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Posts

April 09, 2014

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10:33 AM | What is Ebola? Why is it scary? A really simple answer
“Ebola Virus outbreak” is a headline that produces terror. Well, it should… but I’m not sure that it does. There’s been an outbreak of Ebola in Guinea and Liberia in West Africa, but how many of us actually know what Ebola is – let alone why it is so scary? A quick poll of friends … Continue reading →

Bwaka, M., Bonnet, M., Calain, P., Colebunders, R., De Roo, A., Guimard, Y., Katwiki, K., Kibadi, K., Kipasa, M., Kuvula, K. & Mapanda, B. (1999). Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of the Congo: Clinical Observations in 103 Patients, The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 179 (s1) DOI:

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1:03 AM | An unexpected actor: role of arid environments in terrestrial carbon uptake
Anthropogenic climate change has become a household phrase, spreading throughout our culture as more and more research documents the effect of fossil fuel emissions on CO2 levels in the atmosphere and average global surface temperatures.  But our society’s CO2 emissions … Continue reading →

Evans, R., Koyama, A., Sonderegger, D., Charlet, T., Newingham, B., Fenstermaker, L., Harlow, B., Jin, V., Ogle, K., Smith, S. & Nowak, R. (2014). Greater ecosystem carbon in the Mojave Desert after ten years exposure to elevated CO2, Nature Climate Change, DOI:

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April 08, 2014

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8:21 PM | Study Reveals Causes of Dye-Sensitized Solar Cell Degradation
Researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) have made a surprising discovery about the degradation of dye-sensitized solar cells that could help pave the way to prolonging the lifetime of these cells. Read more »

Ono, L., Schulz, P., Endres, J., Nikiforov, G., Kato, Y., Kahn, A. & Qi, Y. (2014). Air-Exposure-Induced Gas-Molecule Incorporation into Spiro-MeOTAD Films, The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, 1374-1379. DOI:

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6:09 PM | Gold Coating to Reduce Glare From Solar Panels
A new work by UC Irvine scientists could reduce glare from solar panels and electronic displays and dull dangerous glints on military weapons. Read more »

Toma, M., Loget, G. & Corn, R. (2013). Fabrication of Broadband Antireflective Plasmonic Gold Nanocone Arrays on Flexible Polymer Films, Nano Letters, 13 (12) 6164-6169. DOI:

Toma, M., Loget, G. & Corn, R. (2014). Flexible Teflon Nanocone Array Surfaces with Tunable Superhydrophobicity for Self-Cleaning and Aqueous Droplet Patterning, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2147483647. DOI:

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5:34 PM | The Lure of the Ring—A Chloride Ion Channel Gene Makes a Surprise Appearance in Ciliogenesis
It's been nearly 14 years since the primary cilium pushed its way into cell biology's center ring with the discovery that this "irrelevant" vestigial organelle was connected to a common and fatal human disorder, polycystic kidney disease (PKD). In the years since, a long list of diseases and disorders have been classified as ciliopathies while the primary cilium currently has 2,347 citations on PubMed. One ring to rule them all—The “nimbus” ring, […]

Ruppersburg CC & Hartzell HC (2014). The Ca2+-activated Cl- channel ANO1/TMEM16A regulates primary ciliogenesis., Molecular biology of the cell, PMID:

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5:32 PM | Genetic Predisposition To Liking Amphetamine Reduces Risk Of Schizophrenia And ADHD
A study from UChicago shows that genetic variants associated with enjoying the effects of Adderall are also associated with a reduced risk for developing schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Hart A.B., Gamazon E.R., Engelhardt B.E., Sklar P., Kahler A.K., Hultman C.M., Sullivan P.F., Neale B.M., Faraone S.V. & de Wit H. & Genetic variation associated with euphorigenic effects of d-amphetamine is associated with diminished risk for schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI:

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5:22 PM | How many moths must a sloth carry off for the sloth to rely on the moths?
Sloths are weird critters. Cute, in a certain light, but mostly weird. They’re members—with armadillos and anteaters—in a superorder of mammals called the Xenarthra, which are united by a unique form of multi-jointed vertebrae. Their diet consists mostly of leaves, which are poor quality food, and hard to digest. Fortunately, they also have one of […]

Pauli J.N., Mendoza J.E., Steffan S.A., Carey C.C., Weimer P.J. & Peery M.Z. (2014). A syndrome of mutualism reinforces the lifestyle of a sloth, Proc. Royal Soc. B, 281 (1778) DOI:

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3:45 PM | Scientists Like Some Animals Better than Others (Hint: Bears)
In the fight for attention from researchers, there are winners and there are civets. That’s what researchers found when they analyzed almost 16,500 published papers about animals from walruses to weasels. They saw clear trends in which animals are the most popular to study. And it matters because the most popular animals aren’t necessarily the […]The post Scientists Like Some Animals Better than Others (Hint: Bears) appeared first on Inkfish.

Brooke, Z., Bielby, J., Nambiar, K. & Carbone, C. (2014). Correlates of Research Effort in Carnivores: Body Size, Range Size and Diet Matter, PLoS ONE, 9 (4) DOI:

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3:05 PM | Information theory of behavior
Biology can tell us what but theory tells us why. There is a new issue of Current Opinion in Neurobiology that focuses on the theory and computation in neuroscience. There’s tons of great stuff there, from learning and memory to the meaning of a spike to the structure of circuitry. I have an article in this issue and […]

Sharpee, T., Calhoun, A. & Chalasani, S. (2014). Information theory of adaptation in neurons, behavior, and mood, Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 25 47-53. DOI:

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2:00 PM | The story of the phospholipase A superfamily
  The phospholipase A2 superfamily is a group of enzymes that cleave fatty acid groups from glycerol, in particular acyl groups at the sn-2 position. They contribute to numerous metabolic processes and diseases, including Alzheimer, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis; making this group of proteins very attractive to study. This superfamily includes groups such as secreted, […]

Hsu Y.H., Burke J.E., Li S., Woods V.L. & Dennis E.A. (2009). Localizing the membrane binding region of Group VIA Ca2+-independent phospholipase A2 using peptide amide hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry., The Journal of biological chemistry, PMID:

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1:28 PM | Cell lines, patient samples, and cultures – oh my!
> The thing that is so intriguing about cancer stem cells (CSCs), from a cancer researcher’s perspective, is their powerful potential as therapeutic targets. While CSCs can create or regenerate tumours (causing relapse in some patients despite our best efforts to prevent it – more on this in my previous post on CSCs), they also...Read more

Rosland G.V., Svendsen A., Torsvik A., Sobala E., McCormack E., Immervoll H., Mysliwietz J., Tonn J.C., Goldbrunner R. & Lonning P.E. & (2009). Long-term Cultures of Bone Marrow-Derived Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells Frequently Undergo Spontaneous Malignant Transformation, Cancer Research, 69 (13) 5331-5339. DOI:

Li Y., Héroux P. & Kyrychenko I. (2012). Metabolic restriction of cancer cells in vitro causes karyotype contraction—an indicator of cancer promotion?, Tumor Biology, 33 (1) 195-205. DOI:

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11:00 AM | Coffee vs. Parkinson’s Disease – Can Caffeine Reduce the Risk of Developing the Disease?
Coffee: Black, two Sugars and hold the Parkinson’s. As the second most common neurodegenerative disease, it’s estimated that around 10 million people are living with Parkinson’s disease worldwide. Parkinson’s is […]

Costa J, Lunet N, Santos C, Santos J & Vaz-Carneiro A (2010). Caffeine exposure and the risk of Parkinson's disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies., Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD, 20 Suppl 1 38. PMID:

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10:07 AM | Knowing your grandmother
There is a spectrum of ways in which the brain may hold concepts that range from very localized to very distributed, and there is little agreement of where along that spectrum various concepts are held. At the one end is the ultimate local storage: a single ‘grandmother’ neuron that recognizes your grandmother in matter how […]

Bowers JS, Vankov II, Damian MF & Davis CJ (2014). Neural Networks Learn Highly Selective Representations in Order to Overcome the Superposition Catastrophe., Psychological review, PMID:

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7:35 AM | Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and various factors
The paper by Kate Lievesley and colleagues [1] documenting various "predisposing, precipitating and perpetuating factors in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in children and adolescents" caught my eye recently. Based on a review of the research literature around the topic of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) [in childhood], the authors set about detailing some of the important factors linked to the condition and in doing so, highlighted how physiology and psychology might combine when […]

Lievesley, K., Rimes, K. & Chalder, T. (2014). A review of the predisposing, precipitating and perpetuating factors in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in children and adolescents, Clinical Psychology Review, DOI:

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12:27 AM | Is ketamine really a plausible treatment for depression?
Last week, a publication in the Journal of Psychopharmacology made international news by reporting that patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD) showed improvement after being given the dissociative hallucinogenic drug ketamine. Ketamine, which is traditionally used as an anesthetic in humans and other animals, is probably better known for its use as a party drug (in this context it is often called "special K"). However, a growing body of evidence has begun to suggest that ketamine […]

Diamond, P., Farmery, A., Atkinson, S., Haldar, J., Williams, N., Cowen, P., Geddes, J. & McShane, R. (2014). Ketamine infusions for treatment resistant depression: a series of 28 patients treated weekly or twice weekly in an ECT clinic, Journal of Psychopharmacology, DOI:

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April 07, 2014

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7:54 PM | Did I Do That? Distinguishing Real from Imagined Actions
If you’re like most people, you spend a great deal of your time remembering past events and planning or imagining events that may happen in the future. While these activities have their uses, they also make it terribly hard to keep track of what you have and haven’t actually seen, heard, or done. Distinguishing between […]

Brandt, V., Bergström, Z., Buda, M., Henson, R. & Simons, J. (2014). Did I turn off the gas? Reality monitoring of everyday actions, Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 14 (1) 209-219. DOI:

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6:53 PM | Researchers Use Sun to Make Solar Energy Materials
Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered a way to tap the sun not only as a source of power, but also to directly produce the solar energy materials that make this possible. Read more »

Kim, K., Oleksak, R., Pan, C., Knapp, M., Kreider, P., Herman, G. & Chang, C. (2014). Continuous synthesis of colloidal chalcopyrite copper indium diselenide nanocrystal inks, RSC Advances, 4 (32) 16418. DOI:

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6:04 PM | Speciation in Reverse
I don’t usually advertise my Accumulating Glitches posts on here, but I decided to make an exception for today’s post. …Continue reading →

Kleindorfer S, O'Connor JA, Dudaniec RY, Myers SA, Robertson J & Sulloway FJ (2014). Species collapse via hybridization in Darwin's tree finches., The American naturalist, 183 (3) 325-41. PMID:

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5:58 PM | New Electrolyte to Enable Fast-Charging Li-Ion Batteries
Scientists in Japan have developed an innovative electrolyte that may be the key to the next great breakthrough in advanced lithium-ion batteries. Read more »

Yamada, Y., Furukawa, K., Sodeyama, K., Kikuchi, K., Yaegashi, M., Tateyama, Y. & Yamada, A. (2014). Unusual Stability of Acetonitrile-Based Superconcentrated Electrolytes for Fast-Charging Lithium-Ion Batteries, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 136 (13) 5039-5046. DOI:

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4:58 PM | Neuronal memory
Francis Crick‘s astonishing hypothesis (1995) is that “You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” Actually, more than a hypothesis, this is the basis of […]

Larimer P. & Strowbridge B.W. (2009). Representing information in cell assemblies: persistent activity mediated by semilunar granule cells, Nature Neuroscience, 13 (2) 213-222. DOI:

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4:41 PM | Multi-Gene Engineering Could Boost Seed Oil Content in Oilseed Crops
A team of researchers from Rothamsted Research, one of the oldest agricultural research institutions in the world, have published the first study to target multiple genes that control a series of important steps in the pathway for seed oil production (see footnote). Read more »

van Erp, H., Kelly, A., Menard, G. & Eastmond, P. (2014). Multi-gene engineering of triacylglycerol metabolism boosts seed oil content in Arabidopsis, PLANT PHYSIOLOGY, DOI:

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3:02 PM | Illacme plenipes - World's leggiest creature
Illacme plenipesCredit: Paul Marek et. al.Kingdom: AnimaliaPhylum: ArthropodaClass: Diplopoda Order: Siphonophorida Family: SiphonorhinidaeGenus: IllacmeSpecies: Illacme plenipesConservation Status: Not officially assessed, possibly threatened by extinctionCommon Name: NoneDespite their name, we have yet to discover a millipede species that has one thousand legs. However, the rare Illacme plenipes comes very close to this number, with one recorded specimen having 750 legs.The species has […]

Marek PE & Bond JE (2006). Biodiversity hotspots: rediscovery of the world's leggiest animal., Nature, 441 (7094) 707. PMID:

Marek, P., Shear, W. & Bond, J. (2012). A redescription of the leggiest animal, the millipede Illacme plenipes, with notes on its natural history and biogeography (Diplopoda, Siphonophorida, Siphonorhinidae), ZooKeys, 241 77-112. DOI:

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12:53 PM | Hummingbirds: still evolving endless forms most wonderful | @GrrlScientist
A new study finds that the rising Andes is tied to the rapid speciation of hummingbirds. This study also predicts that hummingbirds will evolve twice as many species as what we see today."There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are […]

McGuire J.A., Witt C.C., Remsen, Jr. J.V., Corl A., Rabosky D.L., Altshuler D.L. & Dudley R. (2014). Molecular Phylogenetics and the Diversification of Hummingbirds, Current Biology, DOI:

Hoorn C., Wesselingh F.P., ter Steege H., Bermudez M.A., Mora A., Sevink J., Sanmartin I., Sanchez-Meseguer A., Anderson C.L. & Figueiredo J.P. & (2010). Amazonia Through Time: Andean Uplift, Climate Change, Landscape Evolution, and Biodiversity, Science, 330 (6006) 927-931. DOI:

Mayr G. (2004). Old World Fossil Record of Modern-Type Hummingbirds, Science, 304 (5672) 861-864. DOI:

Doorn G.S.V., Noest A.J. & Hogeweg P. (1998). Sympatric speciation and extinction driven by environment dependent sexual selection, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 265 (1408) 1915-1919. DOI:

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12:35 PM | Usher Syndrome and Cochlear Implants – Hearing Sound for the First Time
There aren’t many of us who won’t have read the heart-warming story about Joanne Milne, an Usher syndrome sufferer who, after being profoundly deaf her whole life, was able to […]

Cosgrove, D. & Zallocchi, M. (2014). Usher protein functions in hair cells and photoreceptors, The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, 46 80-89. DOI:

Loundon, N., Marlin, S., Busquet, D., Denoyelle, F., Roger, G., Renaud, F. & Garabedian, E. (2003). Usher Syndrome and Cochlear Implantation, Otology & Neurotology, 24 (2) 216-221. DOI:

Petit C (2001). Usher syndrome: from genetics to pathogenesis, Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet,

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11:03 AM | “7 a Day” is the new “5 a Day”: stop being so serious about veg!
You probably saw the news last week that you should “Forget five a day: You need SEVEN portions a day for a long life”. Yes you read that correctly, research now tells us that should eat seven – or possibly even ten – portions of fruit and veg every day to help keep disease at … Continue reading →

WHO (2009). Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases* A Report of the WHO Study Group on Diet, Nutrition and Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases**, Nutrition Reviews, 49 (10) 291-301. DOI:

Oyebode, O., Gordon-Dseagu, V., Walker, A. & Mindell, J. (2014). Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality: analysis of Health Survey for England data, Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, DOI:

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3:45 AM | Kleene’s variant of the Church-Turing thesis
In 1936, Alonzo Church, Alan Turing, and Emil Post each published independent papers on the Entscheidungsproblem and introducing the lambda calculus, Turing machines, and Post-Turing machines as mathematical models of computation. A myriad of other models followed, many of them taking seemingly unrelated approaches to the computable: algebraic, combinatorial, linguistic, logical, mechanistic, etc. Of course, […]

Dershowitz, N. & Gurevich, Y. (2008). A natural axiomatization of computability and proof of Church's Thesis, Bulletin of Symbolic Logic, 14 (3) 299-350. DOI:

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April 06, 2014

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4:41 PM | Look! A Morsel of Good Vaccination News
It’s been a bad few weeks for vaccination. Whooping cough continues to make a comeback; it was revealed that some New York City schools have third-world vaccination rates; and a study led by Brendan Nyhan found that four different interventions were unable to shift vaccination intentions. So it may come as a surprise that a […]

Cox, D., Sturm, L. & Cox, A. (2014). Effectiveness of Asking Anticipated Regret in Increasing HPV Vaccination Intention in Mothers., Health Psychology, DOI:

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2:37 PM | Can 7-a-day save your life?
On the 1st of April I heard over my morning cup of coffee that new research suggests that the staple 5-a-day which has been ingrained into our idea of health since […]

Oyebode O, Gordon-Dseagu V, Walker A & Mindell JS (2014). Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality: analysis of Health Survey for England data., Journal of epidemiology and community health, PMID:

Lock K, Pomerleau J, Causer L, Altmann DR & McKee M (2005). The global burden of disease attributable to low consumption of fruit and vegetables: implications for the global strategy on diet., Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 83 (2) 100-8. PMID:

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12:00 PM | Enceladus and Water – What This Means for Life
Scientists at the California Institute of Technology recently announced that they have evidence of water on Saturn’s tiny moon Enceladus. And not only is there water, it is probably liquid water. How can this be possible on an object that is almost 900 million miles away from the Sun (about 10 times the Earth-Sun distance) and has a temperature of – 201 degrees Celsius (-330 … Read More → The post Enceladus and Water – What This Means for Life appeared first on […]

Iess L., Stevenson D.J., Parisi M., Hemingway D., Jacobson R.A., Lunine J.I., Nimmo F., Armstrong J.W., Asmar S.W. & Ducci M. & (2014). The Gravity Field and Interior Structure of Enceladus, Science, 344 (6179) 78-80. DOI:

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9:09 AM | The Himalaya: mountains made from mountains
Good building stones get reused. Sometimes the only traces of very old buildings are their stones, built into more modern ones. It’s the same with rocks and mountain belts. Stone that now forms parts of the Himalaya was once part … Continue reading →

Mottram C.M., Argles T.W., Harris N.B.W., Parrish R.R., Horstwood M.S.A., Warren C.J. & Gupta S. (2014). Tectonic interleaving along the Main Central Thrust, Sikkim Himalaya, Journal of the Geological Society, 171 (2) 255-268. DOI:

Argles T.W., Prince C.I., Foster G.L. & Vance D. (1999). New garnets for old? Cautionary tales from young mountain belts, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 172 (3-4) 301-309. DOI:

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