The Primate Diaries

Scientia Pro Publica #7

Scientia Pro Publica #7 is now up at Greg Laden’s Blog. This is the crème brûlée of science carnivals and includes the best writing from the past two months. Greg was kind enough to include my recent post The Struggle for Coexistence. There are some excellent posts in this edition, so click on over and check them out. Some of the ones I found particularly interesting in this edition include:

A Primate of Modern Aspect looks at the evolution of a malaria resistance gene in wild primates, a paper co-authored by my former professor Susan Alberts:

This is an important step forward in the study of wild primates. We know lots about their ecology, behavior, and morphology, but our knowledge of their genetics comes from captive primates. This paper shows that it’s important to look at the wild populations, too, because they might be able to tell us about variation within the species. And, they’ll be able to tell us more about the selective pressures which may act on our own species.

Bob O’Hara writing at Deep Thoughts and Silliness, looks into the question of peer-reviewed scientific literature in the age of the blog. He offers some excellent insights. For example, on the question of scientific literature citing other kinds of material he states:

For me, it is obvious that the formal literature has to be able to cite other literature, whether it be newspapers, blogs, or even pers. comm. For some of this literature, it will be unclear whether it is part of the formal literature or not. I think this is inevitable: I’m not sure our definitions of the formal literature has to be so proscriptive that everything is either in or not in.

My fellow Scibling (it’s good to finally say that), Scicurious over at Neurotopia, offers her refresher in neurotransmission. Since you’re doing it as you read these words you would do well to learn more about it:

What boggles Sci’s mind is the tiny scale on which this is happening (the order of microns, a micron is 0.000001m), and the SPEED. This happens FAST. Every movement of your fingers requires THOUSANDS of these signals. Every new fact you learn requires thousands more. Heck, every word your are looking at, just the ACT of LOOKING and visual signals coming into your brain. Millions of signals, all over the brain, per second. And out of each tiny signal, tiny things change, and those tiny changes determine what patterns are encoded and what are not. Those patterns can determine something like what things you see are remembered or not.

But don’t take my word for it, go on over and read the rest.