Saturday, December 27, 2008

Religulous: short review

I saw the movie Religulous today and I was actually pretty impressed. The information content on first glance in this movie was accurate and supportable by evidence. Maher's interview style was a little sloppy and several obscure people were interviewed but the overall message of the film was not negatively affected by these things. I did notice the use of the so called "Lord privy seals" which try to evoke emotions in the viewer, but whatever I don't like them but they weren't overly used in my opinion. Maher's agnosticism and unchallenging nature may help to further expose the public to the ideas of questioning their religions, but considering that it doesn't give answers to questions such as science would, I am sure if this movie were to change peoples beliefs they would probably quickly fall into the pseudoscience realm as plagues much of Europe, or perhaps I am being to pessimistic.

This movie actually had the same feel to it as Prof. Dawkins documentary "Root of all Evil" with a trip to the gaza strip and the interview with an evangelical (although he was a black televangilist type).

Overall I give the movie two thumbs up and would reccomend it to most of the people that I know.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Various Papers from Science and Nature

This week has some great papers published and featured in Science and Nature.

here's the list

About horizontal gene transfer in the Rotifers and how this may explain their Asexual behavior.

From the Cover: Repeated horizontal transfer of a DNA transposon in mammals and other tetrapods.
J. K. Pace II, C. Gilbert, M. S. Clark, and C. Feschotte (2008)
PNAS 105, 17023-17028
General info about horizontal gene transfer by transposons in Eukaryotes.

Nature 456, 841 (18 December 2008) | doi:10.1038/456841a; Published online 17 December 2008

Genetics: Many but rare

Science 320, 539–543 (2008)

Article about schizophrenia; genetic causes and mutations that lead to schizophrenia in childhood onset and young adult onset schizophrenia. Really interesting read.

Research Highlights

Nature 456, 840 (18 December 2008) | doi:10.1038/456840d; Published online 17 December 2008

Zoology: Queen Bee

About epigenetic factors that contribute to the genetically identical bees differentiating into queen bees or workers from feeding on "royal jelly", by way of using RNAi to interfere with specific proteins during development.

Research Highlights

Nature 456, 840 (18 December 2008) | doi:10.1038/456840c; Published online 17 December 2008

Neuroscience: Glia on fire

About specific types of Glial cells that fire neurotrans. signals, Glial cells were long thought to not have a direct role in neuro signals, so this is something new and exciting.

Research Highlights

Nature 456, 840 (18 December 2008) | doi:10.1038/456840b; Published online 17 December 2008

Biophysics: Mob rule

Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 105, 11754–11759 (2008)

About how protein structures can be modified in-vivo if the amount of space in a cell is limiting or available, very interesting stuff.

And I am not even done reading past the highlights. Check the papers out and I would like to encourage everyone to listen to the Nature podcast and read Nature every Wednesday for free if you attend University or are a faculty member.