Archives for November, 2010

TAL on the economy

Ever wonder what exactly a Toxic Asset is? Follow the engaging story of Toxie the toxic asset on This American Life. This is just the latest in a series of amazing reporting on the financial crisis from a radio show that is not generally concerned with what would be traditionally thought of as “news.” “The…

Give a man’s insides to a spud…

… the first thing he’ll do is start [bubbling?] for revenge: Alas, this is essentially what the new leaders of congress often sound like.

Probing the depths of the biosphere

Rarely do I read papers whose title really sums up exactly what is so cool about the study in a succinct way, free of jargon. I think that “First Investigation of the Microbiology of the Deepest Layer of Ocean Crust” does just that. It isn’t trying to be sexy… it just is! Examining the microbial…

On Stress in Biomedical Research

When a paper in Molecular Cell starts with Science, this very creative human endeavor to understand the nature of the reality that exists independently of ourselves, is impossible. By “impossible,” I am not saying “very, very difficult,” although it is that, as well. you just know you’re in for a treat.

Normally, I would feel woefully unqualified to analyze a Nature Neuroscience paper, but I’m going to do it anyway. How could I pass it up? It features a Toll-like receptor! Toll-like receptors are typically expressed in immune cells to regulate innate immunity. We found that functional Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) was expressed in C-fiber primary…

Brief musical interlude

My house got broken into last week, and then we had a rock thrown through a window a few days later (possibly related). So I had to deal with a bunch of stuff last week, and am still dealing with stuff today, and I need to catch up at work, yada yada yada…. All of…

A male fly walks into a bar and orders cornmeal-molasses- yeast. A pretty female fly comes and sits next to him. They look at each other, he starts to say hello, but then she orders some starch. He turns away. She looks at his glass of cornmeal- molasses -yeast and gets up to leave. A…

What is epigenetics?

I think understanding the basics of inheritance is pretty easy for most people – the traits of parents are passed down from parents to offspring. Simple! Humans have known and exploited this fact for thousands of years. When Gregor Mendel came along, he meticulously worked out some mathematical rules for inheritance in peas, and we…

I have a love/hate relationship with Nature Reviews: Immunology. It comes out once per month, and is usually packed with easy to read articles about fascinating (to me) topics, and each is filled with tons of great references so I can dig into the issue more. On the one hand, I get really excited about…

The immune system has trade-offs

Most biological systems have trade-offs, so this really shouldn’t come as a surprise. A recent paper published in Science shows that in sheep, some females have a stronger immune system and tend to live longer, but also tend to reproduce less often. This seemed to translate to roughly equal reproductive fitness over the course of…