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Wesley Dodson

California Drought Feels Fine

On Significant Figures, Peter Gleick examines the rather relaxed attitudes of some Californians to an extreme drought fostered by three years of dry weather. Gleick writes “reservoirs are at record low levels. Deliveries of surface water to some farmers are lower than at any time in recent history. Streams are drying up and fisheries are being…

More Money than Brains

If the IT resources exist to simulate 90 billion neurons and 100 trillion connections between them, mediated by dozens of different neurotransmitters and organized into highly specialized networks, there’s still no reason to expect intelligence to emerge or a ghost to glom on to the machine.

How Alien Can a Spacefarer Be?

As our planet makes more and more noise, we can’t help but wonder why no one is paying attention. Are we alone in the universe? Or alone in our desire to discover new worlds? PZ Myers says “Spaceship building is never going to be a selectively advantageous feature — it’s only going to emerge as…

Disease control has made incredible strides in the last century, as interventions like vaccines and antibiotics have averted untold suffering. In 2014 we face a backlash as vaccine uptake drops, preventable diseases re-emerge, and bacteria continue to evolve resistance to our most powerful drugs. Yet even as the limits of these tools become apparent, scientific…

Choosy Moms Choose Measles

When a parent chooses not to vaccinate their child, they put many other people at risk. Some infants cannot be vaccinated due to medical complications, and even fully-vaccinated people are not always fully protected. Jessica Parsons tells the story of baby Finn on Aetiology, who was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma at the age of 3…

Perovskite solar cells can not only emit light, they can also emit up to 70% of absorbed sunlight as lasers. Critical signaling molecules can be used to convert stem cells to neural progenitor cells, increasing the yield of healthy motor neurons and decreasing the time required to grow them. Mexican blind cavefish are so close…

Last Week on ResearchBlogging.org

Scientists use a ‘gene gun’ to insert a gene from a flowering plant called rockcress into the cells of wheat seeds. The genetically modified wheat became more resistant to a fungus called take-all, which in real life can cause “a 40-60% reduction in wheat yields.” T-cells from six HIV+ patients were removed from their bodies,…

Last Week on ResearchBlogging.org

For the first time, researchers have transformed induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) into specialized bladder cells. Meanwhile the development of iPSCs from normal cells has been shown to depend on two proteins necessary for the induction of a glycolytic state. In order to make iPSCs, researchers have previously needed to collect significant amounts of skin,…

Do environmental factors such as toxins contribute to autism? On Respectful Insolence, Orac looks at a new study which found a correlation between birth defects and the eventual development of autism. Orac says this correlation has already been demonstrated, along with “autism and exposure to teratogens, specifically at least maternal rubella infection, thalidomide, valproic acid,…

Testing behemoth ETS announced a re-revised SAT for 2015, trying to stay one step ahead of its rival and the legions of teenagers who game standardized tests. Suggesting the vocabulary section was intended as “a proxy test for wide reading,” Chad Orzel says memorizing obscure words is “dumb and pointless, but probably takes less time than…