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A reason to be excited about the next fifty years.

Computer Simulates Full Organism for First Time "Maybe they'll computerize an entire human brain one day—or even just a couple of cells. For now, Stanford scientists have created the first-ever software simulation of a full single-cell organism, the New York Times reports."
posted by bookman117 on Jul 20, 2012 - 33 comments

Stop trying to save the Earth, it's too late

"...by persisting in the false belief that coral reefs have a future, we grossly misallocate the funds needed to cope with the fallout from their collapse." In the New York Times, ecologist Roger Bradbury argues that it's too late to save a big chunk of the Earth's environment, and that we should instead spend our resources getting ready for the challenges we'll face once that part of the world is destroyed. Marine scientists offer varying opinions on how doomed the reefs are, ranging from "Yep, they're doomed" to "If we stopped increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere today, they would probably stick around in some more or less degraded form" to "it’s clear to me that corals as a group of living things will almost assuredly* construct glorious reefs in millenniums to come of unimaginable richness."
posted by escabeche on Jul 15, 2012 - 78 comments

Wellcome Image Awards 2012

Wellcome Image Awards 2012 "Wellcome Images is the world's leading source of images of medicine and its history, from ancient civilisation and social history to contemporary healthcare, biomedical science and clinical medicine. More than 180 000 images ranging from manuscripts, rare books, archives and paintings to X-rays, clinical photography and scanning electron micrographs are available on the Wellcome Images website." (Previously & Previously) [cortex, is that you?]
posted by OmieWise on Jun 22, 2012 - 2 comments

Too many trainee positions in biomedical research

The U.S. National Institute of Heath has urged steps to curb growth in "training" positions in biomedical research (report). [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Jun 16, 2012 - 39 comments

Where Do We Go From Here?

SF author and Mefi's Own Charles Stross talks about the future of "big idea" Science Fiction: If SF's core message (to the extent that it ever had one) is obsolete, what do we do next?
posted by The Whelk on May 23, 2012 - 71 comments

Telling too much, too little or just enough

A museum exhibit called Sex: A Tell-All Exhibition is drawing controversy. After running in Montreal and Regina with no complaints, the exhibit was criticised by the Heritage Minister when it came to Ottawa for being too lurid and being outside the mandate of the Science and Technology Museum. [more inside]
posted by frimble on May 22, 2012 - 34 comments

Quickly eats polyurethane. Takes the next 400 years of decomposition time off.

Biodegradation of Polyester Polyurethane by Endophytic Fungi [scientific paper]. Pestalotiopsis microspora lives in dark, damp and anaerobic conditions in the Amazon, is a candidate for introduction to landfills, can survive on only polyurethane, and may solve the plastic 100-400 year decomposition issue [non-technical summary].
posted by jaduncan on May 15, 2012 - 40 comments

Ome

Omes have a long history and describe general interactions of biological information objects in various omes. But not all omes are real omes. Some have a problem with omes as neologisms.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on May 5, 2012 - 31 comments

A hidden children's health crisis.

A chronic public health disaster. Complex trauma and toxic stress puts children into a state of reflexive fight, flight, or freeze responses to a perpetually threatening world. The traditional authoritative response only serves to reinforce those behaviours and, perhaps worse, has long-term health consequences:
With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; suicide, 1,220 percent.
One doctor describes it as “a chronic public health disaster”. Remediating this problem is going to require listening, kindness, and parachutes.
posted by davidpriest.ca on May 1, 2012 - 53 comments

A biologist never forgets what's inside an elephant

What's inside an elephant (Not safe for the squeamish)? A pictorial retrospective from Inside Nature's Giants.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Apr 26, 2012 - 31 comments

The successful scientist thinks like a poet but works like a bookkeeper.

Harvard sociobiologist E. O. Wilson explores The Origins of the Arts.
posted by shakespeherian on Apr 25, 2012 - 38 comments

Eyeless Shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico

In the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Al Jazeera reports on large-scale deformities and mutations in the Gulf of Mexico seafood catch.
posted by parudox on Apr 18, 2012 - 64 comments

Law and Order: Yellowstone Style

A Death in Yellowstone: On the Trail of a Grizzly Bear. a gripping story and a well written article in Slate, by Jessica Grose. Includes a similarly remarkable photo feature. [more inside]
posted by spitbull on Apr 2, 2012 - 51 comments

Notes from dreamworlds

Microworlds is the blog of biology student Daniel Stoupin, and he also has a photography website as well. His chosen subject is microphotography, especially of living things. Perhaps the best place to start is his latest post, where he uses fluorescent dyes to take pictures of a rotting flea embryo. Other favorites are shells of microscopic crustaceans, colorful plant seed fluorescence and mosquito larva in polarized light. He has also made a video, and explains the process here.
posted by Kattullus on Mar 27, 2012 - 15 comments

Weak Interactions

Weak Interactions is a blog that looks at the science in Breaking Bad and the non-science in Fringe.
posted by reenum on Mar 12, 2012 - 59 comments

PhyloPic: an open database of life form silhouettes

PhyloPic is an open database of life form silhouettes. All images are available for reuse under a Public Domain or Creative Commons license. [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Feb 4, 2012 - 20 comments

Q: What is the meaning of life? A: I don't know, ask the gyre.

Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life, in which the author, Erik Andrulis, proposes an "axiomatic, experimentally testable, empirically consistent, heuristic, and unified theory of life." He also claims to be able to unify physics.....ahem. All this is done using the chemistry notation you learned in highschool. [more inside]
posted by AElfwine Evenstar on Jan 27, 2012 - 53 comments

The Case For Enhancing People

Just as Dante found it easier to conjure the pains of Hell than to evoke the joys of Heaven, so too do bioethicists find it easier to concoct the possible perils of a biotech-nanotech-infotech future than to appreciate how enhancements will contribute to flourishing lives. One of the chief goals of this symposium is to think about the indispensable role that virtue plays in human life. The chief motivating concern seems to be the fear that biotechnologies and other human enhancement technologies will somehow undermine human virtue. As we will see, far from undermining virtue, biotech, nanotech, and infotech enhancements will tend to support virtue; that is, they will help enable people to be actually good.
posted by jason's_planet on Dec 30, 2011 - 22 comments

2061

On November 22, 2011, TEDxBrussels held an all day event whose theme was: "A Day in the Deep Future." Speakers were asked to try and contemplate what life will be like for mankind in 50 years. Overview. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 28, 2011 - 29 comments

I now have 100 skulls in my room!

My name is Jake and I am a bone collector. This is his room, where he keeps his more than 100 skulls (a contender for the years most awesome cataloguing and archiving effort [look at that organization!]). How Jake cleans up animal bones [more inside]
posted by infinite intimation on Dec 25, 2011 - 12 comments

this is not a double post

How can we better understand the interplay of nature and nurture in determining our personalities, behavior, and vulnerability to disease? Perhaps we should be looking at identical twins. (National Geographic January 2012 cover story) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 19, 2011 - 89 comments

for the budding Bene Tleilax

The quest for the $500 home molecular biology laboratory Molecular diagnostics and molecular biology in general are becoming more pervasive every day in a range of applications. For some time there have been attempts to build an affordable diy machine to explore this fascinating science. OpenPCR (polymerase chain reaction) received quite a bit of publicity with their $599 system. Each of these have had problems and were not quite suitable for students. Here is an attempt to get the price even lower and to simply the construction process. Previously on Metafilter
posted by 2manyusernames on Dec 5, 2011 - 27 comments

Buzzing about network graphs

A hive plot (slides) is a beautiful and compelling way to visualize multiple, complex networks, without resorting to "hairball" graphs that are often difficult to qualitatively compare and contrast. [more inside]
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Dec 4, 2011 - 14 comments

I am Joe's FPP

"I am Your Body"
posted by infini on Dec 2, 2011 - 21 comments

"To say that this hypothesis was controversial was akin to saying that Napoleon had a bit of a thing about the Russians."

American biologist Lynn Margulis has died. Prolific and determined, Margulis was best known for her development of Endosymbiotic Theory, the now widely-accepted idea that complex cells began as a combination of simpler, prokaryotic ones, and the Gaia Hypothesis, which posited the Earth as a type of living organism. Some of her later ideas, including the claim that HIV is not the cause of AIDS or that caterpillers and butterflies were once separate organisms, received less support, but Endosymbiotic Theory, in the words of Richard Dawkins, remains "one of the great achievements of twentieth-century evolutionary biology."
posted by Tubalcain on Nov 23, 2011 - 32 comments

Time Tree

TimeTree is a public knowledge-base for information on the evolutionary timescale of life. A search utility allows exploration of the thousands of divergence times among organisms in the published literature. A tree-based (hierarchical) system is used to identify all published molecular time estimates bearing on the divergence of two chosen taxa, such as species, compute summary statistics, and present the results . . . For those interested in published summaries of relationships and divergence times of major groups of organisms (family level and above), see the authoritative synthesis The Timetree of Life.

Here are some examples to get you started: Humans and Chimpanzees diverged 6.3 MYA; Giraffes and Dolphins diverged 58.3 MYA; Cats and Mice diverged 95.2 MYA; and Dogs and Fleas diverged 777.8 MYA. [more inside]
posted by troll on Oct 27, 2011 - 18 comments

"Attack me in the comments section -- GO."

Jane Pratt (formerly of Sassy Magazine and her eponymous Jane,) launched a website for women: xojane, earlier this year. Last week the site's Health and Beauty Director wrote a blog post explaining that she never uses condoms, birth control pills, or other contraception (for fear of becoming fat) and instead relies on the emergency contraceptive Plan B to prevent pregnancy. And a segment of the internet exploded. (Her responses to some of the comments seem a bit clueless for someone with her title.) Critics have noted that the post was filled with "ignorant" "inaccuracies and misconceptions" about womens' health, sex, Plan B and other forms of birth control. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 21, 2011 - 104 comments

History of Visualization of Biological Macromolecules

History of Visualization of Biological Macromolecules. Wonderfully self-explanatory. See especially the Early [1966!] Interactive Molecular Graphics Movie Gallery and the On-Line Museum. These are the progenitors of Blasdelb's cool post.
posted by skbw on Oct 2, 2011 - 14 comments

Bioshock

Scientist and Science Fiction author Joan Slonczewski, author of A Door Into The Ocean, guest blogs about science fictional and microbiology on Charles Stross's site: Salt Beings, Microbes grow the starship, Synthetic Babies
posted by Artw on Sep 30, 2011 - 13 comments

I know what you're thinking...

UC Berkeley researchers have successfully used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to decode and reconstruct people’s dynamic visual experiences - in this case, watching Hollywood movie trailers.
posted by gman on Sep 22, 2011 - 62 comments

Foldit - Crystal structure of a monomeric retroviral protease solved by protein folding game players

Gamers solve molecular puzzle that baffled scientists. The structure of a protein causing AIDS in rhesus monkeys had not been discovered in 15 years of attempts. Players of a videogame did it in ten days. Foldit, the game in question. Abstract. Previously, previously.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Sep 18, 2011 - 54 comments

Genetic portraits

Split Family Faces. "How much do you and members of your family really look alike? Quebec, Canada-based graphic designer and photographer Ulric Collette has created a shockingly cool project where he's exploring the genetic similarities between different members of the same family. By splitting their faces in half and then melding them together, he creates interesting new people that are sometimes quite normal looking and other times far from it. He calls this series Genetic Portraits."
posted by Bunny Ultramod on Aug 17, 2011 - 43 comments

Life Before the Dinosaurs

Art is seven years old and really likes life before the dinosaurs. And he thinks arthropods are really cool.
posted by silby on Aug 5, 2011 - 27 comments

SCIENCE!

At the beginning of last month, Scientific American unveiled a new network of 47 blogs with 55 bloggers. Their latest posts can be found here. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 2, 2011 - 15 comments

Empire of Evolution

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]
posted by homunculus on Jul 26, 2011 - 42 comments

To help thousands of people in over 200 countries diagnose, treat and prevent common illnesses

Hesperian is a non-profit publisher of books and newsletters for community-based health care, mostly aimed at the third world. Their first book, Where There Is No Doctor, A Village Health Handbook, has been translated into 88 languages and is one of the most widely used training and work manuals for community health care in the world. They have now made 20 of their publications available for free download, many of which can now also be browsed online through their website using an "Ebrary" in-browser interface. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 26, 2011 - 15 comments

Creationism stays out of Texas textbooks (for now)

On Friday, July 22, the Texas Board of Education voted 14-0 to support scientifically accurate high school biology textbook supplements, rejecting the proposed creationist materials. Instead of including such material, the education board voted to let Education Commissioner Robert Scott work with the publishing company Holt McDougal to find language that is factually correct and fits the standards adopted in 2009. "My goal would be to try to find some common ground," Scott said.
posted by filthy light thief on Jul 25, 2011 - 58 comments

The Brain on Trial.

The Brain on Trial. Advances in brain science are calling into question the volition behind many criminal acts. A leading neuroscientist describes how the foundations of our criminal-justice system are beginning to crumble, and proposes a new way forward for law and order.
"We may someday find that many types of bad behavior have a basic biological explanation—as has happened with schizophrenia, epilepsy, depression, and mania."
[more inside]
posted by Eideteker on Jul 15, 2011 - 99 comments

Arboreal Art in Nature

"Magnificent and Weird Trees" Also see, Living, Growing Architecture.
posted by zarq on Jul 10, 2011 - 18 comments

America's Next Great Civil Rights Struggle

The New Republic examines what they're calling "America's Next Great Civil Rights Struggle" and asks, "What will it take for America to accept transgender people for who they really are?" [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 29, 2011 - 173 comments

First she rises, then she hops, and then she eats you.

(Sunday night arthropod terror filter): YouTube user memutic has uploaded several dozen high-quality backyard video recordings of exotic insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and millipedes native to Central America, Southeast Asia, and the US. [more inside]
posted by Nomyte on Jun 26, 2011 - 20 comments

Neolithic Grog!

The Beer Archaeologist. "Biomolecular archaeologist" Dr. Patrick McGovern has unearthed millennia-old alcohol recipes and ancient medicinals, "by analyzing residues in ancient pottery. Now he's working with brewer Sam Calagione, (of Discovery Channel's Brew Masters, (autoplaying video)) whose pub Dogfish Head serves up beers based on recipes that are thousands of years old." (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 26, 2011 - 45 comments

Digitized Darwin

More than 300 heavily-annotated books from Charles Darwin's personal library have been digitized in a collaboration between Cambridge University, which holds the collection, and the Biodiversity Heritage Library, a project that has so far digitized nearly 50,000 titles from the natural sciences. And if you're looking for what Darwin wrote, rather than what he read, the University of Oklahoma has digitized the first edition of each of his 22 books.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jun 23, 2011 - 17 comments

"Here, eat this root."

The Triumph of New-Age Medicine "Medicine has long decried acupuncture, homeopathy, and the like as dangerous nonsense that preys on the gullible. Again and again, carefully controlled studies have shown alternative medicine to work no better than a placebo. But now many doctors admit that alternative medicine often seems to do a better job of making patients well, and at a much lower cost, than mainstream care—and they’re trying to learn from it." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 15, 2011 - 278 comments

Mismeasure remeasured

A Mismeasured Mismeaurement of Man. Stephen Jay Gould's classic The Mismeasure of Man argues that 19th century scientist Samuel George Morton inflicted his own racial biases on his data to demonstrate that Caucasians had larger brains than other races. A new paper in the Public Library of Science: Biology debunks Gould's account by remeasuring the same skulls Morton used. Whatever biases Morton may have had, they are not reflected in the data.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jun 10, 2011 - 55 comments

The Cartoon Guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything

Larry Gonick is a veteran American cartoonist best known for his delightful comic-book guides to science and history, many of which have previews online. Chief among them is his long-running Cartoon History of the Universe (later The Cartoon History of the Modern World), a sprawling multi-volume opus documenting everything from the Big Bang to the Bush administration. Published over the course of three decades, it takes a truly global view -- its time-traveling Professor thoroughly explores not only familiar topics like Rome and World War II but the oft-neglected stories of Asia and Africa, blending caricature and myth with careful scholarship (cited by fun illustrated bibliographies) and tackling even the most obscure events with intelligence and wit. This savvy satire carried over to Gonick's Zinn-by-way-of-Pogo chronicle The Cartoon History of the United States, along with a bevy of Cartoon Guides to other topics, including Genetics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, The Environment, and (yes!) Sex. Gonick has also maintained a few sideprojects, such as a webcomic look at Chinese invention, assorted math comics (previously), the Muse magazine mainstay Kokopelli & Co. (featuring the shenanigans of his "New Muses"), and more. See also these lengthy interview snippets, linked previously. Want more? Amazon links to the complete oeuvre inside! [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Jun 6, 2011 - 29 comments

Though primitive, even these early species had already adapted fully to parasitism on the plastic membranes of apple bags.

Holotypic Occlupanid Research Group: Taxonomic Data of the Breadties of the World [via]
posted by brundlefly on Jun 6, 2011 - 15 comments

Loom

Loom. (SLVimeo) (Youtube version) (Arachnophobes should definitely skip this one.) (Via)
posted by zarq on May 26, 2011 - 14 comments

new branch in tree of life

Holy mama, a new clade. (via)
posted by Meatbomb on May 13, 2011 - 22 comments

Shooting cats with a chronophotographic gun

Do cats always land on their feet? No. Unless...
posted by furtive on May 11, 2011 - 37 comments

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