Friday Coffee Break, Easter/April Fools edition

black coffee with chocolate easter eggs

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

To get this weeks coffee break started, Amy brings us a post about the Paleo diet.  A new book by Marlene Zuk aims to show that the Paleo diet is a misinterpretation of evolution.

Jeremy takes the time this week to wonder about the effect on sea level if all the ships in the ocean were removed.  Alternatively, XKCD also wondered what would happen if you removed all the sponges.

Sarah stumbled upon this gem of a PDF book which will hopefully prove useful as she transitions from student to post doc.  She also brings up the potentially scary idea that you may not own your own DNA.  At least if the current patent situation remains upheld.  What happens if a company can own a 15-base pair fragment of DNA?

CJ continues the discussion on DNA with an article on the recent sequencing of the HeLa genome and the continued controversy regarding the ownership and publication of an individuals genome.  We continue to venture on into a strange new world with these issues.

Friday Coffee Break, Official Springtime Edition

springcoffee

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

With the official start of Spring this week, at least depending on where you are.  For me, I’m currently sitting in Ithaca, NY where the high for the day is still only squeaking into the above freezing range which only makes me miss Richmond, VA right now all the more.  So without further adieu, which is apparently my new catch phrase, your links for the week.

To start things off on a light and happy note.  Sarah has some wonderful news that she passed her dissertation defense!!  She is so excited, as she should be, that her link this week is a ton of dancing GIFs.  Of note, she things either Carlton or Ace Ventura match her mood best.  Congrats Sarah!

This week CJ wonders about the possibility of a gender gap in pain perception as discussed in the NYTimes article.  She also thought this article gave a good break down of the process of becoming tenured and is indeed quite helpful (and makes me glad to be in the field that I am in).  And finally, an opinion piece on why De-extinction would not work.

From Jeremy, a piece from the blog Why Evolution is True on why science writing is tedious and often boring and what it takes to write good science.

From Amy, a depressing story on the passage of an amendment limiting the funding for NSF research regarding political science and the letter from Senator Tom Coburn justifying this measure.

Finally, I’d like to end things with a video.  I’m a big fan of TED talks and also of U2, so when I saw that Bono gave a TED talk about his passion of helping to fight to end poverty I thought it was worth a look.  I loved his analogy of how poverty could end in as short a time period as about 3 more Rolling Stones farewell tours.

Friday Coffee Break, St. Patty’s Style

Irish Coffee

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

First of all, my deepest apologies for the lateness of this post.  As you may know I am a 4th year medical student and today was Match Day and I was deep in the throws of celebrating the completion of 4 years of medical education as well as learning where I will be training for the next three years in Family Medicine.   So, without further adieu, your links for this week.

CJ decided to that there were too many good links and had to share several.  First, as a skater herself she found an article relating to transmission of skin flora between close team mates and those competing in roller derby.  Next she decided to share how the sequester is going to affect science jobs and the next few years could be difficult.  But finally, a cool post on five animals that could possibly take over the world, which makes me look at spiders a little closer now.

Next, Jeremy likes the fact that new evidence from the Mars rover is favorable to the possibility of conditions that could have sustained life on the red planet.

From Sarah, some very cool slow mo predator vs. prey footage.  Gotta say this is pretty awesome!  She also found some up close and personal pics of jumping spiders.

From Noah, a video documenting several scientists as they inventory one of the worlds most biodiverse locations, the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve.

Finally, in the spirit of March Madness, from Devin comes a battle of the Mammals. “Mammal March Madness from the Mammal’s Suck blog. Although the tournament is purely fictional, the facts and natural history information given out during the extended live tweet rounds are amazing. The first rounds are already complete, but tune in for the exciting finals. Live action via twitter: @Mammals_Suck and general info via the website:”

Friday Coffee Break, Spring Break Style

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

beachcoffee

To get things started, CJ found a depressing study (depending on your perspective anyway) about how your attitude can affect your health.  It’s not what you would expect a study to find, but there are additional conflicting studies so take it as you will.  However, she follows it up with another article about how the privatization of space flight has a long way to go before we can all reach for the stars.

From Amy, a new variant in the African-American Y-chromosome leads to the speculation on how long ago the common ancestor of modern humans existed and/or whether there was potential interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans.

To follow that up, Jeremy found an interesting video that shows a morphing of the faces of human ancestry.

From Sarah, a rather fun blog post on Scientific American on how one individual looked for answers to questions and found lots of information, but failed to answer the original question.

Finally, to return to the spring break theme, the CDC reports in its weekly grand rounds about multi-drug resistant gonorrhea.

Herd Immunity

vaccination

Over the past several years there has been a growing trend of parents that are terrified of vaccinating their kids citing reasons such as the debunked link to autism or that it just isn’t “natural.”   A healthcare blog run by several infectious disease doctors called Controversies in Hospital Infection Prevention has run frequent stories reporting on the declining vaccination rates as well as problems that ensue because of that, most recently about the whooping cough epidemic in Washington and wondering why Jenny McCarthy has so much influence on national views on vaccinations.

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Friday Coffee Break, Gangnam Style!

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

My apologies for the lateness of this Korean version of the Friday Coffee Break!

From Sarah:

Starting off on a light note this article describes how dogs can “catch” yawns from humans but only after they are old enough to understand empathy and emotion.  Also from Sarah, has anybody wondered why no mention of the dreaded “C” word (aka Climate Change) has come up at any of the presidential debates?  This blog post from the NYTimes discusses that issue.

From Noah:

Rogue scientist and entrepreneur Russ George dumped tons of iron dust in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of Canada, “calling it a “state-of-the-art study,” said his team scattered iron dust several hundred miles west of the islands of Haida Gwaii, in northern British Columbia, in exchange for $2.5 million from a native Canadian group. The iron spawned the growth of enormous amounts of plankton, which Mr. George, a former fisheries and forestry worker, said might allow the project to meet one of its goals: aiding the recovery of the local salmon fishery for the native Haida. “

From Jeremy:

Does taking Ritalin increase individuals enhance desire for social conformity?  This study here postulates that there may be some element of connection between increased dopamine levels brought on by taking Ritalin and conforming to social norms.

From Devin:

This link (which at the time of publishing this story appeared to be broken) is a tumblr page dedicated to “things I learned as a field biologist.”  Hopefully the link gets fixed soon.

From Jon:

Given the overabundance of awesome links and a couple medically related ones, I’m going to end this post with a fun video!  Did you know that the lyrics to Gangnam Style is a satire poking fun at the wealthy Gangnam district in Seoul and also discusses how the singer likes the kind of lady who enjoys the freedom of a cup of coffee. I figured given this connection it was only perfect to end the month of October with the Gangnam Style theme!

I’m a total science fiction geek and couldn’t help myself.  There are quite a few other well done parodies of the original video as well such as Obama Style, Mitt Romney Style and even Gunman Style.  Enjoy!

Friday Coffee Break, Turkish style!

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

From Jeremy and Noah:

Apparently this particular link is so impressive it gets two recommendations!  “OneZoom is committed to heightening awareness about the diversity of life on earth, its evolutionary history and the threats of extinction. This website allows you to explore the tree of life in a completely new way.”

From Sarah:

The quintessential list of items every graduate student should have (at least something similar in each category).  And also, in this story on NPR global warming could have a very detrimental effect on one particular species of  lizard the Tautara as egg temperature determines gender.

From Devin:

Australian scientists respond to massive government budget cuts for funding here and also here.

From Amy:

The evolution of drug resistent strains of gonorrhea or how the clap came back.

And finally from Jon:

Healthcare is very slow to adopt new technology but the flood of mobile technology might help make trips to the doctors office less painful with real time updates on when the doctor is available and to help patients check in.

Friday Coffee Break, Irish Style!

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

From Jeremy:

Antifeminist piece penned by guest editor of Canadian Journal of Physics, Gordon Freeman, gets only mild retraction.  Read synopsis of incident here.  Also, mice may be able to mimic vocalizations that actually could be classified as singing.  Read more at Scientific American.

From Noah:

Oops, lemurs in South America turn out to be misidentified fish.  Find out how this mistake was made on the wired science blog here.

From Devin:

Given the current condition of the economy it never hurts to go back and review tips for nailing that next job.  Here are some tips for writing your next cover letter.

Finally some lighthearted reads from Sarah:

The first is a NY Times piece about an adorable baby walrus orphan found off the coast of Alaska finds a new home in NYC.  The second is perhaps proper justification for owning a dog instead of a cat.  Just how many creatures does the average domesticated house cat kill?

Friday Coffee Break, Vienna Style!

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

From Devin:

The future of online learning. PLOS Computational Biology puts together a great set of online resources for biologists or more specially a bioinformatics Curriculum. “…in an exhaustive meta-analysis of 51 published head-to-head trials, found that ‘on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction'” 

From Sarah:

Even “living fossils” have evolved over time.  The term debunked in this piece on the Wired Science Blog. “The new fossil described by Briggs and colleagues records a critical transformation in horseshoe crab history. Discovered at an exceptional site in the 425 million year old rock of Herefordshire, England, the new genus is justly called Dibasterium durgae – a tribute to the invertebrate’s mysterious limbs and to Durga, ‘the Hindu goddess with many arms.'”

From Jeremy:

Which professions do you think drink the most coffee?  If you guessed Scientists you’d be right.  Learn more here from a poll by Dunkin Donuts and CareerBuilder to determine the most caffeinated workers. “Scientists today are spending much more time working than initially intended. They are deprioritizing their hobbies, leisure activities, and regular exercises, which negatively influenced their mental and physical health.”

From Noah:

Native Inuit of Canada face new challenges with increased climate change and rapid retreat of sea ice along with encroaching industry. “Some Inuit feel they are losing control of a homeland whose ice-covered expanses had acted as a barrier to the outside world. A growing number of interests — mining and oil companies, scientists and conservationists, military vessels from Canada and other Arctic nations — are appearing in the Inuit’s traditional homeland…”

Finally From Jon:

The trend of Doctors turning away from insurance and moving to cash only concierge service could pose a problem for the future of access to care for uninsured and underinsured patients. “a new survey of 13,575 doctors from around the country by The Physicians Foundation found that over the next one to three years, more than 50 percent plan to take steps that reduce patient access to their services, and nearly 7 percent plan to switch to cash-only or concierge practices, in which patients pay an annual fee or retainer in addition to other fees.”

Evolution of Diabetes?

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As a medical student and health care professional, if there is one disease that continually comes up in daily discussion, it’s diabetes.  As a disease, diabetes is one that I would not wish on anyone, not that I ever wish disease on anybody to begin, but I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.  As a disease diabetes my initially seem fairly tame, but it has the potential to eventually affect just about every organ system in the body.

As I begin to plan my career as a future Family Medicine Physician, I know that I will be dealing with diabetes on a regular basis.  Any opportunity I have to learn more about the risk factors to look out for in order to help people avoid it, or to better manage it is one I need to take.  So I am following up on a previous post regarding the frequency of the 230Cys allele found in Native American groups as a potential adaptation to feast or famine and storage of energy in the form of fat to hold out during harsh conditions.

How is this relevant to diabetes?  Well, first of all, a little background.  Diabetes is a disease that has a huge global burden. Currently, around 285 million people worldwide are affected and that number could potentially climb to 430 million by the year 2030.  Diabetes also accounts for 12% of all health care expenditure.  It is also a highly genetically associated disease, at least Type 2 Diabetes.  Now, in type 2 diabetes the individual will have high levels of circulating insulin.  Insulin is a key regulator of fat storage.  It is released following meals in response to glucose from the meal and stimulates the uptake of that glucose into liver, muscle and fat.  It also acts to antagonize other hormones that would breakdown and use the stored glucose as energy.  So, this is where I got to thinking, if there is a gene that is linked evolutionarily to helping survive famine, is there a potential link between such genes and diabetes.

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