Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Old Race

That puzzling variant of PLK4, that increases the miscarriage rate,  is very widespread, moderately common in almost all population – but it’s rare in Bushmen (frequency of 1 in 38 among the  Ju’/hoansi) and Pygmies,  enough to you suspect that … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 96 Comments

Roland Fryer wins the John Bates Clark medal

Roland Fryer has won the John Bates Clark medal for the top economist under 40. I’ve paid attention to some of his papers that impinge on biology, even corresponded with him.  In one,  he argued that higher risk for cardiovascular … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 44 Comments

The Lottery

Lotteries can be useful natural experiments; we can use them to test the accuracy of standard sociological theories, in which rich people buy their kids extra smarts, bigger brains, better health, etc. David Cesarini, who I met at that Chicago … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 106 Comments

Safety Dance

I understand that many college students are made to feel “unsafe” by certain speakers addressing particular subjects.  But although most people like crisp breakfast cereal, there are those that like it as soggy as possible. One would think that there … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 46 Comments

He still has that hair

Steven Pinker was saying that greatly extending the human lifespan is hard, maybe impossible: ” I suspect that death will never be conquered (though our lifespans will continue to increase, at least for a while). Any cost-free longevity gene or … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 77 Comments

Eight thousand years of natural selection in Europe

They get a selective advantage of 1.5% for the European lactose tolerance allele: “We estimated the selection coefficient on the derived allele to be 0.015 (95% confidence interval; CI=0.010-0.034) using a method that fits a hidden Markov model to the … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Born that way

In the Atlantic Monthly , which no longer has any reason for existence, since there’s really no point in placing a computer screen on the bottom of a birdcage, Jason Silverstein  – a doctoral candidate in anthropology at Harvard –  … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 59 Comments


I was watching Charade the other day, not for the first time, and was noticing that the action scenes with Cary Grant (human fly, and fighting George Kennedy) really weren’t very convincing.  Age. But think what it would be like … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 36 Comments

Cockles, and Mussels

Looking further at that  article about a transmissible cancer in clams, it appears that cell line infections are common in bivalves – oysters, cockles, mussels – without being recognized as such until now.  Could be true in other filter-feeders – … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A common variant linked to chromosomal errors

A new paper in Science (Rajiv McCoy as main author) says that there’s a genetic variant, probably in the gene PLK4, that substantially increases the fraction of embryos with screwed-up chromosomes.  Mothers with the high-risk genotypes apparently have fewer embryos … Continue reading

Posted in Genetics | 23 Comments