Archive for March, 2007

Spencer Wells interview

PLoS Genetics has published an interview with Spencer Wells of the Genographic project. A very good read.

Skin color & sexual dimorphism?

Some new data to throw into the argument about the origin of light skin (it seems that dark skin obviously arose when we lost our fur, seeing as functional constraint is strong in dark-skinned populations and unexposed skin in our nearest primate relatives is pink). From Dienekes: Women have lighter skin than men do across […]

The seeds of fundamentalism?

In the discussion thread for the Ayaan Hirsi Ali post there was some mooting of the nature of Islamic fundamentalism. I think this story is illustrative of the issues at work that might surprise: …Khan told him he first became attracted to radical Islam because the tradition he grew up with was forcing him into […]

But don’t they all look alike?

A face you can trust?: The Intopii computer firm of Helsinki, Finland, announced in February that it has installed software to help voters find candidates who look like them. Intopii is basing this idea on studies that suggest Finnish voters tend to select candidates who most resemble themselves…. Labels: Finn baiting

Culture vs. genes

From page 56 of Ancient Greece: …Sometimes the colonists [that is, Greek founders of colonial settlements outside of Greece] enjoyed a friendly welcome from the local inhabitants where they settled; sometimes they had to fight to win land for their new community. Since colonizing expeditions were apparently usually all male, wives from the colonists had […]

Lab courses & MRI & Neutral Theory

RPM has a long post about the importance of lab courses (in response to a philosopher with some background in physics who suggests doing away with undergraduate lab courses) and Aziz points out that the father of magnetic resonance imaging has died. Update: From the author of the original post (in the comments): Actually, I […]

INFIDEL, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Note from Razib: This discussion thread will be heavily moderated. If you’re not going to be interesting, be banal and polite. Otherwise, be interesting. My point in Islam threads isn’t to sit there listening to self-important prigs repeat the same talking points I’ve heard since 9/11. Been there, done that (myself). Let’s add some value.End […]

Darwin’s Origin: the Variorum Edition

In 1959, 100 years after the publication of the first edition of Darwin’s The Origin of Species, the University of Pennsylvania Press published a ‘Variorum Text’, edited by Morse Peckham, containing all the variants in the six editions published during Darwin’s lifetime. Anyone who reads historical studies of Darwin’s work will have seen references to […]

The genetics of population differentiation

PLoS One has a new article on detecting recent natural selection in the human genome. As opposed to previous studies mentioned on this site [1][2], this study looks for fixed differences between populations, rather than those on their way to fixation. This is a potentially very important set of differences between populations, and one that […]

The round-eyed Buddha

Over at my other blog I’ve posted several times about Buddhism. The main reason was to clarify a boundary condition when it came to the discussion of the evolution and psychology of religion. When addressing the intersection of these two disciplines and their relevance to modeling religious phenomena it was important to emphasize the relative […]

Will an infection become an epidemic? A simple model

One subject I’ve developed a mild interest in is the modeling of epidemics. So in that vein, here is a post (the first of a possible series, if I feel really inspired) on mathematical epidemiology: Let’s start with a simple discrete-time model for the evolution of an infection: imagine an infinite population of people, of […]

Short memories

Several people have pointed me to the articles which quote a nationalist Japanese minister as stating, to the effect, that Arabs won’t trust blonde & blue-eyed Westerners, but have no historical aversion to East Asians. I found this kind of funny because of course the Sack of Baghdad was at the hands of the Mongols. […]

The Unchurched

Unchurched Population Nears 100 Million in the U.S.: A new survey released by The Barna Group, which has been tracking America’s religious behavior and beliefs since 1984, reveals that one out of every three adults (33%) is classified as unchurched – meaning they have not attended a religious service of any type during the past […]

Why we’re not all hot?

Why some people are more attractive than others: Professor Petrie theorised that since genetic mutations can occur anywhere in the genome, some will affect the ‘DNA repair kit’ possessed by all cells. As a result, some individuals have less efficient repair kits, resulting in greater variation in their DNA as damage does unrepaired. Although unrepaired […]

A visual approach to statistics

I was recently recommended an excellent book with the irresistibly seductive title The Geometry of Multivariate Statistics, which offers more visually oriented people a crisp way of thinking about statistics that still captures what the algebraic formulas say. To be sure, the author is aware that diagrams, pictures, and so on are employed anytime someone […]

Swappable DNA Module in Bacteria Gives Light Harnessing Ability

Engineering Bacteria to Harvest Light …Some bacteria, such as cyanobacteria, use photosynthesis to make sugars, just as plants do. But others have a newly discovered ability to harvest light through a different mechanism: using light-activated proteins known as proteorhodopsins, which are similar to proteins found in our retinas. When the protein is bound to a […]

Population substructure in Europe – Northwest to Southeast cline?

The American Journal of Human Genetics has an article up examining population substructure within Europe (or, more precisely, the varation of genes), Measuring European Population Stratification with Microarray Genotype Data. From the discussion: PC1 [the largest principle component of variance] largely separates northern from southeastern individuals…and is consistent with the clines observed in classic gene-frequency…Y-chromosome…mtDNA…and […]

Nature Reviews Epigenetics Focus

I’m working on a follow-up to my knee-jerk negative reaction to Miller and Sweatt last week. Surveying the field, I found that Nature Reviews Genetics just dropped an issue focusing in epigenetics with a complementary website. At least a couple of the reviews spotlight our recently acquired ability to assay DNA methylation states on a […]

White and Nerdy

On Reading Wright

Last year I discussed the views of R. A. Fisher on population size, and said I would later cover Sewall Wright’s views on the subject. It has taken me a while to come back to this, as I soon realised that my knowledge of Wright was too superficial for the task. On reading more of […]