A Blog Around The Clock

Thus reports The Scientist:

Researchers from three different labs have identified a new circadian gene in the mouse, according to two papers in Science and one paper in Cell published online this week. Mutagenesis screens revealed that mutations in a protein called FBXL3 lengthen the mouse circadian period by several hours, and biochemical analyses showed that FBXL3 is necessary for degradation of key circadian clock proteins.

I’ll probably have something more to say once I get hold of the actual papers.

In a perfect world, the three groups would have done Open Notebook science, found each other, collaborated, minimized waste of parallel work, and ended with a kick-ass monster paper in PLoS-Biology that would get cited hundreds of times within a year. Ah well….


  1. #1 Nat
    April 26, 2007

    You don’t find the fact that three labs found the same thing comforting though? Unless it’s a systematic error it sounds like a finding we can trust much more than a single group of researchers reporting the same thing?

  2. #2 Baratos
    April 26, 2007

    At the same time? Its as if they were running by the SAME CLOCK!

    *embarrased cough*

  3. #3 coturnix
    April 26, 2007

    Nat: that is a good point. Still, those are all three highly reputable labs and some of the work and time could have been saved if they joined forces from the get-go instead of competing. If wrong, subsequent studies woudl have revealed it.

  4. #4 dan dright
    April 26, 2007

    Scooped! Nice.

  5. #5 Tex
    April 27, 2007

    When two other labs are working on the same project as you, it’s time to get a fuckin’ original idea, or at least get out of science. There are far too many ideas out there to be overlapping with anyone in this quadrant of the universe.

    Whoever got scooped in this case, or any other case, deserved this and far worse, for being totally pedestrian in their choice of projects and their approach. Science and society would be better off if they went into electricity or plumbing, where problems and solutions often repeat themselves.

    Please note that I am not disparaging electricians or plumbers, it is just that scientists should exhibit a little bit of creativy and novelity. Traits like this could be fatal in electricians or plumbers or surgeons, but they are essential in any scientist worthy of the name.

  6. #6 Nat
    April 27, 2007


    Science is a creative activity. But creative doesn’t usually include pulling something out of your proverbial. It’s usually in a logical sequence. Thus it’s not surprising that two or three labs come to the same conclusion about the same thing at the same time.

    Lately this has happened in sleep research with the discovery of the orexin/hypocretin story of narcolepsy. Historically the simultaneous discovery of the calculus by Newton and Liebniz counts as a notable example.

    It’s not a lack of creativity. It’s part of the sequence of working things out.

  7. #7 coturnix
    April 27, 2007

    Yes, this was going to be discovered next…right about now…by somebody in the field anyway.

    Imagine if Newton and Leibnitz ran Open Notebook blogs and discovered that both had similar ideas. Then, they could have discussed them over e-mail, refined each other’s thinking, and published a kick-ass Newton-Leibnitz paper (or book, more likely at the time). How awesome!

  8. #8 Irene Chang
    July 9, 2007

    The hickory dickory dock clock gene?

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