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Submission + - Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided? (

hessian writes: "Environmental problems have contributed to numerous collapses of civilizations in the past. Now, for the first time, a global collapse appears likely. Overpopulation, overconsumption by the rich and poor choices of technologies are major drivers; dramatic cultural change provides the main hope of averting calamity."

Submission + - Study finds epigenetics, not genetics, underlies homosexuality (

hessian writes: "Epigenetics – how gene expression is regulated by temporary switches, called epi-marks – appears to be a critical and overlooked factor contributing to the long-standing puzzle of why homosexuality occurs.

According to the study, published online today in The Quarterly Review of Biology, sex-specific epi-marks, which normally do not pass between generations and are thus "erased," can lead to homosexuality when they escape erasure and are transmitted from father to daughter or mother to son."


Submission + - Native Americans and Northern Europeans More Closely Related Than Previously Tho (

hessian writes: "Using genetic analyses, scientists have discovered that Northern European populations—including British, Scandinavians, French, and some Eastern Europeans—descend from a mixture of two very different ancestral populations, and one of these populations is related to Native Americans. This discovery helps fill gaps in scientific understanding of both Native American and Northern European ancestry, while providing an explanation for some genetic similarities among what would otherwise seem to be very divergent groups. This research was published in the November 2012 issue of the Genetics Society of America’s journal GENETICS"
Open Source

Submission + - Ten Simple Rules for the Open Development of Scientific Software (

hessian writes: "Open-source software development has had significant impact, not only on society, but also on scientific research. Papers describing software published as open source are amongst the most widely cited publications (e.g., BLAST [1], [2] and Clustal-W [3]), suggesting many scientific studies may not have been possible without some kind of open software to collect observations, analyze data, or present results. It is surprising, therefore, that so few papers are accompanied by open software, given the benefits that this may bring.

Publication of the source code you write not only can increase your impact [4], but also is essential if others are to be able to reproduce your results. Reproducibility is a tenet of computational science [5], and critical for pipelines employed in data-driven biological research. Publishing the source for the software you created as well as input data and results allows others to better understand your methodology, and why it produces, or fails to produce, expected results. Public release might not always be possible, perhaps due to intellectual property policies at your or your collaborators' institutes; and it is important to make sure you know the regulations that apply to you. Open licensing models can be incredibly flexible and do not always prevent commercial software release [5]."


Submission + - The dictionary is wrong – science can be a religion too ( 1

hessian writes: "Scientific and religious explanations come together in an odd way at Stonehenge and similar monuments. They can be interpreted as megalithic calendars, or devices for astronomical prediction, as well as ritual burying grounds – and the reason we can reconstruct them as gigantic observatories is precisely that we can calculate today exactly what would have emerged from calculations done 4,000 years ago.

Yet to call Stonehenge a purely scientific enterprise is clearly wrong. When you consider the immense labour and complex social organisation required to put all those stones in place, you could be inspired to ask "where would the sun have risen at midsummer 3235 BC". But surely the much more interesting question is why this question should have been thought so important in that culture."


Submission + - Cancer can teach us about our own evolution (

hessian writes: "Cancer, it seems, is embedded in the basic machinery of life, a type of default state that can be triggered by some kind of insult. That suggests it is not a modern aberration but has deep evolutionary roots, a suspicion confirmed by the fact that it is not confined to humans but is widespread among mammals, fish, reptiles and even plants. Scientists have identified genes implicated in cancer that are thought to be hundreds of millions of years old. Clearly, we will fully understand cancer only in the context of biological history."

Submission + - Decisions based on instinct have surprisingly positive outcomes (

hessian writes: "In a behavioral experiment, Prof. Marius Usher of Tel Aviv University's School of Psychological Sciences and his fellow researchers found that intuition was a surprisingly powerful and accurate tool. When forced to choose between two options based on instinct alone, the participants made the right call up to 90 percent of the time"

Submission + - Stereotypes are more valid than most social psychological hypotheses. (

hessian writes: "That stereotype accuracy — the correspondence of stereotype beliefs with criteria — is one of the largest relationships in all of social psychology. The correlations of stereotypes with criteria range from .4 to over .9, and average almost .8 for cultural stereotypes (the correlation of beliefs that are widely shared with criteria) and.5 for personal stereotypes (the correlation of one individual's stereotypes with criteria, averaged over lots of individuals). The average effect in social psychology is about .20. Stereotypes are more valid than most social psychological hypotheses."

Submission + - Pollution from Megacities Decreases Air Quality in the U.S. (

hessian writes: "China is a leader in manufacturing, but it is also releasing enough emissions to significantly increase U.S. air pollution, says a new report by the World Meteorological Association (WMA).

The WMA study examined air pollution and its migration from megacities around the world (those with populations greater than 10 million). The findings support earlier claims that air and ground water pollution is both a local and regional problem, as well as one that requires global solutions, such as the need for consistent international air quality standards that are not yet in place. Worse, increases in air pollution are expected to increase along with projected population growth in those same cities, many of them in developing countries.

Note: article is from Oct 22; I'm just slow (as in Granny in a Rambler, not kids who eat paste)."


Submission + - Ready for nanotech brains? IBM's nanotube breakthrough gets us closer Read more (

hessian writes: "IBM is announcing today that it has taken the first real steps toward commercial fabrication of carbon nanotubes on top of a silicon chip. The company has made transistors — the basic components of electronic computing — from nanometer-sized tubes of carbon and put 10,000 of them on top of a silicon chip using mainstream manufacturing processes.

“It’s like trying to line up spaghetti, and doing it where the lines are just six nanometers apart,” said Supratik Guha, director of physical sciences at IBM Research and a spokesman for the team that did the work, in an interview with VentureBeat. “The thickness is just one nanometer,” where a nanometer is a billionth of a meter.
Read more at"


Submission + - Empathy represses analytic thought, and vice versa (

hessian writes: "New research shows a simple reason why even the most intelligent, complex brains can be taken by a swindler's story – one that upon a second look offers clues it was false.

When the brain fires up the network of neurons that allows us to empathize, it suppresses the network used for analysis, a pivotal study led by a Case Western Reserve University researcher shows."


Submission + - Maths and nature link 'proven' by Manchester scientists (

hessian writes: "The largest ever research project into mathematical patterns in flowers has proved a link between number sequences and nature, Manchester scientists said.

Data from 557 sunflowers from seven countries was collected for the Turing's Sunflowers project, set up to celebrate the centenary of the mathematician's birth, and growers kept video diaries about their flowers' progress.

It showed 82% of the flowers conformed to complex structures including the mathematical Fibonacci sequence — where each number is the sum of the previous two."


Submission + - Nuclear power plants in the path of Hurricane Sandy (

hessian writes: "U.S. electric companies from Maine to
Florida were bracing for heavy wind, rain and flooding that
could take down power lines and threaten to close some East
Coast nuclear plants early next week when Hurricane Sandy comes
        More than a dozen nuclear plants are located near Hurricane
Sandy's path in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut, providing power to
millions of customers in the region."


Submission + - Diversity may be fatal, says new government health study (

hessian writes: "Alvarez’s study reviewed the health records of 2,367 Mexican-Americans and 2,790 African-Americans older than 65, and concluded they lived longer if they inhabited a community mostly populated by their group.

African-Americans “living in a county with an ethnic density of 50% or more were 46% less likely to report doctor-diagnosed heart disease and 77% less likely to report cancer than those who lived in an ethnic density of less than 25%,” said a summary of the report, authored by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health."

Intel CPUs are not defective, they just act that way. -- Henry Spencer