Sunday, January 03, 2010

Selected readings 1/3/10

Interesting reading and news items.

These items are also bookmarked at my Diigo account.

Is the DNA in our cells always the same?
This challenges one of my fundamental assumptions in biology: that of all somatic cells sharing the same genome. In an article entitled BAK1 Gene Variation and Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms the authors show that the BAK1 gene, associated with apoptosis, exists in multiple variants in our bodies. Specifically the authors found differences between the gene found in the blood cells and other tissues. [Cancerevo, 12/23/09]

Cancer genomes
Nature published online the papers describing two new cancer genomes, bringing the total number of human cancer genome sequences published to five. Pleasance et al sequenced a malignant melanoma and a lung cancer cell line, comparing them to the genomes of healthy cells from the same individuals. [, 12/22/09]

Sex, Violence and The Male Warrior Hypothesis
Throughout the history of human civilization, wars have a common feature of being practiced primarily by males. This group aggression by males is a persistent trait of human behavior, seen across different continents among civilizations that have developed independent of each other. [Brain Blogger, 12/21/09]

How to Find Signs of Life on Mars
Certain environments on Earth that host life are very similar to places on Mars and other terrestrial planets, scientists have found. So if life can exist here, why not there? Nora Noffke is a geobiologist at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. ... Noffke and her colleague Sherry Cady of Portland State University in Oregon recently wrote an article... detailing how the melding of geology and biology can teach us about the environments most likely to host extraterrestrial life. [, 12/17/09]

Dark Horse Challenges Dark Matter to Explain Missing Matter
One of the greatest mysteries of astronomy is the problem of the missing mass: All of the matter scientists can see in the universe accounts for only a small percent of the observed gravity. Astronomers often invoke the concept of dark matter to explain this discrepancy, but some researchers say the problem is really our understanding of gravity. These scientists tout an idea called MOND - Modified Theory of Newtonian Dynamics - to explain why the universe seems to behave as if there's much more matter in it than we think. ... Though no one has yet proven or disproven either dark matter or MOND, supporters of the latter are in the minority. And MOND may be becoming even more of a long shot. [, 11/5/09]

How astronomers fill in uncharted areas of the universe
Astronomers are filling in the blank spaces on their 3-D map of our universe thanks to their ability to sense almost every conceivable form of electromagnetic radiation. Those blanks include remote regions of space and time when the first stars formed and when young galaxies began to group themselves into gravitationally bound clusters. [, 11/2/09]

After Setbacks, Small Successes for Gene Therapy
Not long ago, gene therapy seemed troubled by insurmountable difficulties. After decades of hype and dashed hopes, many who once embraced the idea of correcting genetic disorders by giving people new genes all but gave up the idea. But scientists say gene therapy may be on the edge of a resurgence. There were three recent, though small, successes. [New York Times, 11/5/09]

Q&A: Gene therapy turnaround
Judging by the stream of studies in the last few months, it seems the field of gene therapy is beginning to replace its troubled history with the beginnings of a promising future. ... With the flurry of recent successes, Mark Kay, director of the Human Gene Therapy program at Stanford University School of Medicine and one of the founders of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, believes that "the mood in the field is pretty positive." [The Scientist, 11/12/09]

A line on string theory
A Harvard theoretical physicist has discussed with scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland the possibility that they may discover a theorized "stau" particle, with a lifetime of a minute or so, that could provide the first experimental confirmation of string theory.[, 11/12/09]

Explained: RNA interference
In recent years, biologists have discovered a myriad of other molecules that fine-tune this process, including several types of RNA (ribonucleic acid). Through a naturally occurring phenomenon known as RNA interference, short strands of RNA can selectively intercept and destroy messenger RNA before it delivers its instructions. [, 11/12/09]

Disappearing Before Dawn
Gene expression studies are lending support to a new hypothesis for why everyone sleeps: to prune the strength or number of synapses. [The Scientist, 4/1/09]

Black Holes: Powerhouses of the Universe
Black holes, so named because even light cannot escape their gravitational grasp, can only be sensed through their tug on other matter. While black holes themselves are invisible, the regions around them are reigned by powerful magnetic and gravitational forces that create some of the most luminous radiation ever seen. [, 11/9/09]

Unlocking the mysteries of speech
Animals may use sounds to communicate but talking is uniquely human. Yet despite decades of research scientists still haven't unlocked the secrets of speech. So why do we talk? [BBC News, 11/10/09]

The Mind Is a Mirror
Congenitally blind subjects showed mirror network activation in response to action sounds in the same brain areas that were active in response to both visual and auditory stimuli in sighted individuals. The authors conclude that the human mirror system can develop without visual input and is able to process information about actions that comes from other sensory modalities, as well. [Scientific American, 11/10/09]

Titanic Thirty Meter Telescope Will See Deep Space More Clearly
Four hundred years after Galileo’s telescope revolutionized humanity’s view of the universe, a gigantic telescope is in the works that could take us to a new, deeper level of understanding. The enormous Thirty Meter Telescope, with a primary mirror the size of a blue whale, is part of a new generation of super powerful ground-based telescopes. Scheduled for completion in 2018, it will have nine times the collecting power of the Keck telescopes and 12 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope. [Wired, 11/16/09]

RSS access:
Blog posts labeled "readings"
Items saved at Diigo


Links to this post:

Create a Link


Post a Comment

<< Home