54 posts tagged with biology by homunculus.
Displaying 1 through 50 of 54.
The extraordinary case of the Guevedoces. "Johnny lives in a small town in the Dominican Republic where he, and others like him, are known as 'Guevedoces', which effectively translates as 'penis at twelve' ... Like the other Guevedoces, Johnny was brought up as a girl because he had no visible testes or penis and what appeared to be a vagina. It is only when he approached puberty that his penis grew and testicles descended." [more inside]
Clones Are People Too: The Science and Science Fiction of BBC America’s Orphan Black. BBC America's science fiction series Orphan Black has returned for a second season, with Tatiana Maslany reprising her extraordinary performance playing half a dozen different clone characters. Meanwhile, in the real world, scientists have created cloned embryonic stem cells from the DNA of two adult humans. [Previously]
The Mammoth Cometh. "Bringing extinct animals back to life is really happening — and it’s going to be very, very cool. Unless it ends up being very, very bad." [Previously, Via]
State of the Species: Will the unprecedented success of Homo sapiens lead to an unavoidable downfall? [Via]
Hacking the President’s DNA. "The U.S. government is surreptitiously collecting the DNA of world leaders, and is reportedly protecting that of Barack Obama. Decoded, these genetic blueprints could provide compromising information. In the not-too-distant future, they may provide something more as well—the basis for the creation of personalized bioweapons that could take down a president and leave no trace."
Evolution Right Under Our Noses. "A small but growing number of field biologists study urban evolution — the biological changes that cities bring to the wildlife that inhabits them." [Via]
The Creature Connection: Our love for animals can be traced to our capacity to infer the mental states of others, which archaeological evidence suggests emerged more than 50,000 ago. This article is part of a NYTimes series on the relationship between humans and the animals we raise. [more inside]
Ray Kurzweil: Reverse-Engineering of Human Brain Likely by 2030. PZ Myers: Ray Kurzweil does not understand the brain.
Tibetans May Be Fastest Evolutionary Adapters Ever. "A group of scientists in China, Denmark and the U.S. recently documented the fastest genetic change observed in humans. According to their findings, Tibetan adaption to high altitude might have taken just 3,000 years. That's a flash, in terms of evolutionary time, but it's one that's in dispute."
Misunderstanding Darwin: Natural selection’s secular critics get it wrong. Ned Block and Philip Kitcher review Jerry Fodor's (previously) and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini's book What Darwin Got Wrong. Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini respond: “Misunderstanding Darwin”: An Exchange.
The secret, social lives of bacteria. "Bonnie Bassler discovered that bacteria 'talk' to each other, using a chemical language that lets them coordinate defense and mount attacks. The find has stunning implications for medicine, industry -- and our understanding of ourselves." [Via]
Sparks of Life. "That the electric 'spark of life' figured prominently in debates over the nature of life in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries is well known. Less well known is the fact that prior to this period, gunpowder was often identified with the substances that were necessary to life, if not as a vitalistic spirit, then as an essential element in the animation of the body. The idea of a spark of life went back to ancient times, likening living beings to the glowing embers of a fire. In the Old Testament, for example, the wise woman of Tekoah begs for the life of her son, pleading 'they will stamp out my last live ember.' But from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, this vital flame was often equated with gunpowder. There was fire in the blood: not electric, but pyrotechnic fire."
Juan Enriquez: Tech evolution will eclipse the financial crisis. "Even as mega-banks topple, Juan Enriquez says the big reboot is yet to come. But don't look for it on your ballot -- or in the stock exchange. It'll come from science labs, and it promises keener bodies and minds. Our kids are going to be ... different."
What Invasive Species Are Trying to Tell Us. "Walking snakeheads, carnivorous snails, and the superpredator from the reef: The invasion has begun." [Via]
Darwin the abolitionist. "The theory of evolution is regarded as a triumph of disinterested scientific reason. Yet, on the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species, new research reveals that Darwin was driven to the idea of common descent by a great moral cause." [Via]
My Genome, My Self: Steven Pinker considers what we can expect from personal genomics. Searching for Intelligence in Our Genes: Carl Zimmer looks at the hunt to learn about the role of genes in intelligence.
Bracing for Islamic Creationism (PDF). "To avoid a vast rejection of evolution in the Muslim world, scientists can present the theory as the bedrock of biology and can stress its practical applications." [Via]
The Orienting Stone. "A snowy white stone that gives shape to the universe: as it happens, we all carry within our skulls the vestige of such a thing, a kind of existentially reversed qibla (this one perspectival, the other metaphysical) that gives us our sense of being at the center of things, the sense that we are upright at the origin point of a three-dimensional space..." [Via]
Now: The Rest of the Genome. "Only 1 percent of the genome is made up of classic genes. Scientists are exploring the other 99 percent and uncovering new secrets and new questions."
How We Evolve: "A growing number of scientists argue that human culture itself has become the foremost agent of biological change, making us — for the past 10,000 years or so — the inadvertent architects of our own future selves." [more inside]
Hundreds of New Reef Creatures Found in Australia. Hundreds of new marine creatures have been discovered in three Australian reefs by CReefs, a census of coral reefs which is part of the Census of Marine Life, a ten-year initiative to assess global ocean diversity.
Superbugs. "The new generation of resistant infections is almost impossible to treat."
Scientists report a breakthrough in stem cell production: Stem cells created from ALS patient and used to make neurons. [Via]
Festooning The Tree Of Life. Carl Zimmer describes new research on lateral gene transfer which makes the Tree of Life look more like a Gordian Knot.
Mapping the Structural Core of Human Cerebral Cortex. A new study of the connections in the brain has identified the brain's central hub.
Yale Environment 360 is an online environment magazine from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. It has a lot of great material, like "Biodiversity in the Balance" by Carl Zimmer and "Carbon’s Burden on the World’s Oceans" by Carl Safina and Marah J. Hardt. [Via Zimmer's blog The Loom]
What Is A Species? "To this day, scientists struggle with that question. A better definition can influence which animals make the endangered list."
Suspending Life. "If almost every species on Earth was killed some 250 million years ago, how did our ancient ancestors survive and evolve into us?"
Can People Regenerate Body Parts? "Progress on the road to regenerating major body parts, salamander-style, could transform the treatment of amputations and major wounds."
Darwin's Surprise. "There may be no biological process more complicated than the relationships that viruses have with their hosts. Could it be that their persistence made it possible for humans to thrive?" [Via Disinformation.]
The Inner Life of an Intelligently Designed Cell? Remember The Inner Life of a Cell animation (discussed here)? Apparently the Discovery Institute (recently discussed here) is showing it in presentations with a new title and narration, and without attribution.
From Ants to People, an Instinct to Swarm. Carl Zimmer looks at the work of Iain Couzin. [Via The Loom.]
A Profound Sense of Time. "PZ Myers on the process that prompts the growth of all vertebrates from embryos to unspecialized segments to multicellular animals."
The Meaning of Life. "We create life, we search for it, we manipulate and revere it. Is it possible that we haven't yet defined the term (PDF)?" [Via The Loom.]
Virtual Out-of-Body Experience. Using two procedures to deliberately scramble a person's visual and tactile senses, neuroscientists are able to induce "out-of-body" experiences in people. The effect is the same as the 'rubber hand illusion', but extends the effect to the whole body instead of just one limb (you can try the hand illusion for yourself).
U.S. military practices genetic discrimination in denying benefits. "Those medically discharged with genetic diseases are left without disability or retirement benefits. Some are fighting back."
Prime Vertebrae. PZ Myers discusses the critical difference between having six or seven cervical vertebrae.
In Games, an Insight Into the Rules of Evolution. Carl Zimmer writes about Martin Nowak (previously mentioned here), a mathematical biologist who uses games to understand how cooperation evolved. [Via MindHacks.]
Simple switch turns cells embryonic. "Researchers have finally hit the jackpot: Embryo-free embryonic stem-cells!"
The Encyclopedia of Life project will create a compendium of every aspect of the biosphere. It aims to compile data on all of Earth's 1.8 million known species on one Web site, and will include species descriptions, pictures, maps, videos, sound, sightings by amateurs, and links to entire genomes and scientific journal papers. E. O. Wilson is getting his wish. [Via BB.]
How Do You Get Crabs From A Gorilla? One of many little evolutionary cases Carl Zimmer tackles in The Parasite Files.
Sea Squirt Regrows Entire Body from One Blood Vessel. Most famous as the creature that settles down and eats its own brain (though that is not exactly correct), it appears the humble sea squirt has spectacular regenerative abilities as well, thanks to regeneration niches packed with stem cells. All glory to the sea squirt!
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