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Current Topic: Biology

New Scientist - Fast-track DNA tests confirm Saddam's identity
Topic: Biology 9:08 am EST, Dec 17, 2003

] "They certainly had access to the two sons, Uday and
] Qusay, who were killed," he says. A "very quick way" of
] identifying Saddam Hussein would be to compare the new
] sample with variable regions called short tandem repeats
] on the sons' Y-chromosomes. As this male sex chromosome
] is passed directly from father to son, it should match.

Ask MemeStreams, get an answer...

New Scientist - Fast-track DNA tests confirm Saddam's identity

Ensembl Genome Browser
Topic: Biology 11:25 am EST, Nov  5, 2003

] Ensembl presents up-to-date sequence data and the best
] possible annotation for metazoan genomes. Available now
] are human, mouse, rat, fugu, zebrafish, mosquito,
] Drosophila, C. elegans, and C. briggsae, Others will be
] added soon.

Surf the human genome!

Ensembl Genome Browser

Slashdot | Simpsons Fan Creates Real Tomacco Plant
Topic: Biology 9:50 pm EST, Nov  3, 2003

] According to a KPTV newscast, a Simpsons fan with too
] much time on his hands grafted a tobacco plant and a
] tomato plant and, ta-da: tomacco!


Slashdot | Simpsons Fan Creates Real Tomacco Plant

On the death of Y chromosomes
Topic: Biology 8:28 am EDT, Sep 28, 2003

] Of all our chromosomes, it is the only one that is
] permanently locked into the germ cells of men, where the
] frenzy of cell division and error-prone DNA copying
] required to keep up the daily output of 150 million sperm
] creates the ideal conditions for mutation. And it shows.
] Seven percent of men are infertile or sub-fertile and in
] roughly a quarter of cases the problem is traceable to
] new Y chromosome mutations, not present in their fathers,
] which disable one or other of the few remaining genes.
] This is an astonishingly high figure, and there is no
] reason to think things will improve in the future --
] quite the reverse in fact. One by one, Y chromosomes will
] disappear, eliminated by the relentless onslaught of
] irreparable mutation, until only one is left. When that
] chromosome finally succumbs, men will become extinct.
] But when? I estimate that, at the current rate, male
] fertility caused by Y chromosome decay will decline to 1
] percent of its present level within 5,000 generations --
] roughly 125,000 years. Not exactly the day after
] tomorrow -- but equally, not an unimaginably long time
] ahead.

This is a very entertaining article, particularly if you are into genetic engineering. How well accepted is this theory?

On the death of Y chromosomes

Wired 11.10: How Ravenous Soviet Viruses Will Save the World
Topic: Biology 11:28 am EDT, Sep 18, 2003

] To gather new strains, Sulakvelidze need only drop a
] bucket into Baltimore's Inner Harbor. The waters of the
] Chesapeake Bay, of which the harbor is an inlet, have
] enough exchange with the Atlantic that he can find a
] phage for almost any species of bacteria, he says. If one
] doesn't work, he simply refills his bucket and looks for
] another that does.
] "This upgradability is one of the unique qualities of
] phages," Sulakvelidze adds. "Developing a new antibiotic
] takes 10 years and God knows how many millions of
] dollars."
] As he puts it, "Mother Nature runs the best genetic
] engineering lab out there. No institution or company can
] match it."

Wired 11.10: How Ravenous Soviet Viruses Will Save the World

New Scientist: Flickering images help reduce nicotine cravings
Topic: Biology 7:01 pm EDT, Sep 13, 2003

] Looking at simple flickering images, or conjuring up
] mental pictures, can help stop cigarette cravings,
] researchers have discovered.
] The team, at the University of Sheffield, UK, hope the
] trick could assist people in stopping smoking. If so,
] they plan to develop a palm-top computer application for
] would-be quitters to look at whenever they are struck by
] a craving.

New Scientist: Flickering images help reduce nicotine cravings

West Nile vaccine
Topic: Biology 11:12 am EDT, Aug 12, 2003

] A vaccine using a harmless relative of the West Nile
] virus could offer a way to protect people against the
] disease, researchers in Australia said on Monday.

West Nile vaccine

Freedom to Tinker: Why Aren't Virus Attacks Worse?
Topic: Biology 9:41 pm EDT, Jul 27, 2003

] This reminds me of a series of conversations I had a few
] years ago with a hotshot mo-bio professor, about the
] national-security implications of bio-attacks versus
] cyber-attacks. I started out convinced that the
] cyber-attack threat, while real, was overstated; but
] bio-attacks terrified me. He had the converse view, that
] bio-attacks were possible but overhyped, while
] cyber-attacks were the real nightmare scenario. Each of
] us tried to reassure the other that really large-scale
] malicious attacks of the type we knew best (cyber- for
] me, bio- for him) were harder to carry out, and less
] likely, than commonly believed.

Freedom to Tinker: Why Aren't Virus Attacks Worse?

Welcome to GIANTmicrobes!
Topic: Biology 11:45 pm EDT, May 15, 2003

] We make stuffed animals that look like tiny microbes...
] Now available: The Common Cold, The Flu, Sore Throat, and
] Stomach Ache.

Kick Ass...

Welcome to GIANTmicrobes!

Wired News: Plants: New Anti-Terror Weapon?
Topic: Biology 9:28 pm EDT, Apr  6, 2003

] "At the end of three years, if we are successful, we
] would expect to have demonstrated in a laboratory setting
] that sentinel plants can indicate the presence of
] explosives."

Plants that change color in the presence of certain chemicals or biological agents.

Wired News: Plants: New Anti-Terror Weapon?

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