What we're talking about Life, Death, and ERVs Thursday, November 27, 2014

Life, Death, and ERVs

I read an interesting article in Scientific American that discussed the so-called Peto’s Paradox. Dr. Richard Peto (University of Oxford) came up with the idea that if every cell has an equal probability of becoming cancerous, then larger animals would be predicted to develop cancer at higher rates than smaller animals. As it turns out,…

For quite a while, now, there has been a connection between Endogenous Retroviruses and HIV. For some unknown reason, some of the young ERVs in humans, the ones that can still code for a protein here and there, are reactivated in HIV+ patients. Scientists have found ERV RNA in HIV+ patient plasma, and they have…

In a phenomenon known as Peto's paradox, large mammals do not develop cancer more often than small mammals, despite having more cells that could go haywire. On Life Lines, Dr. Dolittle writes "Some researchers suggested that perhaps smaller animals developed more oxidative stress as a result of having higher metabolisms. Others proposed that perhaps larger animals have more genes that suppress tumors." But a new hypothesis argues that large mammals have evolved to minimize the activity of ERVs, which are ancient viral elements integrated into our DNA. Active ERVs can cause cancer and possibly other diseases; mice exhibit about 3300 active ERVs, while humans exhibit about 350. On the blog known as ERV, Abbie Smith writes "some of the young ERVs in humans, the ones that can still code for a protein here and there, are reactivated in HIV+ patients." Researchers are considering targeting these ERVs in order to combat HIV; as Abbie writes, "You could train the HIV+ individuals immune system to ‘see’ the ERV components in an HIV infected CD4+ T-cell, and BAM! Kill the HIV infected cell!" But she warns that other ERV components are expressed in many normal human cells, and teaching our immune system to target them might be a very bad idea.

Channel Surfing

Life Science

I came across this interesting literature on what foods you should avoid feeding a dog from the ASPCA Animal Poison Control:

I’ve decided to do a new round of profiles in the Project for Non-Academic Science (acronym deliberately chosen to coincide with a journal), as a way of getting a little more information out there to students studying in STEM fields who will likely end up with jobs off the “standard” academic science track. Fifth in…

Brandenburg is a physicist who submitted a paper to the 42nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference a few years ago. It’s way outside my area of expertise, but it postulated an interesting scenario from the ratios of rare isotopes in the atmosphere of Mars: that there was evidence of a natural nuclear reactor, like Oklo…

Physical Science

“We live in an atmosphere of shame. We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.” -George Bernard Shaw And despite all of that, when we pause…

Continuing our efforts to celebrate STEM all year long, we have joined forces with Raw Science to create a Youth Category for their film festival.  The Raw Science Film Festival celebrates the exciting world of film and science. “We wanted to create a film festival that significantly supported filmmakers who share the wonderful world of…

“We… are what happens when a primordial mixture of hydrogen and helium evolves for so long that it begins to ask where it came from.” -Jill Tarter But that doesn’t mean we can’t also look to the hydrogen itself, and use its information to learn about where other things may have come from! An extraordinary example…

Environment

LOL

An interview with an expert on Turkey (me, apparently) about turkeys. What do I mean by “turkey”? The bird, the country, the personality trait? Well, that is the point, isn’t it! Click here to get the skinny on turkey.

I came across this interesting literature on what foods you should avoid feeding a dog from the ASPCA Animal Poison Control:

Humanities

Children who have the opportunity to attend full-day preschool programs, versus part-day programs, tend to score higher on school readiness measures such as language, math, socio-emotional development and physical health, according to a recent study. So, why is this finding important to public health? Because education has literally been described as an “elixir” for lifelong health and wellbeing.

These are important questions, though I must say it is a little late for you to be asking considering that Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Thanksgiving is a feast, and feasting is something humans do in many cultures (but not all, probably). A while back I wrote a piece of feasting that you should…

Months before the first case of Ebola was diagnosed in Texas, the state’s public health laboratory had begun preparing for the disease to reach U.S. shores. And while the virus itself is an uncommon threat in this country, the response of the nation’s public health laboratory system wasn’t uncommon at all — in fact, protecting people’s health from such grave threats is exactly what they’re trained to do.

Education

I came across this interesting literature on what foods you should avoid feeding a dog from the ASPCA Animal Poison Control:

Continuing our efforts to celebrate STEM all year long, we have joined forces with Raw Science to create a Youth Category for their film festival.  The Raw Science Film Festival celebrates the exciting world of film and science. “We wanted to create a film festival that significantly supported filmmakers who share the wonderful world of…

Children who have the opportunity to attend full-day preschool programs, versus part-day programs, tend to score higher on school readiness measures such as language, math, socio-emotional development and physical health, according to a recent study. So, why is this finding important to public health? Because education has literally been described as an “elixir” for lifelong health and wellbeing.

Politics

In action that may portend how the 114th Congress will treat science, the House has passed two bills that would limit the EPA’s use of science. The White House is threatening to veto both – and an additional bill that in the White House’s view could weaken the Clean Air Act’s public health and environmental protections.

As Healthcare.gov welcomes enrollees for 2015 health-insurance plans, we’re seeing far fewer technical problems, modest premium increases overall (but not everywhere), and a continued lack of affordable options for those in the “coverage gap.”

“I didn’t know any successful actors in Kenya, so I felt like I could get away with going to college to study film more easily than I could with saying, ‘I want to be an actor.’ That’s what I did.” -Lupita Nyong’o There’s nothing that gets me excited quite like… completely fabricated, unnecessary bickering on…

Medicine

I came across this interesting literature on what foods you should avoid feeding a dog from the ASPCA Animal Poison Control:

I don’t think I mentioned this, but I’m on a bit of a staycation this week. I figured, what the heck? After coming home from Skepticon I could do with a little R&R. Of course, fool that I am, I still can’t resist blogging a bit. On the other hand, the day before Thanksgiving I…

The Rolling Stone article, “A Rape on Campus” should be a must read for every one who attends college, plans to attend college, or has children or loved ones on a college campus, especially one with a significant fraternity presence. UVa is my alma mater for two of my degrees, but this story reminded me…

Brain & Behavior

I came across this interesting literature on what foods you should avoid feeding a dog from the ASPCA Animal Poison Control:

Children who have the opportunity to attend full-day preschool programs, versus part-day programs, tend to score higher on school readiness measures such as language, math, socio-emotional development and physical health, according to a recent study. So, why is this finding important to public health? Because education has literally been described as an “elixir” for lifelong health and wellbeing.

Jeff Cremer, a nature photographer, discovered mysterious tiny glow worms (~0.5 inches long) in Peru near the Tambopata Research Center a couple of years ago. Scientists still have not identified the species of these glow “worms”, but suspect they are actually click beetle larvae. Entomologists Aaron Pomerantz, Mike Bentley, and Geoff Gallice from the University of…

Technology

A reader sent me the following question: “How does a lizard grow a new tail?” This was a very timely question as new research has shed light on this very phenomenon. A team of experts at Arizona State University led by Dr. Kenro Kusumi and colleagues have been studying limb regeneration in lizards.   The…

Dear Readers, Find below an interesting press release I may as well share verbatim: The rapidly melting ice sheets on the coast of West Antarctica are a potential major contributor to rising ocean levels worldwide. Although warm water near the coast is thought to be the main factor causing the ice to melt, the process…

With Ubuntu’s release a few weeks ago of Ubuntu 14.10, Mate has now become an official flavor of Ubuntu. There are two pieces of bad news that relate to this that we’ll get out of the way. First Ubuntu’s default distribution, which uses the Unity Desktop by default, broke a key Linux feature. If you…

Information Science

As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I’ve done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. And here we are in 2014! As in previous years,…

As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I’ve done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. And here we are in 2014! As in previous years,…

I’ve decided to do a new round of profiles in the Project for Non-Academic Science (acronym deliberately chosen to coincide with a journal), as a way of getting a little more information out there to students studying in STEM fields who will likely end up with jobs off the “standard” academic science track. Fourth in…

Jobs

I’ve decided to do a new round of profiles in the Project for Non-Academic Science (acronym deliberately chosen to coincide with a journal), as a way of getting a little more information out there to students studying in STEM fields who will likely end up with jobs off the “standard” academic science track. Fifth in…

I’ve decided to do a new round of profiles in the Project for Non-Academic Science (acronym deliberately chosen to coincide with a journal), as a way of getting a little more information out there to students studying in STEM fields who will likely end up with jobs off the “standard” academic science track. Fourth in…

I’ve decided to do a new round of profiles in the Project for Non-Academic Science (acronym deliberately chosen to coincide with a journal), as a way of getting a little more information out there to students studying in STEM fields who will likely end up with jobs off the “standard” academic science track. Third in…