Life Science

Sex differences in sleep apnea

I came across an interesting study published last month in American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is a disorder in which the upper airway is repeatedly obstructed during sleep resulting in bouts of intermittent hypoxia (low oxygen concentrations). I had no idea that OSA is…

Flying over the Himalayas

I listened to a really interesting story on NPR this morning about new discoveries regarding the flight patterns of bar-headed geese. These birds are known for their incredible ability to fly over the Himalayas on their annual migration to central Asia. Until now, it was often assumed that the birds reached a specific altitude and then simply…

Friday Cephalopod: En garde!

Pull a spaghetti noodle out of a box of pasta and take a look.  It’s long and stiff.  Try to bend it and it breaks.  But fresh pasta is pliable.  It can fold just like cooked noodles. When students first look at an amino acid sequence, a long string of confusing letters, they often think those letters are…

Lewontin & Ohta win the Crafoord Prize

The The Crafoord Prize in Biosciences has been announced. For those who don’t know, this is a very prestigious award, comparable to the Nobel prize, only not as well known. The categories are specifically designed to complement the Nobel. This year’s winners are Richard Lewontin and Tomoko Ohta, and it’s about time. Lewontin has been…

I found this picture on a site called “Wedding Flowers”, which is kind of interesting, since 30% of yellow evening primroses reproduce asexually. I think that means it’s the best wedding flower for marriages in which the partners intend to clone themselves.

More Than One Right Answer

On Life Lines, Dr. Dolittle examines the fascinating parallels between hummingbird and insect flight. He and/or she writes: “The researchers placed nontoxic paint on the wing of a ruby-throated hummingbird at 9 different spots then videotaped the animal flying at 1,000 frames per second with 4 cameras simultaneously.” Despite being far removed from insects on…

Frauds through and through

Perhaps you’ve heard of these absurd creationist challenges: Kent Hovind challenge of $250,000 for scientific evidence of evolution; Joseph Mastropaolo’s challenge of $10,000 to “prove evolution”; Ray Comfort’s challenge of $10,000 to show him a transitional fossil. They all sound like easy money, but don’t try: they’ve loaded the dice in every case. Dana Hunter…

Why do we die?

I finally got around to finishing Greta Christina’s Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God. It’s good! This book is the sort of thing atheism needs more of: an acknowledgment that the phenomena most important to human beings can be addressed effectively without imagining fantastic supernatural creatures. Atheists have this reputation…