A Willingness to Donate? It May Be in Your DNA

Okay, I’ve come to terms with the fact that Christmas is coming soon. It seems to have snuck up fast (although I’m beginning to think that it does that every year.) Once November started, Santa set up shop taking pictures in the middle of the mall. This is the time of giving gifts and receiving gifts. It’s the time of rushing to the store, and trying to beat closing time to get the last minute gifts (after finally figuring out what to buy to begin with). It’s the time of wonderfully smelling houses with more food cooking than what could More >


Taste Receptors in Lungs

There are bitter taste receptors lining the smooth muscle that surrounds airway passages   that lead to the lungs.  These are the same receptors found on the tongue.  It is well known that the ability to taste bitter has evolutionary benefits.  For example, bitter tasting toxins can be detected in foods, and thereby avoided or at least regulated; meaning you won’t eat too much of something that tastes really bad!

Interestingly enough, inhalable toxins can be detected in airways, just like they would be on the tongue. The airway response to detection is what’s most interesting.  One school of thought is that More >


The Mystery of Autism

Calling Autism a disorder is a bit misleading. The term “Autism” is really a category for a spectrum of disorders including Autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative disorder, Rett syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental disorder. Those afflicted with these disorders often share difficulties in communication and social interactions. Some cannot speak or maintain eye contact. Some have repetitive routines and an obsessive attention to certain details. In the United States, an estimated 1 in 110 children has an autism spectrum disorder and for the past several years, it’s been on the minds of many researchers around the world.

For the past several More >


Babies, Robots, and Cognition

Surely one of the most amazing transformations in nature is the gradual transitioning of a helpless, demanding, and totally-dependent baby into a thoughtful and intelligent adult who can use language, produce art, and create society. The transition is slow, and reversions are known to occur, but for all our knowledge, the manner in which the brain organizes itself to great accomplishment is still mystery. However, much can be learned from studies of the type recently published by Andrew Meltzoff, co-director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, and Rajesh Rao.

Understanding infant development is a crucial component More >


The Halloween Chocolate Post

Okay, it’s October, I’ve held off long enough. For the past several months, the stores have had Halloween costumes and candy ready for the picking (right next to the last of the Back-To-School inventory that was on display since last June). This has been despite the fact that we were still hitting 80 degrees outside- and it was still September. But it’s now October, and officially Fall, so I guess that Halloween can now be considered. It has been long since I’ve dressed up for Halloween but it has not been long since I’ve partaken in the annual Halloween candy More >


Fine Food or Freak Fish?

Science experiments are not usually meant to be eaten; even water and gum are strictly banned from laboratories.  But as scientists continue to perfect techniques for genetic manipulation, the products of their experiments are increasingly making appearances in super markets and on dinner tables.

While the genetic modification of plants for human consumption is common in the United States (think corn and soybeans), genetically modified (GM) animals have yet to be approved.  But now, a Massachusetts-based company, AquaBounty, is petitioning the FDA to sell genetically modified Atlantic Salmon to consumers.

Thanks to some genetic mix and match, the salmon, dubbed AquAdvantage, reach More >