The Nutshell

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Politics in the body?

By | September 18, 2008

Do you strongly support the war in Iraq and strict immigration policies? If so, you're more likely to have strong physiological responses to threatening stimuli such as loud noises and disturbing images, according to a study published in Science this week. Using tests of skin conductance in response to different types of images and startle response to loud sounds, researchers found that people with higher physical sensitivity to threatening stimuli are more likely to favor political policies t

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$500 million NIH funds boost?

By | September 17, 2008

The National Institutes of Health may be getting a healthy funding boost by year's end. Within the next couple of weeks, the US Senate is expected to debate a supplementary funding package that includes $500 million to NIH for 2008. Senate Committee on Appropriations chairman Robert Bryd (D- WVa) linkurl:introduced the supplement;,_Releases_Details_of_Legislation.pdf?CFID=8566385&CFTOKEN=62920191 at t


Haitian HIV clinic weathers storms

By | September 17, 2008

The trio of hurricanes that raked across Haiti recently left the linkurl:HIV/AIDS clinic that I visited; there earlier this year battered but not broken. While Gustav, Hanna, and Ike wrought widespread destruction across the country and killed hundreds of people, the Haitian Study Group on Kaposi's Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections (GHESKIO) clinic in Port-au-Prince continues to function, according to the center's director linkurl:Jean Pape.;


NAS to review anthrax evidence

By | September 17, 2008

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) yesterday (September 16) announced it will turn over scientific evidence against their chief suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks, a US army microbiologist who linkurl:committed suicide; in July, to scientists at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for independent review. Bruce Ivins, a researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Institute for Infectious Disease at Fort Detrick, Md, conducted studies on anthrax


McCain changes stem cell tune

By | September 15, 2008

US Republican Presidential candidate, John McCain, appears to be backing off from his strong support of federal funding for linkurl:embryonic stem cell research,; according to his responses to an online questionnaire on national science issues. "While I support federal funding for embryonic stem cell research," Senator McCain (R-AZ) linkurl:wrote; in response to a survey from science advocacy gro


2008 Lasker Awards announced

By | September 13, 2008

Three researchers, linkurl:Victor Ambros,; at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, linkurl:Gary Ruvkun,; at Massachusetts General Hospital, and linkurl:David Baulcombe,; at the University of Cambridge in the UK, will share the 2008 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research for their discovery of microRNAs, the Albert and


Is it life now?

By | September 12, 2008

The wires - including, um, linkurl:Wired; - are abuzz this week with talk of research by Jack Szostak, a Harvard researcher who is trying to create synthetic life. The attention stems from results he presented last week at an Origin of Life conference, as well as data he's published recently. Loyal readers will recall that linkurl:we wrote about; Szostak's work nearly two years ago,

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Open access recall?

By | September 12, 2008

A new bill seeks to undo the NIH mandate requiring federally-funded research papers to be made publicly available within 12 months of acceptance for publication. In a hearing yesterday (September 11) the US House Committee on the Judiciary considered whether the mandate violates publishers' copyright. The committee's chairman, John Conyers (D-Mich), sponsored the bill, linkurl:HR6845, titled the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act,; which wo


A flashy defense

By | September 10, 2008

There are many ways to ward off a predator, but perhaps none so enthusiastic as the Giant honeybee's team "wave." New research, linkurl:published this week; in PLoS One, demonstrates that a communal motion called the shimmering effect, in which hundreds of bees successively flip their abdomens upwards in a rapid wave, protects a hive by startling wasps away. "People have known for a long time that the Asian species of honeybees do this shimmering,


Is systematic biology dead?

By | September 8, 2008

linkurl:Systematics; and linkurl:taxonomy,; sciences involved with identifying and organizing living things into distinct groups and establishing the relationships between those groups, are in serious danger of going extinct, according to a linkurl:report; released last month by a committee focused on science in the



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