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Wesley Dodson

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…

Denialists are Doomed

It’s been a frigid winter in much of the United States, but Greg Laden notes that the country covers only 1.5% of the Earth’s surface, and overall the planet just experienced the fourth-warmest January on record.  Meanwhile global warming denialists are resorting to every rhetorical trick in the book, such as comparing their increasingly outnumbered…

Solar cells made with bismuth vanadate achieve a surface area of 32 square meters per gram.  This compound can be paired with cheap oxides to split water molecules (and make hydrogen) with record efficiency. Short-term geoengineering could postpone global warming, only to have it happen more quickly in the future. Carotenoids tinge blackbird bills a deep orange,…

Fall Olympics / The Slushy Games

Warm weather at the Winter Olympics played a major part in the $51 billion extravaganza. Greg Laden calls the Sochi games more of a “Fall Olympics” as competitors bit the slush on the slopes and the half pipe. At the Extreme Park, casualties among women outnumbered casualties among men by nearly 3 to 1. Why…

Last Week on ResearchBlogging.org

Researchers observed tiny voids forming in silicon used for solar panels; these voids provide physical evidence of the Staebler-Wronski effect, “which reduces the solar cell efficiency by up to 15 percent within the first 1000 hours.” Using an online avatar with a skin color other than your own makes you less racist in real life;…

Spoiler Alert: The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie is a nearly perfect piece of entertainment, combining conventional action, absurdist comedy, and a bit of family drama while subverting some narrative clichés. The message of the film changes: from there shall be a hero, to anyone can be a hero, to everyone can be a hero. For exposing both prophecy and villainy as BS, The Lego Movie gets an A+ in the moral-of-the-story department.

As an alternative to biblical creationism, Intelligent Design infers a less obtrusive God to explain life on Earth. This deity doesn’t hurl bolts of lightning, unless it’s with the express purpose of sparking abiogenesis in the primordial soup. On EvolutionBlog, Jason Rosenhouse dismisses probabilistic arguments against the likelihood of complex organisms, explaining that even the most…