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Mitochondria As Regulators Of The Cell Cycle

Pop Quiz: What is the role of the mitochondria in a cell?Until just a few days ago, the only correct...

Say Goodbye to the Printed Textbook....

I remember distinctly lugging a backpack of textbooks across the frozen tundra of Michigan State...

Sue Your Parents For Your Genes

It is said that people go into psychology to understand themselves...well, one of my main reasons...

News From The War On Cancer...Linking The Pieces

As part of the Darwin Bicentennial Lecture Series at Appalachian State University, Dr....

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Michael WindelspechtRSS Feed of this column.

I am a science writer for Ricochet Productions LLC and the author of several books on the history of science, the human body, and genetics.


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I have always held a fascination for transposons, or jumping genes as they are sometimes called. Part of this interest may be due to my background in Drosophila genetics, where a transposon called a P element has been used extensively for genetic manipulation of flies for years.
The commercials featuring the Geico caveman made it seem as if a Neandertal (also neanderthal) could readily interact within a Homo sapiens society.... we may soon find out if that is true.

Recently, scientists at the Max Plank Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig Germany announced that they had completed the sequencing of the Neandertal genome.

Within the next few years it may be possible to go to Walmart, pick up a gallon of milk, and then stop by and have your genome sequenced while you wait. Sound unbelievable? Recent developments in the sequencing of your genome may make this a reality in the near future.

A company called Complete Genomics has recently announced that they intend to market the $5000 complete genome sequencing package. $5000 is not cheap, but it is definitely cheaper than some of the earlier efforts at genome sequencing.

Ever since the time of Mendel, students and the general public have struggled with how to understand the interconnection of mathematics and genetics. Not because understanding Mendelian mathematics is a difficult subject, but rather because the application of mathematics has never been the strong suit for most people.

Reginald Punnett recognized this struggle when in 1909 he introduced the Punnett square - the cornerstone of genetics education in almost every classroom. In fact, for almost 100 years now, while the science of genetics has evolved by leaps and bounds, little has changed in the way that educators teach genetics.
While the entertainment industry's awards shows are beginning to clog the airways with completely mindless fluff, a recent award by the editors of Science magazine is going relatively unnoticed. In the December10th issue of Science , AAAS announced a series of Breakthrough of the Year awards.2008 BOTY Award
While the scientific community, and most of the intelligent world, has widely accepted that the theory of natural selection is underlying mechanism of organic evolution, until recently our studies of evolutionary processes have been confined to the examples from a small plant orbiting an insignificant star in a mid-sized galaxy. From this limited viewpoint we know that evolution is intimately connected with life... but as scientists, we would love to expand the reaches of our database.