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Paul KnoepflerRSS Feed of this column.

Associate Professor of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy at UC Davis School of Medicine. Long-time stem cell and cancer scientist. Cancer survivor. Patient Advocate. Science Writer. Blogger at Read More »


I'm a professor here at UC Davis.

Exactly two years ago today, I was lying in a hospital bed literally across the street from lab here at UC Davis. It seems unreal in a way, but painfully real it was and still is.

On November 30, 2009, I had surgery for prostate cancer.

Two years ago, things seemed pretty bleak.

Now on November 30, 2011, exactly 2 years later, the world seems a lot different to me both from that time 2 years ago and also from my life before I knew I had cancer.

You know the idea of separation of church and state?

I propose another principle: 

Let's keep the church and science separate.


The church is the antithesis of science. While science is at its heart all about facts, the church does not like facts, but rather is focused on feelings and beliefs. The church has truths, but of course truths are not facts. Truths are what each individual person feels is right.

We got a perfect example of why mixing religion and science is incompatible this week when the Vatican held its first every scientific meeting on stem cells. We learned earlier this year that the church had committed $1 million to a high risk stem cell biotech company as well. 
Tomorrow night voters in Mississippi will vote on the so-called "Personhood Amendment".

If passed, the amendment would make a fertilized egg by definition a human being with the same rights as a living, breathing, thinking, walking person in the state of Mississippi. 

The consequences are not clear, but possibilities include such things as complete bans on all abortion and many forms of contraception, outlawing embryonic stem cell research, and throwing women in jail.

Polling indicates that the amendment will most likely narrowly pass, but it may be fading a bit in the stretch.
When I was growing up in the 70s as a very young kid, I watched re-runs of the original Star Trek series. It was one of my favorite shows. I was only 2 years old when the series originally ended, but it was still running as re-runs when I was in elementary school and still is now at times.

My favorite character was Mr. Spock. 

Captain Kirk was cool, but already as a young kid he struck me as illogical, full of himself, and reckless. Mr. Spock was the perfect balance as the First Officer of The Enterprise  to Kirk's instability.
With the recent report that iPhone users may literally be in love with their iPhone, it got me thinking.
Why do people spend so much time plugged into their electronic devices and the Internet?

Human beings don't do things repeatedly for no reason. If trained to expect chocolate every time after going on Facebook (FB), then the mere sight of our computer or the FB symbol might having us drooling more than Pavlov's dog. 

But of course there is no chocolate reward for FB so why do tens of millions of people go on FB so often?

I'd wager that it is a case of love.