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Posts tagged with "General Scientific News"

  • General Scientific News

    A New Form of Hype, uh, Life?

    Craig Venter and his wife Claire Fraser had a controversial effort going a few years ago, known as the “minimal life” project. The question was: what’s the smallest number of genes an organism can have and still function? They got reasonably far along with it, then shelved it for a number of reasons. I’d seen… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    What I, um, Meant to, um, Say

    I was talking with a friend at another company, and we both had occasion to recall executives we’ve heard who seemed unable to give a coherent speech. You’ve heard the sort of thing: unfocused thoughts drift by, like plastic bags being blown around an abandoned lot. . .no thought makes it all the way through… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    Left and Right, Revisited

    I’ve posted a correction in my original post below. And I’ve also located the paper that got me thinking about the whole thing. These folks knocked out a protein that’s needed for nodal cilia to form in the embryo – what they got were nonviable mouse embryos that were left/right randomized. The flow produced by… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    Y’all Are Going to Think I’m Nuts, But. . .

    . . .here’s a question that has bothered me: How do we know our right from our left? No, really. The more I’ve learned (and internalized) about chirality, the more tricky this question gets. (Until you’ve thought about handedness and non-superimposibility for a while, these things just seem natural, of course. You have to train… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    The Good Old Days of Really Bad Teeth, Revisited

    I was happy to see that Instapundit linked to my anti-Rosseau rant the other day. I hope it was therapeutic for everyone. I’ve received some interesting e-mail in response to it (none, yet, from any dentists.) There was one today from an archaeologist, though, who pointed out that the Indian populations who depending on corn… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    Et in Arcadia Ego

    There’s a backlog of pharmaceutical news to catch up on, but I couldn’t resist linking to this article from today’s New York Times. It’s a pet subject of mine, and the only fault I can find is the tone of surprise that comes through in it. It’s titled “Don’t Blame Columbus,” and it reports on… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    Faces In the Clouds

    In the last post I mentioned the tendency people have to look for causes. It’s innate; there’s nothing to be done. We’re conditioned by the world of our senses: a leaf falls in front of us, so we look up to find the tree. And this works fine, most of the time, for the macroscopic… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    Cloning’s Growing Pains

    Ian Wilmut and his colleagues have an interesting review in a recent issue of Nature (no web link) on the status of mammalian cloning. It’s still so difficult that it almost qualifies as a stunt. Several species have had the nuclear-transfer technique that produced Dolly the sheep applied successfully (if you can use that word… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    Nobelity and Lesser Nobelity

    When I referred to Nobels this year as being well-deserved, that got me to thinking. How many scientific Nobels haven’t been? If you go back to the early years of the awards, there actually are some stinkers. And there are a few mild head-scratchers, like Einstein winning for the photoelectric effect (rather than the still-controversial-at-th… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    Another Stuffed Shirt

    Talking about the Nobels brings to mind a story from Sydney Brenner, one of those honored with the Medicine prize this year. He related this story in a column he did for Current Biology a few years ago (8 (23), 19 Nov 1998, R825 if you want to look it up.) He was visiting a… Read More
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