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November 2006 Posts
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November 20, 2006

The Complete Charles Darwin

There is a new website dedicated to the collected writings of Charles Darwin. This announcement appeared in the Dec 2006 issue of Nature Reviews Genetics:

Research Highlight

Nature Reviews Genetics 7, 906 (December 2006) doi:10.1038/nrg2017

Webwatch: Complete Darwin on the web

Francesca Pentimalli

From October 19th, anyone with an internet connection can now browse the entire body of work of Charles Darwin. The web site was the idea of a science historian, John van Wyhe, from the University of Cambridge, UK, who realized that the works of Darwin that were already on the web were scattered across different web sites with no obvious editorial standards. Many institutions and individuals have contributed to the project, which started in 2002. So far, over 50,000 searchable text pages and 40,000 images have been uploaded, making the web site the most comprehensive bibliography of Darwin's work ever published.

The repository contains all of Darwin's books, publications and manuscripts, as well as 'ancillary works' — a collection of reviews describing the naturalist's work. The web site also contains unpublished material, such as the notes that Darwin took on the ship the Beagle during his famous journey around the globe.

Alongside the fully searchable electronic text one can view original documents, including invaluable drawings. There are also links to freely accessible audio files and translations in several languages. By 2009, the bicentenary of Darwin's birth, the web site aims to host everything he wrote apart from his private letters, which are being collected on the web by the Darwin Correspondence Project.

And if a project in Wales goes according to plan, the Beagle will not only 'sail on the web', but on the ocean waves. The Beagle Project Pembrokeshire, which was founded by David Lort-Phillips (a descendant of one of the crew members of the Beagle), aims to build a replica of the ship, blending old-fashioned and modern technologies, to retrace its famous journey with a crew of scientists and students.

November 3, 2006

Having your cake and eating it, too

The New York Times is reporting today on an interesting scientific finding related to diet and health. Scientists may have found a substance that is present in red wine that may ameliorate the effects of a high fat diet on the risk for cardiovascular disease and obesity. The substance, called resveratrol, was discovered by scientists at Harvard Medical School and the National Institute of Aging. So far, the observation has been only observed in mice. This may be part of the explanation for why drinking moderate amounts of red wine is associated with improved heart health and the French paradox, where the French have less cardiovascular disease than would be expected based on the amount of fat in their diet. Of course, more research needs to be done to test these hypotheses and also to see if humans respond to resveratrol the same way as the mice do. This could have a significant impact on health of the population if these observations are borne out in humans.