Recent Notepad:


Outtakes, musings, marginalia and other etceterata from my foraging as a freelance science journalist. Imported from their natural habitat on this Tumblr.

Photo: Brian Skerry/National Geographic
  • Rapid advances in technology have lowered the cost of sequencing an individual’s genome from the several billion dollars that it cost a decade ago to just a few thousand dollars today and have correspondingly greatly expanded the use of genomic information in medicine. Because of the lack of evidence available for assessing variants, evaluation bodies have made only a few recommendations for the use of genetic tests in health care. […] However, due to insufficient evidence, it has been challenging to recommend the use of a genetic test.
    Assessing Genomic Sequencing Information for Health Care Decision Making: Workshop Summary

  • The emotion system in animals may thus have evolved by natural selection because it simultaneously enhances three important functions, the behavioural robustness of individuals, the evolvability of gene pools and the rate of evolutionary innovation at several architectural levels.
    The emotion system promotes diversity and evolvability

  • In Arabic, as in many languages, the future is “ahead” and the past is “behind.” Yet in the research reported here, we showed that Arabic speakers tend to conceptualize the future as behind and the past as ahead of them, despite using spoken metaphors that suggest the opposite.
    When You Think About It, Your Past Is in Front of You

  • We examined the relationship between self-reported sleep duration and false memories and the effect of 24 hr of total sleep deprivation on susceptibility to false memories. We found that under certain conditions, sleep deprivation can increase the risk of developing false memories.
    Sleep Deprivation and False Memories

  • These results are similar to those reported previously for human infants, and predictive looking did not differ among the three species of great apes. Thus, great apes make on-line goal-based predictions about the actions of other individuals; this skill is not unique to humans but is shared more widely among primates.
    Great Apes Generate Goal-Based Action Predictions



White-Lined Sphinx Moth