Is there some kind of historical memory and folk wisdom that ensures that a community remembers about very extreme phenomena, such as catastrophic floods, and learns to establish new settlements in safer locations? We tested a unique set of empirical data on 1293 settlements founded in the course of nine centuries, during which time seven extreme floods occurred. For a period of one generation after each flood, new settlements appeared in safer places. However, respect for floods waned in the second generation and new settlements were established closer to the river. We conclude that flood memory depends on living witnesses, and fades away already within two generations. Historical memory is not sufficient to protect human settlements from the consequences of rare catastrophic floods.
This is intriguing particularly when thinking back to our earliest world literatures which all involve flood stories.
I wonder what the equivalent sorts of things would be for C. elegans, drosophila, etc. for testing things on smaller timescales?
Self-replication is a capacity common to every species of living thing, and simple physical intuition dictates that such a process must invariably be fueled by the production of entropy. Here, we undertake to make this intuition rigorous and quantitative by deriving a lower bound for the amount of heat that is produced during a process of self-replication in a system coupled to a thermal bath. We find that the minimum value for the physically allowed rate of heat production is determined by the growth rate, internal entropy, and durability of the replicator, and we discuss the implications of this finding for bacterial cell division, as well as for the pre-biotic emergence of self-replicating nucleic acids.
Syndicated copy also available on arXiv: https://arxiv.org/abs/1209.1179
Hat tip to Paul Davies in The Demon in the Machine
A senior official at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has received millions of dollars in payments from companies that are involved in medical research.
This makes me think that researchers should have a page on their websites (like impressum, about, or other similar pages) that lists all of their potential research conflicts? What to call it? A Disclosure page, a Financial Ties page? It could have a list of current as well as past affiliations, along with dates, and potentially the value amounts paid (which are apparently available publicly in separate filings). In addition to posting their potential conflicts and disclosures on their own websites, researchers could easily cut and paste them into their publications (or at least their students, post docs, fellow researchers, or secretaries could do this when they’re apparently too busy to make a modicum of bother to do it themselves.)
I’m kind of shocked that major publishers like Elsevier are continually saying they add so much value to the chain of publishing they do, yet somehow, in all the major profits they (and others) are making that they don’t do these sorts of checks as a matter of course.
This suggests some interesting bookmarklet functionality.
Microscopy, phenotyping and visual screens are frequently applied to model organisms in combination with genetics. Although widely used, these techniques for multicellular organisms have mostly remained manual and low-throughput. Here we report the complete automation of sample handling, high-resolution microscopy, phenotyping and sorting of Caenorhabditis elegans. The engineered microfluidic system, coupled with customized software, has enabled high-throughput, high-resolution microscopy and sorting with no human intervention and may be combined with any microscopy setup. The microchip is capable of robust local temperature control, self-regulated sample-loading and automatic sample-positioning, while the integrated software performs imaging and classification of worms based on morphological and intensity features. We demonstrate the ability to perform sensitive and quantitative screens based on cellular and subcellular phenotypes with over 95% accuracy per round and a rate of several hundred worms per hour. Screening time can be reduced by orders of magnitude; moreover, screening is completely automated.