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Keeping lithium contained: new design allows for high energy-density anode in Li-ion batteries
Lithium ion batteries – they’re everywhere, and their name has become mainstream enough that non-scientists know they’re in our laptops and electronics.  These types of batteries are so popular because lithium boasts a high energy density and they don’t lose charge … Continue reading →

Zheng, G., Lee, S., Liang, Z., Lee, H., Yan, K., Yao, H., Wang, H., Li, W., Chu, S. & Cui, Y. & (2014). Interconnected hollow carbon nanospheres for stable lithium metal anodes, Nature Nanotechnology, DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2014.152

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Suicide, it might be in the blood
I tried to kill myself, more than once in fact. It was a troubling time for me and as a former active duty Marine that might not be too surprising […]

Guintivano, J., Brown, T., Newcomer, A., Jones, M., Cox, O., Maher, B., Eaton, W., Payne, J., Wilcox, H. & Kaminsky, Z. & (2014). Identification and Replication of a Combined Epigenetic and Genetic Biomarker Predicting Suicide and Suicidal Behaviors, American Journal of Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.14010008

Guintivano, J., Arad, M., Gould, T., Payne, J. & Kaminsky, Z. (2013). Antenatal prediction of postpartum depression with blood DNA methylation biomarkers, Molecular Psychiatry, 19 (5) 560-567. DOI: 10.1038/mp.2013.62

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Oh, Rats! They’ll Regret This.
We often find ourselves in decision-making dilemmas along the day. For instance, to reach work on time, would you rather take the shorter, faster route or the longer, scenic route? In deciding these actions, the brain promptly fits in a reward versus risk equation, but sometimes the outcome isn’t quite favorable! What if there was … Continue reading →

Steiner A.P. (2014). Behavioral and neurophysiological correlates of regret in rat decision-making on a neuroeconomic task, Nature Neuroscience, 17 (7) 995-1002. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nn.3740

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Influenza: How the Great War helped create the greatest pandemic the world has ever known | @GrrlScientist
The Great War helped create the influenza pandemic of 1918, which eventually brought an early end to the Great War.I had a little bird,Its name was Enza. I opened the window,And in-flu-enza. ~ Children's Skipping Rhyme, 1918 Like most rhymes that one learns as a child, I had no idea at the time what this one meant, nor did I ponder its possible meaning as I grew older. But one afternoon, this poem's significance became startlingly clear to me. As I sat in a large university lecture hall where […]

Taubenberger J.K. (2006). 1918 Influenza: the Mother of All Pandemics, Emerging Infectious Diseases, 12 (1) 15-22. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1201.050979

Gamblin S.J. (2004). The Structure and Receptor Binding Properties of the 1918 Influenza Hemagglutinin, Science, 303 (5665) 1838-1842. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1093155

Barry J.M. (2004). The site of origin of the 1918 influenza pandemic and its public health implications (Commentary), Journal of Translational Medicine, 2 (3) DOI: 10.1186/1479-5876-2-3

Humphries M.O. (2014). Paths of Infection: The First World War and the Origins of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, War in History, 21 (1) 55-81. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0968344513504525

Osterholm M.T. (2005). Preparing for the Next Pandemic, New England Journal of Medicine, 352 1839-1842. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp058068

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Video Tip of the Week: PhenDisco, “phenotype discoverer” for dbGap data
The dbGaP, database of Genotypes and Phenotypes, repository at NCBI collects information from research projects that link genotype and phenotype information and human variation, across many different types of studies, providing leads on variation that may be important to understand clinical issues. Some of the data is publicly available de-identified patient information, and some of the […]

Doan S., Lin K.W., Conway M., Ohno-Machado L., Hsieh A., Feupe S.F., Garland A., Ross M.K., Jiang X. & Farzaneh S. & (2013). PhenDisco: phenotype discovery system for the database of genotypes and phenotypes., Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23989082

Tryka K.A., A. Sturcke, Y. Jin, Z. Y. Wang, L. Ziyabari, M. Lee, N. Popova, N. Sharopova, M. Kimura & M. Feolo & (2013). NCBI's Database of Genotypes and Phenotypes: dbGaP, Nucleic Acids Research, 42 (D1) D975-D979. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkt1211

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The Attentive Look of a Dog in Training
Researchers investigate the body language of a dog that is performing well in training.Photo: Markus Balint / ShutterstockA new study puts dogs through the first stage of a basic training task and analyzes eye contact and posture in the most successful dogs. The research by Masashi Hasegawa et al (Azabu University School of Veterinary Medicine) is motivated by a desire to improve people’s training abilities by helping them recognize the posture associated with successful […]

Braem, M. & Mills, D. (2010). Factors affecting response of dogs to obedience instruction: A field and experimental study, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 125 (1-2) 47-55. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2010.03.004

Deldalle, S. & Gaunet, F. (2014). Effects of 2 training methods on stress-related behaviors of the dog (Canis familiaris) and on the dog–owner relationship, Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 9 (2) 58-65. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2013.11.004

Hasegawa, M., Ohtani, N. & Ohta, M. (2014). Dogs’ Body Language Relevant to Learning Achievement, Animals, 4 (1) 45-58. DOI: 10.3390/ani4010045

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Does Life Come In XXXS?
Biology concepts – characteristics of life, archaea, bacteria, mycoplasma, synthetic biology, symbiosis, parasitism, nanobacteria, genomeAs part of this blog, we have talked about some pretty small life. Wolffia globosa is the smallest flowering plant, only 0.6 mm long. We also talked about archaea, a different kingdom than bacteria, but still on the smallish side of life. The tardigrade is the toughest animal, but is also one of the smallest, at 100 µm (0.00394 inch).The organism […]

Manhart LE (2013). Mycoplasma genitalium: An emergent sexually transmitted disease?, Infectious disease clinics of North America, 27 (4) 779-92. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24275270

Wu CY, Young L, Young D, Martel J & Young JD (2013). Bions: a family of biomimetic mineralo-organic complexes derived from biological fluids., PloS one, 8 (9) PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24086546

Gibson DG, Glass JI, Lartigue C, Noskov VN, Chuang RY, Algire MA, Benders GA, Montague MG, Ma L, Moodie MM & Merryman C (2010). Creation of a bacterial cell controlled by a chemically synthesized genome., Science (New York, N.Y.), 329 (5987) 52-6. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20488990

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Immunological effects from risperidone treatment in autism
The findings from Jai Eun Choi and colleagues [1] suggesting that use of the antipsychotic risperidone may impact on levels of certain cytokines - messenger cells of the immune system - in some cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) grabbed my attention recently. I've always been pretty interested in the complexity of the immune system when it comes to something like autism (see here) as well as the various examples of how many of the medications used to 'manage' aspects of […]

Choi JE, Widjaja F, Careaga M, Bent S, Ashwood P & Hendren RL (2014). Change in Plasma Cytokine Levels During Risperidone Treatment in Children with Autism., Journal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24828014

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When the cuddle hormone turns nasty - oxytocin linked with violent intentions
For many years, the hormone oxytocin was caricatured as the source of all human goodness - trust, altruism, love, and morality. Among the findings that contributed to this picture were the discovery that sniffing oxytocin increases people's trust and generosity in financial games; that it aids face recognition; and that its release is associated with maternal bonding; and with orgasm.However, the picture has grown a lot more complicated of late, with findings showing that […]

DeWall, C., Gillath, O., Pressman, S., Black, L., Bartz, J., Moskovitz, J. & Stetler, D. (2014). When the Love Hormone Leads to Violence: Oxytocin Increases Intimate Partner Violence Inclinations Among High Trait Aggressive People, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5 (6) 691-697. DOI: 10.1177/1948550613516876

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A miniature turbine with blades one atom thick
Micro-machines, as well as being an awesome video game, are also a glimpse into the future (maybe): Some people believe that tiny robots could one day revolutionise medicine, while others think they might destroy the world in a big blob of ‘grey goo’. While fully-fledged nanorobots are currently limited to fictional universes such as those…

Li J., Lina Zhao, Xingfa Gao, Yuliang Zhao & Ruhong Zhou (2014). Rotation Motion of Designed Nano-Turbine, Scientific Reports, 4 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep05846

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