Quick blog today as my own research is getting very interesting. I revisited some older data yesterday and have found a lot of data that supports a current hypothesis, the exciting thing being that the data is from a completely different imaging technique and thus makes our results less likely to be the result of random chance or an artifact of the microscopy. I am excited anyway, and it is this excitement that makes research a lot of fun.
Several articles of interest today, all on related topics. Replacement of tissue once it has been damaged beyond the body's ability to repair is fascinating. Some animals can regenerate tissues almost indefinitely, such as the newts described in the first link. in this case it is the lens of the eye, not only can the lens regenerate completely, it is "younger" than the age of the newt (the newts lived up to 30 years old but the new lenses were indistinguishable from those found in 14 year old newts that has never regenerated a lens). the ability of amphibians to regenerate tissue is quite amazing and the research into how they do this is very important for the potential development of methods that will trigger human tissue regeneration from stem cells.
Another regeneration article discussed the growth of a tooth from mouse embryonic stem cells. These cells, already on the way to becoming teeth, were transplanted into a mouse underneath the membrane that surrounds the kidney. A molar developed and even had some of the ligaments that hold teeth in place, thus when the tooth was implanted into a jaw it was able to function as a native tooth and regenerate the necessary blood vessels etc. A further development is that this was replicated with adult stem cells and cells from wisdom teeth. This in particular is exciting. maybe dentures will eventually be phased out as we can start to grow replacement teeth! growing them on our kidneys may be an issue, however, so growing them in vitro (cell or organ culture) needs to be achieved first.
In the meantime, transplants are becoming ever-more sophisticated. The world's first double leg transplant has been achieved. It remains to be seen whether the legs will take or be rejected by the patient and how long it will take for the nerves to fuse. The skill of surgery involved is really remarkable.
This title got me very interested! Unfortunately, it is not about the flogging or bondage practises of our DNA codes. Instead the research uses computer models to investigate how much bending and flexibility DNA strands are capable of and how this varies depending on the base-pair sequence. Computing skills are becoming ever more important for biology, going far beyond the basics of word-processing and PowerPoint presentations. I can see a need and potential trend for more combined degrees in computer science and biology.
Anyway, here is the kinky gene article.
It is not a difficult concept to grasp. The only manner by which we may judge people in our lives, be they family/partner or casual passing acquaintances (and all in between) is through their actions. In many cases it has to be with regard to their actions towards us, unless there is a means of witnessing their actions towards other people, such as actually being there to observe their actions or via evidence.
We cannot know someone's intent. There may be cues that can alert us, but then again there may be no cues or we may be misinterpreting those cues. This is especially important when dealing with cultural differences and something I have been caught out on numerous times in the US, where relatively simple words in the same parent language (English) have distinct and different cultural meanings. Language can be difficult and much harder to interpret, I think, than physical actions. Part of this is the perception of meaning by the observer rather than meaning intended by the speaker, and as such intent is a difficult thing to determine. These differences, from my observations, are especially apparent online, where people can read different meanings and tone into the same text (given no cues such as tone and speed of the "voice") and on numerous occasions provide prime ground for misunderstandings to occur and even when no misunderstanding is in place, a clash of different opinions can rapidly escalate.
Current technology permits not only greater access to travel opportunities but also rapid communication across the globe and between diverse groups of people. I think that this is certainly part of an exciting time to live in as many opportunities are open to a greater number of people. But it can also lead to clashes. A prime example of culture clashes fueled by online events are the draw Muhammad day http://www.facebook.com/pages/2nd-Annual-Draw-Muhammad-Day-May-20th-2011/119371148108513 campaigns, and is also a good example for my point. You cannot dictate what another's person's actions should be based on your feelings alone. Some people feel very strongly that drawing their deity is blasphemous, while others do not hold the same beliefs and think it wrong to hold people accountable to the same rules.
Recent clashes (see previous blog entry for some links http://www.skepticrainbows.com/1/post/2011/07/oh-the-drama.html) in the online skeptic community are suffering from the same thing, I think. People are taking offense as a result of misunderstanding the original statements and then later escalating these by misunderstanding qualifying statements and jumping on anyone who disagrees with their position. It seems we all hold strong opinions on the subject. But it is just that, an opinion and our own unique perspective, not something that we can then dictate to others as to how they should behave and act.
One thing that may come of it all is a greater understanding all round. When people get angry about something there is evidence that they will look into opposing arguments and thus expand their knowledge about a subject. http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.com/2011/03/how-anger-can-make-us-more-rational.html So perhaps the online clashing is a positive thing after all and certainly more productive than literally getting up in arms. :)
My linky things do not seem to be working again, but you should be able to copy paste.
A new study has been published linking autism and vaccination.
Quoted from the abstract:
"The higher the proportion of children receiving recommended vaccinations, the higher was the prevalence of AUT or SLI. A 1% increase in vaccination was associated with an additional 680 children having AUT or SLI."
This could be very interesting if it is the case. However, it seems that the statistical significance only comes after controlling for certain variables (i am not clear on how they were controlled for) and at best show correlation, not causation, as clearly stated in the paper itself.
"...the regression analysis showed association, not causation..."
The study also compared fully vaccinated (receiving the full recommended vaccination series) and non-vaccinated 9where the children may have had all but one of the vaccinations, therefore not completing the series). there were also a lot of variable non accounted for, such as pollution rates in the different states and potential toxins the mothers might have been exposed to while present.
The paper does, in fairness, list most of the limitations in the study. i am curious as to why the analysis was for autism and speech or language impairment rather than just autism. The study claims it is because there is an association between these conditions. I wonder how statistically significant the data would be for just autism.
i have not looked at the data myself, nor done any of my own analyses, but the blog linked below has done the analysis from the data presented and actually shown that there is no significant difference. How the study controlled for this to get statistically significant results is not known and certainly not clearly described in the methods section of the paper. Hmmmm. A clear case for the anti-vax crowd? Nope.
Another thing, while clear evidence has yet to be presented for autism vaccination links, how have the vaccinations improved infant and childhood mortality by limiting the amount of fatal diseases? Does the increase in children surviving to a certain age account for rises in things like autism? i actually don't know the answers to those questions, but i think the benefits of vaccination should be considered in context with "potential" (i.e. un - as yet - evidenced) side-affects.
I found this study facinating. There are individuals that have gone blind who use echolocation to such an acurate level, they can hike and even play some sports. Our hearing detects sound waves, which are a complex pattern of waves bouncing around and off surrounding materials. Echolocation (used by mammals such as bats) is a technique where a series of clicks or sounds are created and the echo of the sound wave is then picked up and translated to information about the environment. It seems this has been adapted by some blind individuals to an impressive level.
The recent study, described in the article below, has used MRI scans to observe how the brain processes the echolocation signals compared to non-blind control participents. the results show that the individuals who used the echolocation processed the information in the visual cortex, in esscence "seeing" the echolocation information. Really amazing!
Skeptical kinkster musing on whatever takes my fancy!