The Opposing Thumb

An opinionated digit leafs through the biological literature
Monday Morning Smörgåsbord

Monday Morning Smörgåsbord

“The Twitter version of plant science history might say agriculture invented, Mendel experimented with pea plants, and GMOs get planted.” Apparently there’s more. Ian Street at his blog The Quiet Branches on the history of plant science.

There is no “I” in TEAM, CANCER, or TUMOR. Coincidence? Carl Zimmer at the New York Times doesn’t think so. An article on the emerging field of cooperative clonal evolution in oncology. “A tumor, as strange as it may sound, is a little society.” 

Dynamic Ecology on “Books that all ecology grad students should read”.

Ken Weiss at Mermaid’s Tale on the search for a fountain of youth, from monkey gland grafts at the turn of the last century to modern parabiosis experiments. “At around the turn of the 20th century the idea became very popular among those socialites with resources to burn and not enough religion to really believe they were going somewhere after death (or, speaking of burning, perhaps given their wealth that that ‘somewhere’ might be rather warm), that you could extend youthful life by receiving a transplant of ‘glands’, that is, testicles from some other animal.”

When lab coats had wide lapels: Alice Bell in Mosaic on “the 1970s, (when) radical scientists thought they could change the world – if they could change science first.”

Wellcome Trust head Jeremy Farrar at Project Syndicate on the drug-resistance epidemic: “by overprescribing antibiotics and failing to complete the required courses of treatment, we are exposing germs to just enough medicine to encourage resistance. In effect, we are vaccinating germs against the drugs we want to use against them.”

Hypersomnia, it ain’t narcolepsy. Virginia Hughes at Medium on a strange condition that “could make you sleep most of the day and still feel lethargic when awake”.

Finally, a great story by Ed Yong  at Not Exactly Rocket Science on how jumping genes may have originated the placenta. Bonus: platypus pic- “The platypus was the final critical part of a project that Lynch, now at the University of Chicago, had longed to do since he was a graduate student.”

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