Of Schemes and Memes Blog

Best of Nature Network, NPG staff blogs and Scitable: 2 – 9 January

Your New Year resolutions?

It is the New Year and in this spirit Paige Brown has been revealing her top health tips from 2011, ones she hopes to stick to in 2012:

Coffee is good, sleep is better: Then again, those late-night coffee runs that keep me up until 3am might not be entirely healthy either. An article published in Current Biology in November 2011, highlighted in Nature magazine, shows that a lack of REM sleep leads to enhanced brain reactivity, especially in the amygdala, to waking emotional experiences. Such reactivity is typical of anxiety disorders, for example. This might explain why I can go to bed an emotional train-wreck, but things always seem a bit brighter in the morning. “Just sleep it off, you’ll feel better in the morning!”

What are your New Year resolutions? Feel free to share your thoughts in her comment thread.


The News Blog has reported that an Irish mathematician has used a complex algorithm and millions of hours of supercomputing time to solve an important open problem in the mathematics of Sudoku:

Gary McGuire of University College Dublin shows in a proof posted online 1 January that the minimum number of clues – or starting digits – needed to complete a puzzle is 17 (see sample puzzle, pictured, from McGuire’s paper), as puzzles with 16 clues or less do not have an unique solution. In comparison most newspaper puzzles have around 25 clues, with the difficulty of the puzzle decreasing as more clues are given.

Find out more about this discovery in their report.

New species discovered

A research expedition exploring deep sea vents in the Antarctic has revealed a flourishing community of previously unknown species according to the News Blog:

On the floor of the Southern Ocean, researchers have discovered what they describe as an “explosion of life”, including new species of anemones, starfish, and a type of hairy-chested yeti crab, clustered by the thousand around the hydrothermal vents. Findings also include an as-yet-unidentified octopus and a predatory seastar with seven arms crawling across a field of barnacles.

Watch the video above to discover more or continue to their post.

Hamster power!!!

GrrlScientist reveals that children’s pet hamsters could help solve the world’s energy crisis!

With the energy crisis looming, today’s Caturday video smile focuses on hamster power. You know those small fuzzy rodents that adults get for their kids as pets. But hamsters are more than pets, they are research subjects and research collaborators, testing nanotechnology designed to capture mechanical “bioenergy” produced by living things as they .. well, live.

Continue to her post to watch the hamsters in actions!

Now onto larger animal that may help another scientific endeavour: the chimpanzee. This week The Spoonful of Medicine Blog detail that scientific reports suggest that the chimpanzee adenoviruses could be used as the backbone for a vaccine against hepatitis C virus (HCV):

Two teams published back-to-back work; the first group isolated more than two dozen chimp adenoviruses from thousands of the animals’ stool samples and identified the one that induced the biggest response in two types of T-cells in the immune systems of mice and non-human primates, making it a potential tool for vaccination against HCV.

Read the post to find out more.


Climate Crisis?

Dr Andy Russell, a climate science lecturer in the Institute for the Environment at Brunel University, discusses climate change and extreme events in his guest Soapbox Science post. He looks at the problems associated with climate change models:

The second problem is that some important things – like severe storms, tornados and regional and local changes such as river catchment area precipitation changes – are too small for climate models to represent or resolve. The reason for this is that these computer models split the atmosphere (and oceans) into a 3D array of boxes. The important equations are solved in each box and then they pass information to neighbouring boxes as appropriate at each model time step. These boxes usually have horizontal dimensions of around 100-400 km to allow for a convenient computational time. However, storms and tornados work on scales of significantly less than 100 km so there’s no way that the models can tell us anything about these things.

You can read more of his thoughts in his guest post. Leave a comment in his thread, or you can follow him on Twitter.

An Indian science meet

Nature India’s Indigenus blog have been reporting from the 99th edition of the Indian Science Congress, an annual conference focusing on science in India, which took place in Bhubaneswar.

On day one, the halls were packed to capacity and were spilling over. Some of the plenary talks saw standing crowds. A particular talk by Nobel Laureate Rolf Zinkernagel from the University of Zurich actually had over 200 scientists and researchers banging at the auditorium doors, which were closed by the organisers to avoid overcrowding inside!

Continue to their post to find more views on the congress and to find out who attended.

Still the same?

As Viktor Poór points out, every New Year starts with the same problem at the lab……

Happy New Year everyone!



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