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Glow Kitties for Disease Resistance

Who would have known that a little glowing jellyfish would come to mean so much?  In the 60’s and 70’s a Japanese scientist named Osamu Shimomura isolated a protein from the pacific jellyfish (Aequorea Victoria) that allowed the jellyfish to glow.  This cylinder-shaped protein is now called Green Fluorescent Protein or “GFP.”  Shimomura also uncovered the part of the GFP molecule that was responsible for its fluorescence.  After this initial discovery, other researchers began to show an interest in the little glowing molecule, especially, Martin Chalfie and Roger Tsien. 

Martin Chalfie began attaching GFP to gene promoters, hoping that GFP would More >

Got a shovel?

In the field of forensics, scientists can tell the story of how, when and where certain outdoor crimes occurred by analyzing the soil and its contents.  One of its contents includes DNA.  DNA from the victim or suspect can be recovered from the soil at a crime scene. In addition, DNA from other animals can be recovered in these same locations as animals slough off cells from their skin and waste.

According to a recent study in Molecular Ecology, scientists have shown that DNA fragments found in the soil can not only determine what species occupy a given area, but also More >

A Prize and a Passing

As some of you may have noticed, I have blogged about pancreatic cancer in the past because it is such a nasty type of cancer. Now, pancreatic cancer is in the news because, sadly, Ralph M. Steinman, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his ground-breaking work on the immune system, died before he could receive the Award. Dr. Steinman primarily worked on immune cells, but his work also touched on cancer. The immune system monitors the body for both foreign invaders, like bacterial infections, and rogue cells that might become cancerous. The immune system is More >

Howard Knox

IQ Tests as a Measure of Intelligence

Many of the old theories relating to eugenics were tied deeply to intelligence levels as predicted by IQ tests. As a matter of fact, popular IQ tests that are still in use today have their roots in the eugenics community. But just how well does an IQ test fare as a measure of intelligence?

Before we can measure something, intelligence in this case, we must define it. This presents a challenge on its own. How do we define intelligence? Merriam-Webster defines intelligence as:

  1. the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations. also: the skilled use of More >
Fungi_of_Saskatchewan Wikipedia

How Many Species are on Earth?

For several years scientists have tried to estimate the number of species living on Earth. This is not an easy question to answer and multiple approaches have been developed to calculate how large Earth’s biodiversity is. All of the estimates obtained so far have a large prediction range, hundreds of thousands or even millions of species from the smallest estimates to the largest ones. On top of this shaming ignorance, our planet’s biodiversity is highly threatened. Solid evidence indicates that we are facing a massive extinction event, driven unfortunately by our own activities. The most recent evidence indicates that a More >