Life Science

Ladybrains evolved in the Pleistocene

Dr Gijsbert Stoet thinks we should stop trying to correct gender disparities. Speaking at the British Education Studies Association conference in Glasgow on Friday, he argued: "We need to have a national debate on why we find it so important to have equal numbers. Do we really care that only five per cent of the…

Phew!! I just submitted my abstract for the Comparative Physiology meeting that will be held this October. Judging from the preliminary program, it is going to be an exciting meeting! Here is a description of the meeting from the American Physiological Society’s website: “Comparative physiology takes advantage of the diverse evolutionary histories and ecological settings…

Cephalopods are the cutest creatures on the planet. How can you deny it?

Have you had a chance to see this video from Discovery News showing the flashy ‘disco clam’? A graduate student at UC Berkeley, Lindsey Dougherty, unraveled the mystery of this party-like effect. The clams actually have tiny silica spheres (340 nanometers in diameter) on the inside of their lips that reflect light whereas the outside of…

A recent article published in the American Journal of Physiology reviewed how the brain regulates feeding behaviors. Humans are not the only species to eat food in spurts we like to call meals. Research suggests that this behavior may actually aid survival as it reduces exposure time to the environment and makes responding to fluctuations in the…

There’s the leak in the pipeline

We’re always talking about this curious phenomenon, that we see lots of women at the undergraduate and graduate level in biology, but large numbers of them leave science rather than rising through the ranks. Why is that? It seems that one answer is that elite male faculty in the life sciences employ fewer women, that…

What are you going to simulate?

The EU is sinking €1.2bn (and the US is proposing to spend more, $3 billion) into a colossal project to build a supercomputer simulation of the human brain. To which I say, “What the hell? We aren’t even close to building such a thing for a fruit fly brain, and you want to do that…

Closure on the Obokata/STAP affair

I’ve been following the story of stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells with considerable interest, and there’s a good reason for that: from the very beginning, it contradicted how I’d always thought about cell states, and if it were true, I’d have to rethink a lot of things, which was vexing. But on the other…

Venomous ticks??

Ticks are blood-sucking arthropods that can act as vectors for various diseases in both animals and humans. A recent article published in Frontiers in Zoology summarizes findings that suggest ticks may also be considered venomous ectoparasites. For example, Ixodes holocyclus is a species of Australian tick whose saliva can induce paralysis in humans and animals. According to the new article, about…