Fake Banner
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....

User picture.
picture for Heidi Hendersonpicture for Michael Whitepicture for Hayley Mann
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.


... Read More »

Not so long ago, geneticists considered the vast stretches of non-coding regions in DNA to be “junk,” nothing more than the remnants of our evolutionary history. If it wasn’t a traditional gene, and didn’t produce a protein, it wasn’t of interest to most scientists. Luckily, not everyone considered these regions of DNA to be junk. Some considered the junk DNA to be the dark matter of the genome. They believed that it must have some function, but no one had yet determined exactly what that function was.
Dr Google

Dr Google

Nov 12 2008 | comment(s)

Is there anything that Google can't do?

An article in the NY Times ("Google Uses Searches to Track Flu's Spread") by Miguel Helft reports that Google may be able to detect outbreaks of influenza up to two weeks earlier than the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). According to Google, people who have the symptoms of the flu search for terms such as muscle aches and flu on the search engine, and data-mining of these searches can help pinpoint outbreaks in advance.
Around 10,000 years ago, in the region of the United States now known as the Appalachians, lived one of the most impressive mammals ever to inhabit North American. With a height of over 8 feet, and weighing up to 800 pounds, the giant ground sloth ( Megalonyx jeffersonii to scientists) was a formidable sight. However, the ground sloth, like most large land mammals in North America, went extinct. Why is still a mystery to scientists - some believe that it may have been the result of a change in climate, others suggest that it may have been from predation by humans.
Viruses are nasty opponents, as anyone who has followed the battles against influenza, SARs and HIV/AIDS can attest. They are diverse and in many cases evolve at rates that confound efforts to contain them. Anyone who has gotten a flu shot, and then came down with the flu a few months later because the “strain” of virus that the vaccine was not the same as the “strain” that they were infected with, knows just how fast viruses can evolve. In many cases, medical professional never really know which virus has caused the symptoms in their patients, and this complicates treatment and often leads to the misuse of antibiotics, which, of course, are never effective against viruses.
The political fray has entered into the world of genetics, and as usual, our politicians have no real idea what they are talking about. In an October 24th speech about children with special needs, Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for Vice-President, made the following statement about funding for
IDEA, or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
The recent announcement that Sergey Brin, the multibillionair co-founder of Google, has discovered that he possesses a genetic mutation that predisposes him to a form of Parkinson's disease has resulted in multiple stories in the news on the "genetic basis" of Parkinson's and the candidate gene LRRK2.