Posts

October 13, 2014

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12:21 AM | Sunday Chess Problem
The Spetember 2014 issue of The Problemist showed up in my mailbox this week. That’s the official magazine of the British Chess Problem Society, as I’m sure you’re aware. It included the problem below. It’s one of those delightful compositions that makes you wish you had thought it of it yourself. It was composed by…

October 12, 2014

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7:59 PM | Bickerton: Round Two
A few years back Derek Bickerton published a book called Adam's Tongue which I reviewed in three posts (here, here and here). That book was disappointingly breezy, a lively account that made bold assertions and brushed objections aside with the...
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5:11 PM | Maternal Inflammation during Pregnancy, Autism, & Big Brains
A paper published this month in Stem Cell Reports by Le Belle et al. out of UCLA suggests that maternal inflammation during pregnancy, such as occurs during an acute illness […]
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2:02 PM | Human-made climate change, or climate change made humans?
We hear a lot in the news about accelerated climate change due to human activity, and for very good reasons. Just have a glance at the first half Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2014 report (IPCC 2014 Summary) if you want to know how we’ll all be affected by climate change in our own lifetimes. […]

October 11, 2014

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9:56 PM | The geological setting of Fort Necessity, Pennsylvania
On July 3, 1754, colonial lieutenant Colonel George Washington fought and lost a small battle on this site in southwestern Pennsylvania. He and his 400 men had built this makeshift fort about a month before in anticipation of an attack by several hundred French soldiers and their Indian allies. The French were incensed at Washington […]
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6:00 AM | Lazy analysis – inequality edition
Over at WSJ Real Time Economics, Josh Zumbrun turns the following chart into a claim that “the SAT is just another area in American life where economic inequality results in much more than just disparate incomes.” But what does the chart actually tell us? In a perfect meritocracy, the smartest students will score the highest. […]

October 10, 2014

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11:47 PM | Skinks skinks skinks (part I)
Skinks (properly Scincidae… though read on) are one of the most successful of squamate groups, accounting for approximately 1500 species – in other words, for about 25% of all lizards. Skinks... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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9:14 PM | Getting to the Root of Fur
First thing in the morning, my mind is on autopilot. I’m mostly relying on muscle memory to get …
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9:07 PM | Metamorphosing insects biggest contributors to insect evolution
Originally posted on Science Post:Two new datasets on insect evolution have compiled by biologists, revealing that metamorphosing insects diversify more quickly than other insects and are therefore the biggest contributors to the evolution of insect diversity. Silver Washed Fritillary butterfly.Credit: Dr Peter Mayhew Both funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the first…
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8:34 PM | 39,000 Year Old Cave Art from Sulawesi, Indonesia
Originally posted on Anthropology.net:Photo by Kinez Riza This hand stencil was discovered in one of the caves of the Maros region of the island, Sulawesi in the 1950s. A paper published in Nature now describes the dating of the sediment on top of the stencil, which makes it more than 39,000 years old…
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8:31 PM | Greek Bronze Age ended 100 years earlier than thought, new evidence suggests
Originally posted on Science Post:Conventional estimates for the collapse of the Aegean civilization may be incorrect by up to a century, according to new radiocarbon analyses. While historical chronologies traditionally place the end of the Greek Bronze Age at around 1025 BCE, this latest research suggests a date 70 to 100 years earlier. Archaeologists…
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8:30 PM | The discovery of new bones from a large land mammal that lived about 48 million years ago has led scientists to identify a new branch of mammals closely related to modern horses, rhinos, and tapirs.
Originally posted on Science Post:Pictured here are two jaws from anthracobunids recovered from 48 million year old sediments next to a horse skull. The study found that anthracobunids were an ancient relative of horses, rhinos, and tapirs.Credit: Copyright Cooper Lab, NEOMED The discovery of new bones from a large land mammal that lived about…
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8:21 PM | ‘X’ marks the spot: 1st evidence of Neanderthal rock art?
39,000-Year-Old Neanderthal Engraving Found in Gorham’s Cave Sep 24, 2014 by Sci-News.com Archaeologists working in Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar have found what they believe is the first known example of Neanderthal rock art. Full Article Here Filed under: neanderthal Tagged: neanderthal. rock engraving, rock art
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4:07 PM | When is a pumpkin not a pumpkin?
TPP knows where the pumpkin capital of the USA is located.  Morton, a little town right here in Lincolnland. And very few pumpkins are grown there. The reason for this is that the jack-o-lantern pumpkin is not the pumpkin of pies, and it never has been. Usually the news media get this wrong, so what a surprise to read a correct and well-informed article about pumpkins, in the HuffPo!  Jack-o-lantern pumpkins are a very watery fruit, not as watery as a tomato, but watery none the […]
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3:38 PM | This Happened: Science Online is no more
I got the email that many other #sciox-ers got. ScienceOnline the non-profit entity that introduced me to some AWESOME people and spring-boarded my extra-curricular career is no more. The 2015... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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2:31 PM | What we’re reading: QTLs of pine growth, climate-niche evolution, and the shape of Twitter conversations
In the journals Li Z., H.R. Hällingback, S. Abrahamsson, A Fries, B.A. Gull, M.J. Sillanpää and M.R. García-Gil. 2014. Functional multi-locus QTL mapping of temporal trends in Scots pine wood traits. G3: Genes | Genomes | Genetics. doi: 10.1534/g3.114.014068. Two … Continue reading →
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8:43 AM | A week of links
Links this week: Plenty of press and interesting articles sparked by Peter Thiel’s new book. First, he has a swipe at business schools. And some great one-liners. But is he wrong about the future? Another tech-billionaire – Elon Musk wants to put people of Mars. But he doesn’t need one million people to get enough […]
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7:02 AM | Language as a multimodal phenomenon
The issue of multimodality has become a widely discussed topic in several branches of linguistics and especially in research on the evolution of language. Now, a special issue of the “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B” has been dedicated to “Language as a multimodal phenomenon”. The issue, edited by Gabriella Vigliocco, Pamela Perniss, and […]
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5:46 AM | Responses to Barash’s Talk
Recently I discussed an essay by David Barash that appeared in The New York Times. Barash discussed a talk he gives to his animal behavior class about evolution and religion. More specifically, he explains why, in his view, evolution and religion are just incompatible. I mostly agreed with the substantive points that he made, but…
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5:25 AM | Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: An early bryozoan on a Middle Ordovician hardground from Utah
Last week I presented eocrinoid holdfasts on carbonate hardgrounds from the Kanosh Formation (Middle Ordovician) in west-central Utah. This week we have a thick and strangely featureless bryozoan from the same hardgrounds. It is very common on these surfaces, forming gray, perforate masses that look stuck on like silly putty. Above you see one on […]

October 09, 2014

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6:59 PM | What Was on the Early Mammal Menu?
Dinosaurs are great. Don’t get me wrong. But just as their bulk literally cast shade on many of …
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6:47 PM | How many markers does it take to make a dataset “genomic”?
A new paper in Ecology Letters by Matthew Fitzpatrick and Stephen Keller proposes to use some a class of statistical methods developed for understanding the distribution of species in different environments to understand the distribution of genetic variants in different … Continue reading →
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12:46 PM | De ardillas, lirones, ratas y ratones... y castores, hámsters, gerbillos, puercoespines, etc
Un nuevo artículo de PMMV ha salido ha la luz y no quería dejar pasar la ocasión para comentar brevemente algo de su historia: Gómez Cano, A.R., Cantalapiedra, J.L., Álvarez-Sierra, M.A. & Hernández Fernández, M. 2014. A macroecological glance at the structure of late Miocene rodent assemblages from Southwest Europe. Scientific Reports, 4: 6557 (doi:10.1038/srep06557).  Como ya habréis visto en la nota de prensa oficial, se trata […]
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12:00 PM | Did someone say coffee?
Boy howdy, do I need love coffee. Drinking coffee feels like it’s in my blood. Perhaps literally. A recent study has identified some pretty interesting genes linked to coffee consumption. They also found two regions of DNA near genes called BDNF and SLC6A4 that might play a role in how caffeine affects the brain by […]
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4:59 AM | Go read the Survey of Academic Field Experiences study!
As happens to any academic study that receives a lot of press coverage and blogger attention, the actual content of the Survey of Academic Field Experiences (SAFE) study by Clancy et al. (2014) has gotten a bit obscured in the ensuing … Continue reading →
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4:54 AM | Fighting the war on science
There has been a long-standing dogma within the scientific community that scientists can not, and should not, be activists. “To be effective,” my undergraduate mentor told me, “scientists need to be impartial, they need to do science and let others worry about the advocacy.” I was as dissatisfied then and I am today, almost 10 years later (!!!!), with the choice that he put to me. “If you want to go into advocacy, that’s great, but you have to choose that […]

October 08, 2014

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5:38 PM | Secrets of The Human Brain Unlocked in the Evolution of the Cerebellum
Compared to the growth rate that would have been expected given the relative growth of the neocortex over an evolutionary timescale, the cerebellum grew larger at a much faster rate in apes and humans versus that of other primates.
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5:01 PM | Presenting the Hip Hop Science Quiz Show
Mark your calendars. Set your clocks.is coming to Me and team of other zany public loving scientists will spend 2 whole days delivering fun hands-on science activities to families attending the ever... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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4:37 PM | Differential Diets Among Sauropods Allowed Cohabitation
Sauropods have always been somewhat of an anomaly in the animal kingdom: tiny heads that somehow ingested huge amounts of food to fuel their enormous bodies. Fossils from Late Jurassic Morrison Formation in the Western U.S. are helping unravel this mystery.
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2:00 PM | Down Syndrome Awareness Month
This month is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and while this is the most common chromosomal abnormality, there is still a lack of social understanding. So this week’s link(s) are all going to be about the efforts to raise awareness of Down Syndrome. As NiB has talked about raising money for scientific research (watch Jeremy get […]
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