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Becky JungbauerRSS Feed of this column.

A scientist and journalist by training, I enjoy all things science, especially science-related humor. My column title is a throwback to Jane Austen's famous first line in Pride and Prejudice

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During the past few days, news media has inundated the U.S. public with word that for the first time in 20 years, a government task force has changed course in its recommendations for breast cancer screening.

On the surface, that doesn't seem like an earth-shattering story. Guidelines are routinely revised and updated based on available evidence. But the new recommendations go against entrenched medical practice and advice, and the firestorm the change caused shows no signs of flickering out, and is pitting two government groups against each other.
Sagan Man!

Sagan Man!

Nov 16 2009 | comment(s)

They laugh now, but within 10 years the city's entire criminal class will have quit to work on space research.

See more excellence at xkcd.
Cancer research took a fascinating step forward thanks to recent research by a collaborative group from Boston; a step that, if it pans out, could impact a wide swath of cancer drug development. The research is still in its early stages - mouse models - but the potential implications led to a great deal of media coverage. Just a few examples:

  • "Scientists have found a way to disarm a protein thought to play a key role in leukaemia and other cancers," from NHS (UK)

The word on the street is that Jesus is pretty t'd off at NASA.1 What mortal sin2 did the space agency allegedly commit? The non-biological reproduction of an RNA component in a laboratory, of course.

NASA scientists reproduced uracil in a lab under conditions found in space, according to Astrobiology. Uracil is one of the components of the genetic code that makes up ribonucleic acid (RNA); RNA is mainly known for its role in protein synthesis. In other words, NASA was able to create a building block of life in the lab.
It doesn't get much better than strung-out spiders and a white dude using ghetto slang. And Canada.

Two caveats: one, you may want to watch this out of hearing from impressionable young children. It's not terrible but the occasional joke may be branded in their brain as scientifically valid and therefore not a bad decision. Two, I am mortally terrified of spiders, but I sucked it up for this video because it was funny. I will just be scratching at imaginary spiders crawling all over me for the rest of the day.
*Laws that should be formally on the books but sadly are only known in the collective Geek conscious.

Matt Blum of Wired writes, "There are many, many laws having nothing to do with government, that are useful to know because they tell you something about how the universe works. There are Newton’s laws of motion, the laws of thermodynamics, Boyle’s law, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, among dozens more."