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Current Topic: Biology

EE Times -BioBricks to help reverse-engineer life
Topic: Biology 7:01 pm EDT, Jun 14, 2004

] Leaders of a new movement are kicking
] off the first Synthetic Biology 1.0 conference at the
] Massachussets Institute of Technology this week.
] "Synthetic biology" is the blanket term for a
] multidisciplinary attempt to identify a class of standard
] operational components that can be assembled into
] functioning molecular machines.
] Central to that effort is the ability to isolate discrete
] biomolecular mechanisms and define standard interfaces
] for them so that they can be assembled in much the same
] way as electronic circuits. This confluence of computer
] science and biology is so remarkable that this new
] movement rises to the level of moon shot initiatives: to
] reverse-engineer life itself.

] "Biology is the nanotechnology that works."

EE Times -BioBricks to help reverse-engineer life

BBC | Claim made for new form of life
Topic: Biology 6:40 pm EDT, May 20, 2004

] Doctors claim to have uncovered new evidence that the
] tiny particles known as "nannobacteria" are indeed alive
] and may cause a range of human illnesses.
] The existence of nannobacteria is one of the most
] controversial of scientific questions - some experts
] claim they are simply too small to be life forms.

BBC | Claim made for new form of life

Times Online - Health - Dangerrrr: cats could alter your personality
Topic: Biology 5:51 pm EDT, Apr  9, 2004

] The startling figures emerge from studies into toxoplasma
] gondii, a parasite carried by almost all the country's
] feline population. They show that half of Britain's
] human population carry the parasite in their brains, and
] that infected people may undergo slow but crucial changes
] in their behaviour.
] Infected men, suggests one new study, tend to become more
] aggressive, scruffy, antisocial and are less attractive.
] Women, on the other hand, appear to exhibit the "sex
] kitten" effect, becoming less trustworthy, more
] desirable, fun- loving and possibly more promiscuous.

Once it was thought that given time science would disprove many common beliefs. The truth is, it usually winds up reaffirming them.

I find this particularly amusing. I'm highly allergic to cats. My eyes get all red and bloodshot, my sinuses go nuts, and I get asthma like breathing troubles. The more contact I have with the cat, the less my symptoms. Usually the first few encounters are the worst. It takes anywhere between a 1-3 months for me to have no symptoms, depending on exposure to any particular cat. Its always "game over" if I touch the cat and my face. Everyone has cats. I'm become used to managing cat infection in a very scientific manor.

Times Online - Health - Dangerrrr: cats could alter your personality

Ensembl Genome Browser
Topic: Biology 4:41 am EST, Nov  6, 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 4:40 am EST, Nov  4, 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!

Where was this when I was quitting smoking? Shesh.

Slashdot | Simpsons Fan Creates Real Tomacco Plant

Hawaii firm develops West Nile vaccine
Topic: Biology 11:06 pm EDT, Jul 26, 2003

] A Hawaii research company announced that it has developed
] a vaccine using genetically engineered viral proteins to
] protect human beings from contracting the West Nile
] virus.
] David Watumull, president and chief executive officer of
] Hawaii Biotech, said the vaccine produced by the company
] protected 100% of 60 test animals who were injected with
] West Nile virus. In contrast, 77% of the 30 control
] animals died and the others showed some signs of
] sickness, he said.
] Aiea-based Hawaii Biotech, a privately held
] biopharmaceutical company specializing in drug research
] and development, was founded in 1982 by nine University
] of Hawaii professors.
] The company plans to test the vaccine on humans within
] the next 15 months, Watumull said.

Hawaii firm develops West Nile vaccine

'Fluorescent fish' give the green light to GM pets
Topic: Biology 1:28 am EDT, Jun 20, 2003

] Scientists have created the ultimate pet: genetically
] modified fish that glow in the dark. In future, there
] will be no need for aquarium lights - fluorescent fish
] will provide their own illumination.

Oh yeah, I would buy glowing fish. No question. I will own these some day. If there is someone out there tracking market for this kinda thing, mark me down as saying "i'll buy".. Hell yeah.

] Scientists have not restricted their GM work to
] aquarium creatures. In other experiments, scientists
] have attempted to engineer cats that do not produce
] allergens.

I'd buy that too! I'm allergic to cats.. Aside from that, cats are alright. And I'm sure they could make it piss less ammonia, glow, etc.. Sweet..

I'd save up for this shit. After the cat and the fish, I'd just need something that flys. Something can be done with the parot.

However, I don't think its a good idea to make any new animals that are capable of surviving in nature on their own. But I have no doubt that the comercial world will tackle these problems. There are simple and elegant solutions possible. You just have to make sure the thing can't possibly survive or breed without constant human intervention.. Kitty gonna need something in her water or .. Fishy gonna need some mad UV.. etc.. Unless that can be pulled off, no way. And maybe some kind of virus kill switch, "just in case". And screw Jurassic Park and "life can find a way" and all that crap. Thats Hollywood. There are solutions for this kinda thing damnit, there have to be. I want value added to my pets!

There is a service end to the business. Thats a good thing. When I get my consumer pet, I don't want to have to go through picking up supplies all the time, they have to be custom anyway, with this kinda investment, they are going to control that suckers whole life cycle. They can mail me whatever I need. I want to order it like a laptop. Select boxes for configuration, pick accessories, get a support contract, etc.. might have been a flop, but when the shit glows, its going to be a different story.

'Fluorescent fish' give the green light to GM pets

The Spread of SARS: History of the Outbreak (3/17/03 - Present)
Topic: Biology 6:27 am EDT, Apr  9, 2003

I keep thinking of this song when I'm reading SARS news:

NOFX - Just the Flu

Looking back to the past,
predictions of the end
Unseen ultra violet rays
are beating on my head
Nuclear threat wanna bet will be our demise
The day will come when we'll look to apocalyptic skies

When the news had spread, that soon we'd all be dead
Well it just blew our minds
No one could have guessed that our worst fears at best
Figments of our time

So it seems that our dreams will never come to be
How could such a stupid thing destroy humanity?
A few weeks till extinction and there's nothing we can do
A message sent to other worlds will say, "It was just the flu"

There's no lesson to be learned
There's no one left to learn it

The Spread of SARS: History of the Outbreak (3/17/03 - Present)

Wired 11.04: The Bacteria Whisperer
Topic: Biology 5:46 pm EST, Mar 21, 2003

] The notion that microbes have anything to say to each
] other is surprisingly new. For more than a century,
] bacterial cells were regarded as single-minded
] opportunists, little more than efficient machines for
] self-replication. Flourishing in plant and animal tissue,
] in volcanic vents and polar ice, thriving on gasoline
] additives and radiation, they were supremely adaptive,
] but their lives seemed, well, boring. The "sole ambition"
] of a bacterium, wrote geneticist François Jacob in 1973,
] is "to produce two bacteria."
] New research suggests, however, that microbial life is
] much richer: highly social, intricately networked, and
] teeming with interactions. Bassler and other researchers
] have determined that bacteria communicate using molecules
] comparable to pheromones. By tapping into this
] cell-to-cell network, microbes are able to collectively
] track changes in their environment, conspire with their
] own species, build mutually beneficial alliances with
] other types of bacteria, gain advantages over
] competitors, and communicate with their hosts - the sort
] of collective strategizing typically ascribed to bees,
] ants, and people, not to bacteria.

Wired 11.04: The Bacteria Whisperer

House Is Set to Make Cloning of Humans a Crime
Topic: Biology 12:50 am EST, Mar 12, 2003

] The Republican-backed measure would outlaw cloning
] experiments — or, more precisely, the scientific
] procedure known as somatic cell nuclear transfer — either
] for baby making or medical research. Scientists who
] cloned human embryos would face up to 10 years in prison
] and a $1 million fine. The bill would also prohibit the
] importing of medical therapies derived from cloning
] research.

This is another front of the War on Technology. Fear what you don't yet understand. Oh yeah, and be sure to let your religious beliefs get in the ways of the work of others.

House Is Set to Make Cloning of Humans a Crime

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