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Comment Re:you mean just like reprint requests? (Score 1) 204

Before the internet, labs used to subscribe to "current contents", which was sort of the TV guide of the scientific literature. It was a list of journal articles that came out each month. The professors would then send a student off to the library to copy the articles that were of interest that were in the library's subscriptions, or send off a postcard "reprint request" to the authors to get a copy. The articles would come back in the mail, and the professor would skim it, and then the student would file them in the appropriate filing cabinet. I remember this well, as this was how I got my first gig in a lab.

Submission + - Federal Judge Calls BS on Homeland Security's 2008 STEM 'Emergency'

theodp writes: In 2008, the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security enacted 'emergency' changes to Optional Practical Training (OPT) to extend the amount of time foreign STEM graduates of US colleges could stay in the country and work ("to alleviate the crisis employers are facing due to the current H-1B visa shortage", as Bill Gates explained it in 2007). More than seven years later, U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle has found that the government erred by not seeking public comment when it extended the program, and issued a ruling that could force tens of thousands of foreign workers on OPT STEM extensions to return to their home countries early next year. Huvelle has given the government six months to submit the OPT extension rule for proper notice and comment lest it be revoked. From the ruling (pdf): "By failing to engage in notice-and-comment rulemaking, the record is largely one-sided, with input only from technology companies that stand to benefit from additional F-1 student employees, who are exempted from various wage taxes. Indeed, the 17-month duration of the STEM extension appears to have been adopted directly from the unanimous suggestions by Microsoft and similar industry groups." Microsoft declared a new crisis in 2012, this time designed to link tech's need for H-1B visas to U.S. children's lack of CS savvy.

Comment Re:Fire him (Score 1) 1113

The question isn't "Can you prove creationism". It's "What evidence would you accept that would DISprove creationism." There are lots of things that could be found that would cause us to throw huge chunks of evolutionary theory in the trash heap. I can't imagine that a "young earth creationist" would ever tell you that any evidence would make them change their mind. If it's impossible to disprove, then any argument is a waste of time.

Comment Re:Extreme News Flash! (Score 1) 167

There are multiple genetic factors that are strongly linked to Autism. That's not really a huge debate in the field. None of the factors are absolute: they don't guarantee the occurrence of autism, instead, they are associated with increased risk.

This isn't a novelty in the psychiatric genetics world. The same holds true for schizophrenia, depression and other mood disorders, and most other brain disorders for that matter. It is likely that this has to do with an interaction between disease genes and environmental factors, other genetic factors, or with stochastic (random) processes.

It's not that different than most other complex diseases. For example, you may carry a risk allele for heart disease. If you follow the right diet, and have a blissful, stress-free life, you might be in luck. But, if you're carrying a second risk allele (whoops!), or down a few too many Big Macs... that risk allele will bite you in the ass. For that matter, even if you do take care of yourself, that risk allele may still bite you in the ass. It's an odds game, and each risk factor makes the odds that much worse.

As for your "experiment that everyone conveniently chooses to forget"-- there's an extensive literature of twins with Autism. It also shows that there is a strong genetic component, but it's not absolute. The concordance of Autism in twins is extremely high -- but not absolute. However, even identical twins have significant differences -- yes, even genetically. And, even though they may share the same womb, they may have siginficant differences in fetal nutrition (depending on how the placenta is located), and they may be subject to different gestational stresses or birth trauma.

In other words -- nobody's conveniently forgetting anything.
Role Playing (Games)

Building a Gary Gygax Memorial 136

An anonymous reader writes "It looks like approval to build a memorial to E. Gary Gygax has been granted in Lake Geneva City, Wisconsin. The Gygax Memorial Fund is still taking donations for the memorial that may begin construction as early as later this year. I (like many on Slashdot) spent many years of my youth using Gygax inspired creations as an excuse to socialize, roll dice, and eat chips at impromptu gatherings before computers intruded on the RPG realms."

Comment Re:Science? (Score 2) 453

Or, to put it more charitably, medicine and psychology are far describing far more complex phenomenon than we like to admit.

For example, in psychiatric genetics, there are dozens of articles every year that find a new gene associated with a common and important condition (e.g. autism, schizophrenia, depression). After each new finding comes out, there are dozens of labs that try to replicate that finding, usually one or two replicate (or partially replicate) the finding, and five or six don't replicate it. Why is it so hard to replicate these findings? Probably because there are really dozens of independent genes that contribute to these complex disorders (probably in combination with each other), and some populations tend to have mutations in one set, while other populations tend to have mutations in another set.

We're moving towards understanding, but the disorders are far more complex than the assumption that there will be a single cause.

Comment Re:I kinda agree with him (Score 1) 1153

Why stop with Calculus? The path of modern medicine is being decided by people who can't tell a stem cell from a potato, or tell the difference between genes and jeans. We have epidemics of diseases that were largely eradicated because people aren't getting vaccinations. And we have lawmakers and voters deciding on nuclear energy and chemical waste disposal who haven't the slightest idea about what they're deciding. Calculus won't help that.

Comment Re:Not much literature either (Score 1) 1153

I don't know about the deep meta-analysis, but I agree that scientific papers use many of the same skills as literature. Having written more than my fair share of published scientific papers, and having been on the other side as a reviewer quite a few times, I can't stress how important it is that a manuscript needs to tell a damn story. It needs to have a point, and each paragraph needs to sell the reader on that idea. Perhaps it's not Dickens, but a paper that doesn't tell a story that the reader can follow ends up on the scrap heap in a hurry.

Comment Re:The Rain Mouse? (Score 2, Interesting) 259

There are plenty of brain issues that aren't well modeled in mice, such as anything involving the prefrontal cortex (the front of the brain, where most of the higher-order thoughts reside). Mice just don't really have a true prefrontal cortex, which is where we do much of our higher-order thinking. The cousin of this gene, RGS4, showed up as a candidate gene for schizophrenia; mice lacking the gene are largely unaffected. The same case is true for most mouse models of psychiatric disorders, for that matter.

Also, there's not that much literature on RGS14 at this point (it doesn't seem to have come up in any of the GWAS -- wide scale genome association studies) for psychiatric disorders, but it has been identified in molecular studies as a target of P53 (a central cancer regulatory mechanism). It would not be out of the question for this knockout to have a significant increase in cancer risk (brain or elsewhere), but not have this detected in a small-scale study.

Submission + - SPAM: Researchers find key stem cells for eating and sex 1

GWMAW writes: New research, published in the journal Development, by Dr. Anthony-Samuel LaMantia, professor of Pharmacology & Physiology and director of the newly formed GW Institute for Neuroscience, and his colleagues have identified the stem cells that generate three critical classes of nerve cells – olfactory receptors (ORNs), vomeronasal (VRNs) and gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons – that are responsible for enabling animals and humans, to eat, interact socially and reproduce.

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