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Posts Tagged ‘science

SYNTHETIC LIFE THAT CAN REPRODUCE

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This is old news, but of such great historic importance that it is worth posting, even if it is late.  I meant to post this some time back but have had difficulty finding the time to get caught up on blogging.  Never the less, it is up now and if you have not already listened to or read Venter talk about what he and his team have done, please take the time to check it out.

FROM TED.COM: Craig Venter and team make a historic announcement: they’ve created the first fully functioning, reproducing cell controlled by synthetic DNA. He explains how they did it and why the achievement marks the beginning of a new era for science.

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Written by Aaron Nee

July 18, 2010 at 11:53 am

Why Stop At 2 When You Could Have 3 Biological Parents?

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From wired.com:

Researchers have produced human embryos containing DNA from three people, a biotechnological proof-of-principle with profound medical and ethical implications.
To accomplish this, chromosomes were taken from one zygote — the single cell formed when sperm and egg fuse — and put into a zygote stripped of its original chromosomes, but left with its original mitochondria, which provide each human cell with energy.
… Mitochondrial swapping might seem less controversial than regular genetic engineering, because it involves metabolism rather than obvious physical traits. “On the other hand, when embryo manipulations for heritable changes start being done, even with the best intentions, we’re on slippery ground,” said Darnovsky.
“I think this strategy for handling mitochondrial disease is fascinating, important and ethical, but it certainly crosses the line of engineering genes,” said Art Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Bioethics. “It’s a quiet intrusion, but it crosses a line that a lot of people said shouldn’t be crossed.”

Read more at www.wired.com.

Written by Aaron Nee

April 28, 2010 at 8:11 am

Your Thoughts & Wants Are Not Your Own

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Duke University did an interesting study on the effectiveness of subliminal marketing.  What they found was that the result of subliminal marketing appears to be a notable effect not only on ones awareness and interest in a marketed brand, but an influence toward the behavior associated with the brand.  The BBC reported on a similar study and offers interesting insights into theories related to subliminal manipulation.

Written by Aaron Nee

April 27, 2010 at 11:06 am

Moon Base Built With Printer and Moon Dust

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A friend of mine is one of the first kids on the block to be doing 3D scanning in Los Angeles and also partners with a company to do 3D printing, which has allowed me the pleasure of hearing about many of the advances being made in 3D scanning and printing technology.

Previously at Knosha, I posted about a printer that prints functional organs.  Today I would like to share with you another 3D printer that the European Space Agency is rumored to be considering for lunar construction.  The printer would use lunar regolith to construct a moon base.

There are several significant construction advantages a 3D printer presents. Curved structures that would be difficult and costly to make using conventional construction means are produced easily with the printer.  Not only can it produce more complex structures, but it can build four times faster than the normal building process and the building material does not need iron reinforcing.

Printed buildings could spell significant cost savings and environmental benefits, not to mention the fact that we may finally see the end of these miserably unimaginative box structures being propped up all over the place.  Here’s hoping.

For more on the printer, check out the article at Physorg.com.

Written by Aaron Nee

April 23, 2010 at 10:06 am

Only Off By 400 Million Years

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The Allan Hills Meteorite, previously dated at 4.51 billion years, has been found to have apparently only been formed 4.091 billions years ago.  That is a difference of about 400 million years.  The adjusted dating is sure to be bandied about by those eager to point out the inaccuracies of geological dating methods.  Although, the difference between 4.5 billion and 4 billion is quite bit smaller than 4.5 billion and ten thousand. 

For more on the meteorite and the methods of its dating, check out the post at Wired.

 

Written by Aaron Nee

April 20, 2010 at 11:46 am

The Nothing That Really Does Cure Anything (almost)

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On a similar note to the previous post regarding homeopathy, here are some interesting resources on the mysterious and wonderful placebo effect.

In 2002, the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute published study results that revealed a surprising difference between the patients receiving a placebo and the patients on the medication being tested.  Of those receiving the actual medication, a little more than fifty percent experienced a reduction in their depression symptoms, while thirty eight percent of the placebo recipients also saw an improvement in their symptoms.  The surprising revelation in the study was the fact that those patients who responded to the placebo experienced improved brain activity in a region of the brain that none of the other patients experienced, whether they were on the medication or placebo.  In fact those on the actual medication experienced diminished activity in that region of the brain.

You can hear a brief report on the study here.

The full text of the study is also available.
Radio Lab did a show on placebos that, as always, was great.  If you listen to only one thing linked to on this post, it should be Radio Lab.

If you are not all placeboed out, then you may enjoy listening to the very interest, uncut interview between Richard Dawkins and Professor of Psychology, Nicholas Humphry, in which placebos are discussed in their conversation about alternative medicine.

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Part 4

Written by Aaron Nee

April 17, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Homeopathy Put To The Test

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Of the alternative medicines out there, few are as widely accepted as homeopathy.  You can walk into your neighborhood drugstore and find homeopathic medicines on the shelf.  It is widely used, but makes no sense according to our current scientific understanding of the universe.  Based on the dilution standards of homeopathic medicine, not a single molecule of the diluted substance remains in the medicine.  Without a molecule present, the substance should have absolutely no effect on the subject using the medicine.

A couple scientists, however, have claimed startling evidence that, in defiance of the understood laws of the universe, demonstrates water in fact has a “memory” of the diluted substance.  The BBC series Horizon documents these extraordinary claims being put to the test by some of the most respected scientific observers and the notorious skeptic James Randi, whose foundation offers a one million dollar prize to anyone able to verify claims that defy established scientific understanding.

Spoiler alert: Homeopathy does not pass the test and the recognized laws of the universe remain unshaken.

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Part 5

Written by Aaron Nee

April 15, 2010 at 8:37 pm