SONG: "Jump, Jump, Jump."

SONG: “Jump, Jump, Jump”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Based on “Fish and Adaptation: Mangrove Fish Jumps into Air in Warming Water”, Nature World News, 21 Oct 2015, as used in the post “Global warming might make the fish jump.”

ABSTRACT: First, let me say that this was done on time, even early. It started as a jokey thing I was singing to my son while he was watching me play guitar on the couch, and I decided what the hell. They call it “playing” music for a reason. (I guess if I spoke …

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SONG: All Praise Black Ice

SONG: “All Praise Black Ice”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Based on “New Horizons Finds Blue Skies and Water Ice on Pluto”, NASA.gov, 8 Oct 2015, as used in the post “There’s water ice on another planet. Not Mars. Pluto.”


Laryngitis followed by a business trip and here I am, a couple weeks late. I hope the brass section makes up for that.

(Yes, there’s brass in there, somewhere. I really need help mastering these things, but one does what one can in between everything e…

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Science Art: Taf. V: Feuer-Salamander by Bruno Dürigen.


Fire salamanders.

They don’t look so hot.


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Science Art: Chemical Laboratory room. Experimental Research labs, Burroughs Wellcome and Co. Tuckahoe, New York

Click to embiggen

Welcome to Wellcome.

They’ve got all kinds of wonderful things in their image gallery, including this marvelous experimenter in an even more marvelous experimental lab.

In 1935, this was where the future was made.

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Science Art: Idolo de ignota localidad, Idolo de Arica, Idolo de ignota localidad.

Click to embiggen

Three idols, from the Anales del Museo Nacional de Chile, published between 1892 and 1910.

I found them in the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which is usually full of biological specimens.

These three, however, are a little different… even if no one knows where two of them came from. Arica is a port city near two valleys that divide the Atacama Desert in north Chile.

He (or more likely she, even though as described in the text, “no hai tetas” and “la barba es d…

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Give yourself worms. Your immune system will thank you.

13 November 2015 // 0 Comments

Scientific American finds that we really do need to get some worms to stay healthy: At one point in the not too distant past we had three lines of defense against disease: the immune system, the microbiome, and fauna, like intestinal worms. William Parker, an immunologist at Duke University Medical Center likens these lines of defense to a three-legged stool to illustrate this relationship. … The intestinal worms, known as helminths, are part of the macrobiome—a term largely unknown in the realms of the general public and science nerds alike. This is partly due to the fact that current research on the macrobiome is dwarfed by the over-abundance of research on the microbiome (ironic, isn’t it?). But more likely it’s a novel term due to the fact that since the 1960s, in developed nations, we’ve all but eradicated the macrobiome. Without that third leg, our defense system collapses. … Now there’s growing evidence that the […]

That brain-controlling cat parasite? We’ve figured out how it works….

19 March 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Daily plunges into the fun, fun research into how toxoplasmosis pulls your strings: The parasite is Toxoplasma gondii, which has infected an estimated one in four Americans and even larger numbers worldwide. Not long after infecting a human, Toxoplasma parasites encounter the body’s immune response and retreat to a latent state, enveloped in hardy cysts that the body cannot remove. Before entering that inactive state, however, the parasites appear to make significant changes in some of the brain’s most common, and critical cells, the researchers said. The team, lead by William Sullivan, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and toxicology and of microbiology and immunology, reported two sets of related findings about those cells, called astrocytes, March 18 in the journal PLOS ONE. … Dr. Sullivan and his team evaluated the proteins in astrocyte cells and found 529 sites on 324 proteins where compounds called acetyl groups are added to proteins, creating a map called an […]

Science Art: Fig. 10 (Theil eines Stockes von Carchesium polypinum mit zwei Individuen), by Carl Gegenbaur,1870

18 January 2015 // 0 Comments

This is a little critter known as Carchesium polypinum, less formally a “stalked ciliate,” an organism that forms colonies that look like teensy tinesy trees, or maybe ferns, but found in little drops of water. This particular one was found in Grundzüge der vergleichenden Anatomie, published in Leipzig and preserved in the Heidelberg University Library.

A whole new kind of antibiotic

8 January 2015 // 0 Comments

Nature celebrates the discovery of a dirty new weapon in the war against antibiotic-resistant pathogens: An antibiotic with the ability to vanquish drug-resistant pathogens has been discovered — through a soil bacterium found just beneath the surface of a grassy field in Maine. Although the new antibiotic has yet to be tested in people, there are signs that pathogens will be slow to evolve resistance to it. Today in Nature, a team led by Kim Lewis of Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, report that the antibiotic, which they have named teixobactin, was active against the deadly bacterium MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in mice, and a host of other pathogens in cell cultures. … Many of the most successful antibiotics were found in the mid-twentieth century by scientists who trawled microbial communities for bacteria capable of killing their brethren. But the researchers missed the type that produces teixobactin, Eleftheria terrae, plus many other potential candidates — […]

Cold weather really does help cold germs spread.

7 January 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Daily finds the truth behind the old wives’ tale, that common cold viruses flourish in conditions cooler than body temperature – like a nose in winter: To investigate the relationship between temperature and immune response, [Yale professor of immunobiology Akiko] Iwasaki and an interdisciplinary team of Yale researchers spearheaded by Ellen Foxman, a postdoctoral fellow in Iwasaki’s lab, examined the cells taken from the airways of mice. They compared the immune response to rhinovirus when cells were incubated at 37 degrees Celsius, or core body temperature, and at the cooler 33 degrees Celsius. “We found that the innate immune response to the rhinovirus is impaired at the lower body temperature compared to the core body temperature,” Iwasaki said. The study also strongly suggested that the varying temperatures influenced the immune response rather than the virus itself. Researchers observed viral replication in airway cells from mice with genetic deficiencies in the immune system sensors that […]

Gut bacteria choose what you eat.

19 August 2014 // 0 Comments

Science Daily takes us humans out of the driver’s seat and puts the germs inside us in charge of the menu tonight: In an article published this week in the journal BioEssays, researchers from UC San Francisco, Arizona State University and University of New Mexico concluded from a review of the recent scientific literature that microbes influence human eating behavior and dietary choices to favor consumption of the particular nutrients they grow best on, rather than simply passively living off whatever nutrients we choose to send their way. Bacterial species vary in the nutrients they need. Some prefer fat, and others sugar, for instance. But they not only vie with each other for food and to retain a niche within their ecosystem — our digestive tracts — they also often have different aims than we do when it comes to our own actions, according to senior author Athena Aktipis, PhD, co-founder of the Center for […]

HIV therapy might work on MS, too.

18 August 2014 // 0 Comments

Neomatica explains how British and Australian researchers are figuring out why HIV patients show an unusual resistance to multiple sclerosis and its symptoms. It may be that MS is caused by a virus that is either outcompeted by HIV or else vulnerable to the same anti-retroviral medication: AIDS patients or people with HIV receiving treatment have a 60% less likely chance of receiving a diagnosis of MS. Deeper analysis found that those on a treatment regimen the longest, for 5 years or more, had an 80% reduced chance of developing MS. The discovery is remarkable for the fact that no curative or preventative treatments for MS exist and this unexpected insight may be one of the most interesting avenues. The researchers write “If subsequent studies demonstrate there is a causal protective effect of HIV (and/or its treatment), and if the magnitude of it proves to be similar…this would be the largest protective effect of any […]

Antiperspirant makes you stinkier. In the long run.

12 August 2014 // 0 Comments

Ain’t that modern life all over? Real Clear Science exposes the (potentially) stinky way antiperspirants alter your armpit bacteria: While most of us might only concern ourselves with the dry, aromatic benefits of antiperspirants and deodorants, researchers at the Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology at the University of Ghent in Belgium are more interested in the effects on bacteria. Billions of bacteria dwell in the “rain forests” under our arms, and the substances we don are mucking with their habitats! To uncover how deodorants and antiperspirants affect armpit bacteria, Chris Callewaert, a Ph.D student specializing in microbial ecology, and a team of researchers recruited eight subjects for a task a great many people (and especially their friends) might deem unbearable: Six males and two females pledged not to use deodorant or antiperspirant for an entire month. Specifically, four subjects stopped using their deodorants and another four stopped using their antiperspirant deodorant. … Since no […]

Sex with death (is how bacteria do it).

2 May 2014 // 0 Comments

Birds do it and bees do it as celebration of life. Science Daily explains how bacteria can do it – and make themselves antibiotic-resistant – by using dead cells to reproduce: Bacteria don’t have sex as such, but they can mix their genetic material by pulling in DNA from dead bacterial cells and inserting these into their own genome. New research has found that this process — called recombination — is more complex than was first thought. The findings, published today in PLoS Genetics, could help us understand why bacteria which cause serious diseases are able to evade vaccines and rapidly become drug-resistant. … In ‘micro-recombination’, the bacteria regularly incorporate small amounts of DNA that make little difference to their genome. Although ‘macro-recombination’ takes place less frequently, it involves the bacteria taking on large amounts of DNA which make a significant change to the genome. It is this second process which the scientists believe enables […]

Giant, prehistoric virus thawed from Siberian permafrost.

4 March 2014 // 0 Comments

New Scientist is not (we hope) introducing a 1950s-style horror film with their story on the giant, prehistoric virus THAT LIVES AGAIN: Dubbed a pithovirus after the Greek pithos, meaning a large earthenware jar like an amphora, the virus infects amoebas but does not appear to harm human or mouse cells. Even so, now that this virus has been revived from the permafrost, so too could potentially harmful pathogens, possibly including viruses humans have never encountered before, the researchers say. “There’s good reason to think there could be pathogenic viruses in there too,” says Chantal Abergel of Aix-Marseille University in Marseille, France, and co-leader of the team that discovered the virus. … The pithovirus itself is very different from any known virus. At 1.5 micrometres long by 0.5 micrometres wide, it is around 30 per cent bigger than what had been the largest known virus – the pandoravirus, also found by Claverie’s team. Yet despite […]

Rheumatoid arthritis linked to gut germs.

6 November 2013 // 0 Comments

Intestinal bacteria, that is. Rheumatoid arthritis has long been a medical mystery – an autoimmune disease that’s triggered by who-knows-what, but that suddenly starts attacking the joints and causing chronic pain and fatigue. Well, Laboratory Equipment says some NYU researchers might just have found the culprit lurking in patients’ digestive tracts: Researchers have linked a species of intestinal bacteria known as Prevotella copri to the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, the first demonstration in humans that the chronic inflammatory joint disease may be mediated in part by specific intestinal bacteria. … Using sophisticated DNA analysis to compare gut bacteria from fecal samples of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and healthy individuals, the researchers found that P. copri was more abundant in patients newly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis than in healthy individuals or patients with chronic, treated rheumatoid arthritis. Moreover, the overgrowth of P. copri was associated with fewer beneficial gut bacteria belonging to the genera Bacteroides. “Studies […]

Some critters are so small, they can’t make a species.

9 August 2013 // 0 Comments

That’s the argument Laboratory Equipment describes some mathematical taxonomists (there’s a discipline for you) are making – claiming that some kinds of plankton are individually so small and so *weird*, they’re impossible to divide into different species: A new mathematical theory from the Univ. of Bath is challenging one of the most basic ideas of biology: that the concept of a “species” applies to all creatures. In a paper, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biology, an interdisciplinary team of scientists, including mathematician Tim Rogers, outline findings from a recent study into the mathematics of biodiversity. Small organisms, measuring less than one millimeter, form the bedrock of the global ecosystem and their diversity is crucial for ecological health and stability. With recent advances in genetic sequencing technology, ecologists had hoped to be able to count the number of different species of such creatures by looking for groups of organisms with similar genomes. […]

Cthulhu lives! He’s just really small. And kinda cute.

5 April 2013 // 0 Comments

Science, Space & Robots brings the paralysis of inhuman knowledge, as creatures tiny and writhing cast their malevolent gazes up at the electron scanning microscope. Sleeping or in trance, they seem, but still staring, always staring, and twining their long tentacles that earned them the name “Cthulhu”: Newly discovered tiny octopus-like microorganisms have been named after the fictional monsters created by American horror author H.P. Lovecraft. The single-cell protists, Cthulhu macrofasciculumque and Cthylla microfasciculumque, live in the gut of termites and help them digest wood. The scientists say in a release that they decided to name the creatures after the Lovecraft monsters as “as an ode to the sometimes strange and fascinating world of the microbe.” UBC researcher Erick James, lead author of the paper describing the new protists, says, “When we first saw them under the microscope they had this unique motion, it looked almost like an octopus swimming.” Yes. Another one for the […]

Artificial stem cells make new blood.

19 March 2013 // 0 Comments

One step closer to androids. That’s where scilogs is bringing us. Making a blood supply for bioengineered organs from scratch: Starting off with fibroblasts…, widespread cells that provide structure and support in every organ, the team supplied four lots of DNA-targeted instructions designed to reset the cells to a more primitive state. This prompted cells to enter a genetically liquid phase where multiple cell outcomes were possible, including bone, cartilage, fat, nerves or blood vessels. Reset cells underwent rapid changes in how they moved, grew, divided and survived, yet they were also very well-behaved and showed no signs of losing growth control. Several reset cells began to spontaneously form hollow, tube-like structures and expressed genes classically associated with endothelial cells, one of the main cell components of a blood vessel. … Perhaps most impressively, these cells also performed admirably when tested for their ability to restore damaged blood vessels in a living animal: when injected […]

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