Friday, May 22, 2009

Isn't evolution beautiful?

Here are a few rocktastic species discovered this year.

Of course, I think the teeny-tiny sea horse and snake are pretty cool. Also, I am super-interested in the caffeine-free coffee plant that was discovered: the essence of being naturally decaffeinated, never having been caffeinated in the first place!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Speaking of dogs...

Scott and I have been looking at dogs pretty intently lately, and so I thought it relevant to point out that Pit Bulls ( American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers) are not inherently bad dogs; they are quite loving with their people, even after being subjected to horrible abuse, as is evident from these pictures of dogs that were abused by Michael Vick and associates, and later taken in by patient, loving families.


whatever happened to the hysteria over H5N1?

In case you are still psyched out about the flu, here's a pretty cool resource from the CDC to put things into (a little bit of a) perspective:

I would really rather see the table also include numbers for the confirmed cases of other types of flu (e.g. H5N1), and the deaths from those. But, given that the general public doesn't realize that something like 36,000 people die each year from "traditional" influenza infections in the US alone, it might cause more panic than it should - information overload and whatnot.

Monday, May 18, 2009

How I got into science:

Hmmm, I seem to remember it being something like this, but I can't recall for sure.

Friday, May 8, 2009


So, as you may or may not know, I've been on a dog kick the past few months (okay years). I am just waiting until I meet the right one that I can't live without. While Scott will like having a dog, I think he'll be more relieved to have me stop sending him pictures of every puppy-dog eyed mutt I come across.

Well, maybe I could convince him to let us get a pig (one not infected with the H1N1 flu, of course). And, not any piggy, but a pygmy piggy!

Look how cute the baby is! (Picture courtesy of the BBC) I think I could make a valid case that I'm saving him from extinction - ooh! ooh! We could raise a whole herd of pgymy piggies! I could convince the NSF to give me funding for that, right?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

animal research is necessary

There have been a few articles on the radio and in the news lately about people protesting for and against the use of animals in scientific research.

Certainly there are ethical considerations when using any live organism in research, and experiments that should never be undertaken because they subject animals to extreme and cruel situations that do nothing to further essential scientific research that will, in the end, advance in some significant way scientific knowledge. This research must, for example, improve understanding of the spread, prevention or treatment diseases, advance medical technology and treatment of traumatic injuries, or further basic science principles upon which other discoveries will be based, in ways that could otherwise not be achieved.

This recent article about how mouse adult stem cells are able to repair muscle damage in mice, is perfect example of necessary animal research. This research could not be conducted in silico (that is, on a computer), because researchers would only be hypothesizing how it might work and could never know for sure whether the adult stem cells did or did not regenerate the muscle tissue.

On a side note - how cool is it that the scientists were able to track these cells by making them glow under ultraviolet light! (I can just envision that the next wave of body modification may be to implant fluorescent cells into ones body.)

I admit, my personality is such that I would find it immensely difficult to injure the mice, and eventually, sacrifice them. But my personal feelings do not cloud my judgement that this type of research is necessary to help people with debilitating muscle trauma.

Monday, May 4, 2009

why evolution is true

Sorry I've been sketchy about posting, I'll do better about being more consistent, but the next few weeks will be especially busy while I finish researching and prepare a talk and a poster for back to back conferences in late may/early june - both in Iowa City!

In the meantime, here is a response to and in Forbes magazine for giving creationism the credence it doesn't deserve.

By the way, I nearly misspelled "credence" because of CCR. What a coincidence that I saw this video at the gym last week.