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Comment: Re:non-issue (Score 1) 249

by a1056 (#45492711) Attached to: Hammerhead System Offers a Better Way To Navigate While Cycling
I will say there are far too many cyclists who take a cavalier stance on road rules, but there is mounting evidence that even in cases where the car is absolutely at fault there are often no criminal repercussions. So that might not be the best leg to build a case that the cyclists are the root of the issue.

Comment: Re:Not Surprising (Score 2, Insightful) 211

by a1056 (#31339640) Attached to: Tethering Is Exhilarating (With the Nexus One)
No it's very simple, its just AT&T that is not allowing it until some vague time in the future. Even then they will likely charge something obscene for it. The iPhone suffers less from being a closed system and more from a poor cellular partner for most of the things that really annoy me these days, not that a more open less convoluted app store wouldn't help.

Comment: Re:Controversy (Score 1) 190

by a1056 (#27863595) Attached to: Hobbits' Brains Shrank Due To Remote Home
You are very right that DNA mutation rates are not fixed and I was not trying to suggest that you could establish the age of the fossil from DNA (you can date the fossil itself very accurately). What genetics can show us is if the genes are more closely related to H. erectus or to a common predessor then we can conclude if these fossils are a derivitive of H. erectus or another species. The bat problem came from the fact that while looking like a bat is a fairly good common trait between the two families, the flying fox type bats had optic nerves that were more similar to other mammals species than they were to other bat types. This suggested that either the bat phenotype evolved twice or that the optic nerve evolved twice, hence convergent evolution where the same phenotype evolves twice. In the case of the bats it was the optic nerve that evolved in both the fruit eating bats and in other mammals separately. It is convergent evolution that confuses the issue with morphological studies you have the same organ/bone but you cannot be sure that it means that the organisms you are comparing are related or if they evolved the same feature independently. Genetics can show you the degree of relatedness between the species and determine which ancestory the organism in question is most closely related to.

Comment: Controversy (Score 2, Informative) 190

by a1056 (#27861847) Attached to: Hobbits' Brains Shrank Due To Remote Home
There were two papers published in Nature on this topic, one of which the article above is based on and the other suggests that this is not enough of an explanation. The-Scientist has a great article summarizing the reports. (the-scientist) free registration required

"Both of these papers show things that could not have evolved or been a plastic response within our own species," George Washington University paleoanthropologist Bernard Wood told The Scientist. Wood, who was not involved with either study, added that the papers raise important questions regarding the evolutionary origins of H. floresiensis that only further research can answer.

While they certainly agree with the diminuative size being related to reduced energy needs they suggest that it is not just a reduced example of homo erectus.

In the other Nature paper, William Jungers, a paleoanthropologist at Stony Brook University in New York, and his coauthors compared the Hobbit foot to the few existing feet in the fossil record. "You just don't see complete feet until you get into Neanderthal," Jungers told The Scientist. "The fossil record of feet is surprisingly meager." If H. floresiensis was in fact a dwarfed H. erectus, the species would have had to amass primitive features after its ancestor had already evolved more modern skeletal characteristics. "It's asking a lot for evolution to backtrack like that," Jungers said. "Is it possible? I guess, but there's no precedent.".

Of course all of this analysis is very subjective. Morphological studies have created a number of strange controversies over the years in evolution. One really hotly contested area was the differences between Bat speicies the larger "flying fox" type that eat fruit and the smaller insect eating bat were throught to have evolved separately at one point and thought to be an example of convergent evolution (this ended up to be wrong). The real answer to this question would need to be settled using DNA mutation rate and genetics. if you want a firm answer everything else is just conjecture, even if it is well informed conjecture.

Comment: Re:Open Access (to research) backstory (Score 1) 105

by a1056 (#25032381) Attached to: Congress May Kill NIH Open Access Research Rules

I've been in the academic research field for a number of years and published a good number of papers, and from the lowest tier you've never heard or it anyway journal to the most highly rated immunology journal and every one of them lists published articles as advertisments because we have to pay them to publish it. Not only that but then they charge money to real advertisers and stuff the book with that as well. And as a reviewer for some of these journals I can say only the top most tier of journals have an editoral staff that actually does anything. There is nothing like correcting grammar (I don't mean basic non-essential problems I mean it took an hour and a literature search to figure out what the hell the author was talking about things) when you are supposed to be evaluationg the science. The worst part many of the better journals have less restrictive policies. Some of the best journals, JI, JEM, etc have made all their articles free after one year without NIH prompting. Its a horrible scam, but the open access journals may never take off, too many scientists want to publish their stuff in the journals people read and these are established and ranked. It's all a horrible scam.

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.