Alex Torex Blog

SciTech oriented blog

Stanford University researchers create first virtual organism

A team of Stanford University researchers has managed to create the world’s first complete computer model of an organism.

The team – led by Prof. Markus Covert – leveraged data from more than 900 scientific papers to account for every molecular interaction that takes place in the life cycle of Mycoplasma genitalium, the world’s smallest free-living bacterium.

Stanford University researchers create first virtual organism | TG Daily

July 22, 2012 Posted by | Biology | Leave a comment

Six-Legged Giant Finds Secret Hideaway, Hides For 80 Years

No, this isn’t a make-believe place. It’s real.

They call it “Ball’s Pyramid.” It’s what’s left of an old volcano that emerged from the sea about 7 million years ago. A British naval officer named Ball was the first European to see it in 1788. It sits off Australia, in the South Pacific. It is extremely narrow, 1,844 feet high, and it sits alone.

Six-Legged Giant Finds Secret Hideaway, Hides For 80 Years : Krulwich Wonders… : NPR

March 1, 2012 Posted by | Biology | Leave a comment

Kakapo: The parrot that can’t fly and only wants sex every two years

Shagged by a rare parrot – Last Chance To See – BBC Two – YouTube

Do some animals DESERVE to go extinct? The parrot that can’t fly, mistakes predators for mates and only wants sex every two years

Kakapo: The parrot that can’t fly and only wants sex every two years | Mail Online

February 22, 2012 Posted by | Biology | Leave a comment

A mitosis mystery solved: How chromosomes align perfectly in a dividing cell

To solve a mystery, sometimes a great detective need only study the clues in front of him. Like Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Tomomi Kiyomitsu used his keen powers of observation to solve a puzzle that had mystified researchers for years: in a cell undergoing mitotic cell division, what internal signals cause its chromosomes to align on a center axis?

A mitosis mystery solved: How chromosomes align perfectly in a dividing cell

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Biology | Leave a comment

Eeek! Human response to fear is more like animals than thought

“The findings suggest that, despite our sophisticated mental capabilities, our responses are in fact driven by these more primitive processes when in danger.

Lead author, Professor Ian McLaren of the University of Exeter, said: ‘This research clearly shows that, in these circumstances, our reaction to a fear-provoking stimulus depends on a primitive response caused by associative learning. This is something we share with other animals.

‘This could have important practical implications. Now that we know that associative processes are implicated in our response to fear-inducing stimuli, we need to consider the implications for the ways in which we treat anxiety and phobias.’”

Eeek! Human response to fear is more like animals than thought | Mail Online

January 20, 2012 Posted by | Biology | Leave a comment

I lived as a turkey for a year

Did you learn to talk “turkey”?
They sort of taught me their language. Researchers had identified 25 to 30 calls in wild turkeys that I was familiar with. But I learned that wild turkey vocabulary was much more complex than I had realised – within each of their calls were different inflexions that had specific meanings. For example, they had an alarm call for dangerous reptiles, but what I learned was that in that call there were specific inflexions that would identify a species of snake. Eventually when I heard a certain vocalisation I knew without question they had found a rattlesnake.

I lived as a turkey for a year – life – 23 December 2011 – New Scientist

December 23, 2011 Posted by | Biology | Leave a comment

Cleverer than a child of four, the birds who can read your mind

This experiment is part of a research programme which has proved that members of the crow family, known as corvids, aren’t just among the cleverest birds, they are smarter than most mammals.

In fact, their intelligence rivals that of apes — who, along with crows, are able to do tasks that three and four-year-old children have difficulty with.

Cleverer than a child of four, the birds who can read your mind | Mail Online

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Biology | Leave a comment

Scientists discover secret of limb regeneration

“Breakthrough: By studying zebra-fish, scientists worked out exactly how the freshwater species uses retinoic acid to re-grow parts of its body”

Scientists discover secret of limb regeneration: It’s a genetic trick using acid from vitamin A | Mail Online

November 25, 2011 Posted by | Biology, Health - Regenerative Medicine | Leave a comment

Team creates ‘human-on-a-chip’

“Researchers have for the first time used stem cells to grow neuromuscular junctions between human muscle cells and human spinal cord cells – the key connectors used by the brain to communicate and control muscles in the body.”

“Right now we rely a lot on animal systems for medical research but this is a pure human system,” says research professor Nadine Guo. “This work proved that, biologically, this is workable.”

Team creates ‘human-on-a-chip’ | TG Daily

November 23, 2011 Posted by | Biology | Leave a comment

Eyes in slow motion

Eyes in slow motion – YouTube

October 19, 2011 Posted by | Biology | Leave a comment

Ever wondered what the top of your hand would look like without skin?


Ever wondered what the top of your hand would look like without skin? (NSFL) (video) – Digg

September 5, 2011 Posted by | Biology | Leave a comment

Loch Ness-like monster in Alaska captured on film?

Paul LeBlond, former head of the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of British Columbia, told Discovery News: ‘I am quite impressed with the video.

‘Although it was shot under rainy circumstances in a bouncy ship, it’s very genuine.’

The Cadborosaurus willsi, meaning ‘reptile’ or ‘lizard’ from Cadboro Bay, is an alleged sea serpent from the North Pacific thought to have a long neck, a horse-like head, large eyes, and back bumps that stick out of the water.

Sightings have been reported for years.

Loch Ness-like monster in Alaska captured on film? | Mail Online

July 20, 2011 Posted by | Biology | Leave a comment

Introducing Google Body: Video reveals new 3D medical browser that will make us all doctors

Introducing Google Body: Video reveals new 3D medical browser that will make us all doctors | Mail Online

Not content with letting you spy on your neighbours with Street View or hover over far-away countries Google has now developed a new browser that maps out the entire human body.

Called Google Body Browser, the hi-tech 3D application has been hailed as a breakthrough in the study of anatomy that could revolutionise our understanding of the human body and even fast-track medical research.

The gadget, yet to be officially released, lets you explore the human body in much the same way you can navigate the world on Google Earth.

December 16, 2010 Posted by | Biology, IT | Leave a comment

Team builds logic gates into bacteria

Team builds logic gates into bacteria | TG Daily

A team at the University of California has successfuly implanted E coli bacteria with the key molecular circuitry to act as computers.

They’ve given the cells the same sort of logic gates, and created a method to build circuits by ‘rewiring’ communications between cells. It means cells could be turned into miniature computers, they say.

The research has already formed the basis of an industry partnership
with California-based Life Technologies. The genetic circuits and design
algorithms developed at UCSF will be integrated into a professional
software package as a tool for genetic engineers, much as computer-aided
design is used in architecture and the development of advanced computer

The next step, says Voigt, is to be able to program cells using a formal language similar to computer programming languages.

December 9, 2010 Posted by | Biology, IT, Technology | Leave a comment

This microorganism thrives on toxic arsenic

December 2, 2010 Posted by | Biology | Leave a comment

Magnetovision: Birds’ seventh sense revealed

Magnetovision: Birds’ seventh sense revealed – environment – 01 December 2010 – New Scientist

The idea that birds create magnetic maps is supported by studies like those on Australian silvereyes done by the Wiltschkos in the 1990s. They exposed the birds to a strong pulse that altered the magnetism of iron crystals in their beaks but left the eye compass unaffected. In juvenile birds that had just left the nest, this made no difference – they still tried to head in the right direction.

Birds that had migrated before, however, all headed in the wrong direction after the pulse. This suggests that the juvenile birds were relying on the compass in their eyes, whereas the experienced birds were trying to navigate based on their mental magnetic map, using the intensity receptor in their beaks.

Of course in natural situations, birds use a whole range of clues for navigation, not just magnetism. They also use the sun and stars, smells, visual landmarks and perhaps even sounds like waves breaking.

An insight into how they combine these different kinds of information came from a recent study on night-migrating thrushes. When the thrushes were exposed to artificial magnetic fields at sunset, they flew in the wrong direction during the night when released. After seeing the next sunset, however, they corrected their courses. So it appears some birds calibrate their magnetic compasses against the sun each day.

December 1, 2010 Posted by | Biology | Leave a comment

Body’s immune system ‘bullet’ caught on camera attacking rogue cells for first time

Body’s immune system ‘bullet’ caught on camera attacking rogue cells for first time | Mail Online

A ‘bullet’ fired by killer immune system cells has been seen in action for the first time.

The protein, called perforin, is used to punch holes in rogue cells that threaten the body.

Scientists used a powerful electron microscope to study how perforin despatches cells that have become cancerous or invaded by viruses.

The holes it blows open allow toxic enzymes to enter the cells and destroy them.

parts of the perforin molecule are similar to toxins deployed by
bacteria such as anthrax, listeria and streptococcus, said the

This suggests that the hole-punching method is evolutionarily ancient, possibly 2billion years old.

November 1, 2010 Posted by | Biology | Leave a comment

Researchers ‘watch’ formation of cells’ protein factories for first time

Researchers ‘watch’ formation of cells’ protein factories for first time

A team from The Scripps Research Institute has revealed the first-ever pictures of the formation of cells’ “protein factories.” In addition to being a major technical feat on its own, the work could open new pathways for development of antibiotics and treatments for diseases tied to errors in ribosome formation. In addition, the techniques developed in the study can now be applied to other complex challenges in the understanding of cellular processes.

October 31, 2010 Posted by | Biology | Leave a comment

Misterul “Chupacabra” a fost elucidat de cercetători

Misterul “Chupacabra” a fost elucidat de cercetători

Poveştile despre fantomaticul “Chupacabra” circulă în fiecare an, dar oamenii de ştiinţă au reuşit, în sfârşit, să dezlege misterul ce înconjura legendarul animal.

October 24, 2010 Posted by | Biology, News RO | Leave a comment

Seven Evolutionary Leftovers in Your Body

Seven Evolutionary Leftovers in Your Body – DivineCaroline

Wings on a flightless bird, eyes on a blind fish, and sexual organs on a flower that reproduces asexually—the casual observer might ask, what’s the point? But these vestigial organs and structures, once useful in an ancestor and now diminished in size, complexity, and/or utility, carry important information and give us clues to our evolutionary past.

Though humans often think of vestigial organs as useless little fixtures that sometimes, as in the case of the appendix, cause us extreme anguish, we wouldn’t know nearly as much about macroevolution as we do now without their presence. In On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin used vestigial organs as evidence for evolution, and their presence has helped define and shape our phylogenetic trees.

Why the Leftovers?
Contrary to what most think, vestigial doesn’t necessarily mean useless; in some cases, we may just not yet know exactly how the organ is used in its current incarnation. (The human thymus was once thought to be vestigial). Because these structures can be traced back through the ancestors, they essentially serve as a marker of evolution; no organism can have a vestigial organ that hasn’t been found in its forefathers. For this reason, you won’t ever find feathers on a mammal or gills on a primate.

Similar in concept to vestigial structures are atavisms, which are the reappearance of a structure or trait that isn’t found in the immediate ancestors. For instance, whales and dolphins have been found in nature with hind limbs; this rare occurrence is due to the reemergence of a trait they inherited from their terrestrial ancestors.

Humans also contain structures that mark where we came from and perhaps, which structures’ evolution will take care of over time.

September 30, 2010 Posted by | Biology, Religion vs. Science | Leave a comment


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