In a recent episode of Heroes called, "The Second Coming ," geneticist Mohinder Suresh, played by Sendhil Ramamurthy, commits the ultimate scientific crime, injecting himself with newly concocted superpower serum without testing it.

For two seasons, Mohinder has been trying to unlock the genetic secrets of hero superpowers. Finally, he finds his answer in Maya when observing that her power manifests itself when she becomes angry. At last, he has isolated the source of powers--the adrenal glands.

Suresh, you genius, you.
Congressional appropriations are largely stalled, with the exception of defense spending:
Congress has made little progress on the federal government’s budget for fiscal year (FY) 2009, which begins October 1, leaving federal funding for research and development (R&D) in limbo... The federal investment in basic and applied research totals $58.2 billion at the start of FY 2009, a small $244 million or 0.4 percent increase due to large research increases in the finalized DOD [Dept. of Defense], DHS [Dept. of Homeland Security], and VA {Veterans Administration] budgets offset by cuts in research funding for agencies such as NSF, DOE Office of Science, and NIH that received supplemental 2008 appropriations in June but lose those funds in the CR. After adjusting for inflation, the federal investment in research could decline for the fifth year in a row in 2009.
It's all going to defense R&D:
Howard Berg is a physicist turned systems biologist, and he's been a systems biologist long before it was trendy to be one. He's one of the smartest systems biologists around, and a nice guy too (one who was nice enough to sit down for lunch next to an alone, confused, awkward grad student who I'm sure came off as a tremendously boring person...) Berg has devoted his career to understanding information processing in E. coli, and this week in PNAS he describes a physical model of how E. coli senses food in its environment.
Zhai Zhigang, a Chinese taikonaut, exited his spacecraft Shenzhou 7 for a spacewalk at about 0840 GMT on 27 September 2008. He completed his 18 minutes in space after retrieving a solid lubricant sample on the outside of the spacecraft.(1)



Zhai's spacesuit was reportedly a Chinese-built "Feitian" (or "fly the sky" in Chinese) weighing about 265 pounds (120 kg).(2) Probably, a modified Russian-suit, i.e. Orlan, Feitian took 15 hours to assemble and to don. An Orlan would have taken 4 to 6 hours to be spacewalk-ready in comparison.



Although no manned maneuvering unit (MMU) of the USA, Feitan proved to do its job while tethered to the spacecraft.



Shenzhou 7's re-entry module landed on Earth on 28 September 2008.
Leave it to a British publication to finally come out and ask a question that similar US organizations have sought to avoid; namely whether or not Intelligent Design should be taught in school.

US presidential candidate Barack Obama took up Nature's invitation to reply to some questions on science policy. McCain declined. Both candidates responded to questions presented by ScienceDebate 2008 but, surprisingly, the topic of evolution was not addressed in that. Fish hatcheries apparently being more important than science education in schools.
Religious emotions and beliefs have often been linked to a capacity to deal with pain, as those
images of Philippine men being willingly crucified during religious festivals so well demonstrates. But although changes in pain sensitivity during a religious experience are well documented, the exact psychological or/and neurological reasons of the phenomenon are unclear and, as such, have now become the aim of an investigation by a group of scientists, philosophers and psychologists from the University of Oxford.

The research, to be published in the next edition of the journal Pain, reveals for the first time that religion-associated pain resistance is linked to the activation of the brain right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), an area associated with both cognitive down-regulation of pain and reassessment of the emotional meaning of an experience – for example by giving a neutral or even positive meaning to a noxious experience, and so making it much easier to cope with.

Men's World Record Times - 2007 to 2010

Sep 28, 2008 - Men's World Record

Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) - 2:03:59

Berlin Marathon, Berlin, Germany



Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) clocked 2:03:59 to win his third straight Berlin Marathon, beating the mark of 2:04:26 he set last year over the same flat course. He also became the first runner to win the race three times.(1) How he beat the world record last year is remembered below.



Men's World Record Times - 2004 to 2010

Sep 30, 2007 - Men's World Record

Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) - 2:04:26

Berlin Marathon, Berlin, Germany


Nature columnist David Goldston love to bash the supposed political naivete of science community leaders, and this week is no different (subscription required):
Can anyone cite any decision that has been different because the current head of the OSTP, John Marburger, was not called 'Assistant to the President'? The prominence given to the recommendation about a title speaks volumes about the scientific community's hypersensitivity to perceived slights and its excessive insecurity about its stature, but it says almost nothing about governance... The science community is blind to all this because of its insular focus. It tends to assume that decisions related to science policy primarily reflect attitudes towards scientists and science when in fact they are often driven by broader concerns. As a result, the two reports implicitly asked the wrong question about a president's politics. The best indicator about the future OSTP director's title may be a candidate's views on government secrecy, not science... The reports seem to assume that having a well-known science adviser with good access to the president will mean scientists will be happy for the next four years. But that just isn't the case.
He's talking about the recommendation that the next US president rapidly appoint the Director of the OSTP (Office of Science and Technology Policy), and that the President restore this position to Special Adviser to the President status, a status which was withdrawn by Bush when he appointed his OSTP director. Goldston is way off base here -
Gulf Coast residents were alerted today -- jelly in the grass.



Not only in the grass but also in the swimming pools! A man's net scooping out quarter-size buttons left an indelible impression in my brain.



The news was meager in details. But "Jellyfish-like creatures invade coast after storms" had been reported on 20 September 2008 in The Mississippi Press.(1) Hurricanes Gustav and Ike were blamed for blowing in Porpita porpita, or the blue button. These coin-size carnivores are actually colonial animals, resembling the eye of a "peacock's feather". They float in open sea at the surface while feeding on fish eggs and tiny crustaceans. A fish-terminator!


Climate change, stem cells, drug research and regulation, nuclear proliferation, biological terrorism agents, alternative energy technology, nanotechnology, personalized genetics, new computing technologies, nuclear waste storage, perchlorate in our drinking water, space exploration .... all reasons why the next US President needs competent people in key science and technology positions.