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Hey guys,

It’s been a while since I last posted a blog, but I’ve got plenty of interesting stuff to tell y’all. I’ve been turtley busy, dudes. What can I say?

First of all, I was held up eating, I mean, ‘working’ during the Red Nose Day cake sale. Yum! Thank you to everyone who got involved in both baking AND buying. Judging took place and two tasty cakes won prizes. In the end we earned £177.15 for Comic Relief!

Gulliver Red Nose Day

And I’ve been stuck visiting my cousin the painted turtle. He’s like a super mutant (but not a ninja) turtle, and it shows in his DNA. You can freeze him solid or lower the oxygen levels, but he’ll keep coming back. Unstoppable. If you wanna learn more then check out the blog and get reading! I’m not jealous, but I wish someone would paint me…

 My last portrait’s looking a little dated (although, I’m thinking of growing back my hair like that. What d’ya think, guys?)

My last portrait’s looking a little dated (although, I’m thinking of growing back my hair like that. What d’ya think, guys?)

The RCUK policy on open access will be taking effect on 1st April. This policy supports free access to articles and encourages open access research that can be used by anyone all over the world. In my view shouldn’t be restricted from those who need it most.  I’m not just talking about students. I’m talking about people in developing countries in need of information! Who’s with me? How about you watch the video to learn loads more about this sweet new policy.

A heap of articles have popped up on the Biomed Central website that are worth a read. You may want to pay a quick visit to the blog on tuberculosis and diabetes to learn about their effects in developing countries.. Diabetes leaves people vulnerable to all sorts of infection, especially in developing countries, and tuberculosis doesn’t hold back.

Check out the pine beetle too. This bug is a real pest in forests and can even kill whole trees, but its genes are super crazy and worth reading about. The pine beetle even has a bacterial gene that helps in its pesky activities. Researchers sequenced the pine beetle’s genome, which may even help in stopping them from wreaking yet more havoc. Don’t want them eating up the forests, that would really bug me!

Pine Beetle

Credit: Ward Strong, B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations.

Speaking of creepy crawlies, I learned about the weeeirdest new technique: Squishomics! Scientists are busy making crushed bug DNA soup to study different species and biodiversity. Not only does it sound tasty, but this goo contains the relevant genetic information to identify unknown creatures!

Plus, better looking birds are better moms and raises healthier chicks even if they’re adopted babies. Nature really is crazy, man.

See you later, peeps.

G

Happy New year all of my open access lovers! I hope that you’re all well fed and rested from the holidays and have had a great start to 2013.

Let’s now talk about how BioMed Central have kicked off the year! As we know, our belts always seem to go out a few notches after the festivities of Christmas, so what better time to publish a paper about dieting! Many of us will have started this new year with the resolution to lose weight by changing their diet. However, other than dropping the pounds can diet also target the January blues?

A paper published this month discussed whether studies linking diet to depression really supported this claim.  ”Depression is similar in many aspects to heart disease” the researchers explained. “Both are associated with low-grade inflammation, endothelial dysfunction and worse lipid profiles. This tends to suggest that the underlying causes, such as a diet high in trans fats, are also the same.” The authors feel that there needs to be long term, randomised clinical studies to fully understand the impact of diet and depression and whether a diet similar to the Mediterranean could perhaps not only have a positive impact on physical health, but mental health too. Visit the paper to read this really interesting discussion!

MmmPie

Mmm I love Christmas..and pies!

Another fantastic study that has been published this month is, ‘Bona fide colour: DNA prediction of human eye and hair colour from ancient and contemporary skeletal remains’, where scientists have developed a new method of determining hair and eye colour from modern forensic samples and for ancient human remains. How awesome is that, dudes?! Dr Wojciech Branicki, who lead the study, explained that this will be able to solve historical controversies where colour photographs or other records are missing.

W. Sikorski1

Blue-eyed boy

 This skeleton belongs to the Polish General Władysław Sikorsk (1881 to 1943), who died in a plane crash on 4th July 1943. There are only black and white photos and a colour portrait that exist, and with this amazing study the blue eyes and blond hair in the portrait is proven to be correct! It’s just turtley amazing!

Now for some animal research! We were very excited here at the BioMed Central office about the study, ‘The songbird syrinx morphome: a three-dimensional, high-resolution, interactive morphological map of the zebra finch vocal organ’ that addresses the question, “How do songbirds sing and produce their beautiful trills?” The researchers from this study have generated interactive 3D PDF models of the syringeal skeleton, soft tissues, cartilaginous pads, and muscle protection sound production. What makes these models so unique is the way in which they show the delicate balance between strength and lightness of bones and cartilage required to support and alter the vibrations of the membranes of the syrinx at superfast speeds! Woah!

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Small but mighty lungs!

 Last but not least my lovely folks, the deadline for BioMed Central’s 7th Annual Research Award nominations is just under two weeks away. So take this opportunity guys to tell us your favourite open access article published in 2012 in any BioMed Central journal. Make your vote count!

Well that’s all for today. So I will leave you with G’s cute picture of the week:

800px-Baby_fur_seal,_South_Georgia

What a cutie!

G

 logoHello my friendly science lovers! It’s only the start of the week and we already have some really exciting new developments. Yesterday we saw the launch of BioMed Central’s exciting new innovation: Cases Database. This is a freely-accessible, continuously updated database that holds over 10,000 medical case reports from lots of different publishers including; Springer, BMJ Group and PubMed Central. This is a fantastic resource for audiences such as clinicians, researchers, regulators and patients as it enables anyone to be able to explore content and to identify emerging trends. Cool stuff, huh?

We have also had some amazing science published! We’ve all heard of monkeys in space, right? Well now we’ve got Plants in Space! Now whilst this may not seem as entertaining as little monkey astronauts, it really is fascinating. In this paper published in BMC Plant Biology, researchers sent seeds of the Arabidopsis Thaliana plant up to the International Space Station to see how the plant roots developed in a weightless environment. Previously it was believed that gravity was key to the stability of root growth but even though gravity was absent, the plant still managed to flourish beautifully!

The researchers actually saw that the roots growth was exactly the same as on earth, with the roots growing away from the seed to seek nutrients and water! This experiment has therefore provided more information about the complexities of plant growth and how even despite the lack of gravity, these delicate little plants can bloom in tough environments.

Another cool paper released last week was the ‘Segmental concatenation of individual signatures and context cues in banded mongoose (Mungos Mungo) close calls’ published in BMC Biology. Researchers looked into the complex calls of banded mongooses and how, unlike most animals studied, they construct single-syllable calls from two distinct parts, one more noisy and consonant-like, and the other more harmonic and vowel-like. They are able to communicate two different pieces of information; identity and activity (for example whether the mongoose is digging or moving). As a talking turtle, these sort of studies fascinate me! See, we’re not just a cute face.

There is so much going on at the BioMed Central office but let’s not forget what month it is. That’s right folks, on the 25th of this month we will be celebrating Christmas! And I am so excited!

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Tinsel makes everything look fabulous!

I have bought all of my Christmas presents and they are all wrapped and sitting under the tree. I am now really looking forward to all the festive activities that will take place of the next few weeks! More so, I’m turtley stoked for all the outfits I’m going to get to wear!

However Christmas is not the only holiday being celebrated, as on the 8th December the Jewish festival of lights, Hanukkah, commenced. This eight day celebration commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean revolt against oppressive Greek rulers. So happy Hanukkah to you all!

I will continue with the festive cheer in next week’s blog guys!

Until then.

G

What is your favourite BioMed Central open access article? Yes that’s right folks, it’s that time of year  for all of you open access lovers to submit your nominations for our seventh annual Research Awards. As long as the article has been published in one of our 240 plus journals during 2012 then it can be put forward!

This year, the people  in the know have  taken a closer look at the ten category awards and refined the subject areas. This means that we can now highlight articles that truly deserve recognition across each field. The nominations will close on 31st January 2012 so get yours in fast! For more information visit the BioMed Central blog or to nominate please visit the website.

 

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Who’s that handsome fellow? I’m looking forward to getting suited and booted again for next year’s awards!

Another exciting thing from BioMed Central this month was the Open Access Africa conference that took place on the 4th & 5th November at the University of Cape Town.

Not only was this an impressive and poignant setting, the conference was a perfect opportunity for researchers, librarians, university administrators, funders and other decision-makers to get together and discuss the benefits of open access in an African context. My friends at the OpenUCT Initiative and the Scholarly Communications in Africa Programme also came along to represented the event. One important point that was made was just how important African journals are. Marcel Hommel, Editor-in-Chief of our Malaria Journal, gave an example of 90% of malaria mortality is in Africa and yet only 2% of malaria articles are published in African journals. These figures are absolutely crazy! Hopefully more events like this will draw attention to just how important open access is to developing countries, to their research and ultimately to people’s lives.

And now for some animal news! Does anyone remember George Galápagos tortoise? In case you don’t, George was the only surviving Chelonoidis abingdoni (giant tortoise to me and you!). Thought to already be extinct, the giant reptile was a huge discovery in 1972 on Pinta Island, Ecuador. The population of giant tortoises had been wiped out by human settlers who over- harvested them for meat and imported goats and pigs that destroyed the tortoises’ habitat. So when beloved George died this June, this meant the extinction of another fascinating creature.

So, why am I talking about something that happened in June? Well according to a new study by Yale University researchers, DNA from George’s ancestors lives on and excitingly more of his kind may be still alive in a remote area of Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands! How awesome is that?!

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George was called ‘Lonesome George’ as he was the only survivor of his kind

 In an area called Volcano Wolf the researchers have managed to identify 17 hybrid descendants of George’s species within a population of 1,667 tortoises! To read more about this amazing discovery visit National Geographic.

And now to finish up today’s post with my cute animal picture of the week:

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Ambitious little critter!

Speak to you folks next week!

G

We have all been reveling in the success of Open Access Week here at the BioMed Central office but just before the anti-climax kicked in, we decided to don our witches hats and carve our pumpkins to celebrate All Hallows Eve! A whole lot of spookiness went on last Wednesday as the sky began to darken. Take a look:

Don’t let the smile fool you. I was terrified!

Once again I took this as an opportunity to tailor my look for the occasion:

I love Halloween!

I’m sure many of us had an explosive weekend to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night, (otherwise known as Bonfire Night) were we commemorate Guy Fawkes’ failure to destroy parliament on the 5th November 1605. I went to my local firework display and WOW what a show! Every colour that you could imagine illuminated the sky and there was a huge bonfire that kept us all warm. Just what you need in this chilly weather!

Another hot topic last week was the Research Council UK Open Access Policy. In line with the UK government’s commitment to free and open access to publicly-funded research, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts recently announced a £10 million cash injection to the top 30 UK research-intensive institutions, to aid the transition to open access and compliance with the new Research Council UK Open Access Policy. As you can probably guess, we are delighted by the support the government and the RCUK are offering to open access as this will help to increase visibility of the UK’s research output. To read more please visit the BioMed Central blog!

As usual we will now finish up with some animal news, except it’s not really news, I just thought this little hatchlet was so darn cute he needed to appear on this week’s blog!

He looks like a pumpkin!

Until next time science lovers!

G

Hello everyone,

As I’m sure many of you are aware, it’s Open Access Week this week and we are all very excited here at the BioMed Central office! Entering into its sixth year, this global event aims to not only raise awareness of Open Access and all of its benefits but to also encourage a wider involvement from the  academic research community to help make Open Access a global norm.

As proud sponsors, BioMed Central have gone above and beyond to get involved and help spread the word! Take a look at the set of posters that have been designed. They are available to download for free, so please display them around your workplace and do your bit to promote Open Access Week!

We also kick-started the week with a webinar on “Open Access Research to inform patient outcomes” and shortly after OA Week we will be hosting our 3rd annual Open Access Africa which will be held at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, 4 – 5 November 2012. If you wish to find out more about the conference and how to attend, take a peek at the conference website! This is a totally amazing event where researchers, librarians, journal editors, research funders and other decision-makers will share ideas on how open access publishing can support science and medicine in Africa. Plus it’s free to attend! Awesome, huh?

So this now brings me on to my contribution to Open Access Week 2012:

With a little help from my friends…

October is also Breast Cancer Awareness month and BioMed Central has decided to get involved and go pink! To support this totally rad cause, there will be a flourish of pink rippling through the office tomorrow and I for one am not the type to turn down an opportunity to get dressed up! Check out my outfit that’s all ironed and ready for the morning:

What this? It’s just a little something I threw together!

And finally my friends, time for some turtley news. A fossilised turtle shell has been found in a Polish rubbish dump near the town of Poreba, and not only has it turned out to be one of the oldest turtle fossils but it is also the most complete that palaeontologists have discovered to this day! They have dated it back 215million years and scientists have claimed that this could provide invaluable clues to the origin of the turtle, which has puzzled many cultures across the globe. I love finding out about my ancestors!

So remember folks, show your support. Get involved in Open Access Week and wear it pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month!

Peace out.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a good old chat to you all and oh boy, a lot has happened! As you are all aware I like to keep an eye out for news in the animal world and this month has been full of exciting discoveries. To start, Bristol Zoo has had a turtley surprise with the arrival of a baby Vietnamese box turtle. Not only is this tiny hatchlet roughly the size of a match box, it’s one of the world’s rarest turtles. Bristol Zoo is the first in the UK and the second in Europe to have bred this species. This tiny fella currently weighs 28g and is approximately 5cm (2inches) long. Ain’t he cute!

Bristol Zoo Vernon the Vietnamese turtle with his dad

 Also I’m so excited about the new species of monkey that has been found in Africa this month. Lesula (Cercopithecus lomamiensis) has a naked face, a mane of long blond hair and researchers describe it as being shy and timid (just like me!). This is such amazing news as the identification of new mammals to science is very rare.  It’s only the second time that this sort of discovery has been made on the continent in 28 years! Cool stuff, huh?

Lesula (Cercopithecus lomamiensis)

 So who reads the Guinness Book of records? I certainly do. I love nothing more than finding out some crazy facts! However I was literally gob-smacked when I came across this…

Kevin Scott Ramos — Guinness World Records 2013 Edition

I think you need a bigger bowl…

This guy is huge! Zeus, named after the father of the gods in Ancient Greece, weighs in at 11 stone and when stood on his hind legs he is a whopping 7ft 4 inches! Wowzer.

Well that’s all for today. Until next time!

 

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