The blog has had an enjoyable holiday, including a series of highland and island walks centred around Oban, where the much-dreaded midges were in fact entirely absent, followed by a few days at the Edinburgh Fringe. The rest of the time off – apart from attending the PM’s global hunger event – was spent catching up with things at home, including some reading and writing and preparing talks for the autumn.

As part of the reading, I enjoyed the beautifully written (and not that recently published) The seven daughters of Eve, by Brian Sykes, covering the genetic (and cultural) evidence for specific human migrations and the origins of particular populations. An interesting paper last week claims from linguistic evidence that Indo-European languages originated (and spread therefrom with agriculture) in Anatolia – a region where mainly Turkic languages are now spoken! – rather than in the Central Asian steppes. I have a feeling that that is a discussion that may run and run.

Websites I enjoyed included one explaining some more of the extraordinary engineering behind the stunningly brilliant Olympics opening ceremony (this latter with an interesting link to British Humour), one illustrating how many things one might be photographed just looking at,  the news that modest amounts of flavonoid-containing chocolate are of benefit at preventing strokes, a summary of the progress being made in aviation biofuels,

I also enjoyed an introduction to hive plots – a (to me) novel way of laying out large networks, one on the upcoming democratization of next-generation sequencing, and one showing the underappreciated importance to metabolic enzyme kinetics of post-translational protein modifications.

One of the benefits of Open Access publishing is that one can determine novel metrics of interest via access statistics to full papers, often weakly correlated with paper citations (because of delays). Martin Fenner of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) gave me an analysis of 500 papers published in PLoS that mentioned BBSRC funding. Mouse over the blobs to see the titles (I cannot fail to mention that one of mine is the outlier). Regarding outreach, it also seems that the number of my Twitter followers has just passed 1000; however we do not have metrics for how many of them actually read such tweets.

I also noted the very worrying news of the arrival of the very dangerous African Swine Fever virus in Russia; hopefully we shall have instigated measures to deal with it before it moves to Western Europe.

Beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder, and I read an interesting blog post about ‘ugly’ drug candidate molecules! One proposed winner (that I think is oddly rather beautiful, like many natural products!) is a new anti-cancer drug in phase II trials called navitoclax, a Bcl-2 family inhibitor. With 7 ring systems, a molecular formula of C47H57Cl3F3N5O6S3, two sulphonates and a molecular weight for the dihydrochloride of 1047.5, one may wonder which transporter it uses to get into cells.



Finally, I came upon another excellent and thoughtful article by Andy Haldane on how most simply to regulate financial Institutions (by ensuring that they actually have a more sensible fraction of the assets they seek to lend). As Reinhart and Rogoff put it (ironically) “This time is different”.

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