Documenting the biological diversity of our planet is a challenging task. It implies information collection and organization of millions of species, their genetic diversity and their interactions in biological communities and ecosystems. It also implies coordination among multiple institutions and thousands of scientists, environmentalists, and professionals working with biodiversity.
In 2007, Dr. Edward O. Wilson’s speech as the recipient of the TED Prize potentiated the creation of the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), an international effort to gather together all human knowledge of Earth’s biodiversity. EOL’s mission is “to increase awareness and understanding of living nature through an encyclopedia that gathers, generates, More >
I love coffee. My family loves coffee. At any time of the day I have access to 5 ways to quickly make a cup. Is this unusual? According to many statistic counts- not really. Americans love their coffee. Over 80% of Americans consume coffee- that’s over 400 million cups a day! Caffeine is our favorite stimulant. Interesting enough, men and women consume coffee for different reasons. Men drink coffee in order to get the job done and complete tasks. Women, on the other hand, use coffee to relax. For me, nothing’s better than a nice cup of coffee. Today there’s More >
Most people are aware that monozygotic (identical) twins share the exactly the same DNA, but it might be surprising to know that traits and diseases with genetic components can vary between these twins. In the case of some psychiatric disorders with strong genetic components, there are many pairs of identical twins in which only one twin actually develops the disease. In bipolar disorder for example a monozygotic twin has only a 40%-70% chance of also having bipolar disorder if their twin has been diagnosed. If bipolar disorder really has a strong genetic component, then why isn’t this number 100%?
Of course, we More >
Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, more commonly known as ADHD is one of the most common neuropsychiatric disorders and is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder of children. It affects about 7 percent of school-age children in the United States; affecting more boys than girls. This disorder is characterized by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and/or impulsivity that are out of the normal range for child development.
A diagnosis of ADHD is based on the persistence of several conditions for 6 or more months. Inattention is characterized by a child being easily distracted, missing details, forgetting things, and difficulty in focusing, among others. Hyperactivity can be More >
Tanning is dangerous. Most people know this, yet why is it continuously something many cannot avoid? It has been known for a long time that UV rays damage DNA and can lead to skin cancer, including melanoma, premature aging and wrinkles. 120,000 new melanoma cases are diagnosed every year. A 2005 study showed that 92% of people knew the sun was dangerous but 62% of them still loved to tan. Over 30 million Americans visit tanning salons, as much as 1 million a day. 70% of them are women between the ages of 16 and 49.
Tanning is dangerous because it More >
Do you know people who swear that they can live on a few hours of sleep a night and be able to fully function the next day? Perhaps you’re one of these people. Well it seems that you really can’t “fully function” on less sleep.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin- Madison conducted tests with rats that were kept up past their normal bedtime. The rats were given objects to play with to keep them awake. During play, electrodes were implanted in their brains to measure brain activity. The results were interesting.
It seems that sleep does not involve the whole brain at once. More >
In an exciting paper by from a group from Stanford, researcher Andrew Yoo and colleagues have demonstrated that fibroblasts can be transformed into neurons using RNAi to coax these skin cells into becoming functional neurons.
Different cell type (skin cells, neurons, osteoblasts, etc.) start out from less specialized cells, called stem cells. What a cell will become (its characteristics and functions) is also known as the cell’s “fate.” It may seem odd that seemingly simple skin cells can be transformed into cells that make up the thinking brain. However, all cells have a common set of DNA instructions, and it is More >
Many of us have probably been accused of not paying attention to what someone is saying to us. I’ve also found it odd (since I can’t recall it happening to me) when I’ve approached someone engaged in a task, and they genuinely seemed not to notice I was there.
In a study published in Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, a group of researchers have been examining a condition called “Inattentional deafness.” The group from University College London examined study participants’ ability to detect a sound while focusing intently on a task.
When subjects did a simple version of the computer based task, most recalled More >
In 2011, you would think that neuroscience is focused on discovering answers to high-level questions about the brain; how consciousness arises, how emotions work, what is autism, etc. Although progress is being made in all of those areas, it seems that we still have a great deal to learn about even the most basic components of the brain.
Recently, a group from Naples reports that D-Aspartic acid functions as a neurotransmitter in both a mammal the rats (Rattus norvegicus), and a mollusk (Loligo vulgaris). D-Aspartic acid (D-Asp) has been known to scientists for well over a century. However, its role as a More >
Have you ever been accused of using too many disfluencies when you talk? Do you use the words um, uh, or like, a lot? Speech disfluencies are common in our every day speech and can have a variety of uses. They help us slow down what we’re trying to say. They help us repair mistakes. They also help stall time while trying to think of a new word. These words, even though commonly expressed in every day talk, it discouraged in the media. In formal settings, I’m constantly aware of my speech and try to consciously avoid using many disfluencies More >