Celebrating Linnaeus

2007 marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Linnaeus, father of binomial nomenclature. Nature has marked the occasion by publishing a special issue crammed full of Linnaean-inspired thought. Although trained in medicine and a keen zoologist, Linnaeus is perhaps best known as an excellent botanist – his field trips were said to be so…
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Controlling the screwworm

Cochliomyia hominivorax, the New World screwworm is a serious pest that lays its flesh eating larvae into wounds of humans and any other warm blooded animals causing myiasis. The adult female fly lays batches of 200-400 eggs on the edge of fresh wounds and the larvae hatch and burrow into flesh 12-21 hr later. The…
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Atkins – the right strategy for the wrong reasons?

‘Atkins is best diet around, says Stanford University.’ Apparently, though I am sure that many scientists looking at the study in any sort of detail might wonder how Stanford’s nutritionists have managed to reach this conclusion. A few years ago, when the Atkins craze was at its height, a number of studies commissioned to test…
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The Great Global Warming Swindle – don’t forget the science

If you saw this programme on Channel 4 last Thursday (8 March) you will probably either be shocked and appalled that Channel 4 could possibly dare to air such a programme, or you will be relieved that somebody finally took a look at the science behind the theory and presented an alternative view. The programme…
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My love is like a blue, blue rose

I wonder if Robert Burns would have felt as inspired about blue roses as he was about the romantic red. Personally speaking, I prefer my geraniums red and delphiniums blue although I find the desire for horticultural oddities quite fascinating. For many centuries a true blue flower has been the Holy Grail of plant breeders…
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Polarized thought

After spotting a Grist Magazine article about a climate change-induced human rights claim, and then a story last week from Scientific American about International Polar Year, I thought it was time to mention the effect of global warming on humans. The human climate change link is not often considered, but Inuit people launched a human…
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A Role for Rice in Causing and Tackling Climate Change?

Rice provides the staple food for around 2 billion people, and demand is forecast to grow at 1% a year, with no increase in land available. Some recent studies have indicated that rice production is contributing to climate change through emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). An analysis by Reiner Wassmann, Klaus Butterbach-Bahl and Achim Dobermann…
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Grassland invaders had inside help

One of the key factors in an alien species becoming invasive in an area is that it survives better in the new habitat than the native species, right? Well it’s not always quite that simple. Researchers from Oregon State University have documented a case where stronger native grasses were out-competed and replaced by inferior challengers.…
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Fat, me?

According to a study published in Cell Metabolism, the brain circuitry of obese mice is in denial about the state of the rest of the mouse’s body. While this may also be true of the conscious brains of many overweight or obese human subjects, research hasn’t yet extended this far, except in the numerous body…
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Fancy a bottle of Swedish white?

At the moment, the idea of wines from Scandinavia, or other northern climes, may seem fanciful. But by the end of this century, climatologists suggest that Sweden could be producing Riesling or Chianti, Germany will be better known for luscious red wines than the current whites, and California’s famous Napa Valley could be as hot…
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