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Comment US Airways, Ottawa (YOW) to London (LHR) via PHL (Score 1) 264

Moving to UK for school. Went horrible:
- Flight departed about 3 hours late due to needing to wake up the Air Canada maintenance crew (who were at home) to sign off on our plane, which needed repairs to the tail section due to a suspected lightning strike on previous flight.
- Despite discussing it with the gate attendant, who assured me I would make my connection, I missed connecting flight in PHL. Had to stay overnight in PHL (for the 2nd time in my life) as there were no further flights to LHR that night. US Airways tried to claim the flight was delayed due to weather, and several of us passengers had to argue with them that it was in fact a maintenance problem to get our hotels comp'ed.
- Next day, rerouted through BOS. Finally get on the plane to LHR, but now with British Airways instead of US Airways (an upgrade in my opinion!).
- 8 hours later, I arrive in Heathrow and my luggage is no where to be seen, and they (neither US Airways or BA) have no record of it being checked in anywhere. So here I am, alone, moving half way across the world, and all of my worldly possessions are lost in the ether. Luckily BA delivered it to me about 5 days later.

I suspect I have a travelling curse:
Total round-trip flights: 8
Percentage of times passing through PHL that I get stuck there overnight: 100%
Percentage of flights where my bags have been delayed: 37.5%
Cumulative hours spent in airport terminal: ~35 h
Longest journey time: 28 h

Submission + - Darwin gets a fresh boost (

plasmidmap writes: On the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species, a team of evolutionary biologists from the University of Ottawa and the University of Aarhus have taken another look at the theory, and once again Darwin comes off looking pretty good. The researchers watched evolution in action in a rapidly growing fungus. The goal of the work was to understand how adaptations that allow an organism to out-compete and out-reproduce its kin are built up from occasional mutations in DNA sequences. To see what was happening--step by step--the researchers examined mutations over the course of 800 generations in two different sized fungal populations made up of more than 100 fungi lineages. The experimental results revealed that almost all the evolving lines adapted using just a few mutations. 'Darwin was right about natural selection, but it doesn't need to be as slow as he thought. Adaptation can happen quickly because just a few mutations are involved and of the largest benefits tend to happen early on,' states principal investigator, Dr. Rees Kassen. The research demonstrates that it should not be a surprise to see rapid adaptation in nature, whether it be to novel antibiotics in our hospitals or of viruses to new hosts. The key is for natural populations to adapt quickly enough to avoid being on the wrong end of natural selection. Read the article in PLoS Biology (open access).

Submission + - Brain scans used in murder sentencing (

sciencehabit writes: For what may be the first time, fMRI scans of brain activity have been used as evidence in the sentencing phase of a murder trial. Defense lawyers for an Illinois man convicted of raping and killing a 10-year-old girl used the scans to argue that their client should be spared the death penalty because he has a brain disorder. Some experts say the scans are irrelevant because they were taken 20+ years after the crimes were committed. Others point out that the scans are only being considered because the sentencing phase of a trial has less stringent standards about evidence than those for evidence used to establish a defendant's innocence or guilt.

Comment Risky behaviour (Score 2, Interesting) 258

One mechanism that could account for this is "risky behaviour", which is flu-vaccinated people being less concerned about being in contact with symptomatic people due to their perceived protection through the vaccine. Since the regular flu vaccine does not protect against "swine flu", vaccinated people are more likely to get it. The flip-side being unvaccinated people go out of their way to stay away from symptomatic people, and so are less likely to contract it.


Submission + - Mexico decriminalizes small-scale drug possession 4

Professor_Quail writes: Mexico enacted a controversial law Thursday decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs while encouraging free government treatment for drug dependency. The law sets out maximum "personal use" amounts for drugs, also including LSD and methamphetamine. People detained with those quantities will no longer face criminal prosecution when the law goes into effect Friday.

Comment Darwin Pond--What Spore should have been like (Score 4, Informative) 160

I've always thought that Darwin Pond was a cool piece of free (beer) software that could be used to teach evolution. It's a simulation game with swimming organisms that compete for food and mates. There's even assortative mating built in.

What's great about it is there's no fixed goal, it's completely up to the player--maybe you want to try to breed fast swimmers or cool moving swimmers. You can watch the abundance of types change through time, try out your own "designed" types or introduce random mutations into the population.

I would recommend games like this.

Comment Re:Slow news day? (Score 3, Insightful) 138

If you think about it from an evolutionary point of view, trust is an excellent adaptation for a social species. Being trusting is the sort of thing that might not work so well for a given individual but works out for the species in the long run.

Except evolution acts on individuals, not species. In order for trust to evolve, individuals must gain benefit from it.

It's like cuteness. What's the evolutionary purpose of finding creatures with infantile features and proportions cute? Easy: it's so we don't murder our young. If those little darlings didn't worm their way into our hearts at first sight, it's for damn sure they wouldn't make it through the third night of random crying, feeding, and diaper changes.

It's so we don't eat our own children, which would remove our genes from the population.

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