Halloweeny, good and bad

The other night, I made the mistake of going to the local theater to see the horrible new version of Halloween by Rob Zombie. It sucked. Unimaginative, tedious, unrelievedly grim, plodding, with no insight or interesting ideas, and it wasn’t even scary. There was no story except ‘serial killer marches through movie murdering people.’

I’d hoped for something frightening for Halloween, and was disappointed.

I should have just stayed home and read the Little Professor, since she has provided a nice assortment of century-old horror stories. The real thing. Stories with some imagination and style. Skip the bad slasher movies, read Fanu or James or Stevenson — they’re much more satisfying.

Mulifunction drugs.

While I would love to devote all of my time to neurobiology, I do have other classes that require my attention. In one of those classes I am writing a research paper on tuberculosis. While researching tuberculosis I began wondering if there were any strange cases where tuberculosis has neurobiological effects. A google search brought me to this article. While this is not exactly what I was looking for, it did pique my interest. It seems like drugs taken for one thing end up treating another as well. In Biochemistry we recently had to read an article about how the obesity drug Orlistat is a possible cancer treatment. I just wonder how people first begin to realize that a drug taken for one thing affects other areas as well.

“What evolution predicts…”

No three words are more pregnant with the promise of error in a conversation with a creationist than to hear them say “what evolution predicts…”. It’s practically a guarantee that you’re going to hear something bizarre and fundamentally erroneous — but it is at least a good start on identifying basic misconceptions. Orac has found a doozy, a creationist who goes on at remarkable length, building a house of cards on a few flimsy premises. He’s dealt with it thoroughly, so I just want to focus on one piece of Pat Sullivan’s deeply flawed understanding of evolution.

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A little science blogging quality control

Dave Munger has been spearheading a useful tool: Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research, an aggregator and set of icons to be used on blog posts that are summaries of actual, genuine, peer-reviewed research. Read the guidelines; the idea is that when you see the icon, you’ll know that the blog article is something more than an opinion piece, but is specifically an attempt to explain some specific technical research papers for the general reader.

This is not just an effort for those of us at scienceblogs.com — if you are an unaffiliated science person who explains research to the citizenry, use the icons. It’ll help people recognize what you are doing, and when the aggregator is in place (I think the plan is to get it done in the next month or so) it will help readers find you.

One last call for donations

This is the last time I’ll pester you, I promise. The DonorsChoose challenge ends after the end of this month, and we’ve done well. We met my goal of raising $20,000 dollars, 200 freethinkers have stepped up to make donations, and 30 of my 31 chosen projects have been fully funded. That does mean that there is one project that isn’t quite there yet: Embryology in the Classroom is $292 shy of completion. If a few more could chip in a few more dollars, we can achieve perfection.

Good work, everyone!

How to evolve a watch

Here’s an interesting thought and modeling experiment: how to evolve a watch, literally.

As an example, it’s nice, but there are also real biological examples of organisms evolving clocks — evolution of the period gene, for instance, which also shows evidence of being calibrated to day lengths by natural processes, or the somitic clock. Most organisms on the planet seem to have multiple clocks built right into them, and they’ve all evolved.

(via No More Mr. Nice Guy!)