Life Science

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…

Bone-house wasps

A new species of spider wasp that protect their young with walls made of ant carcasses has been discovered in the forests of China. Dr. Michael Staab from the University of Freiburg discovered the new species which he named Deuteragenia ossarium meaning “bone-house wasp” since the wasps reminded him of the ossuaries in Europe with…

Kangaroo’s 5th leg

New research suggests that kangaroos use their tails as a 5th “leg”:

A few weeks back, we published a review about the development and role of the human reference genome. A key point of the reference genome is that it is not a single sequence. Instead it is an assembly of consensus sequences that are designed to deal with variation in the human population and uncertainty in…

“Since stars appear to be suns, and suns, according to the common opinion, are bodies that serve to enlighten, warm, and sustain a system of planets, we may have an idea of the numberless globes that serve for the habitation of living creatures.” -William Herschel When you look up at the stars in the night…

Mary’s Monday Metazoan: Evil Rising

We’ve had a very wet summer so far here in the upper Midwest — the potholes are full of water, our backyard is sodden, the plants are thriving, but that also means that this plague is drifting in vast clouds everywhere. The horror. The horror.