That age-old (if rather dumb) question, “which came first – chicken or egg?”, now has an answer.
“I tackled the question experimentally, using a chicken, an egg, and the United States Postal Service”.
Via Improbable Research.
Various outlets report that a chimpanzee virus, SIVcpz, is the most likely progenitor for HIV. Interesting to see how headline writers summarise the news:
BBC Science News: HIV origin ‘found in wild chimps’
The Guardian: Hunt for HIV origin ends
ABC Sci-Tech: Chimp poo reveals AIDS origins: research
Just in case you’re saying “Tangled what?”, Tangled Bank is a regular compendium (monthly or so) of articles from science blogs. There’s always a wide variety of submissions and it’s a great way to get a taster of the best blogs and learn something new and interesting. A bit like reading a review article for the blogosphere. It has a nice “community feel” and any blogger can host it.
I should have learned by now not to use Slashdot as a source for science news. I found myself reading Better Fuel Cells Using Bacteria, which reports this amazing feat of quantum transformation:
Some species, such as Shewanella oneidensis and Rhodoferax ferrireducens, turn these nutrients directly into electrons.
Ah, no. They don’t.
A recent study in BMC Bioinformatics analyses what becomes of links to supplementary data after publication. Answer: a lot of them vanish. It’s a worthy study with some good suggestions. It’s also a paper that makes you think "jeez, I could have done that".
I wonder if we shouldn’t start some kind of support or self-help group aimed at helping young scientists to identify “easy” opportunities for publication?
Recently, I found myself having to deal with XML files – specifically, PSI MI XML version 2.5 as used by the MINT and IntAct databases. Being a relative novice to parsing this kind of XML, I found it pretty painful. Normally I’d look to BioPerl but their Bio::Graph modules are rather far from “production” (for me they work only on a small range of PSI MI version 1 files).
I highly recommend the O’Reilly XML.com site. Lots of tutorials and introductory material that should point you in the right direction. Of course eventually, you’ll have to settle on a module of choice – for me XML::Twig was overkill, XML::Simple too simple and I ended up with XML::SimpleObject – works for me. I still find it hard to get my head around XML parsing – one Perl head argues that Perl mentality and XML mentality don’t sit well together and I’m inclined to agree. “Why would any freedom-loving Perl poet submit to this insanity?” he asks, in relation to the DOM.
The wreck of the Lord Sandwich, better known as Captain Cook’s Endeavour may have been found off Newport, Rhode Island.
You can read more about the search at the Australian National Maritime Museum and the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project. If you’re ever in Sydney, you might catch the Endeavour replica sailing around the harbour. It’s a fine sight.
Continuing the wonderful Ubuntu experience and following up on Chris’s comments, I braved the Firefox 1.5 install for Ubuntu 5.10 experience. Went without a hitch – follow the instructions to the letter and you’ll be fine. 5.10 has recently moved to 1.0.8 and might include 1.5 in June, but I can’t wait any longer.
Homo floresiensis, or “Flores Man”, or “the hobbits” are back in the news, with rival palaeoanthropologists suggesting that the fossils are microcephalic modern humans, not a new species.
If you have access to Science magazine, you can read:
There are days when the information is just too much. You’ve been sat at the computer for weeks on end without a break. You have a minimum of 10 open tabs in Firefox and your terminal, half a dozen unrelated scripts on the go in emacs, your email client, tens of news feeds and two or three OpenOffice documents in your half-dozen desktop workspaces. You’re logged into multiple machines, including the box at home to monitor those torrents. And one day you wake up late, exhausted and unable to do anything productive.