Scientists have shown for the first time that sperm grown from embryonic stem cells can be used to produce offspring. The experiment was carried out using mice and produced seven babies, six of which lived to adulthood.
Moose writes:Planning some fun in the sun this summer? Oregon Scientific has developed a Personal UV Monitor that recommends safe exposure times based on the SPF level of the suntan lotion you're using, your skin type, and the current intensity of the sun's UV rays. You can also set a countdown...
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Revere and Tara make fun of a silly guest commentary from a very silly man who thinks them evilutionists are cheating by using the term "mutation"—that changes in the virulence of a disease are examples of a "population shift," which has nothing to do with evolution.
Just a note to any journalists or newspaper editors who might read this: the Panda's Thumb has a useful list of scientists and other defenders of evolution who are willing—no, overjoyed—to vet these kinds of strange anti-scientific tirades. We're also willing to help with any pro-science articles you might be moved to write. It's kind of sad that this list is sitting there, and we rarely here from any responsible journalists; I think I've had 3 calls in a year and a half. What's the problem, is it just easier to take the press releases the Discovery Institute pushes at you, without bothering with that difficult job of actually questioning any of it?Read the comments on this post...
It looks like the good folks at Seed (thanks, Tim!) have fixed some of the posting problems that were plaguing ScienceBlogs over the weekend. This means that the system is no longer keeping me from, among other things, using the word "drugs" in my posts. Therefore, I'd encourage you to go back to the now fixed entry from Saturday on problems with the progress of HR 810. Since the site is no longer drug-free, make sure you visit the link to a story from Sex Drugs & DNA that I wasn't able to post before because of the problems.Read the comments on this post...
It's his birthday, and Coturnix has gathered about eleventy billion links to Tesliana (Teslaniana? Is there a word for this, or am I just making things up?)Read the comments on this post...
Carel Brest van Kempen has extracted a few fascinating quotes from an old book he has. It's titled Creative and Sexual Science, by a phrenologist and physiologist from 1870, and it contains some wonderful old examples of folk genetics.
President Bush would be pleased:
"Human and animal hybrids are denounced most terribly in the Bible; obviously because the mixing up of man with beast, or one beast species with another, deteriorates. Universal amalgamation would be disastrous."
Although, unfortunately, he then goes on to use this as an argument against miscegenation.
Another lesson is that you shouldn't deny pregnant women anything, or their longing will mark their child.
"A woman, some months before the birth of her child, longed for strawberries, which she could not obtain. Fearing that this might mark her child, and having heard that it would be marked where she then touched herself, she touched her hip. Before the child was born she predicted that it would have a mark resembling a strawberry, and be found on its hip, all of which proved to be true."
Don't let them see horrible things, either.
"Mrs. Lee, of London, Ont., saw Burly executed from her window; who, in swinging off, broke the rope, and fell with his face all black and blue from being choked. This horrid sight caused her to feel awfully; and her son, born three months afterwards, whenever anything occurs to excite his fears, becomes black and blue in the face, an instance of which the Author witnessed."
And…uh-oh. Maybe George W. Bush won't be so thrilled with this part.
"A child in Boston bears so striking a resemblance to a monkey, as to be observed by all. Its mother visited a menagerie while pregnant with it, when a monkey jumped on her shoulders."
I think Carel needs to get busy and transcribe the whole thing onto the web. I know I'll find these examples useful when I teach genetics this spring.Read the comments on this post...
While bird flu has been successfully checked in Western Europe and much of Southeast Asia apart from Indonesia, it is still expanding in Africa and will remain a threat for years to come, with the number of countries affected doubling to 60 in just the two months from February to April, United Nations officials said today.
Via Feministe, we see a wingnut named Tim Worstall trying to argue something about sexual education. It's not entirely clear just what the heck he thinks his argument is; he wants to argue that sexual education "doesn't work"; his argument about this is based on abortion rates. This is an absolutely classic example of how statistics are misused in political arguments. So let's take a look, and see what's wrong.
He quotes an article from the Telegraph, a UK newspaper. The telegraph article cites statistics from the UK department of health. Here's what Worstall has to say:
Yup, gotta hand it to them, the campaigners are right. Sex education obviously works
Abortions have reached record levels, and nearly a third of women who have an abortion have had one or more before.
Department of Health statistics reveal that abortions in England and Wales rose by more than 700 in 2005, from 185,713 in 2004 to 186,416. ... Some 31 per cent of women had one or more previous abortions, a figure that rises to 43 per cent among black British women.
The ever increasing amount of sex education, the ever easier provision of contraception is clearly >driving down the number of unwanted pregnancies.
Clearly, Worstall and the author of the telegraph piece want us to believe that there's a significant increase in the number of abortions in the UK; and that this indicates some problem with the idea of sex-ed.
So what's wrong with this picture?
First, let's just look at those numbers, shall we? We're talking about a year over year increase of 700 abortions from a base of 185,000. How significant is that? Well, do the math: 0.37%. Yes, about one third of one percent. Statistically significant? Probably not. (Without knowing exactly how those numbers are gathered, including whether or not there's a significant possibility of abortions being underreported, there's no way to be absolutely sure, but 1/3 of 1% from a population of 185,000 or so is not likely to be significant.)
But it gets worse. Take a good look at those statistics: what do they measure? They're a raw number of abortions. But what does that number actually mean? Statistics like that taken out of context are very uninformative. Let's put them in context. From the statistics for England and Wales:
In the year 2003, there were 621,469 live births, and 190,660 abortions. In 2004, there were 639,721 live births, and 194,179 abortions. Now, these stats from from the UK Office of National Statistics. Note that the numbers do not match the numbers cited earlier. In fact, taken as bare statistics, these numbers show a much larger increase in abortions: about 1.8%.
But, put in context... Take the number of abortions as a percentage of non-miscarried pregnancies (which we need to do because the miscarriage statistics for the years 2003 and 2004 are not available), and we find that the number of abortions per 1000 pregnancies actually declined from 292/1000 in 2003 to 290/1000 in 2004. And that number from 2003 was a decline from 2002, which was a decline from 2001. So for the last four years for which statistics are available, the actual percentage of pregnancies ending in abortions has been nearly constant; but closely studying the numbers shows that the number has been declining for those four years.
In fact, if we look at abortion statistics overall, what we find is that from the legalization of abortion in the UK, there was a consistent increase until about 1973 (when the number of abortions reached 167,000), and since then, the number has ranged upwards and downwards with no consistent pattern.
So - what we've got here is a nut making an argument that's trying to use statistics to justify his political stance. However, the real statistics, in context, don't say what he wants them to say. So - as usual for a lying slimebag - he just selectively misquotes them to make it look like they say what he wants them to.Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...
Seeking better quality and lower costs, plastics processors are turning to welding for simple assembly and parts consolidation. Customer demand for aesthetics - no scuffing, tool, or handling marks, for example - challenge the welding process. In automotive applications where automation is a high...
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