Posted by: Dan | September 2, 2006

Blogging Hiatus

I’m off for a bit of a vacation for a couple weeks, to get some much-needed time away, and will be back around the 21st of September – I’ll be in Cyprus visiting my better-half’s family, hopefully have a couple productive meetings with the University of Cyprus’ Biology faculty, go swimming in the Mediterranean, and go birdwatching with the European avifauna.

Yes, I’ll be in touch by email and following any comments left here on the blog – but I’ll try and resist posting during that time, sorry. In the meantime, I’ve moved the blogroll up to the top of the sidebar: visit these sites for relevant discussions of the sort that I normally focus on.

And when I get back, I hope to return to cell biology topics with renewed vigor, covering such things as the differentiation and migration of neural stem cells for implantation and related issues in tissue engineering (as a review for an interview for a potential postdoc project), evolution of the complex biochemistry of the mammalian cell, and topics in chemotaxis and cell polarity.



  1. Ocean Microbe Census Discovers Diverse World Of Rare Bacteria

    In a paper published in the USA by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal (July 31, online early edition), scientists reveal marine microbial diversity may be some 10 to 100 times more than expected, and the vast majority are previously unknown, low-abundance organisms theorized to play an important role in the marine environment as part of a “rare biosphere.”

    The number of different kinds of bacteria in the oceans could eclipse five to 10 million,” he added.

    They used a technique called “454 tag sequencing.” I am not familiar with that.

  2. … like I said, I’m taking a break from posting, but I didn’t say anything against commenting! The interesting news is that the Cornell IDEA club is restarting meetings and such, this time with a video showing: Unlocking the Mystery of Life: The Scientific Case for Intelligent Design. The video’s producers describe the video as:

    “Unlocking the Mystery of Life” is the story of contemporary scientists who are advancing a powerful, but controversial, idea—the theory of “intelligent design.” It is a theory based upon compelling biochemical evidence.

    Through state-of-the-art computer animation, Unlocking the Mystery of Life transports you into the interior of the living cell to explore systems and machines that bear the unmistakable hallmarks of design. Discover the intricacy of a microscopic bacterial rotary motor, which spins at 100,000 rpm.

    “Compelling evidence”??? Somehow I suspect that this “evidence” is not scientific in the slightest.

    And I have no doubt though that they have “state-of-the-art computer animation,” but do they have anything that is based upon actual scientific research, or is it just more state-of-the-art propaganda?

    If anyone makes it to the video showing, please let the rest of us know if it is as much of a farce as it sounds… or better yet, rather than waste your time, go see a movie that exposes the truth about Intelligent Design – Flock of Dodos.

  3. The interesting news is that the Cornell IDEA club is restarting meetings and such, this time with a video showing: Unlocking the Mystery of Life: The Scientific Case for Intelligent Design.

    The IDEA Club web site says, ” On Monday we’ll be watching the movie “Unlocking the Mystery of Life”. 5:00 pm at Appel Commons rm 302 C –see you then!” It doesn’t say which Monday. The other announcement is for Aug. 30th. Their web site could use more intelligent design.

  4. Scientist says lots of dinosaurs remain

    Peter Dodson of the University of Pennsylvania and Steve Wang of Swarthmore College estimate that 71 percent of all dinosaur genera — groups of dinosaur species — have yet to be discovered.

    The estimates are based on the rates of discovery — about 10 to 20 annually — and the recent increase in finds of fossils in China, Mongolia and South America.

    Dodson suggests that 1,850 genera will eventually be discovered. So far 527 genera have been found.

    Most ID/Creationists books I have read (e.g. Johnson, Denton) state that the fossil record should be exhausted after almost two centuries of searching. Meanwhile, the significant fossil finds keep appearing.

  5. Urban birds keep cool

  6. Australian scientists to investigate control of exotic invasive species carp with a herpesvirus.

    I think it’s interesting that they use the term rabbit of the river for carp. Rabbits are an exotic invasive terrestrial species in Australia, and attempts were made to control the runaway rabbit population with the introduction of two different viruses.

  7. PZ has a must-read list of reasons why blaming atheists and humanists for “antagonizing” creationists is wrong.

    What he does is an insightful and lucid analysis of the problems with creationism, and then tries to wrap it up by identifying the source of the problem. Unfortunately, he places the blame in the laps of atheists, which is simply absurd. We’ve got fundamentalists straining to insert religious nonsense in the school curricula, and Miller’s response is turn around and put the fault on those godless secular people who have antagonized good Christian folk, giving them perfectly reasonable cause to fear for their immortal souls. How dare we? It’s only understandable that Kansans would object to godless interpretations of science!

    There are so many ways in which this is wrong:

  8. Ed Brayon has some things to say about Drawing Religious Battle Lines. PZ has gone overboard a couple of times recently, calling Francis Collins and Ken Miller “Creationists.” They both (especially Collins) have some unjustifiable religious viewpoints, but they are not Creationists, and PZ should be more specific in his criticism.

  9. I actually found Mike the Mad Biologist‘s take on the whole thing the best take on it – Ed does take a reasonable approach, saying that not all religious folks are idiots, and that’s true. Scientific knowledge is not the only valid basis for evaluating the world and its surroundings, and I don’t feel the need to tell anyone who believes in God that he or she is an idiot for such views. (I do appreciate it when I’m not being criticized for not valuing religion in my own life, however). Mike’s views however are much more on target than Ed’s even – Mike recognizes several things that are critical here: (1) that while not all Christians are idiots, all those pushing for religion in science classes at the expense of science are idiots; (2) We need to stick to this point and continue emphasizing it.

    As such, Josh on Thoughts From Kansas has a highly relevant and interesting quote from Steve Case: Steve Case Rocks:

    Proponents of intelligent design, with great gnashing of teeth and colorful language, have created a great deal of smoke. Scientists and the public have been taken by surprise by the sophistication of the marketing tactics used and are often lost in this cloud, somewhat unsure of what to think.

    One thing is clear: The scientific community has not embraced the explanation of design because it is quite clear that on the basis of the evidence, it is just wrong…

    That we have to emphasize this as a political talking point, and not discuss actual data or labwork, says all you need to know about whether ID is science or propoganda, or extremely uninformed and speculative arguments (like the stuff coming out of the Cornell IDEA club – and calling them very amateurish gives them far too much credit, IMHO).

  10. new bird species found in India

  11. Indeed, the new bird species is a neat story – check out Bootstrap Analysis‘s coverage too.

    And Razib on Gene Expression has another interesting perspective on the Ken Miller Story.

    I’ve also been following discussions by Nick Anthis, PZ Myers, and Orac on the recently documented decreases in NIH R01 grant funding and success rates. I’m sure that any biologists remotely affiliated with US federal funding should be extremely alarmed by this trend, and I hope that many non-biologists would find this disturbing as well.

  12. Did you ever imagine that you would hear George W. Bush say, “It’s flawed logic” ?

  13. This is totally bizarre: IDiots claim that Darwinism undercuts mathematics


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