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AAAS 2010: Sun, dolphins, delusion

Posted on behalf of Rex Dalton. The gorgeous warm winter weather of Southern California greeted an expected 8,000 attendees in San Diego for this year’s meeting, where most scientific sessions begin Friday February 19. Along with workshops and clinics on various specialties, Thursday was dominated by press conferences that will begin a cycle of such things carrying issues of scientific import to the world. The theme of this year’s meeting is “Bridging Science and Society.” Fittingly, the press conferences heralding scientific symposia were on translational medicine, dolphins and their capabilities for human research; green power, the census of marine life,  … Read more

AAAS: Bowser blazes the trail

AAAS: Bowser blazes the trail

Whenever I see Elaine Ostrander talk about dogs, I feel sorry for human geneticists. Ostrander, a researcher at the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute on Bethesda, Maryland, studies the hundreds of dog breeds that exist in the world. And because human breeders have simplified dog genetics enormously, it’s a lot easier to answer questions about the genetic basis of all kinds of traits in dogs than it is in humans.  Read more

AAAS: Darwin the Buddhist

Ordinarily, Paul Ekman is to be found doing rigorous, detailed studies of facial expression, body movement, emotion and deception. And his results are not just academic. These days he is an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco, but he and his associates still give courses on how to recognize concealed emotions via subtle changes in facial expressions, body language and such—with a roster of students that include police and national security officials, corporate negotiators and health professionals. He’s also the scientific adviser to the FoxTV series Lie to Me.  Read more

AAAS: Climate issue getting “more complicated”

AAAS: Climate issue getting "more complicated"

A leader of the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told the meeting today that the world’s climate is likely to change much faster than predicted, leaving the world with two choices: start cutting carbon emissions earlier, or make the cuts deeper.  Read more

AAAS: The greatest mystery of all….

AAAS: The greatest mystery of all....

Since it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, you know what I’m talking about. That’s right, it’s love. Valentine’s Day always happens some time during this conference, to the eternal consternation (or relief?) of conference-goers forced to spend the holiday apart from their adored ones. But it usually means we get treated to some “science of romance” stories, and this year is no exception, as the conference organizers thoughtfully organized a press conference on the science of kissing.  Read more

AAAS: Synthetic biology soon to go open source?

Stanford University’s Drew Endy is still one of the great enthusiasts for synthetic biology: the visionary field that looks forward to the day in which bio-engineers will create new functions for cells by plugging together synthesized-from-scratch ‘devices’ such as DNA, control structures, and even whole reaction pathways. “Biology is the most impressive platform for manufacturing stuff we’ve ever encountered,” Endydeclared at press conference on Friday. And to fully harness that power, he added, we need to be able to design the inner workings of the cell with as much confidence as electrical engineers now bring to microchip design.  Read more