Frankenfoods and anthrax

19 01 2009

The SciBorg Seed-Cube has had another of their industry-sponsored blogs for a small while. At first it showed as an inaccessible anomaly in my rss feeder, but now it seems Invitrogen’s is live and screaming.

Yes, asking “What’s new in life science research” brings up doom and gloom. It started of with bioterrorism, and has now moved onto genetically modified organisms. While its certainly quite difficult to argue the merits of bioterror-orientated research (“just-in-case” is often as best as it gets), the merits of GMOs are all around us. Nutritional food. Economic boom. Less environmental impact of pesticides. Antibiotics. Biofuels. Extended shelf life.

Some of the recent discussion has been on labelling.

Labelling on GMOs I don’t see as a problem. At a basic level its as reasonable as allowing sellers to mark their food and products as “organic”, “98% fat free” or “heart-safe”. Consumers have a right to make informed decisions about their consumption, even if their decision is stupid.

I’m a bit disappointed with the Invitrogen/Seed blog though. These aren7t “new life research”. Bioterror is centuries old (plague-ridden bodies were “weaponised” during the Black Death). And even GMOs on the level with Bt-cotton and Monsanto’s dubious canola IP-debacles getting old hat. Where is something truly new – like synthetic life, personal genomics, or I don’t know, something more 2009, less 1999.

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Vote for Science

23 09 2008

The Seed overlords have unveiled their latest sciborg creation:

Vote for Science

VfS is a group blog set to follow the US presidential candidates’ opinions on science, education and research (and everything else).





One Horned Jesus

3 09 2008

The overlord of the godless interwebs has returned from his pilgrimage to the isle of beasts…

It’s definitely nice to have Pharyngula back on tap. Some of the intermission posts by PZ’s students have been interested. I would definitely like to see Danio writing things (possibly on his own site) on a more regular basis.

The break from PZ did allow me to appreciate some of scienceblogs other writers though – which was definitely a good thing.

For those of you under a rock PZ is the heavyweight of science blogging, capable of crashing polls and servers like no other man. Capable of stirring up controversies that can shake wikipedia and bring the Catholic League to its knees.

Today we have him to thank for this simply wonderful story:

An art gallery in the UK is causing outrage amongst local Christians. The current display includes a plaster figure of Jesus – with a stiffy (pics thx to the sun)

Other culture icons like Mickey Mouse are included in the display. I think this is probably a little more distressing for kiddies than old JC. I mean JC was a thirty year old guy, presumeably he at least suffered from the occasional morning glory. Mickey is purely a children’s entertainment icon, like Ken, he isn’t even meant to have junk down there, let alone working plumbing.





How do virus move?

27 08 2008

Another awesome science question answered by scienceblog’s ERV.

An ERV-ling asks how do viruses get about without some sort of motility structure, like flagella or cilia?

This is an excellent question, especially as someone who grew up in the world before 2008, viruses used to be considered barely above complex chemicals.

In true virus free-loader fashion, the methods of movement usually entail getting some other living thing to do all the hard work for them. Actin rocket packs sound cool though.





The tree of life just got bigger

11 08 2008

The natural world is an amazing place.

Ever changing and full of new discoveries, some French scientists have just made a migraine for taxonomists, high school teachers and textbook publishers – they’ve decided to tack on extra bits to a cornerstone piece of high school biology – the Tree of Life.

If you have access you can go to the source at Nature.

Meanwhile, there is Australian Life Scientist, and Scienceblogs coverage by Scientist, Interrupted, Not Exactly Rocket Science and ERV.

Not only has the discovery that Viruses get sick pushed them into the “alive” category, it has produced a whole new category of “virophages” that infect them. Although one might protest that virophages are still technically viruses (nucleic acid hijackers), let’s not get too carried away with our gardening.

Aside from the nightmare that this new piece of information will probably take several years before it is accurately represented in high school texts – this is an exciting and amazing discovery.

From ERV:

Sputnik isnt just a cool virus that can ‘infect’ other viruses– its representative of all the cool stuff we dont know. All the cool stuff thats floating about, right under our noses, just waiting for someone to discover … Sputnik represents the fact we have no friggin idea whats out there





Not happy with wordpress

10 08 2008

WordPress received its second strike today.

Does not host javascript. Which means I cannot install the Science Blogs widget. Not happy chappy.

You will see at least I now have some out links to webcomics. Will be extending that list too.

Working on further format upgrading and background maintenance. But I think another personal bomb has just hit my life ~ hopefully a happy bomb full of sunshine and promise, but a bomb nonetheless.





Defining the definition

4 08 2008

If “Darwinism” should be a synonym for anything it should be the ideology of unrepentant materialism, which is the underlying philosophy of modern science.

From the world of Seed editor-at-large, Jonah Lehreh.

I’m torn about this definition.

Materialism is an oft misused word, like Darwinism, and particular by anti-science theist crowds. To them it is equivalent to greed and vice. Materialism is apparently what is wrong with the modern world.

But for the life of me I can’t think of a better word to use.

I suppose that’s why you shouldn’t try to bend over at the whimsy of people of deny reality on the terms of reality