Daily Archives: December 19, 2007

A Whale of a Missing Link : Indohyus

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed ResearchYet another missing link has been found! This new find links whales to quadrupedal land mammals.

Thewissen et al. report in Nature new fossil material from the Middle Eocene of Kashmir, India. This species (in the genus Indohyus is represented by a remarkable set of remains, including cranial and post cranial material. Previous studies using DNA had linked whales to the artiodactyls (even-toed ungulates such as deer, antelope, and bison). However, there is a great deal of uncertainty, and some contradictory evidence, as to where exactly in this group the whales arose.

Continue reading A Whale of a Missing Link : Indohyus

A New OpenSource Online Office

“After going premium and suffering some community fragmentation, the OpenOffice.org open source office suite is being taken in a new direction by a company named Ulteo. A brainchild of Gael Duval, founder of Mandriva Linux, Ulteo’s mission is to serve as a platform for putting applications onto the web. Using this approach, Ulteo has released a public beta of Online OpenOffice.org, which quite literally puts OpenOffice.org inside a browser.”[source]

Continue reading A New OpenSource Online Office

Reduced Verbal Ability in African American Children

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed ResearchAfrican American children may have reduced verbal ability compared to other children to a degree that is roughly equivalent to missing a year in school, according to a recently published paper. Is this evidence of a racial difference?The study by Sampson et.al., published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences included more than 200 children aged 6-12 living in Chicago, and followed these children over seven years. The study controlled for poverty, and interestingly, poverty was not found to be a good predictor of differences in verbal ability. Continue reading Reduced Verbal Ability in African American Children

War on Christmas Update

A conservative commentator recently editorialized:

For centuries, atheism has been the rake lurking around the edges of the Christmas party, but now it’s slurping from the punch bowl in the middle of the room.

Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are selling atheist manifestos by the bin, and teens are soaking up blasphemous bits on Comedy Central and HBO. The movie version of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass is peddling a villainous Catholic Church to kids. And the Christmas concert at public schools has long since morphed into the Winter concert.

In terms of cultural clout, it’s a good time to be an atheist in America.
(source: Humanevents.com, Robert Knight)

Well, clearly the Christian Yahoos are on the run…
Continue reading War on Christmas Update

Geek the Vote

Popular Mechanics (one of those magazines that genteel people refuse to admit they read, but that is actually a blast) has published a thing called “Geek the Vote.” According to an email from PM, this is:

…an online guide to all the candidates’ stances on issues related to science and technology including energy policy and climate change, gun control, science education and infrastructure investment. The full chart, which can be navigated by candidate or issue, is [provided]

The site is here.This is apparently in response to (maybe not, but there is evidence to suggest this) the Science Debate 2008 initiative (see this). Continue reading Geek the Vote

The Flores Hominid and the Evolution of the Shoulder

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research

Homo floresiensis more widely known as the “Hobbit,” may have had arms that were very different from those of modern humans.

A paper in the current issue of the Journal of Human Evolution explores the anatomy of H. floresiensis. To explore this we first have to understand the concept of “Humeral torsion.” Humeral torsion is the orientation of the humeral head relative to the mediolateral axis of the distal articular surface. Don’t bother reading that sentence again, I’ll explain it.

Continue reading The Flores Hominid and the Evolution of the Shoulder