Here’s a pop quiz. Read the following statements and select the best answer from the choices below.
A: Snoring runs in my family; it is genetic.
B: Snoring runs in my family; it is heritable.
1. Statement A is true
2. Statement B is true
3. Both Statement A and B are true
4. Neither Statement A or B are true
5. Don’t know
The answer: Only Statement B can be true. Heritability deals with the likelihood or probability of traits running in families. But here is the catch: something can be heritable due to genetics or environment. In this case the environment includes culture or habits and behaviors that you experience and accept as a normal and everyday. Everything that shared among related individuals isn’t necessarily because they share the same genes.
Here’s another snag – heritable traits and inherited traits are not synonymous. To inherit something means you received it or get from your parents. Think about an heirloom. Your grandfather has this amazing fishing pole. When he passes on, he gives the fishing pole to your father and your father gives it to you. You get the exact same thing your father and grandfather had. Genetic inheritance works the same way. One parent has a gene or allele and he or she gives to you.
Heritability is the likelihood of getting something…in other words, you might get it. It’s not automatic – like genetic inheritance, but the chances look good.
Here’s an example: Autism: highly heritable but not inherited
Arthur L Beaudet of Baylor University examined genetic causes of Autism. He found specific gene disorders that can result in autism de novo, automatically or off the top. These disorders include an alteration of the genome causing complete loss of copy, gain of copy or disruption of a dosage-sensitive gene.
But research by Sebat et al. indicates that other genomic deletions and duplications may point to genes in which mutations may lead to autism, but doesn’t automatically cause autism. In other words, having these genes doesn’t mean you will automatically have autism, but your chances are high.
Thinking about human behavior and habits, many of us confuse genetic and cultural heritability, especially when comparing family members to one another. If it’s something positive like – good looks or being smart, then it is thought to be an asset. You feel like you’ve got the deck stacked in your favor. "Natural with no extensions. She get it from her mama."
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Here’s a pop quiz. Read the following statements and select the best answer from the choices below.
Monday, October 27, 2008
First McCain put his foot in the mouth at Debate #1 about the Grizzly Bears.
Correction - The money spent on this genetics and conservation research project was not an earmark. It was a awarded as a competitive grant and help shed light on an endangered species - a native American species- and apex predator.
Next McCain sounded like a foolish old man comparing the Zeiss Projector at the historic Aldler Museum of Chicago to an overhead projector in Debates #2 and #3.
Correction - the projector projects images of the night sky and space onto a domed ceiling in the Sky Theater. Adler is the Western Hemisphere's oldest Planetarium. They educate and inspire millions. For decades children of Chicago, the state of Illinois, and the US are have been provided top-notch space and planetary sciences education and career exploration opportunities. In fact, the Adler has educated Navy men in night sky navigation to help them chart their courses while out at sea. The stars of the night sky are their only landmarks. The Navy, the US Navy. Hmm, should Mr. Naval Academy know how important the Adler is...Maybe he would if he hadn't been such a bad boy in college and graduated near the bottom of the class.
Last, Mrs. Palin talked about a "ridiculous pet project research on fruit flies in Paris", just moments after declaring her commitment to families with special needs childrend and disabled family members. Palin, autism and fruitflies - it does not add up
Correction - 1st, the research which as she correctly stated was paid for by NSF was actually conducted in the United States! And this research with fruit flies has made discoveries about genes and proteins related to Autism Spectrum disorders! Foot in the mouth.
UNC scientists comment in support of fruit fly research for understanding autism
McCain-Palin just seem so under-informed and unapologetically ignorant about science, science education, science outreach, and research. It bothers me to potentially have another adminstration that marginalizes science as a meaningful endeavor and politicizes research results, ignoring sound advise when making important policy decisions.
Having a President (and Vice President) who are scientifically literate matters.
AVoteForScience: Kiki Sanford endorses Barack Obama
Hat tip to Bora (A Blog Around the Clock) for links with the great videos. Be sure to check them out. Very informative.
Science Literacy Matters.
Vote Pro-Science and Pro-Education
Friday, October 24, 2008
The Moss-in-Prisons project promotes the rehabilitation of prisoners.
Credit: Nalini Nadkarni of Evergreen State College.
Re-post: NSF Press Release 08-186
October 17, 2008
Nalini Nadkarni of Evergreen State College currently advises a team of researchers who sport shaved heads, tattooed biceps and prison-issued garb rather than the lab coats and khakis typically worn by researchers. Why is Nadkarni's team composed of such apparently iconoclastic researchers? Because all of her researchers are inmates at Cedar Creek Corrections Center, a medium security prison in Littlerock, Washington.
With partial funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Nadkarni has guided her unlikely but productive team of researchers since 2004, as they conduct experiments to identify the best ways to cultivate slow-growing mosses. Nadkarni's so-called Moss-in-Prisons project is designed to help ecologists replace large quantities of ecologically important mosses that are regularly illegally stripped from Pacific Northwest forests by horticulturalists.
Why did Nadkarni recruit inmates into her research team? "Because," she explains, "I need help from people who have long periods of time available to observe and measure the growing mosses; access to extensive space to lay out flats of plants; and fresh minds to put forward innovative solutions."
In addition to managing the Moss-in-Prisons research at Cedar Creek, Nadkarni helps the facility's inmates run various projects that promote sustainable living--including an organic garden that produces 15,000 pounds of fresh vegetables every summer, a bee-keeping operation and a composting operation that processes one ton of food per month.
One member of Nadkarni's research team, who was released from Cedar Creek, enrolled in a Ph.D. program in microbiology at the University of Nevada and presented his Cedar Creek research at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in August 2008. (Heck, no. Now that's Broader impact.)
Nadkarni started the Moss-in-Prisons project with a type of NSF award that is specially designed to help scientists reach out to public audiences. More recently, she has received additional funding from the Washington State Department of Corrections.
In addition, Nadkarni has creatively stretched project resources by recruiting other NSF-funded researchers to contribute to a popular lecture series that she started at Cedar Creek. By giving such lectures, these scientists fulfill requirements for conducting public outreach that accompany NSF awards.
A recent TV news report about the Moss-in-Prisons and the sustainability projects at Cedar Creek is posted at http://www.kcts9.org/video/green-prison-reform.
Media ContactsLily Whiteman, National Science Foundation (703) 292-8310 firstname.lastname@example.orgJason Wettstein, Evergreen State College (360) 451-3167 email@example.com
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of $6.06 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to over 1,900 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 45,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes over 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
more images of the research and research participants.
I ain't even mad. What a unique way to do outreach and meet broader impact requirements.
Friday, October 17, 2008
The talk is done. It’s time to take Action.
The United Nations needs every concerned person to help bring the Millennium Development Goals to fruition. End Poverty by the year 2015.
From October 17 to 19, people all around the world are asked to Stand Up and Take Action, in a global mobilization to stamp out poverty and inequality. The world has made strong and sustained progress in reducing extreme poverty, but this is now being undercut by higher prices - particularly of food and oil - and the global economic slowdown, according to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals Report 2008. Read it for yourself, here.
Here’s the Action. Stand Up and Take Action.
Join an event this weekend.
Spread the word.
There are several dozen events here in the US. Join one make your voice heard and actions count to stamp out poverty and hunger in this world in our lifetime.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Poverty and Hunger are twin sisters. My Blog Action Day Post on Poverty is only the springboard of Awareness. Do you realize how important food production is to life? Do you realize that a single digit percentage of the world’s population is responsible for growing and harvesting enough food to feed the entire world? Most of these farmers are US farmers in what we affectionately call the Bread Basket.These farmers, ranchers, and processors already deal with climate and ecological stoichasticity – too much or little rain or sun, locusts or other invertebrate pests. They take on the risk and if things go bad there’s less food to go around. Now we have Global Warming to deal with. And have you thought about how this crappy global economy will test everyone? Less food and more expensive and less to go around.
But there’s one thing different about these twin sisters – Poverty tends to be heritable but Hunger is universal. When food is limited even the strongest and wealthiest suffer, though last and for shorter durations.
Today is World Food Day. October 16th is a worldwide event designed to increase awareness, understanding and informed, year-around action to alleviate hunger. America is no exception and the poor of America will suffer first and hardest. Food Insecurity & Food Justice will be our charge for this coming year.
Some of my previous posts about Food Justice:
Food Science, Nutritional Security, and Social Justice
Science, Education & SES: Food-justice
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I believe that service – contributing your talent and time to accomplish a goal for the betterment of a community – is way to resolve important matters. Serving others and making this world a better place is a noble calling. And I don’t think concept of service belongs to conservatives or liberals or Christians or any other religious group. It is non-partisan. It is a common ground. If those of us who care to serve and believe in service work to help others, then I believe we can create a just society where poverty no longer exists.
Read more of my posts about poverty.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Update: Black Bloggers for Education are doing pretty well for the New Kids on the Board. We're ranked 9 of 10 out of the major Categories.
BBE boasts 7 members and have raised over $700 dollars. I still need your help to raise funds for my selected projects, but thanks for fully one project to date.
Visit BBE and make a contribution. Any amount is appreciated and helps education our children.
And a big thank you to all American Express Cardholders who voted for the Donors Choose Project in the Members project. Help 100,000 children thrive in the classroom! This project won 2nd Place and $500,000.
Please help Black Bloggers for Education raise more money to help more students.
Thank you very much,
The Urban Scientist
Friday, October 10, 2008
Like I try to do often, I am providing you some supplemental news about what’s happening in the world of science and research. This week’s theme – PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT.
Here is your Crib Sheet for Cocktail party talk this weekend. All three are rather quick reads. So devour the articles head out to all of the great meet-and-greet spots and impress everyone with your knowledge of the science of personal growth and development over drinks.
It's all about what makes you tick and motivates you.
For the Brain, Cash Is Good, Status Is Better
Narcissists Tend to Become Leaders
Compassion meditation may improve physical and emotional responses to psychological stress
Knock 'em out.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I know the US Political Theatre has most of us wide mouth. But the world of science and discovery is steady at the helm. The Nobel Foundation has named its 2008 winners in the science categories.
Doctors Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie, and Roger Tsien share The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their discoveries of the green florescent protein in jellyfish
Here’s what they did.
Doctors Yoichiro Nambu, Makoto Kobayashi, and Toshihide Masukawa share The Nobel Prize for Physics for their discoveries of broken symmetry dynamics. Don’t even ask me what this means. I understand the chemistry and physiology/medicine award. I need to go back to school to figure this out. But nonetheless it’s important. Bone up, read about it here.
Doctors Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, Luc Montagnier and Harald zur Hausen share The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine – the discoverers of the Human Papilloma virus and the HIV Virus . By the way this award is for most any life science discipline. Dr. Robert Gallo also did some key research on the HIV virus wasn’t co-award the prize. Science Drama.
Go to Happy Hours this weekend and impress the socks off of everyone. For good measure throw in some chatter about the folks throughout history who were worthy but did not get the award. The most notable un-awardee is perhaps Rosalind Franklin who did all of the real work that Watson &Crick are now famous for. Coincidentally her research work cost her her life.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
There are two Competitive Categories
1. Innovation in Participatory Learning Awards for Institutions awarding $30,000 - $250,000. Details here.
2. Young Innovator Awards for Individuals ages 18-25 $5,000-$30,000
The Young Innovator Awards encourage innovators aged 18-25 to think boldly about "what comes next" in participatory learning and to contribute to making it happen. These awards will help young innovators bring their visionary ideas from the "garage" stage to implementation. Additional details here.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
The Parasite species exploits the parent care (brood care) of another species. They steal pupae from another species (the host species). An all-out fight ensues between the species and it is not pretty. Ants die…lots and lots of ants die. If the raiding party is successful they will kill the workers of the host species leaving too few to worry about. The raiding party carry the kidnapped pupae to their nest where they complete their development. The pupae stage is the last metamorphosis. Pupae require no special care for food. It is very much like the cocoon stage of a butterfly.
Days later pupae emerge as fully adult worker ants and accept the Parasite Queen and parasite workers as their own kin and commence with the jobs they were kidnapped to do – raising the larvae of the Queen. Sounds eerily familiar to slave dynamics in the Americas. Slaves were kidnapped from Africa, brought to the New World and forced to work the plantations and females often nursed and cared for the young of the owners.
But like all tenuous relationships, there are is co-evolutionary war at hand. This has and will always occur when two individuals or groups have a relationship but conflicting goals. This, too is eerily familiar.
The host species have some defenses against this colony attack and pupae kidnapping, for a long time, everyone thought that these defenses must all be pre-take-over defenses. And that makes sense. These Pre-take over defenses include enemy recognition and physical defenses (fighting) against the parasites. At the same time, no one really thought that post-taker defenses were possible. For one, once the ants emerge they smell the odor of the colony and imprint to it, and everyone thought this locked everything in place. Plus, no one imagined a scenario of rebellion. What good would it do the kidnapped ants to rebel? They can’t “go back home”. They wouldn’t know where it is, besides, everyone was killed in the battle to take them as pupae.
But according to some research by Susanne Foitzik, rebellion can happen and she has documented it. She studies ant species are found in the northeast United States, Atlantic Region: slavemaking ants Protomognathus americanus and Harpagoxenus sublaevis and their hosts Temnothorax spp. and Leptothorax spp.
Photo of a Harpagoxenus sublaevis– credit: antclub.ru
Photo of a Temnothorax – credit: bugguide.net
Even after the slave ants have accepted their “new home” there have been some recorded incidences that slave workers will actually kill the larvae of the parasite brood they were supposed to raise...but only the female larvae. In some cases slave workers actually attack, mutilate and rip the larvae apart. In other cases, the workers will simply neglect the larvae by not feeding them and discarding them in “dump piles” in the nest. Some host species are more vicious than others with some species more likely to rebelling than others.
Why would this happen? Well the running reason has to do with the fact that perhaps the slave workers are keeping the Brood colony in check. By doing so, they prevent or decrease the number of raids on nearby host colonies that are likely to be comprised of their relatives…a sort of indirect group selection.
But how do they know which pupae belong to which species? It seems the chemical and olfactory cues – hydrocarbon profiles are different for each species; and the slave worker ants can distinguish between the female pupae of their own species and that of the parasite species. However, they cannot distinguish between male pupae of their own or parasite species.
And this is why some think the workers don’t kill male pupae. The proposed answer is believed to be related to odor…male larvae “smell” different than female larvae and some experiments suggest that the male larvae of parasite species smell a lot like the male larva of the host species. Moreover, male ants aren’t considered a real threat. Males don’t participate in colony affairs like work, defense, or raiding other ant species nests. Simply put, males mate, then die.
Monday, October 6, 2008
- Visit my Donors Choose Giving page: Black Bloggers for Education: SES: Science, Education & Society – my page focuses on math and science education
- Black Data Processors Association Education and Technology Foundation – Giving Page up on the left side bar – are funding a variety of programs from Tech to language arts to math and science education.
- A Slant Truth – Giving page up and ready. His projects are Reading, Literacy, and Language Arts Education.
If you are a blogger there are 2 ways to participate:
1. Create an account and a Gift Giving page that is directly linked to your blog site. Your readers are asked to help you raise funds to for the classroom(s) you selected.
2. Promote the Black Bloggers for Education in the 2008 Donors Choose Blogger Challenge. Tell your readers about Donors Choose and encourage them to make a donation through one of the participating Black Bloggers for Education Gift Giving pages.
Other Supporters of Black Bloggers for Education:
What Tami Said
Friday, October 3, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Study says that Lack of African-Americans in Science Field Hurting Industry.
by J. Coyden Palmer
A study that surveyed Fortune 1000 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) executives representing leading science and technology companies in the United States, was released last week by Bayer Corporation.
The survey found that women, African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields and that the result could hurt the nation as a whole. The findings of the study should alarm whoever is going to be the next president of the United States the report stated. Minorities are seen as perhaps the saving grace for the country if America is going to keep its place as the leader in the STEM industry, the report noted.
Read the rest of the report on BDPA Foundation page.
I am cross-posting this article because this is one of my battle cries. The need for enhanced diversity in STEM fields - beginning with enhanced education and outreach opportunities to members of these under-represented groups.
Related posts about this topic.
Assertive STEM Education Training Programs may prove beneficial
Why 'Perfect Representation' in STEM is important
I am also a staunch supporter of community involvement and initiatives that reach out to these groups. So even if the school system can't handle it (for whatever reason) I believe and know that there is plenty of talent and energy that can pick up the slack and provide students with supplement STEM education.
I dedicate some of my time and energy to share science with students - in my real life, not just online. I participate in a variety of outreach programs from mentoring and training students in research, guest speaking, tutoring and service in my professional organizations.
So, with that in mind I want to encourage everyone to find a way to get involved to close the math & science achievement gap in this nation. Tutor. Assist with a Science Fair or Knowledge Bowl or National Computer Competition or any other academic program or fair. Have your company sponsor a Family Math and/or Science Night at the school or local community center.
Something. In fact, here's something you can do right now - and if you can leverage company or organization support that is great.
DonorsChoose is an annual fundraiser that raises money to supply classrooms with the things they need. Won't you help students at low-income schools* get the supplies they need to get a quality science and math education?
*(Schools with a high proportion of students receiving free and reduced lunches).
There is also a Blogger Challenge to get Communities of Bloggers to raise a high amount of funds. I know Blog Communities like ScienceBlogs do it every year. I'll look into the details and see if I can get members of the AfroSphere/AfroSpear to participate.
Maybe we call all do our little part.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The other day, I blogged about the Presidential Candidates’ stands on science. STEM is the foundation of this nation’s prowess, security, and success. Therefore sound science policies and developing other policies with sound science and advice is terribly important.
Too bad there won't be a 4th Presidential Debate that's all about Science and Education. But we've got the next best thing - ScienceDebate2008. It is an online forum where the candidates provided answers to 14 key Science questions. The goal is to raise public awareness of science, technology, and innovation and call attention to informed decision-making at higher political levels. You can read their answers and offer comments and offer new questions.
McCain doesn’t even mention a single science agency and all of his focus is on technology and entrepreneurship. Basic research happens at colleges adn universities and through scientific agencies like NSF, NASA, and NIMH. Business innovation of technology and discovery takes place AFTER graduate students and post-docs work out all of the kinks. I am disturbed by McCain’s limited comprehension STEM and its work culture. He completely disregards the role of academics in science research, and it makes him seem so out of touch. He complete focuses on tech-related industries (I guess because of the potential for entrepreneurship) and ignore the basic sciences such as life sciences and physical sciences. And I’m still sore about the comment about science research being a wasteful pork earmark.
Let me share something with you all. The ability to get federal research money for science is based on a very strict, very competitive peer-reviewed system. You have to write a detailed grant explaining why you want the money and the impact the research/results will have on the world. Science is about knowledge – gaining knowledge, clarifying information, and disseminating knowledge. Even great ideas that might possibly change the world get denied because of lack of impact. Getting research money is no easy task. Even for my graduate-level research monies I had to jump through several hoops. No one passes this money out. There is no special money set aside for pet science projects –of any kind. Everyone must compete and demonstrate professional ability before any money is granted.
Update: From Campaign News from AAAS Policy Alert Newsletter.
On Sept. 26 the Obama campaign released a revised plan for science, technology, and innovation and a letter signed by 61 Nobel Prize-winning scientists who have endorsed Obama. On Sept. 29 Senator McCain released a radio ad reinforcing his past record on stem cell research and calling an Obama ad claiming that he has "stood in the way" of stem cell research "misleading." And in a speech last week at the Clinton Global Initiative, McCain reiterated his commitment to addressing global warming.
I can’t wait for the VP Debate tomorrow.