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Sticking it to science

By | June 26, 2009

Every day, in countless classrooms across the globe, chalk-dusted science professors turn to rapidly sketched stick figure drawings to communicate scientific concepts with an economy of style. Now, linkurl:Florida Citizens for Science; has celebrated the time-honored teaching method with its linkurl:Stick Science; cartoon contest. Brandon Haught, communications director at the science advocacy group, conceived of the contest and to


A downside to female promiscuity

By | June 25, 2009

A new study has revealed a mating conundrum in the animal kingdom: Less fit male seed beetles father more offspring than their high quality competitors when they mate with the same female, says a linkurl:paper published online; today in Science. The findings contradict the widespread belief that females can benefit from taking multiple mates by allowing the best male to father the kids. Female (right) and male seed beetles in mating p


Citation amnesia: The results

By | June 25, 2009

Citing past scientific work in present-day research papers can be a slippery business. Contributions from competing labs can be glossed over, pertinent studies accidentally left out, or similar research not mentioned in an attempt to give the study at hand a sheen of novelty. We at __The Scientist__ often hear complaints from our readers concerning what they regard as either honest or purposeful omissions in the reference lists of high-profile scientific papers. So we conducted a linkurl:study;


Fake credentials in nanomed leader

By | June 25, 2009

Experts in nanomedicine are questioning the credentials of a researcher who has portrayed himself as an expert in the fledgling field, even starting a professional society and procuring a post as editor of the journal __Nanomedicine.__ Indeed, an investigation of his credentials reveals that he claimed to hold a directorship of a non-existent program, co-authored only two original papers in nanomedicine (one of which, a co-author says, he contributed to only editorially), and was accused of mi


Evolution speeds up in the tropics

By | June 24, 2009

Tropical mammals are evolving faster than those found at high latitudes or elevations, according to a study published online today (June 23) in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. This pattern had previously been found in plants and marine protists but until now was assumed to apply only to cold-blooded organisms. Structure of DNA helixImage: Richard Wheeler, Wikimedia Commons "There's lots of reasons to believe that temperature plays a substantial role in generating [differences in the rate of


Proteins link diet to longevity

By | June 24, 2009

Scientists have elucidated a key element of how diet restriction might boost life span. A single pair of proteins, whose activity is linked to diminished food intake, is responsible for significantly increasing the lifespan of worms, a linkurl:study; published in this week's __Nature__ reports. "[This study] is going to open a field that's probably going to be important for mammalian life," said gerontologist linkurl:Nir Ba


Jean Dausset dies

By | June 23, 2009

The French immunologist Jean Dausset, who won a Nobel Prize for his discovery of human leukocyte antigens (HLAs), key components of the human immune system, died on June 6 in Mallorca, Spain, where he had lived for the past two years. He was 92. Image: Foundation Jean Dausset-CEPH"He was really a very remarkable character," linkurl:Jean-Paul Soulillou,; a transplantation researcher at the University of Nantes who c


Most Texas staff lose job appeals

By | June 23, 2009

Only a couple of the former University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) faculty members who challenged their terminations made in the aftermath of last year's Hurricane Ike have won their appeals in what some are calling "show trials," although some of the defeated professors have been rehired to the same or similar positions. Image: Wikimedia"The way that the whole thing was set up and executed, I think it was a farce," linkurl:Roger Vertrees,;


Tool use alters brain's map of body

By | June 22, 2009

Researchers claim to have the first direct evidence of a century-old idea that using tools changes the way the human brain perceives the size and configuration of our body parts, according to a linkurl:study; published in the June 23 issue of __Current Biology__. Holding the tool at an elongatedarm's lengthImage: Lucilla Cardinali"To be accurate in doing an action with a tool, you need to make the tool become a part of your body,


Finch researchers win Kyoto Prize

By | June 20, 2009

linkurl:Peter; and linkurl:Rosemary Grant,; emeritus professors at Princeton University who were the first to document natural selection in action, have won the 2009 Kyoto Prize in the category of Basic Sciences for their work on evolutionary adaptations in response to environmental flux. Image: Denise ApplewhitePrinceton University"I can


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