Archives for December, 2010

Essential cold-weather tips for idiots

I’m from California, but this is my third New England winter (though last year doesn’t really count since Washington DC and New York stole al our snow). Even I know, this is a really important message: And the tips for idiots (mentioned at 0:57) are especially important: – Do not attempt to mow lawn -…

Energy Scales

Bacteria are tiny. Compared to our cells, they can seem insignificant. There are about ten times more bacteria cells in your gut *right now* than there are human cells in your entire body, but they only make up about 5% of your mass. They’re tiny, but they’re successful – they live in places we can’t,…

As Boston gets buried under a layer of snow (wooo! blizzard!), the the Weekend Review makes a return with one of my favorite topics: gut microbes. The fields of immunology, microbiology, nutrition and metabolism are rapidly converging. Here we expand on a diet-microbiota model as the basis for the greater incidence of asthma and autoimmunity…

Know anything about quantum computing (other than it sounds awesome)? Well, I didn’t, until I read the latest edition of the Harvard Science in the News Flash. Thus far, utilizing charged electrons to make computers has been endlessly fruitful, allowing us to build smaller and faster computer chips. Unfortunately, we cannot continue improving technology simply…

Diversity Sucks

A while back, ERV wrote about a rather silly study trying to equate viruses with obesity. I don’t have anything to add to that, but I mention it because in that post, she linked to William M Briggs. He seemed to have a pretty good take on that study, and since I wasn’t reading any…

If you’ve had your head in the sand for the last 2 weeks, you might have missed the story about arsenic in bacteria and the resulting controversy. If you did go read Ed Yong first. In an editorial published today in Nature, the editors make a similar point to the one I made yesterday, namely…

Scicurious has a great post about free will, and how most people think they have more free will than others. It doesn’t matter whether we HAVE free will or not, our daily lives seem to make us FEEL that we have it. We make many decisions, consider many options every day, some big, some small,…

Science in Government Policy

In last week’s editorial in Science, Bruce Alberts starts with a point that I think few here would disagree with: decisions in government need to be data-driven, and based on the best science available. This point has been made before, and it’s certainly crucial, but the more crucial point is why the government currently doesn’t…

Biological manufacturing

Sometimes, when I take a step back and look at the ways that we can manipulate life, I’m astounded. We can breed mice that lack any gene we want. We can also insert new genes, and have them only express in certain types of cells or only at certain times. This is routine. We can…

The “Science and the Public” story of the year might just be Arsenic using bacteria. Certainly, Alex’s critique has been the most popular post on this blog since we started and has received quite a bit of attention from other bloggers as well as in conventional media. This might be a teachable moment in science…