Archive for May, 2007

Watson genome sequenced

Genome of DNA Discoverer Is Deciphered. Related: In defense of the celebrity genome. Labels: Genetics

Are conservatives not crazy?

Chris of Mixing Memory has a post up titled Are Conservatives Less Creative?. I joked with him that basically creativity is strongly coupled with being mentally on edge, after all, who would really follow their muse on the high risk stakes of a creative career which will likely be characterized by penury? But in any […]

Sam Brownback & evolution

Sam Brownback offers a cryptic op-ed in regards to his attitude toward evolution (he, one of the three Republican candidates for president who raised their hand when Chris Matthews asked if any of them do not believe in the theory of evolution). As they say, read the whole thing, Brownback is definitely a politician. He […]

Introducing the book

Read top subtitles…. Labels: video

Glia are just support cells

People who study glia are getting all excited about the ‘tripartite synapse’ where astrocytes that wrap around the synaptic cleft play an active role in controlling neurotransmission. Well TAKE THAT glia researchers! Selective Stimulation of Astrocyte Calcium In Situ Does Not Affect Neuronal Excitatory Synaptic ActivityTodd A. Fiacco, Cendra Agulhon, Sarah R. Taves, Jeremy Petravicz, […]

Lenin vs. God

Michael Shermer’s Skeptic Society has an interesting article up based on And God Created Lenin: Marxism vs Religion In Russia, 1917-1929, which chronicles the futile attempt by the Communists to exterminate religion. One must make a distinction here between religion and a specific religious system and organization. In The Rise of Western Christendom by Peter […]

Steven Pinker’s new book

Just noticed that Amazon is taking pre-orders for The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature, Steve Pinker’s latest. His website states that Pinker will start his book tour on the publication date listed on Amazon, a little over 3 months from now, so that seems sufficient confirmation. Here is Steven Pinker […]

ASPM & Microcephalin & tonal languages?

Note: The authors have a website which summarizes their research (via Language Log). Speaking in tones? Blame it on your genes: People who carry particular variants of two genes involved in brain development tend to speak nontonal languages such as English, while those with a different genetic profile are more likely to speak tonal languages […]

Facilitating selection

Recently Razib walked readers through a scenario where a population passing through a bottleneck would, by sampling error, experience a change in allele frequencies and thereby convert some of the variance due to dominance into additive genetic variance — the kind that matters most for a population to respond to selection. If we recall the […]

Yu Hong, round-eyed in China

Kambiz @ has an excellent review of the case of the Chinese warlord with “European” ancestry. Labels: Genetics

Building a Better Mouse

‘Smart’ mice teach scientists about learning process, brain disorders Mice genetically engineered to lack a single enzyme in their brains are more adept at learning than their normal cousins, and are quicker to figure out that their environment has changed, a team led by researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center has found.…The group is also […]

Everything and nothing

Redefinition / turnin’ your play into a tragedy / exhibit level degree on the mic / passionately – Kweli Nature has an Insight section up ostensibly about epigenetics starting with an article by Adrian Bird suggesting a re-definition. It’s free. I think the term is useful to the extent that you can predict something about […]

Cognitive biases and science – II

The Science article, Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science, has now been re-packaged for Edge. I have read Paul Bloom’s work before so none of this is surprising, though I would offer that he has the cognitive psychologist’s bias, so to speak, of not addressing the impact of the variation of human intelligence on […]

Why the gods will not die

Over at my other weblog I have a long response to the Edge piece which argues for the power of the Secularization Hypothesis, roughly, that with modernity there comes a falling away from supernaturalism. In short, the authors dig into some data, but like those who make arguments about the inevitable conquest of secularity by […]

Round-eyed Chinese, part n

European Man Found in Ancient Chinese Tomb, Study Reveals. This is a follow up on an earlier story, worth reading for a lot of quotes. One might ask why the Chinese look so “Chinese” with this ancient evidence of gene flow. Well, non-trivial gene-flow is not the same as a non-trivial flow of peoples. The […]

In defense of the celebrity genome

According to a news article in Nature (subscriber only), some scientists are “alarmed” that a number of high-profile scientists and public figures are going to be the first people to have their genomes sequenced (the published public sequence is a mish-mash of a number of people, and the now-public Celera sequence, though largely Craig Venter, […]

Who’s the daddy? Evolution says both!

Who’s Your Daddy? Paternity Battle Between Brothers (who are identical twins). Pretty bizarre story. Labels: Genetics

Adaptive radiation in biology and academia: Why math matters

The idea that a species will undergo diversifying selection as it begins to colonize an environment made up of many niches never seen before — adaptive radiation — is pretty intuitive. It’s obvious enough qualitatively that you’d figure it out on your own if thinking about biology were your day job: the forms of life […]

Copy number variation & autoimmune diseases

FCGR3B copy number variation is associated with susceptibility to systemic, but not organ-specific, autoimmunity. The “Brief Communication” in Nature is open access. Here’s a popular press summation. Related: The HapMap and copy number variation. Potentially massive human genetic variation detected. Labels: Genetics

Cognitive biases and science

It may be obvious that people tend to trust their intuition over data, but some counterintuitive facts or forces are questioned (i.e. evolution), while other are not (i.e. electricity, the non-flatness of the earth). This review (entitled Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science– I can’t tell if the title is deliberately clever or entirely […]