquite is from Team Maddison (Wayne and David).  I have been using their software since 1987 when I took Stephen Jay Gould's course at Harvard and they were TAs for the course demoing an early version of MacClade.   Lots of nice features and it is available in Mac, Unix/Linux, and Windows versions.   They describe "What Mesquite Does" on their Wikispaces site in the […]
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3:22 PM | NIH Announces Revised Genome Data Release Policies
Just got notified of this by the UC Davis Med. School grants administration: NOT-OD-14-124: NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy.  Lots of interesting things in here including a summary of the comments that they received on the draft policy.I have copied some of the more interesting and relevant bits below:Sharing research data supports the NIH mission and is essential to facilitate the translation of research results into knowledge, products, and procedures that improve human health. […]
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2:13 PM | Wooster Geologists begin the 2014-2015 school year
What a fine group of geologists we had at the first meeting of the College of Wooster Geology Club this week. We have an ambitious year ahead of us with outside speakers, student presentations, course field trips, and our biennial Mojave Desert Spring Expedition. Our number of geology majors has grown significantly as well, which […]
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11:42 AM | Notes from a quantum mechanics boot camp: day 3
With the third and final day of the workshop done, it’s time for me to wrap up this series on …Continue reading →
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9:35 AM | About Martha, the last of the passenger pigeons | @GrrlScientist
This caturday arrived just in time to share a few videos about Martha, the last passenger pigeon known to have lived.Its caturday once again, which means its that one day each week when we take a step back from our busy lives to honour animals and nature and our special relationship with them. Since the centenary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon is only a couple days away, I thought Id share some video about these birds. Continue reading...

August 29, 2014

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4:00 PM | Kudos to Dr. Roizen's Personalized, Preventive, & Integrative Medicine "Focus on Women's Health" Conference #NoMoreYAMMMs
Quick post here as I have a bit of a cold.  I post a lot of critiques here about meetings that have bad gender ratios for the speakers.  But I do focus on the negative and am trying to also call attention to the good cases.  Well here is one: the 12th Annual Dr. Roizen’s Personalized, Preventive, and Integrative Medicine Conference with a focus on Women's Health.  And unlike the recent Ovarian Club meeting (see No Ovaries? Well this Ovarian Club Conference is […]
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1:46 PM | New books party | @GrrlScientist
What good is a weekend without a good book to read? Take a look at these books -- hot off the presses -- that you may enjoy! Continue reading...
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1:00 PM | What we’re reading: Genomic selection scans, local adaptation, and the grass is actually pretty green on this side of the publishing fence
In the journals Cadzow M, J Boocock, HT Nguyen, P Wilcox, TR Merriman and MA Black. 2014. A bioinformatics workflow for detecting signatures of selection in genomic data. Front. Genet. 5:293. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2014.00293. Here we describe a basic workflow, constructed … Continue reading →
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1:00 PM | Stuff online: Missing links and vital webs edition
This week, at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense: Have you taken the Iced Budget Challenge yet? Eat your heart out, Tiktaalik. A semi-amphibious fish demonstrates a possible origin of four-legged vertebrates when it’s raised on land. With some 400 new … Continue reading →
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10:55 AM | Secrets of animal camouflage research | @GrrlScientist
This interesting video, courtesy of the BBSRC and Project Nightjar, reveals the secrets of animal camouflage research.Last night, I was contacted by Arran Frood, a digital content producer for the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), after hed read this piece I wrote about the evolution of camouflage in avian eggs. He invited me to share this interesting video that he produced. This video provides a visual context for animal camouflage research: Continue reading...
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7:01 AM | Italian bread with no salt - an update
The question of why Italian bread has no salt has raised two hypotheses and here are some of the ideas about this from the local natives, Italians themselves. First, they all agreed on exactly one thing; no salt in the bread is a Tuscan thing. Further south and further north in Italy the bread has salt. So it's only Tuscan bread that tastes bland.  Who knew? The favored hypothesis is that Tuscan cured meats, their ham and their favorite salamis are pretty salty, so you just don't need salt […]
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6:47 AM | Friday Fabulous Flowers - Italian Renaissance Edition
Several thoughts came to TPP while perusing the Uffizi Museum. Could there really be that many works of art featuring the Madonna and Child? (Yes!) You really had to have some big houses to commission some of those paintings. (Yep!) Some of the small details of paintings are their most interesting feature. And lastly,TPP is certain that one of the portraits was of Sansa Stark. So putting some of this together, and getting the most out of the museum's new no flash photography policy […]
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5:14 AM | Wooster’s Fossils of the Week: Orthid brachiopods from the Middle Devonian of New York
On the first day of the Invertebrate Paleontology course at Wooster, I give all the students a fossil to identify as best they can. Everyone gets the same kind of specimen, and they can use any means to put as specific a name on it as possible. Most students struggle with the exercise, of course […]
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3:34 AM | Notes from a quantum mechanics boot camp: day 2
I didn’t have the energy to write about quantum computing last night, but fortunately I can make up for it …Continue reading →
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