Japanese biologists have made genetically modified primates that can pass the modification to their offspring -- a first for science. The researchers, reporting in Nature, introduced a jellyfish gene to marmosets that made their skin glow green under UV light, a quick, harmless test of the technique's success. The goal is for future marmosets to bear genes for human disease. Such colonies of research animals may model neurological disorders far better than lab mice.
Many millennia ago, man created dog. As the story goes, gray wolves in East Asia took to the comforts of human camp life somewhere between 15,000 and 40,000 years ago. People bred their new canine companions for docility and other favored traits. Dogs then accompanied humans crossing the Bering Strait into the Americas 12,000–14,000 years ago.
A curious shift occurs during and right after a war: more boys tend to be born than girls. It's been documented for decades in many nations, especially during long conflicts with many troops deployed. The cause of this boy boom has long flummoxed thinkers and scientists. Ideas have veered from the theological—a divine call for new men to replace those lost in battle—to the coital—returning soldiers have lots of sex, and so will be more likely to fertilize at a time in their ladies' cycle that's ripe for making boy babies.
Geneticists announced last week in the journal Nature that they have sequenced the complete set of DNA for three people—a Nigerian man, a Chinese man, and a Caucasian woman with leukemia—bringing the total number of individual genomes sequenced and published to five. (The first two are those of the genetics pioneers J. Craig Venter and James Watson.)
Mancini is my grandfather’s surname, and what a goose chase it’s been to find the Italian village from which his forebears hailed. Grandpa doesn't know its name because he was never told. Great-aunt Liz simply forgot. Finally, I got a tip from a friend of the famiglia who once hung around my late great-uncle “Tweet’s” luncheonette. The village was called Fontanelle. But which Fontanelle? Google Maps turned up two candidates of the same name, separated nearly 350 miles.
It's easy to feel deflated by the ever-growing raft of ecological problems out there. According to a recent MIT report, even if I were the most frugal of consumers—say a monk or a hobo—as an American, I'd still emit more than twice as much carbon dioxide as the average global citizen. That's partly because the U.S. infrastructure that we all enjoy (police, roads, hospitals) is an inevitable part of our per-capita contribution. Think globally, act locally?
Scientists reveal the first “wiring diagrams” of the cerebral cortex, shedding light on the infrastructure behind human intelligence.
By Laura AllenPosted 07.25.2008 at 12:37 pm 2 Comments
The famed molecular biologist Francis Crick turned to neuroscience in the 1970's. But by 1993, he was so chagrined by the ignorance of his new field that he penned an editorial in the journal Nature. "It is intolerable that we do not have [a connection map of] the human brain," he wrote. "Without it there is little hope of understanding how our brains work except in the crudest way."
There was no such map in 1993 because the only way to get one was to use anatomical methods: inject dye into the brain of an organism, kill it, and trace the color trail in the neurons with microscopes. Of course ethics rule out this sort of experimentation on humans.
Not even close, says a new psych study on plasma screen “windows”
By Laura AllenPosted 06.13.2008 at 12:57 pm 4 Comments
Discovery Channel addicts, get outside! HDTV may offer a vivid window on the natural world, but it won’t substitute for the real thing. That’s the implication from a new psychological study from the University of Washington’s Human Interaction with Nature and Technological Systems (HINTS) Lab, which found, in fact, that nature on a plasma screen is no more soothing than a blank wall.
The results of the first national survey of teachers about evolution in their classrooms are in. Darwin would quiver in his boots to learn that in this day and age, one in eight American biology teachers teach creationism and intelligent design as a sound alternative to his theory. In fact, 13 percent of the country's teachers think they can run an excellent biology class without even mentioning Darwin or evolution.
Retreating glaciers. Melting permafrost. Off-kilter bird migrations. Few of these reports are news to anyone following the global warming beat. Yet the first effort to gather thousands of scientific findings into a cohesive narrative of cause and effect has been published in the journal Nature.