As a scientist, sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. Or into your own arm, and occasionally, your own heart. Autoexperimentation is the very risky practice of wildcat science. If you can’t find an animal model for a virus, inoculate yourself. If you can’t find a volunteer, step up. Several autoexperimenting scientists have won the Nobel Prize. Nobel Hearts Werner Forssmann won the Nobel in 1956 for performing the first cardiac catheterization.
Juno Spacecraft to Study Jupiter, we are informed by Don't people think before they give names, or choose songs? They select for weddings "I will always love you" by Whitney Houston, which is a song of irreversible parting, and I have even heard of a Church of England vicar choosing John Lennon's "Imagine there's no heaven" for something or other. I live on the eastern side of the Pond, which makes me a European, and the name of our continent is taken from that of Europa in Greek mythology.
Who needs to read science fiction when you have real science mystery in your hands?

Mystery began on 19 September 2008 according to the news on 22 September: The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was shut down last Thursday owing to a fault with its cooling system. Scientists managed to restart it again last Friday, only for it to break down later in the day. Repairs will be carried out on the machine, which will take at least two months. An investigation into technical problems with the world's largest atom-smasher could produce its preliminary findings this week into why it had to be shut down.(1)

There's been some comment recently about pundit John Derbyshire's belief that Obama will try to shut down biology because it has validated racism. Needless to say, Derbyshire is full of it, and he has a poor grasp of what recent genetics has actually demonstrated regarding nature, nurture, and race.
Joseph DeRisi is a young scientist who at age 39 has already racked up some amazing career achievements. He tells about his new DNA chip for detecting viruses:
My colleague Dave Wang and I were sitting around the office one day in 2000 asking, “How were viruses discovered in the past?” We knew that it had always been a laborious and time-consuming effort. When an epidemic struck, what researchers generally did was go to electron microscopes and try to figure out what they were seeing. Sometimes, it took 10, 20 years to find a virus they knew had to be in there. Earlier, when I was a Stanford graduate student, I’d worked on developing DNA microarrays, which are often called DNA chips. They allow a researcher to do many biological tests at once. The chips are now widely used in gene discovery, cancer detection, drug discovery and toxicology. So Dave and I reasoned that these DNA microarrays would be perfect for viral discovery. I said, “We can build a similar device representing every virus ever discovered, and it could simultaneously look for them.”
And the controversy has started already. Two French scientists, Luc Montagnier and Francoise Barre-Sinoussi are being awarded the Nobel Prize for discovering H.I.V. An American scientist, Robert Gallo, says he was shafted - he has frequently been credited as a co-discoverer of HIV. If the Nobel could be split among more than three people (the third person on this year's prize discovered H.P.V.), Gallo surely would have been included. Controversies over the Nobel prize and credit are nothing new, but they are bound to get much, much worse.


Oct 06 2008 | 1 comment(s)

Nachrichten aus Großbritannien

Government spies could scan every call, text and email

Ministers are considering a £12 billion plan to monitor the e-mail, telephone and internet browsing records of every person in Britain. This is the heading of an article in today's Daily Telegraph. Two questions: Would it work? (Especially with our government's record of sloppy data handling) How would one escape over the Firewall?
Listen to me. These starved little mice could save your life. Recently, an article appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a prestigious scholarly journal, about fasting and chemotherapy. The author, Dr. Valter Longo, studied mice that were denied food for two days (but had ready access to water) or had eaten normally. The two groups were then given a high dose of chemotherapy (three times the maximum allowable dose in humans.) The fasted mice survived and experienced few side effects from the toxic levels of the chemotherapy drug. Almost half of the mice that ate normally died from the high dose of the chemotherapy drug itself.
Old has its own rewards but how about the new? Specifically, 4.2 million new green jobs were predicted by the U.S. Congress of Mayors in their new report.(1)

There are now, as I write, about 3,530,000 entries in a search for '4.2 million new green jobs', e.g. "US could create 4.2 mln green jobs by 2038 - study"(2) or "Report: 4.2 million new 'green' jobs possible"(3). My own "Happiness is a Green Job (Mayors)" includes that phrase as well.(4)

Let's consider the definition of new, according to Merriam-Webster Online(5):

1 : having recently come into existence : recent , modern
2 a (i): having been seen, used, or known for a short time : novel (ii): unfamiliar