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'Findings Increasingly Novel, Scientists Say'

Neil Saunders, blogger at What You're Doing is Rather Desperate, posted a photo to his Twitter account last week with the newspaper-style headline style caption: "Findings Increasingly Novel, Scientists Say," which he says is meant to be a "tongue-in-cheek" look at the use of the word "novel" in the titles of papers indexed in PubMed. Saunders, a statistical bioinformatician, took his analysis a step further and built code "using a little Ruby and R," to search for and retrieve more than 143,000 PubMed-indexed articles in which the title contains "novel." From there, he "load[ed] the tab-delimited output file into R for some simple plotting." The blogger points out a "steady, post-World War II increase in total ["novel"] publications," wherein "the exponential increase in 'novel' findings looks like it begins in the early 1980s …increasing more sharply around 1995," he writes. In 2009, about 6 percent of the reports published were "novel," according to Saunder, who adds — with an apparent touch of sarcasm — "Exciting times."

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.