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What we're talking about Life, Death, and ERVs Saturday, November 29, 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

Did you know that the typical Thanksgiving day broad-breasted white turkey develops in as little as 136 days (on average)? This remarkably quick development is a result of years of selective breeding. The average turkey in 1929 was only about 13 pounds, whereas modern turkeys average around 30 pounds with much of the weight centered in…

Have you called her lately? Look at this mother octopus, clinging to a deep-sea cliff, hanging over the abyss, guarding her clutch of eggs.

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

Physical Science

“The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.” -Molière So if the Universe is expanding and cooling, what does that mean for the matter in it? Sure, it’s easy to visualize how radiation cools: it has a wavelength, space expands, and so as the wavelength gets stretched, the energy drops. But the…

“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…

Environment

It is here: I wonder if we get one trailer a month for a year?

So there I was happily making cow pies in a muddy field when some Arthur King comes along and I’m reminded once again of the violence inherent in the system. Which I think is about how seriously you should take Watt’s attempt to Godwin himself with the assistance of Ball. VVatts has a go, though.…

Humanities

Did you know that the typical Thanksgiving day broad-breasted white turkey develops in as little as 136 days (on average)? This remarkably quick development is a result of years of selective breeding. The average turkey in 1929 was only about 13 pounds, whereas modern turkeys average around 30 pounds with much of the weight centered in…

I’ll admit it, I was pretty hopped up on fruits and vegetables when I took an early morning walk and expressed a little over-enthusiasm for my neighbor’s house by knocking on his front door at 5 AM. No, I didn’t know the guy. He didn’t answer the doorbell either, so I passed through a gate…

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.

Education

Did you know that the typical Thanksgiving day broad-breasted white turkey develops in as little as 136 days (on average)? This remarkably quick development is a result of years of selective breeding. The average turkey in 1929 was only about 13 pounds, whereas modern turkeys average around 30 pounds with much of the weight centered in…

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…

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

Did you know that the typical Thanksgiving day broad-breasted white turkey develops in as little as 136 days (on average)? This remarkably quick development is a result of years of selective breeding. The average turkey in 1929 was only about 13 pounds, whereas modern turkeys average around 30 pounds with much of the weight centered in…

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…

Brain & Behavior

Did you know that the typical Thanksgiving day broad-breasted white turkey develops in as little as 136 days (on average)? This remarkably quick development is a result of years of selective breeding. The average turkey in 1929 was only about 13 pounds, whereas modern turkeys average around 30 pounds with much of the weight centered in…

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.

Technology

Did you know that the typical Thanksgiving day broad-breasted white turkey develops in as little as 136 days (on average)? This remarkably quick development is a result of years of selective breeding. The average turkey in 1929 was only about 13 pounds, whereas modern turkeys average around 30 pounds with much of the weight centered in…

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…

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…