Archive for: June, 2009

We have not yet begun to fight!

Jun 30 2009 Published by under Activism

Today is the last day in the month of June, and so the last day that you can click on these awesome blogs, and have the proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders. So click once, or twice, or many many times!
The Intersection
On Becoming A Domestic And Laboratory Goddess
The Questionable Authority
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Blog Of The Moderate Left
Seattle Grassroots Examiner
the rugbyologist
And of course, a huge thank you to the many, many blogs who helped spread this around. Sci hopes that this is just the beginning, that we will be able to keep awareness going. It's not just about the money that's been raised, it's about knowing what's going on. Being aware can make a difference.
Sci herself is rather stunned at all the things she has learned. She has learned what massive problem rape is, not just in Liberia, but even in the US. To people you know. Sci has seen incredibly moving prose from people with some pretty awful experiences. She is proud to call these strong, resilient people friends. And she has seen guys step up to the plate like she never expected, defending their wives, sisters, mothers, and daughters, and telling men how to be better, and how to teach other men to be better to both men and women.
So if Silence is the Enemy hasn't changed you, I hope it has taught you something, shown you new perspectives, and made you think. As for Sci and Neurotopia, my co-bloggers are good to me and are letting all proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders. I hope we'll keep doing it. We can all help in more ways than one.
This isn't the end of Silence is the Enemy. It is only the beginning.

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Jun 29 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

The call, half roar, half terrifying honk of annoyance, echoed across the room. From the depths of a warm, comfortable nest, the monster stirred. Something was prodding it out of its lurid, murky dreams.
"brrt, brrt, brrt...
...brrt, brrt, brrt..."

Snarling, the beast surged from the bed, lunging over to the alarm clock placed irritatingly just out of reach. Awakened from its rest, the animal dragged itself around the room, uttering incomprehensible grunts which made the small, furry carnivores huddled around the nest scatter in panic.
The beast, sight blurred, flung itself under a powerful stream of hot water, yelping in a distinctly higher pitch as the water shocked it awake. But it still wasn't enough. Now passably clean, the monster shuffled through the morning routine, feeding fluffy carnivorous mammals, snatching the femur from the previous meal's leavings for lunch, and lunging out the door.

Three cups of coffee later...
*bzzt* *twitch* Good MORNING!!!! Hello, world, Scicurious here! How is everyone! I hope your day just keeps getting nicer and nicer and nicer...
No really, still not awake.
But a lot of things happened over the weekend, and one should probably mention them.

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One response so far

For Jason

Jun 27 2009 Published by under Uncategorized

More like an opinion, but that's not quite right.

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Friday Weird Science: Sex: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Jun 26 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science

We know that a lot of organisms, from humans to bacteria to birds to bees, have lots of sex. But what has mystified scientists for years is WHY. I mean, it's fun and all (unless you're a poor beetle girl stuck with this), but what purpose does it serve? On the face of it, in fact, sex seems to be pretty BAD for about half of the population: the women. For example, there's a lizard out there than can reproduce both asexually and sexually. When it reproduces asexually, it producing nothing but girls, all of whom can reproduce both asexually and sexually. Net win. But when it reproduces sexually, it will produce about 50% BOYS, which can only reproduce sexually, and if they aren't lucky and their courtship messages suck, they won't even do that. Why bother?! Why not just keep reproducing asexually and passing your genes directly on (no mixing!) to hundreds of thousands of lizards?

For many years scientists puzzlesd over this one. But recently, a series of three new hypotheses has been formed. Welcome to the good, the bad, and the ugly. Zimmer. "On the origin of sexual reproduction" Science, 2009

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7 responses so far

In which Sci is FAMOUS!

Jun 25 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

Sci loves it when she's famous. This is mostly because it never happens in real life. But you will ALL know who Sci is when she TAKES OVER THE WORLD. Mwah ha ha ha.

I know I look cute and furry. Don't be fooled.
And now, as part of my new plan for world domination, there's an interview with me over at Bora's place!! Truly, the Blogfather has been good to me. Check it out!

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A Few Things

Jun 25 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

First off, how many is a "few"? I mean, I think of a "couple" as two, and a "few" as three. But what does that make five? "Some"?

Anyway, please head on over and congratulation Southern Fried Scientist for his Quark win!!! 3quarksdaily picked his post on dolphin-safe tuna for their quark award! I'm so jealous, but it's a great post and totally deserves it. The other quarks went to Daylight Atheism and Bad Astronomy, and they were both worth checking out. Clearly I need to write some better stuff before next year...I want a quark to hang on my wall...
Secondly, you should check out a post AK wrote on defining neurotransmitters. When we discuss neurotransmission, even in scientific papers, we tend to think very simplistically about it. This is something that is necessary in papers where you might have a 39,000 word limit, but it's not necessarily a good thing.

Next, I'm sure you all have heard about the Dancing Cockatoo, Snowball, who can dance to the rhythm of music (though he's got TERRIBLE taste, I mean, the Backstreet Boys?! That's so...1998...). Check out the new book about the brain, music, and language, at the official blog by Oxford University Press! There's also apparently a documentary, though I think it'll be over by now. I don't know if I support this kind of research, though. I mean, the BACKSTREET BOYS!? How did THAT pass animal welfare regulations?

7 responses so far

Key paper in depression genetics disputed

Jun 24 2009 Published by under CNS Diseases and Disorders

I wanted to draw attention to a new paper in JAMA recently because it reveals a lot about how conditional most of the statements we make in behavioral genetics are. Every time you hear a news article that says, "Gene for depression found," I want you to think about this case.

Risch et al. performed a meta-analysis on 14 studies that were looking at Serotonin Transporter (5-HTTLPR) genotype and number of stressful life events. These two factors were related to the subsequent risk for developing clinical depression. Their analysis found -- contrary to a very well known study, Caspi et al. -- that there was no association between genotype for this gene and depression risk and no significant interaction between genotype and number of stressful life events.

I think this case is a good example of why we should be skeptical of behavioral genetics studies reported in the news until they have been replicated repeatedly.

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Interview of yours truly

Jun 23 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

Looks like I got cornered by Ava over at Paw Talk for an interview. Go check it out. We talked about animal intelligence, modeling diseases using animals, and my stupid cat's antics. Good times!

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Eating Grad Style: Free Food

Jun 23 2009 Published by under Academia, Grad Student Eating in Style!

A few weeks ago, Sci posted on making Lab Cuisine. A couple of people responded well to this, and suggested that I post more on cheap eating as a grad student. Sadly, these people are deluded. Sci can't cook. At ALL. Lab Cuisine, pasta, and bean stews (which I can make, tho the recipe is not mine) are about what I live on, trying to wedge in fruit and veggies wherever they might be able to fit into the budget. Welcome to life on stipend.

But there are some things about food that Sci does know. It's how to eat, and particularly how to forage, like a grad student. And so today I would like to speak on the pros, cons, and types of Free Food.

You think it's funny and weird to smell free food from a distance? Clearly you have never been a grad student.

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11 responses so far

Bats in the Belfry

Jun 22 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

Sci got home last night to a rather interesting occurrence. A bat in the house. Myotis lucifugus, I'm pretty sure. One of these:

Rather cute, right? Except for the teeth thing...and the rabies vector thing...
It was flying around in a truly panicked manner, and would only come to rest in places too high for me to reach. This is also why I do not have a home grown pic (which I really wanted). The other reason for this would be that Sci doesn't have a camera...but we've all got issues, right?
Catching bats in a difficult venture. Sci has had a bat before, and what you've got to do is slip a wide-mouthed jar (or shoebox, or something) over the bat, then slide a piece of cardboard under that to trap it. Alternatively, you can try and open all the doors and windows and letting it fly out. Clearly, this bat was NOT the best navigator (echolocation FAIL, it flew by the door at least 50 times!!!). But it never came to rest in a place where the landlord and I could reach it, and suffice it to say, the landlord was not...thrilled about the bat, and probably less than sure in this manner of trying to trap it.

Eventually it flew out the window. But it took a couple of hours. So there will be no post today. You get a bat story instead.
Anyone got advice on how to get bats out? Does making sound make them fly around more, or less? Soothing sounds? Hefty gloves? Advice appreciated.

11 responses so far

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