Seeing without Eyes – the Unexpected World of Nonvisual Photoreception

Color-changing cells in an Atlantic squid’s skin contain light-sensitive pigments. Alexandra Kingston By Dr. Thomas Cronin / 08.09.2017 Professor of Biological Sciences University of Maryland, Baltimore County We humans are uncommonly visual creatures. And those of us endowed with normal sight are used to thinking of our eyes as vital to how we experience the world.[…]

Storing Data in DNA Brings Nature to the Digital Universe

The next frontier of data storage: DNA. ymgerman/Shutterstock    By Dr. Luis Ceze and Dr. Karin Strauss / 07.27.2017 Ceze: Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Strauss: Affiliate Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering University of Washington Humanity is producing data at an unimaginable rate, to the point that storage technologies can’t keep up.[…]

How the Flu Changes within the Body May Hint at Future Global Trends

What can a single person’s flu infection tell you about how the virus changes around the world? / Xue and Bloom    By Dr. Jesse Bloom and Katherine Xue / 06.27.2017 Bloom: Associate Member, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Associate Professor of Genome Sciences and Microbiology Xue: Doctoral Student in Genome Sciences University of Washington Evolution is usually[…]

The Cognitive Sciences: One or Many?

“Close up of The Thinker” / Photo by Brian Hillegas, Creative Commons By Dr. Michael RW Dawson Professor of Psychology University of Alberta Introduction When experimental psychology arose in the nineteenth century, it was a unified discipline. However, as the experimental method began to be applied to a larger and larger range of psychological phenomena,[…]

The Scientific Process

Figure 1.14 Formerly called blue-green algae, the (a) cyanobacteria seen through a light microscope are some of Earth’s oldest life forms. These (b) stromatolites along the shores of Lake Thetis in Western Australia are ancient structures formed by the layering of cyanobacteria in shallow waters. (credit a: modification of work by NASA; scale-bar data from[…]

Neuromechanics of Flamingos’ Amazing Feats of Balance

How do they do while sleeping what we can barely do at all? Carlos Bustamante Restrepo    By Dr. Lena Ting and Dr. Young-Hui Chang / 05.23.2017 Ting: Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Medicine, Emory University Chang: Professor of Biological Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology If you’ve watched flamingos at the zoo – or if you’re[…]

Scientists Publish First Comprehensive Map of Proteins within Cells

[LEFT]: In epidermoid carcinoma cells, that the protein SON (green) is localising into nuclear speckles, a substructure in the nucleus. [RIGHT]: SEPT9 (green) localizes to actin filaments in epidermoid carcinoma cells. The first analysis of how proteins are arranged in a cell has been published today in Science, revealing that a large portion of human[…]

The Conflation of Health and Fitness

By Myron Getman / 01.01.2013 Scientist New York State Department of Health conflate:  \kən-ˈflāt\, 1) to bring together, 2) to confuse How often have you heard someone exclaim, “Boy are they fit”?  Perhaps you’ve heard people talk about how someone might be “diesel,” “built,” or “put together”?  Depending on where you live, there are countless[…]

Is Humanity Naturally Good? Exploring Richard Dawkins’s ‘Selfish Gene’

Lecture by Dr. Alistair McGrath at the Museum of London / 04.04.2017 Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion University of Oxford What is the future of humanity? Nobody knows. For a start, we might suffer the same fate that is thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs – an ‘extinction event’ caused by collision[…]

Get Up Stand Up: A Brief History of Sedentarism and Why Movement is Good Medicine

By Tony Federico Journal of Evolution and Health (2016) Introduction Sedentary behaviors, like watching TV, have been have been linked to an increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality independent of other risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, cholesterol, diet, and waist circumference [1]. While it is unknown how much actual sedentary[…]

Using the Placenta to Understand How Complex Organs Evolve

Developing lizard embryo beneath placental tissues. Oliver Griffith By Dr. Oliver Griffith / 03.23.2017 Postdoctoral Associate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Yale University Considering how different they look from the outside, it might be surprising that all vertebrates – animals with a backbone – share the same, conserved set of organs. Chickens, fish, human beings[…]

Those Pearly Whites: The Archaeology of Teeth – Their Historical and Anthropological Value

Upper teeth of a Neanderthal who lived about 40,000 years ago. Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg By Dr. Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg / 03.02.2017 Professor of Anthropology The Ohio State University “Show me your teeth and I’ll tell you who you are.” These words, attributed to 19th-century naturalist George Cuvier, couldn’t be more correct. The pearly whites we use every[…]

‘Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue’: Basic Transmission Genetics

Genetic transmission is the mechanism that drives evolution. DNA encodes all the information necessary to make an organism. Every organism’s DNA is made of the same basic parts, arranged in different orders. DNA is divided into chromosomes, or groups of genes, which code for proteins. Asexually reproducing organisms reproduce using mitosis, while sexually reproducing organisms[…]

The Nature of Evolution: Selection, Inheritance, and History

Evolutionary tree / OneZoom Lecture by Dr. Stephen Stearns / 01.12.2009 Edward P. Bass Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Yale University Introduction Biological evolution has two big ideas. One of them has to do with how the process occurs, and that’s called microevolution. It’s evolution going on right now. Evolution is going on in[…]

The History of Life: The Views of Aristotle and His Predecessors

By Dr. John S. Wilkins / 08.05.2016 Honorary Research Fellow University of Melbourne Nature versus Humanity Before there was a literate, and philosophical, historical record, humans existed at least some 80,000 years. Around 12,500 years ago in the region surrounding Anatolia in modern Turkey, agriculture slowly began (the Neolithic Revolution, which spread across Eurasia over[…]

This History of Life: The Philosophical and Scientific March to Aristotle’s Biology

By Dr. John S. Wilkins / 10.14.2016 Honorary Research Fellow University of Melbourne Prelude The Epic History of Biology / Anthony Serafini Biology did not exist as a separate discipline of study from other fields of science (or natural philosophy) until the nineteenth century, give or take. To say I will present the history of[…]

Proper Activity, Preference, and the Meaning of Life – In Search of a Definition

By Dr. Lucas J. Mix / 12.04.2014 Theoretical Biologist Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Harvard University Abstract Both popular and scientific definitions of life must account for the possibility of the sub-optimal operation of some function. Identifying the function in question and the criteria for optimality will be necessary steps in crafting a definition[…]

How the Brain Recognizes Faces

Image: Massachusetts Institute of Technology From MIT News / 12.01.2016 MIT researchers and their colleagues have developed a new computational model of the human brain’s face-recognition mechanism that seems to capture aspects of human neurology that previous models have missed. The researchers designed a machine-learning system that implemented their model, and they trained it to[…]

How Single-Celled Organisms Navigate to Oxygen

A team of researchers has discovered that tiny clusters of single-celled organisms that inhabit the world’s oceans and lakes, are capable of navigating their way to oxygen.  Writing in e-Life scientists at the University of Cambridge describe how choanaflagellates, the closest relatives of animals, form small colonies that can sense a large range of concentrations[…]

Hydrothermal Vent Hypothesis on Abiogenesis (Origin of Life)

NOAA Photo Library/Flickr By Dr. Arunas L. Radzvilavicius / 08.15.2016 Theoretical Biologist University College London For nearly nine decades, science’s favorite explanation for the origin of life has been the “primordial soup”. This is the idea that life began from a series of chemical reactions in a warm pond on Earth’s surface, triggered by an[…]