Monday, February 22, 2010

Notes for Feb 22

  • Epigenetics is a pretty fascinating topic in general. Not to boil an entire idea down to a single sentence, but basically there are mechanisms of transferring information from parents to offspring that are independent of DNA. What mechanisms? Gosh, what do I look like? An epigeneticist? All I know is apparently crickets have such a mechanism.
  • In an increasingly developed world, military bases have become something of a safe-haven for threatened and endangered species. Fort Riley in Kansas has several beautiful streams on-site, and also happens to have a secret stash of morel mushrooms!
  • The feds are going to try to clean up the Great Lakes. Wow. The Lakes are only the most prominent ecological feature in North America. Are we finally going to take them seriously? I'm skeptical.
  • This article feels a little bit like piling on with regards to Amy Bishop (the nutjob prof at U. of Alabama who shot up her co-workers). I mean, we know she's a nut, do we really need to know that she also deserved to have her tenure denied. Well, at least, that's what I thought at first, but I obviously read the article anyway. My whole opinion changed when I read this line:
"Dr. Bishop's paper in that journal, on nerve cells grown in the laboratory...lists her school-age children as the first three authors. The fourth author is herself, and the fifth is her husband, who is identified as being at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, although he does not have a position there."
Holy cow. How did this lady even keep her job? As it turns out, this article was definitely interesting.
  • Maybe there's more genetic variation in the human population than was originally thought. Sequencing of tribal Africans seems to indicate that individuals separated by no more than walking distance have more genetic differences than Europeans and Asians.
  • Kids are getting more chronic health conditions than they used to, apparently due to environmental and cultural factors.
  • A real scientific debate. As opposed to a perceived scientific debate. Just a hint, the real debate is much more difficult to understand. The fake debate is easier to understand, because those doing the debating seem to have no grasp of reality. And if you're interested, a 2004 paper [pdf] on why the press doesn't understand how to report on science.

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