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Archives for February, 2010

Harm’s Way

On Laelaps, Brian Switek tells the story of a man who cooled off in an Ethiopian river against all advice, only to meet his death. Brian writes that “like our hominin forebears we can still be prey, and crocodiles are among the animals that have long considered us to be on the menu.” Crocs were…

Open Laboratory 2009

The Open Laboratory 2009 is now available in print! This cutting-edge anthology of science writing includes many great ScienceBlogs posts as well as work from around the web. Editor Scicurious announces publication on Neurotopia, writing “we’ve got some fun stuff in there (hyenas and boobies and beer!) and some contemplative stuff in there (animal research…

Infection and Consequence

On Aetiology, Tara C. Smith shares some intriguing student work on the role infections play “in cancer, autoimmune disease, mental illness, and other chronic conditions.” First, Ahn To investigates the causes of nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Smoking is not a prerequisite for this type of cancer, but risk factors include infection with Epstein-Barr virus and “consumption of…

Olympian Physics

Equations can hurt, although not as much as wiping out on the downhill or faceplanting in the halfpipe. On Dot Physics, Rhett Alain explains the amazing angles at which Apolo Ohno leans around the short track, writing “a skater wouldn’t have to lean at all if the skater was stopped. As the angle gets smaller…

Endless Frontiers of Science

Science is knowledge, and knowledge can inspire certainty. But certainty, as much a fruit of science, can be its enemy. Whatever wonders may meet the eye, there has always been more to the world. On Oscillator, Christina Agapakis explores the frontiers of synthetic biology, where researchers hope to manufacture “altered proteins or entirely different biological…

African and Human Diversity

On Not Exactly Rocket Science, Ed Yong reports that two new human genomes have been sequenced: that of South African leader Desmond Tutu, and that of !Gubi, a tribal hunter-gatherer. Along with !Gubi, researchers examined the genes of three other Bushmen, and the diversity they observed was “astounding.” Ed writes that there is more genetic…

How We Get Along

On The Primate Diaries, Eric Michael Johnson writes “not acting our age may be the very reason why we’re so successful as a species.” Like the bonobo which can be seen unlocking the cage of an unrelated individual just to share food, humans may retain juvenile characteristics that help us to “cooperate and share with…

Variations on a Theme

On Laelaps, Brian Switek considers the fate of Smilodon, a saber-toothed hypercarnivore that roamed through ancient Los Angeles. Although textbook descriptions of such animals are usually cut-and-dried, Brian writes that “genetic, anatomical, or behavioral variations are grist for natural selection’s mill,” and so individuals within a species can vary considerably over space and time. On…

By Any Other Name?

On Framing Science, Matthew C. Nisbet anticipates putting “an end to anonymous commenting” on his blog. Matt writes that people are “more willing and likely to be uncivil” when they don’t have to face “social sanctions from others.” Other ScienceBloggers disagree. On Adventures in Ethics and Science, Dr. Free-Ride appreciates the value of a pseudonym,…

Texas Verdict Turns Tables

Embattled Texas nurse Anne Mitchell was readily declared innocent by a jury yesterday, proving that she didn’t belong in a courtroom in the first place. After filing complaints about a doctor who sold herbal remedies in the ER and performed unorthodox surgical procedures, Anne Mitchell was charged with “misuse of official information” by a constabulary…