Harvard University and XVIVO have come together again (Previouslyw/ a commercial focus, Previouslierw/an Academic focus) to add to the growing series of scientific animations for BioVisions -- Harvard's multimedia lab in the department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. 'Protein Packing' strives to more accurately depict the molecular chaos in each and every cell, with proteins jittering around in what may seem like random motion. Proteins occupy roughly 40% of the cytoplasm, creating an environment that risks unintentional interaction and aggregation. Via diffusion and motor protein transport, these molecules are directed to sites where they are needed.
Much of this is no doubt inspired by the beautiful art and explained illustrations of David Goodsell, a biologist at Scripps who has been accurately portraying the crowdedness of the cellular landscape for a long time now.[more inside]
John Hibbing and his colleagues are pioneering research on the physiological underpinnings of political ideology. They also eat worms. - via Mother Jones
Growing Out My Bush is a fascinating Tumblr where one woman explores the perception of the female body by first shaving and then photographing the re-growth of her pubic hair. Especially interesting are "The Reality of Nude Photos" and "How Breasts Can Look."
Is Psychometric g a Myth? - "As an online discussion about IQ or general intelligence grows longer, the probability of someone linking to statistician Cosma Shalizi's essay g, a Statistical Myth approaches 1. Usually the link is accompanied by an assertion to the effect that Shalizi offers a definitive refutation of the concept of general mental ability, or psychometric g." [more inside]
Pictures of some brains from the Texas State Mental Hospital. (Not for the squemish.) "I walked into a storage closet filled with approximately one-hundred human brains, none of them normal, taken from patients at the Texas State Mental Hospital. The brains sat in large jars of fluid, each labeled with a date of death or autopsy, a brief description in Latin, and a case number."
Deciphering the Tools of Nature’s Zombies: The ability of parasites to alter the behaviour of their hosts fascinates both scientists and non-scientists alike. One reason that this topic resonates with so many is that it touches on core philosophical issues such as the existence of free will. If the mind is merely a machine, then it can be controlled by any entity that understands the code and has access to the machinery. This special issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology highlights some of the best-understood examples of parasite-induced changes in host brain and behaviour, encompassing both invertebrate and vertebrate hosts and micro- and macro-parasites. Full issue annotated inside: [more inside]
Nature constantly engineers new and creative solutions to all sorts of problems—turning our stereotypes about sex upside-down along the way.
It may increase schadenfreude. It's an assistant to abortifacients and it's produced by stimulating the nipples. Got a clogged lizard? Your mom used it to turn off your brain for your own good. In women, it peaks at orgasm, but in men, it might be elevated throughout sex without peaking. And what do you mean "social" monogamy!? Is it the love 'em and leave 'em hormone?? Well, it's NOT Vasopressin For Her, contrary to what some people think. Is it an impedance to feminism? Could it be the key to treating Autism? Ism... ism... jism? YEP. It's in the jism! Its synthesis was the end of A Trail of Sulfa Research, and its master was awarded the Nobel Prize. (Chemistry, not Peace.) You can scent your loveletters with it, but sorry, peaches... you can't huff a good cuddle, but you might like to huff while you cuddle. Previously.
GetBodySmart.com is a wonderful and remarkably complete resource to learn about the systems that keep our body running, including the skeletal , nervous and even urinary systems. What's more amazing is that it's all created by one man in his spare time and for no gain of his own. Read his mission statement here.
The pancreas is a completely crummy organ...... so which parts of the human body could you design better? Interesting article and comments.
Do You Taste What I Taste? - The first of Slate's 3-part series on the physiology of taste [parts 2, 3]
Respect the cock! Or duck, as the case may be. Avian co-evolution in action, from the New York Times.
It begins in the paraventricular nucleus. It has been observed in the womb. Muslims believe it's an indication of Satanic possession. Too much of it might be a bad thing. Pandiculation sometimes occurs. In terminal rabies cases and in five percent of Clomipramine users it leads to spontaneous orgasm. Previous wisdom held it was caused by a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood and mirror neurons make it contagious. And yet still nobody knows precisely why it happens.
Curious about what a college class in Anatomy and Physiology is like? Here's Berkeley's version on Google Video, complete with adorable professor with a great collection of colorful scarfs. via Nurse Sean
Researchers discover that lactic acid is more than just a byproduct. According to George A. Brooks, "lactate is the link between oxidative and glycolytic, or anaerobic, metabolism." You can read the abstract of the paper at the American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism.