Tangled Bank #104

Tangled Bank Icon Myers, Darwin and cake

Welcome to the 104th edition of the Tangled Bank blog carnival (a biweekly showcase of good biology posts selected by the authors themselves). Rigorous calculations and archaelogical research have revealed that this is the Tangled Bank’s 4th birthday. In the birthday spirit, several people sent appropriately themed presents.

Chris gave some great gifts (with a few caveats); a protien to resist radiation (may cause cancer), an enzyme to live longer, slimmer and stronger (but anti-socially and so far only in mice), and a transcription factor that can reverse skin aging (also in mice).

Flu virus

Even more microbiological gifts came in. steppen wolf wrapped up a nice box of cancer-fighting microRNA while Nimravid added some surprisingly robust bacterial gene networks. Finally, Ed chipped in a giant symbiotic bacteria with 40,000 copies of DNA and some influenza virus (straight from the flu’s tropical Asian source) and I contributed some cancer fighting bacteria.

I’m running out of synonyms for “give” and ways to twist submissions into presents, so let’s leave the birthday party behind and see the rest of the submissions.

First some plant related posts. Ocean Rambles has a bunch of nice pictures of the endangered Garry Oak ecosystem (and spring flowers) on Vancouver Island. Also concerned for plants, rENNISance woman links to the new idea of plant dignity (and a very odd stem cell comment thread).

On cultivated plants, Jeremy warns that relatively little money is being spent on farming research, especially for developing countries that need it most, and urges farmers to stop being pushed around by an agricultural corporation that sounds like the RIAA of farming (plus health effects).

Continuing the topic of corporate machinations, Biotunes describes an article (and personal experience) about bias in medical publications. On the lighter side of medicine, you can play doctor in space with a cool little flash game from the BBC.

Flagellum model

Moving on to scheming of the creationist sort, Greg theorizes why physics doesn’t have argumentum ad Nazium documentaries and points out that biology at the molecular scale is difficult to comprehend. Monado gives an example of this difficulty by comparing creationist drawings to a real electron micrograph of a flagellum. Late update: On the topic of pseudoscience, Podblack Cat asks “are women more superstitious?” (and throws in quite a literature review for the topic).

As an antidote to that intelligent design, Alvaro has details on making new neurons and a bunch of interviews of neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists.

Finally, 10,000 Birds (the only returning blog from Tangled Bank #1 [this post if you’re curious]) describes coots (the bird, not the elderly).

I hope you enjoyed this Tangled Bank. The next edition is at the Beagle Project. You can email submissions to the hosts directly here or here or to the standard host@tangledbank.net before May 14th. Here’s to four years of biology blogging carnivals and hopefully many more.

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Interesting Links (08-01-23)

I think it’s supposed to be some sort of blogging shortcut but I kind of like when a blog I read posts interesting links they’ve found recently. So I thought I would start doing a few posts like that of my own. I’ll gather up links I think are especially interesting and once I get five or so dump them in to a post. Feel free to read or delete as you please.

MESSENGER Images of Mercury
The Messenger space probe passed by Mercury recently. I hadn’t realized that most of Mercury has never been seen. It’s pretty cool that we get to see images of a new world almost as quickly as the scientists working on it.
That Stupid Bigfoot on Mars
This one has been going around the internet. If you missed it, there’s a rock on Mars near one of the rovers that looks like Bigfoot. The “Bigfoot” thing is pretty silly (although Sasquatch was the first thing I thought when I saw the picture) but that post shows the really cool and huge panorama it came from.
Donald Knuth and LaTeX
I like LaTeX so I found this bit of history about Donald Knuth coming up with the software pretty interesting.
Bioluminescence and Squid Video
I just found out about all these TED talks being online. Pretty handy when you don’t have a TV. This one is about five minutes long and has a bunch of videos of squid, octopuses and things that glow in the depths.
Pulgasari: The North Korean Godzilla
This is another one resulting from not having a TV. Definitely a less than B grade monster movie but it does provide a good comparison to Cloverfield. The story of Kim Jong-Il kidnapping the director and his wife and forcing them to make the thing sounds like a better story than the movie itself (not that it’d take much). For the impatient, there’s decent monster bits around 27:30, 47:30 and 1:03:00.
Soldering Tiny Components
This is a great video tutorial on how to solder tiny electronic components. Really nicely filmed and very closeup. You can really see what’s going on and the guy sure makes it look easy.
NerdKits
A nice idea by a couple college students to sell kits for learning how to use microcontrollers. They “guarantee that you’ll get your first program written and running”. Unfortunately they don’t have a USB version yet. Sort of a homegrown alternative to EasyPic4.

That’s it for now. That was pretty quick and fun to put together so I’ll probably do some more of these in the future. I hope something on there is interesting for other people too.

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WP_MonsterID

An example of MonsterID

I was skimming Simon Willison’s blog (I know his uncle) when I came across this cool idea for automatic avatar generation. Well to tell the truth, I took one look at the title “Visual Security: 9-block IP Identification” and deleted the link from my RSS reader but the next day a link based on that idea came up for generating a unique monster avatar for each user that did catch my interest. After all if it’s got monsters, it has got to be interesting.

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