Archive for May, 2006

Hobbit News

This report is from today’s London Independent. The source is the latest issue of Nature, so there will doubtless be other reports. Update from Razib: Carl Zimmer and John Hawks have much more. One point that is really confusing about the Hobbits is their small brain size. Consider the graph to the left. Human (hominids) […]

These papers are so HOTT right now!

I was poking around looking for something else and found this ESI special topics website. It updates every other month and provides interviews with the authors of the most highly cited papers at the time. I really think the “fronts” are interesting and could be useful. They give you a map of journal articles that […]

The ol’ ball and chain

Given that some of the readers here are actual, like, scientists, this article on the relationship between marriage and scientific success may be of interest. Actually, the only interesting part is the intro: Several years ago, Satoshi Kanazawa, then a psychologist at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, analyzed a biographical database of […]

Happier homes => Hotter daughters?

Jeez, how long has it been since we had a good chat about comely girls? Via Dienekes, this article shows that in a sample of early 20-something girls at a Scottish university, daughters of happily married parents (HM) had more attractive and feminine faces than those whose parents either had separated pre-puberty (S) or had […]

Visual-spatial ability & sex

More obviously non-controversial research on cognition and sex differences, Differences in cue use and spatial memory in men and women: Men and women differ in their ability to solve spatial problems. There are two possible proximate explanations for this: (i) men and women differ in the kind (and value) of information they use and/or (ii) […]


I’ve signed up for Clustrmaps before, but this weblog gets too many hits so it maxed out. This time I upgraded to the premium service and we shouldn’t overtax it, so it is now there, above frappr.

Vive Lamarck!

A little while back, I mentioned epigenetics, noting that arrays for the detection of methylated sites in the genome are starting to become available. Recently released from The American Journal of Human Genetics is a new article that uses just that type of array to detect epigenetic variation in human sperm. what do they find? […]

“Why sex matters for neuroscience”

Excellent review of the latest findings on sex influences and brain anatomy/functioning by Larry Cahill over at Nature Reviews – Neuroscience [open access]. One comment from Cahill: A third, also related, misconception holds that the differences within a sex are much more substantial than those between the sexes, the implication being that sex influences can […]

DRD4, sex and Jews

I was pointed to this research (via David) that is just out about the correlation between variation on DRD4 and “sexual arousal.” From the press release: Interestingly, some forms of variants in this gene were shown to have a depressing effect on sexual desire, arousal and function, while other common variant had the opposite effect […]

Another model on human demographic expansion out of Africa

The American Journal of Human Genetics has a paper in its pre-print section titled “A geographically explicit genetic model of worldwide human settlement history.” I quickly skimmed it (and uploaded it into the GNXP forum). I have serious issues some of the inferences made in regards to the “obvious” fit of such coalescence data with […]

Fertility Rate Skepticism

Thought this might be of interest: Brandon Berg, one of my co-conspirators at Catallarchy, wrote a post a while ago sketching out a possible way in which the decline in fertility rates might be overstated in the statistics that are commonly bandied about. The basic idea is that if the mean age of motherhood is […]

Race and Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

A new study tracks the effects of alcohol drinking during each trimester of pregnancy for 636 mother-child pairs. Light to moderate drinking during the second trimester led to the most pronounced cognitive deficits at age 10. The catch is the effect was found only for the African-Americans in the study and not for the white […]

Super Glue

The majority of cells in the nervous system are not neurons. They are glia. There are several subtypes of glia, one of which is astrocytes. Glia means glue. In general, people think of glia in their support role in the nervous system. Holding it together, disposing of waste and other menial tasks. This little commentary […]

Global Warming: Cool It!

Today’s London Sunday Times has a good opinion piece by Simon Jenkins on global warming, here. My attitude is that we should leave our descendants to deal with their own problems, as they will be richer and better-informed than we are. Let us take decisions according to our own needs and priorities. But then I’m […]

What is a gene?

This weeks Nature has a news article called “What is a gene?”. Here’s what they have to say: In classical genetics, a gene was an abstract concept – a unit of inheritance that ferried a characteristic from parent to child. As biochemistry came into its own, those characteristics were associated with enzymes or proteins, one […]

Botstein invterview

Willing to Do the Math: An Interview with David Botstein on PLoS Genetics

The V factor

To interrupt your regular science programming, check out the back story on Miss “Poland.” Turns out she is a washed-up Miss Venezuela, and that the reputed powerhouse of beauty contests has done some exporting before. Here is a gallery of the contestants for Miss Poland this year (not Kingdom of Saudi Arabia work safe, but […]

Genomic response to a higher standard of living

Deadsmith dropped me another gem about a transcriptional profiling study in yeast getting a little more sugar. I will continue to share these with you until somebody tells me to stop. As before, any ire or accolades should be directed to him, as much as you can direct either one at a floating handle in […]

Actin dynamics and LTP

Peep the structure of a whole empire. – Malik B I have a couple of nice papers here looking at the inter-relation between LTP, actin polymerization, and dendritic spine structure. They are both pretty dense, so I’ll do a single post on this Fukazawa et al. paper (pdf) and then, with the conceptual junk already […]

A moral high ground?

The Roman Catholic Church’s official policy on the ‘regulation of birth’ is, of course, that artificial birth control should not be used since the practice transgresses God’s ‘natural moral law’ to go forth and multiply (and, of course, with congregation numbers already being as low as they are, well…). Therefore, “direct interruption of the generative […]