Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Biotech

Submission + - Human Culture plays a role in natural selection (nytimes.com) 1

gollum123 writes: As with any other species, human populations are shaped by the usual forces of natural selection, like famine, disease or climate. A new force is now coming into focus. It is one with a surprising implication — that for the last 20,000 years or so, people have inadvertently been shaping their own evolution. The force is human culture, broadly defined as any learned behavior, including technology. The evidence of its activity is the more surprising because culture has long seemed to play just the opposite role. Biologists have seen it as a shield that protects people from the full force of other selective pressures, since clothes and shelter dull the bite of cold and farming helps build surpluses to ride out famine. Although it does shield people from other forces, culture itself seems to be a powerful force of natural selection. People adapt genetically to sustained cultural changes, like new diets. And this interaction works more quickly than other selective forces, “leading some practitioners to argue that gene-culture co-evolution could be the dominant mode of human evolution,”
Education

Submission + - Medical Journals Rejecting Tobacco Funded Research (latimes.com)

eldavojohn writes: The journal PLoS Medicine joins PLoS One and PLoS Biology by announcing they will not accept any more papers funded by the Tobacco Industry. The journal's official statement cites the serious health risks associated with smoking in addition to the Tobacco Industry's misinformation campaigns. One expert tried to explain that not everyone is happy with this decision saying "By deciding to no longer allow for research funded in any part by the tobacco industry, they're acknowledging that they're no longer able to evaluate science." Will this attitude proliferate to other fields in rejecting papers funded by parties with a monetary conflict of interest with science?
Biotech

Submission + - DNA is a four letter word (bytesizebio.net)

Copperfoot writes: Can we set up an alternative assembly line for a new protein prototype and then actually set up a working assembly line for the whole new protein? A proof-of-concept has been published this week in Nature by Jason Chin's group at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge UK. DNA encodes information for protein synthesis in groups of three bases ("letters") called codons. With an alphabet of four letters that means 4^3=64 different combinations are possible, more than enough to encode proteins from the 22 naturally occurring amino acids. Chin's group engineered the E. coli bacterium to read DNA as a sequence of four letter words, instead of the usual three. The use of four letter words to code for proteins greatly expands our ability to synthesize proteins, as we now have 4^4=256 different combinations. Chin's group used their system to insert synthetic amino acids into one of the bacterium's proteins. Muahahaha!
Science

Submission + - Masters of Deceit: Camouflaged Caterpillars (discovermagazine.com)

An anonymous reader writes: These frankly beautiful photos showcase the clever, life-sustaining disguises of 9 New England caterpillars. One green-spotted caterpillar blends in with the bunch of grapes it munches on, another looks exactly like the edge of a dying leaf. Oh, and there are other defensive tricks too, like false eyespots, inflatable horns that smell like the musk of a dangerous snake, and choreographed dance routines that confuse predators.

Submission + - 'Vegetative State' patients can communicate (bbc.co.uk) 1

Kittenman writes: The BBC is carrying a story about researchers in the UK and Belgium who can detect the thinking processes within a patient previously thought to be in a 'vegetative state'. The researchers ask the patient verbally to think in certain ways to indicate a "yes", in other ways to indicate a "no" — and have successfully communicated with 4 out of 23 patients previously thought to be in a coma.
Science

Oldest Known Tetrapod Found 2

qazsedcft writes "The oldest footprints ever made by four-legged creatures have been discovered by scientists, forcing them to reconsider a critical period in evolution: the point at which fish crawled out of the water onto land to evolve into reptiles, mammals and eventually humans. The 'hand' and 'foot' prints are 18m years older than the earliest, previously confirmed fossil remains of tetrapods or four-legged vertebrates and were left by lizard-like creatures up to 2.5 meters long. The discovery, reported in tomorrow's issue of the journal Nature, was made in a former quarry in the Holy Cross Mountains in south-eastern Poland. The fossil footprints can be reliably dated to the early Middle Devonian period, around 395 million years ago."

Submission + - Happy 400th Anniversary Jupiter's Galilean Moons!

krswan writes: Ok, the moons themselves are much older, but on January 7, 1610 Galileo first observed "4 fixed stars" surrounding Jupiter. Continuous observations of their changing positions led Galileo to postulate they were really moons orbiting Jupiter, which became further evidence against Aristotelian Cosmology, which led to problems with the Roman Catholic Church, etc... Jupiter will be low in the southwest (in the Northern Hemisphere) after sunset this evening — nothing else around it is as bright, so you can't miss it. Celebrate by pointing binoculars or a telescope at Jupiter and checking out her moons for yourself.

Submission + - Oldest Known Tetrapod Found (guardian.co.uk)

qazsedcft writes: The oldest footprints ever made by four-legged creatures have been discovered by scientists, forcing them to reconsider a critical period in evolution: the point at which fish crawled out of the water onto land to evolve into reptiles, mammals and eventually humans. The "hand" and "foot" prints are 18m years older than the earliest, previously confirmed fossil remains of "tetrapods" or four-legged vertebrates and were left by lizard-like creatures up to 2.5 metres long. The discovery, reported in tomorrow's issue of the journal Nature, was made in a former quarry in the Holy Cross Mountains in south-eastern Poland. The fossil footprints can be reliably dated to the early Middle Devonian period, around 395 million years ago.

Comment More Content Available Online (Score 1) 1

From TFA: "By acquiescing, Netflix will get a steep discount on Warner Bros.' discs — savings that the company intends to use to expand the selection of movies and TV shows available for instant viewing over the Internet. Warner Bros. already has agreed to contribute hundreds of additional movies to that service — triple the current catalog. They will include many titles that have only been out on DVD for three to eight months."

Netflix is not so much alternative to Blockbuster, who will benefit slightly from the deal, but to cable television.

Science

Submission + - Dangerous liaisons (cosmosmagazine.com)

An anonymous reader writes: From maze-like genitalia and terrifying spikes to ornamental handicaps and disloyal mothers, evolution seems to have found some seriously stupid designs for sex.

Slashdot Top Deals

Repel them. Repel them. Induce them to relinquish the spheroid. - Indiana University fans' chant for their perennially bad football team

Working...