Pure Pedantry

Archives for June, 2007

Is Atheism a Rights Issue?…No.

Matt Nisbet at Framing Science cites an article by DJ Grothe and Austin Dacey arguing the negative: Women, people of color, and GLBTs have consistently faced discrimination that substantially diminishes their basic life prospects-access to housing, health care, education, political participation, employment, and family benefits. Additionally, they have suffered violence and intimidation. For minorities defined…

It is so exceedingly rare that I get to say something positive about stars. Usually all I have to say is some crap that Paris Hilton did or that Madonna decided to purchase another child from Africa. So I was pleased to be tipped off by Vaughan at Mind Hacks about this: did you know…

Estrogen and Cogntive Improvement

Madam Fathom has a great piece on the results of fellow Sinai researcher John Morrison’s study into cognitive improvement with estrogen treatment. (I would note, however, that hormone replacement therapy is still not recommended for anything other than the acute treatment of menopause because of negative cardiovascular side-effects associated with it.) (OVX = ovariectomized) A…

XKCD Rocks My World

I love the comic XKCD. This comic is just exquisite geekiness:

NYTimes on Evo-Devo

The NYTimes has a excellent summary of the progress in the study of evolution of development (evo-devo). Scientists have been surprised to discover over the years that a relatively small number of closely-related genes control the body plan of animal species, even when those species’ body plans differ dramatically. Apparently these same genes are being…

C. Ford Runge and Benjamin Senauer, writing in Foriegn Affairs, summarize the likely effects of corn-based biofuels on the world food supply. Take home message: the biofuel craze has led to skyrocketing food prices which — along with government subsidies and tariff protections to domestic corn producers — has the potential to starve the poorest…

So I don’t know if other people were into this show, but since college I have been a big fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was a show on Comedy Central and then on SciFi that made fun of old bad movies. The show itself was hysterical. Anyway, I was watching one of the…

Science has a fascinating review about the history of cooking and its relation to human evolution. Richard Wrangham, a Harvard primatologist, has been pushing the idea that the expansion in Homo erectus‘ skull size was the result of additional energy released by cooking meat: What spurred this dramatic growth in the H. erectus skull? Meat,…

Electric fish, Brienomyrus brachyistius, produce tiny electric signals from an organ in their tails that can be used to communicate and convey social status. They can also be used attract a mate, as reported in a study by Wong and Hopkins in the Journal of Experimental Biology. (The ghetto picture to the right — the…

Two Big Genetics Studies

Two big studies on genetics came out in the past couple weeks, and I want to talk about both. One of them — the ENCODE study — was well covered by the media. The other seems to have slipped through.