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Something really is killing the bees

It's not Google Reader. But it is happening. We've seen these stories for several years now, and it doesn't seem like there's been any progress, and it seems to be getting worse.

I guess i shouldn't say there isn't any progress. The consensus seems to be that herbicides and pesticides, especially neonicotinoids, are the cause. But there is mighty pushback from the pesticide industry. This is to be expected, but we really ought to have a regulatory body strong enough to push the other way.

By fnord12 | March 29, 2013, 12:58 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link

I'm Fairly Certain I was Fed Well My First Year


Malnutrition in the first year life, even when followed by a good diet and restored physical health, predisposes people to a troubled personality at age 40, new research suggests.
Compared with peers who were well-fed throughout their lives, formerly malnourished men and women reported markedly more anxiety, vulnerability to stress, hostility, mistrust of others, anger and depression, Galler's team reports March 12 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Survivors of early malnutrition also cited relatively little intellectual curiosity, social warmth, cooperativeness and willingness to try new experiences and to work hard at achieving goals.

And yet, this is practically a description of me! Well, except for the social warmth bit. Everyone i know could tell you how socially warm i am. I do so love people.

By min | March 21, 2013, 3:05 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link

Everything is Flowers for Algernon to Me

They're implanting mouse brains with human cells, and it's making them smarter...for now.


In the new study, researchers led by neurologist and stem cell biologist Steven Goldman and neurobiologist Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York implanted human cells called glial progenitor cells into the brains of newborn mice.
Previously, the researchers had transplanted human glial progenitor cells into the brains of mice that had a genetic disorder mimicking multiple sclerosis. The glial progenitor cells healed the mice, allowing them to live a normal life span. That result held promise that such cell transplants might help people with neurological disorders.

The researchers also noticed something curious in the brains of mice that had received human cell transplants. "The shocker was that all the glial progenitors were human and had completely taken over the mouse progenitors," Goldman says.


The researchers also put mice through a battery of tests, probing the animals' ability to learn mazes, distinguish new objects from old ones, and learn that a certain sound portends a mild electric shock. It took normal mice and mice with mouse cell transplants several tries to pick up on the association between the sound and the shock. Mice with human astrocytes "pretty much picked up the association immediately and got more fearful," Goldman says.

I think it says something not very nice about scientists when their measure of how a mouse's intelligence has increased is how quickly they learn to be afraid.

By min | March 19, 2013, 1:48 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link

3-D Printed Replacement Skull

Time for some link blogging. If you thought the concept of 3-D printers was kewl before when people were using it to print out parts they needed for home repairs and the like, this is going to impress you even more.


Surgeons have replaced 75 percent of a man's skull with a custom-designed polymer cranium constructed with a 3-D printer. The surgery took place on March 4 and is the first U.S. case following the FDA's approval of the implants last month.
Technicians used CT scans to get images of the part of the skull that needed replacing. Then, with computer software and input from surgeons, engineers designed the replacement part.
Such implants have value as a brain-protecting material, says Jeremy Mao, a biomedical engineer and codirector of Columbia University's center for craniofacial regeneration. But doctors will need to keep an eye out for long-term problems; The skull isn't just a box for the brain but a complicated piece of anatomy linked to connective and soft tissues.

By min | March 19, 2013, 1:42 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link

Tying Knots in Fluid

Or "Why dolphins are awesome".

First, i need to define what a "vortex ring" is. Take an imaginary axis where fluid or gases are rotating around that axis, essentially forming a spinning tube. Now take that tube and bend it so that it makes a donut. That's a vortex ring. And dolphins can just make them to play with.

Cause they're more awesome than you.

In 1867, Lord Kelvin suggested you could tie these rings into knots. It's taken until now for physicists to figure out how to make this happen in a lab. They needed 3D printer technology to be invented first, i guess, so that they could make this looped "airplane wing".

And here's a video from different angles so you can really see the knots.

Not being all that knowledgeable about particle physics or magnetic fields, i'm not sure what the results of this will be, but i think it's pretty nifty that you can create a knot in a fluid.

By min | March 7, 2013, 7:17 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link

Mad Scientists

They're not just characters in fiction. They exist as funded researchers.

Researchers have transplanted frog eyes to other body parts for decades, but until now, no one had shown that those oddly placed eyes (called "ectopic" eyes) actually worked.

Wait. What? They've been transplanting eyeballs on frogs to other parts of their bodies for decades, but testing to see if the eyes worked wasn't the first thing they tried?? Then what the hell were they transplanting them for??

And now they've decided to grow eyeballs on tadpoles' tails.

The experiment seemed like a natural to test how well the brain can adapt, Levin says. "There's no way the tadpole's brain is expecting an eye on its tail."

To be fair, i don't think anyone's brain expected an eye on that tadpole's tail.

But, their insanity doesn't stop with growing eyes where eyes ought not be. No. They then had to add an element of douchebaggery to their experiments.

A mild electric shock zapped the tadpole when it was in one half of the dish so that the animal learned to associate the color with the shock. The researchers periodically switched the colors in the chamber so that the tadpoles didn't learn that staying still would save them.

Yes, let's zap them to condition their behavior, and when they've learned our little tricks, we'll switch it up. Ha ha!

Oh yeah. This experiment was totally about learning more about the brain and not about doing dick things for fun.

By min | March 1, 2013, 10:02 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link

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