The Messiah Before Jesus?

A three-foot-tall stone tablet from the first century BC may speak of an early Messiah and his resurrection. Expedition Week: The First Jesus? : FRI NOV 20 9P et/pt : channel.nationalgeographic.com
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See original: Uploads by NationalGeographic The Messiah Before Jesus?

Nobel Prize-winning scientists urge Congress to act to ensure free online access to federally funded research results

“For America to obtain an optimal return on our investment in science, publicly funded research must be shared as broadly as possible,” is the message that forty one Nobel Prize-winning scientists in medicine, physics, and chemistry gave to Congress in an open letter delivered yesterday.

See original: SPARC - Full Feed Nobel Prize-winning scientists urge Congress to act to ensure free online access to federally funded research results

University Public-Access Mandates Are Good for Science

Why would university faculty choose to place their scholarship on electronic archives for a world-wide audience? Many US universities have adopted such mandates for public access to faculty research, perhaps most notably Harvard [1], MIT, and the University of Kansas [2]. These policies (and many more like them in various stages of consideration on [...]

See original: Conservation Commons University Public-Access Mandates Are Good for Science

Road Redux

Félicitation Vicky

Notre collègue Vicky Kaspi vient de recevoir le Prix Marie-Victorin, une des plus hautes distinctions scientifiques québécoises. Elle est une spécialiste des pulsars. C'est aussi une habituée des distinctions honorifiques. En 2007, la Société royale du Canada, dont elle est membre, lui remet sa médaille Rutherford, et l’Association francophone pour le savoir lui décerne le prix Urgel-Archambault. En 2006, elle reçoit le prestigieux prix Steacie pour les sciences naturelles, attribué chaque année à un jeune scientifique au Canada. Victoria Kaspi a aussi été récipiendaire de la médaille Hertzberg de l'Association canadienne des physiciens, d'une bourse Steacie du Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et en génie du Canada, du prix Salpeter de l'Université Cornell, du prix « Jeunes explorateurs » de l'Institut canadien de recherche avancée, d’une bourse de recherche de la fondation Sloan, du prix Annie J. Cannon de la société américaine d'astronomie et d’une bourse de carrière de la National Science Foundation des États-Unis.

Rappelons que Gilles Fontaine avait reçu le même prix en 1999.

Dans le même ordre d'idée, Claude Carignan a reçu le prix de l’internationaliste de l’année 2009. Et René Doyon, le prix Peter G. Martin de la CASCA.

See original: Science! On blogue :: Tous les articles Félicitation Vicky

Philosophizing about Programming; or "Why I'm learning to love functional programming" [Good Math, Bad Math]

Way back, about three years ago, I started writing a Haskell
tutorial
as a series of posts on this blog. After getting to monads, I moved on to other things. But based on some recent
philosophizing, I think I'm going to come back to it. I'll start by explaining
why, and then over the next few days, I'll re-run revised versions of old
tutorial posts, and then start new material dealing with the more advanced
topics that I didn't get to before.

To start with, why am I coming back to Haskell? What changed since the
last time I wrote about it?

Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...

See original: ScienceBlogs Select Philosophizing about Programming; or "Why I'm learning to love functional programming" [Good Math, Bad Math]

Mother Nature’s Most Disturbing and Nasty Parasites

They eat human brains and eyeballs, turn snails into pulsating zombies, grow up to 25 feet long in people’s intestines and eat the tongues of fish. Symbiotic relationships may be common in nature, but that doesn’t mean that all parasites are beneficial – many are downright horrifying.

See original: Digg Mother Nature’s Most Disturbing and Nasty Parasites

Surprise! Unknown Asteroid Buzzed Earth

A previously undiscovered asteroid came within 14,000 km of Earth last week, and astronomers noticed it only 15 hours before closest approach.

See original: Digg Surprise! Unknown Asteroid Buzzed Earth

Carl Sagan remembered

Astronomy | Today is Carl Sagan's 75th birthday. It would be nice if he were still around to send him the greeting personally, but sadly, he died too young...

See original: Digg Carl Sagan remembered

Do chimps understand what Jon Stewart (or another chimp) believes?

Take a look at this video from last night's episode of Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show."

If you'd like, you can skip past all the political snark to the 4:47 mark to watch Jon bring cognitive psychology into prime time (or at least latenight cable)! That's right; you saw it: Jon Stewart mentioned the psychological concept of "object permanence" on national TV. Object permanence was introduced by Jean Piaget as a way of measuring the growing cognitive ability of children. Three-month-olds don't have it; most 6-month-olds do. More recently, researchers have investigated similar milestones in animals. Parrots, it turns out, have object permanence, as do chimpanzees. Insects don't.

But what about higher-order cognitive functions? Do chimps understand that others have thoughts distinct from their own? Humans understand this around the age of 1, but the evidence is less clear with chimps. Some chimps will beg for food from a blindfolded human. Does this mean they don't "know" the human can't see them? Perhaps not, but normally a chimp doesn't expect to communicate with a human. When two chimps are in two separate rooms, but can see into a third room where food is being hidden, the subordinate chimp will behave differently if she knows the dominant chimp saw the food being hidden. This suggests chimps do understand that other chimps have different thoughts from their own. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post......

KAMINSKI, J., CALL, J., & TOMASELLO, M. (2008) Chimpanzees know what others know, but not what they believe. Cognition, 109(2), 224-234. DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2008.08.010  Chimpanzees know what others know, but not what they believe


See original: Research Blogging - All Topics - English Do chimps understand what Jon Stewart (or another chimp) believes?

Arch Intern Med roundup: diets, delays and disclosure

The journal Archives of Internal Medicine has a several cracking research papers this week.

Low carb dieters are grumpier than those on low fat diets

First up is Brinkworth et al.’s research on the long-term psychological effects of low carbohydrate diets compared with low fat diets.

In this study, 106 overweight and obese individuals were randomly assigned to [...]...

Brinkworth GD, Buckley JD, Noakes M, Clifton PM, . (2009) Long-term Effects of a Very Low-Carbohydrate Diet and a Low-Fat Diet on Mood and Cognitive Function. Arch Intern Med, 169(20), 1873-1880. info:other/http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/169/20/1873?home

Horwitz LI . (2009) Percentage of US Emergency Department Patients Seen Within the Recommended Triage Time: 1997 to 2006. Arch Intern Med, 169(20), 1857-1865. info:other/http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/169/20/1857?home

Chen LM, Farwell WR, . (2009) Primary Care Visit Duration and Quality: Does Good Care Take Longer? . Arch Intern Med, 169(20), 1866-1872. info:other/http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/169/20/1866?home

López L, Weissman JS, Schneider EC, Weingart SN, Cohen AP, . (2009) Disclosure of Hospital Adverse Events and Its Association With Patients' Ratings of the Quality of Care. Arch Intern Med, 169(20), 1888-1894. info:other/http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/169/20/1888


See original: Research Blogging - All Topics - English Arch Intern Med roundup: diets, delays and disclosure

Measuring dino fitness - more evidence that two-legged dinosaurs were warm-blooded

The question of whether dinosaurs were warm-blooded or cold-blooded is one of the most enduring in palaeontology. Did they generate their own body heat like today's mammals; was their temperature more influenced by their environment like today's reptiles; or did they use a mixture of both strategies? Scientists have put forward a slew of arguments for all of these alternatives, but Herman Pontzer from Washington University has a new take on things which suggests that many dinosaurs were indeed warm-blooded.

Based on our knowledge of living animals, Pontzer worked out the energy that 14 dinosaur species would have used while walking or running. His model reveals that these ancient reptiles would have needed more energy than a cold-blooded physiology could supply. Their metabolic demands were within the range of modern warm-blooded animals like mammals and birds, which can keep up their physical activity for far more time than their cold-blooded peers.

While both warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals can be equally active over short bursts, warm-blooded ones have the advantage in the long run with their higher capacity for aerobic exercise. This aerobic capacity is signified by a measurement called VO2max, which is often measured by getting animals to run on a treadmill. Obviously, that's not feasible if the animal in question has been dead for 65 million years before the invention of the treadmill, but Pontzer had a solution. In earlier work, he showed that you can predict with 98% accuracy how much energy an animal needs to run or walk by looking at how high their hips were from the ground.

Pontzer looked at the hip heights of 13 species of dinosaur including Tyrannosaurus, Velociraptor and Archaeopteryx, as well as a closely related non-dinosaur called Marasuchus, and used these values to calculate crude estimates of their aerobic capacity. He focused on species that walked on two legs, since the way they distributed their weight is clearer-cut than four-legged relatives like Diplodocus or Triceratops.

His figures showed that the aerobic capacity of his dinosaurs, especially the larger ones, were consistently over the maximum values for living reptiles, from alligators to iguanas. Even while walking, the energy demands of the largest dinosaurs, particularly the large meat-eaters, would have far exceeded anything that cold-blooded animals could have coped with.

For more accurate estimates, Pontzer also used a mathematical model to calculate the size of the dinosaurs' walking muscles and from these, their aerobic capacity. Again, he came to the same conclusion. The largest species simply wouldn't have been able to function with cold-blooded metabolisms, and the smaller ones like Velociraptor could have walked but not run. Only Archaeopteryx, the smallest of the baker's dozen, had VO2max values that approached the range of living cold-blooded animals.  

There are a couple of alternative interpretations. It's possible the larger dinosaurs were cold-blooded but had adaptations that granted them greater aerobic capacities than modern reptiles can achieve, although Pontzer thinks this unlikely. It's also possible that the dinosaurs didn't go in for sustained bursts of speed and, instead, relied on sprints, as many monitor lizards use to run down prey. But that would saddle the largest species with unfeasibly long recovery periods, when they could barely function.

Pontzer says that the relationships between his 13 species support the idea that all dinosaurs powered their runs with a warm-blooded metabolism. If he takes a conservative view of his estimates, the alternative explanation is that warm-bloodedness evolved at least three times - in the early sauropods, in the tetanurans (including birds and most of the carnivores) and in modern birds - and was lost once in between among the small predatory coelurosaurs like Velociraptor. That reconstruction is not only messy, but it contradicts evidence from bones and primitive feathers suggesting that the coelurosaurs were warm-blooded.

Nonetheless, there's a risk that by looking exclusively at two-legged dinosaurs, Pontzer has biased his dataset to species that were perhaps most likely to be warm-blooded anyway. Groups like the massive sauropods and the diverse ornithischians are represented only by three of their earliest members - Plateosaurus, Heterodontosaurus and Lesothosaurus.

It's still possible that the largest of the plant-eaters had a different physiology altogether including "inertial homeothermy", where they maintain a constant temperature simply because their gargantuan bulks lose heat very slowly.

Pontzer's new study far from settles the debate about dinosaur physiology, but it adds another piece of evidence into the mix. This debate isn't just an academic fancy - it's critical for understanding how the dinosaurs lived, evolved, and ultimately died.

Reference: Pontzer, H., Allen, V., & Hutchinson, J. (2009). Biomechanics of Running Indicates Endothermy in Bipedal Dinosaurs PLoS ONE, 4 (11) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007783

More dinosaurs:

The plague of tyrants - a common bird parasite that infected Tyrannosaurus

Raptorex shows that T.rex body plan evolved at 100th the size

Evidence that Velociraptor had feathers

Dinosaur proteins, cells and blood vessels recovered from Bracyhlophosaurus

Tianyulong - a fuzzy dinosaur that makes the origin of feathers fuzzier

Beipaiosaurus was covered in the simplest known feathers

Dinosaur daddies took care of their young alone

Read the comments on this post......

Pontzer, H., Allen, V., & Hutchinson, J. (2009) Biomechanics of Running Indicates Endothermy in Bipedal Dinosaurs. PLoS ONE, 4(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007783  Biomechanics of Running Indicates Endothermy in Bipedal Dinosaurs


See original: Research Blogging - All Topics - English Measuring dino fitness - more evidence that two-legged dinosaurs were warm-blooded

The Science of Success - The Atlantic (December 2009): an important orchid genes concept http://ff.im/-bfNYW

sandygautam: The Science of Success - The Atlantic (December 2009): an important orchid genes concept http://ff.im/-bfNYW

See original: Twitter The Science of Success - The Atlantic (December 2009): an important orchid genes concept http://ff.im/-bfNYW

Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 2010: Call for Proposals

The Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 2010 Call for Proposals is now open!

We would be grateful for help in circulating the call to relevant lists and communities! You can reuse or point to:

This blog post
Main CFP page
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Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 2010: Call for Proposals

where: London, UK
when: Saturday 24th [...]

Related posts:

  1. Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 2009: Saturday 28th March
  2. Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 2009: London, 28th March 2009
  3. Berlin Open Access Conference No. 5: From Practice to Impact: Consequences on Knowledge Dissemination

See original: Open Knowledge Foundation Blog Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 2010: Call for Proposals