Monthly Archives: January 2020

Innervated follicles and spider-moms


Hyperactivation of sympathetic nerves drives depletion of melanocyte stem cells | Nature

Why do we go gray after stress? Linkages between nerves and stem cells in our hair follicles! This happened to me in the month before my dissertation: I got gray in my beard. So strange.


Have the Boomers Pinched Their Children’s Futures? – with Lord David Willetts – YouTube

I am not an economist, but I think this talk articulates important issues. Larger cohorts have a strange weight in democracies.


Gregor Czaykowski on Twitter: “ha ha happy new year” / Twitter


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TEM Video of Rhenium atoms and pygmy owls (two different links)

Walking with atoms — chemical bond making and breaking recorded in action 

The video on this page is truly astounding. From the main author: “We trapped a pair of rhenium (Re) atoms bonded together to form Re2. Because rhenium has a high atomic number it is easier to see in TEM than lighter elements… we observed the atomic-scale dynamics of Re2 adsorbed on the graphitic lattice of the nanotube and discovered that the bond length changes in Re2 in a series of discrete steps.”


Classification and practical approach to the diagnosis and management of hypersensitivity to nonsteroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs – Kowalski – 2013 – Allergy – Wiley Online Library

Here are several documented cases of angioedema from NSAIDs (like when I had my eye swell shut due to aspirin). I made a vlog about it.


The medications that change who we are – BBC Future

Mood, Personality, and Behavior Changes During Treatment with Statins: A Case Series.

Statins may be linked to mood changes in rare cases.




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How we feel ourselves and other mysteries

The quest to decipher how the body’s cells sense touch

If you close your eyes and hold out your hand, you know where your hand is. Without visual feedback, you can feel where your own hand is. This is called proprioception. Finding genes specifically associated with proprioception turned out to be hard. Some of the first were discovered in 2009. The proprioception protein called PIEZO1 looks really cool.

CDC flu data shows child deaths from influenza B – The Washington Post

Unfortunately, the flu shot only reduces risk and severity. It’s not a silver bullet. I think that’s a really hard thing to communicate to the public. It defies simple answers to simple questions like “does it work or not?”

Chuck Palahniuk on the Importance of Not Boring Your Reader | Literary Hub

Chuck imparted some good advice for writing. “Use cinematic transitions, not whitespace transitions,” he said. Then he swiped transparency off the projector and onto the floor. “And do not. talk. about. Fight. Club.”

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Fatigue, creativity, and absinthe

Welcome to Week 1 of 2020. Happy new year! Here are some of the things I loved reading this week. The science stuff is below the fold. I’m excited that miRNA seems to be turning up everywhere. I am also a little glad that the holidays are over. They may be fun, but they exhaust me.

Why We Have Our Best Ideas in the Shower: The Science of Creativity

The Inspiration Paradox: Your Best Creative Time Is Not When You Think

Why We’re More Creative When We’re Tired, And 9 Other Surprising Thing

I have noticed that when I’m very tired, I find it easier to single-task on writing. Of course, that’s partially due to the lack of distractions late at night, but I think that there’s something else at work. Maybe I’m less tolerant of distractions? Maybe it’s the deadline pressure of wanting to go to bed? Or maybe it’s just easier to be creative. According to Cindi May, “… being at your best may be over-rated, at least for people seeking innovative ideas or creative solutions.  To be sure, if your task requires strong focus and careful concentration – like balancing spreadsheets or reading a textbook – you are better off scheduling that task for your peak time of day. However, if you need to open your mind to alternative approaches and consider diverse options, it may be wise to do so when your filter is not so functional. You just may be able to see what you’ve been missing.”

The bear, he is so tired. Happy new year.

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