Thursday, February 26, 2009


Evolution "for the Good of the Group"

"The process known as group selection was once accepted unthinkingly, then was widely discredited; it's time for a more discriminating assessment". Full article by David Sloan Wilson and Edward O. Wilson @ American Scientist

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Man, machine and in between

"Brain-implantable devices have a promising future. Key safety issues must be resolved, but the ethics of this new technology present few totally new challenges". Full article @ Nature

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Gene could allow lab-grown teeth

"Scientists believe they have found a way to grow teeth in the laboratory, a discovery that could put an end to fillings and dentures. The US team from Oregon have located the gene responsible for the growth of enamel, the hard outer layer of teeth which cannot grow back naturally." Full article @ BBC NEWS

Monday, February 23, 2009


Edward N. Lorenz

Edward N. Lorenz, the MIT meteorologist whose efforts to use computers to increase the precision of weather forecasts inadvertently led to the discovery of chaos theory and demonstrated that precise long-range forecasts are impossible, died of cancer [in April of 2008] at his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 90.
Edward N. Lorenz, 90; scientist developed influential chaos theory - Los Angeles Times


Sunday, February 22, 2009


Y Chromosome's Evolution

"Scientists have decoded the chimp genome and compared it with that of humans, a major step toward defining what makes people human and developing a deep insight into the evolution of human sexual behavior". Full article:
In Chimpanzee DNA, Signs of Y Chromosome's Evolution at the NYTimes Web site.

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MicroRNAs in early patterning

MicroRNAs influence crucial decisions in the patterning of the early vertebrate embryo, reports a study in Nature. The study is the first example of microRNAs regulating a fundamental signaling cascade, the authors say.
Full Story @ The Scientist

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Darwinia is a virtual world populated by artificial evolving creatures. "Darwinia has been overrun by a computer virus which has multiplied out of control. Your task is to destroy the Viral Infection and save the Darwinians from extinction".

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009


A Comeback for Lamarckian Evolution?

Sent by Artemy:

"Two new studies show that the effects of a mother's early environment can be passed on to the next generation. The effects of an animal's environment during adolescence can be passed down to future offspring, according to two new studies. If applicable to humans, the research, done on rodents, suggests that the impact of both childhood education and early abuse could span generations. The findings provide support for a 200-year-old theory of evolution that has been largely dismissed: Lamarckian evolution, which states that acquired characteristics can be passed on to offspring." Full story @Technology Review


The long and short of RNAs

"The known world of RNA is expanding faster than that of any other cellular building block. The latest additions are types of long and short non-coding RNAs formed by bidirectional transcription and unusual processing. The relationship between DNA, RNA and protein is no longer as simple as we once thought — that specific genomic sequences are transcribed into messenger RNAs, which are then translated into proteins. In recent years, a flurry of studies has reported the existence of a large and growing family of non-protein-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), describing the different mechanisms of their transcription and their role in regulating gene expression." Full article @ Nature

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RNA viruses sneak into host DNA

"Endogenous retroviruses, ancient viruses embedded throughout mammalian genomes, might help RNA viruses permanently integrate into the genomes of their hosts [via their functional Reverse Transcriptase]." article @ The Scientist


Public Misunderstanding of Darwin

On the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birthday two myths persist about evolution and natural selection. Michael Shermer @ Scientific American

Monday, February 16, 2009


a Code Beyond Genetics in DNA

"The genetic code specifies all the proteins that a cell makes. The second code, superimposed on the first, sets the placement of the nucleosomes, miniature protein spools around which the DNA is looped. The spools both protect and control access to the DNA itself". Full Story: Scientists Say They’ve Found a Code Beyond Genetics in DNA - New York Times

Research Article: Segal et al [2006]. A genomic code for nucleosome positioning. Nature 442, 772-778.

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The Genographic Project

Anatomy of Our Genes - The Genographic Project

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Sunday, February 15, 2009


Bacterial genome found within a fly's

"DNA transfer from bacteria to animals is more common than thought. Researchers have found a surprise hidden in the DNA of a fruitfly: what seems to be the entire genome of a parasitic bacterium called Wolbachia. Smaller bits of the promiscuous parasite's genetic material turned up in worms and wasps, too." Full Sttory @

Wolbachia bacteria (yellow) within the developing egg of a fruit fly (red).

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10th European Conference on Artificial Life

ECAL2009: 10th European Conference on Artificial Life. September 13-16 2009. Budapest, Hungary

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Saturday, February 14, 2009


The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution

"The normal story we are told is that as rose civilization, so declined evolution. The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution, inverts that formula as indicated by the title." Full story @ Gene Expression


One Giant Leap for Robot-Kind

"Cockroach-inspired design could help Mars rovers and other robots traverse sandy terrain". Full story @ ScienceNOW

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Ancient Virus Gave Wasps Their Sting

"Find solves decades-old debate about mysterious toxins". Story @ ScienceNOW

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Monday, February 09, 2009


A cool 3D L-system rendering tool

Ken sent this 3-D L-System Rendering Tool out, and it is very cool:


Sunday, February 08, 2009


Sacred Science

"Can emergence break the spell of reductionism and put spirituality back into nature?". Full article @ Scientific American

Stuart Kauffman and his book "Reinventing the Sacred"

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Life is what you make it

"How's this for creativity? Take Escherichia coli bacteria. Transform them into light-sensitive organisms by fusing a photoreceptor from the cyanobacterium Synechocystis to a protein in the E. coli membrane. Make a film (in both senses) of such bacteria and use them to record an image with a resolution of 100 megapixels per square inch". For more details see the Special Issue on Synthetic Biology @ Nature

The synthetic biology paradigm. Genetic circuits are composed of interacting genes and proteins (blue shapes, top left). The pointed and blunt arrows represent positive and negative regulation, respectively. Synthetic circuits (top right) based on the natural circuit can be constructed from well-characterized components (red and orange shapes) with similar regulatory effects to form similar or simplified circuits. The dynamics of these synthetic replicas can be compared to the natural system as well as to mathematical models. Analysis of natural circuits, synthetic replicas and models together can help us understand mechanisms used by natural systems.

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The Self-Organizing Quantum Universe

"A new approach to the decades-old problem of quantum gravity goes back to basics and shows how the building blocks of space and time pull themselves together". Full article @ Scientific American or via the IU Library for reprint.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Dog gene 'may aid wolf survival

"Wolves have acquired a genetic mutation for dark coat colour through mating with domestic dogs". Full story @ BBC NEWS | Science

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Can Bacteria Rescue the Oil Industry?

"Microbes in oil deposits withstand enormous hydrocarbon loads, intense heat, high salt and immense pressure. How can we put them to work for us?" Full article @ The Scientist



Virtual Virus

This Virtual Virus is the first simulation of an entire life form (from

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Monday, February 02, 2009


Social Amoeba Seek Kin Association

"Starving "social amoebae" called Dictyostelium discoideum seek the support of "kin" when they form multi-cellular organisms made up of dead stalks and living spores". Full story @ Science Daily

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