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Submission + - Measuring science with a broken ruler (

Shipud writes: How do we assess the value of of a a scientific study? How can we tell "just OK" scientist from "great scientist"? Measuring this intangible is important to funding agencies, university search and promotion committees, and fellow scientist. One way is to look at the journals they publish in. Journals are ranked by a measure called the "impact factor", which is he average number of citations to that journal's articles over a history of two years. Although deferred to almost universally, it is a poor measure by which to assess scientists and their science. The fact that such a poor measure is almost universally used raises the question of how well funding and hiring decisions in science are being made.

Submission + - Nobel Winners Exemplify Israel's "Brain Drain" Problem ( 2

barlevg writes: Two of the three scientists sharing this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry have Israeli citizenship, with Dr. Arieh Warshel having been born and educated in Israel, yet both are based at universities in the United States. These two scientists are perhaps the highest profile examples of a growing problem in the so-called "start-up nation," which is known for its high-tech tech companies and scientific innovation, and yet which loses more researchers to emigration than any other western nation. The problem? Large salary gaps between US and Israeli institutions. As Daniel Hershkowitz, president of Bar-Ilan University put it, "I don't see Israel being able to compete with what they offer in the United States."

Submission + - Weight gain in ex-smokers may be due to changes in gut bacteria (

Shipud writes: Smokers who quit often gain weight. This has usually been attributed to decreased metabolism, and /or food replacing smoking as a reward system. New research shows that changes in gut bacteria may explain weight gain in those who quit smoking. The changes in the gut bacteria in people who quit smoking are startling. Moreover, the type of bacteria that emerge in the gut after smoking cessation are the same type that have been shown to cause obesity.

Submission + - Lab-Grown Heart Created Using Mouse Organ, Stem Cells [VIDEO] (

Rebecka writes: A 2008 study’s findings resulted in the recent creation of a lab-grown human heart. According to an Aug. 13th report from Nature Communications via, a team of scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine created beating, human heart tissue through the process of decellularization.

The process used to create the lab-grown organ was reportedly modeled after a 2008 University of Minnesota study that found a rat heart's life could be regenerated by using the cells of newborn rats.

Submission + - When is it ok to not give notice? 1

An anonymous reader writes: Here in the U.S., "being professional" means giving at least two week's notice when leaving a job. Is this an outmoded notion? We've all heard stories about (or perhaps experienced) a quick escort to the parking lot upon giving the normal notice, and I've never heard of a company giving a two week notice to an employee that's being laid off or fired.
A generation ago, providing a lengthy notice was required to get a glowing reference, but these days does a reference hold water any more?
Once you're reached the point where you know it's time to leave, under what circumstances would you just up and walk out or give only a short notice?

Submission + - Bone-Eating Worms Found in Antarctic Waters (

sciencehabit writes: When you drop a whale backbone into Antarctic waters and retrieve it a year later, you’ll find it covered with a pelt of wriggling, rosy-hued worms. Drop a chunk of wood in the same spot, and you’ll discover that it’s hardly changed. That’s the result of a simple experiment to find out if some of the world's weirdest worms also live in Antarctic waters. The discovery extends the range of bone-eating worms to the Southern Ocean and suggests that Antarctic shipwrecks may be remarkably intact.

Submission + - Plants communicate using fungi (

Shipud writes: In response to aphid attacks, some plants produce chemicals that repel the aphids and attract wasps, the aphids' natural enemies. Researchers at the University of Aberdeen have shown that plants attacked by aphids can communicate that information to neighboring plants via existing networks of fungi in the soil. Thus fungal symbiosis with plants is shown to be taken one step further: not only do they provide nutrients to plants, they also function as communication hardware.

Submission + - Sequence squeeze: an open contest for DNA sequence compression (

Shipud writes: Next-generation sequencing machines produce large quantities of data which are becoming increasingly difficult to move between collaborating organisations or even store within a single organisation. Compressing the data to assist with this is vital, but existing techniques do not perform as well as might be expected. The need for a new compression technique was identified by the Pistoia Alliance who commissioned an open innovation contest to find one. The dynamic and interactive nature of the contest led to some novel algorithms and a high level of competition between participants.

Submission + - New Links Found between Bacteria and Cancer (

Shipud writes: A recent study by a group at the University of Maryland School of Medicine shows that bacterial DNA gets transferred to human cells, in a process known as lateral gene transfer, or LGT. LGT is known to occur quite commonly between bacteria, including bacteria of different species. In fact, that is how antibiotic resistance is transferred so quickly. The team has shown that certain types of tumor cells acquire bacterial DNA that may play a role in tumor progression. Another group at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill has shown that gut inflammation leads to a radical change in the microbial population there, which encourages growth of E. coli that can disrupt the inflamed cells' DNA, leading to cancer. Both studies enable us to ask new questions such as: how does inflammation change the landscape for bacterial colonization? Can bacteria indeed harness inflammation — and then cancer — to flourish and remove competitors from their newly found ecosystem? And can we use this information to fight cancer?

Submission + - Congress Becomes Aware of Patent Trolls

phantomfive writes: Congressman Charles Schumer has written a piece decrying the evils of patent trolls. "Because of the high cost of patent litigation—the average litigation defense costs a small or midsize company $1.75 million—it is often marginally cheaper for a defendant to pay up front to make the case go away. The average settlement for the same group of companies is $1.33 million....Patent trolls cost U.S. companies $29 billion in 2011 alone."
His solution? Make it easier for low quality patents to be re-examined and rejected by the patent office.

Submission + - SCOTUS: DNA is information, not a chemical ( 3

Shipud writes: Today SCOTUS ruled that naturally occurring genes cannot be patented. The ruling was made in the lawsuit against Myriad Genetics and their patent on the mutations in BRCA1/2 which are predictive of breast cancer. But what is really interesting is that SCOTUS has treated DNA as a vehicle of information, rather than as a chemical construct. Should DNA be even subject to patent laws? For the purposes of “ownership”, treating DNA as deoxyribonucleic acid is like treating books as collection of cellulose sheets and ink splotches. Nobody does that, and ownership and reproduction rights for books lie within the realm of copyright law, rather than patent law. Copyright law talks about information: who can reproduce what, under what conditions. Perhaps it is time to separate the DNA as a chemical from DNA as information, and move the legal treatment of DNA from the patent to the copyright realm.

Submission + - Arnold Schwarzenegger will be back as The Terminator

sfcrazy writes: Arnold Schwarzenegger returned to movies after his role as Governator of California and the legendary actor is all set to play the role of The Terminator once again — the character which turned him into an icon. Schwarzenegger told the fan site, "I'm very happy that the studios want me to be in Terminator 5 and to star as the Terminator."

Submission + - The allure of low quality big data in biology (

Shipud writes: Genomics has ushered biology into the data rich sciences. But genomic data provides us with the instruction book: what the organism is capable of doing based on its DNA. To see what the organism actually does we need to run experiments to interrogate the biological pathways that together constitute life. But biochemical experiments only tell you about a few proteins at a time. Slowly. Much slower than the information gain from genomics.

Enter systems biology with the promise of bridging the knowledge gap by performing large scale biochemistry and molecular biology. High throughput assays such as Yeast 2 Hybrid, Mass Spectrometry proteomics, and RNAi functional genomics have accelerated the rate of data collection in cellular biology. However, a new study shows that the data coming from ‘factory science’ are of a much lower quality than can be used, and these low quality data are taking over what we deem to know about protein function, masking out, by their sheer mass, the higher quality annotations. Contrary to what we hear, systems biology is not quite a BIg Data science yet.

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