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- New data from a Web site suggests that not only do many people plan similar dates, but like lemmings, they also collectively migrate from one theme to the next.
- Young women have been copying Lady Gaga’s wider-than-life eyes, but the contact lenses are contraband, and doctors are concerned.
- The crucial breakthrough to completing [Christopher Nolan’s] “Inception” script was considering what could happen if multiple people could share the same dream.“Once you remove the privacy,” Mr. Nolan said, “you’ve created an infinite number of alternative universes in which people can meaningfully interact, with validity, with weight, with dramatic consequences.”
- A recent study found that more patients die of medical mistakes in the month of July than any other month.
- The health care industry has a garbage problem.
- After years of effort to coax empathy from machines, robots and devices designed to soothe, support and keep us company are venturing out of the laboratory.
- The psychological devices people use to manage what they express can affect social interactions in unintended ways.
- Soaring labor costs caused by worker shortages and unrest, a strengthening Chinese currency that makes exports more expensive, and inflation and rising housing costs are all threatening to sharply increase the cost of making devices like notebook computers, digital cameras and smartphones.
- Slurp digital eyedropper sucks up, injects information wirelessly.
“By changing one little word, the committee drafting the Republican 2008 election platform last week proposed banning all human embryo research in the United States, whether publicly or privately funded.”
[Republicans at odds over human embryo research via Nature]
How John McCain diverges from the Republican party platform:
- Wants to loosen restrictions on federal funding of human embryo stem cell research.
- Will enact limits on “greenhouse gas” emissions through a cap-and-trade system.
As if there weren’t enough restrictions on stem cell research already, Republican committee members would propose to eliminate it entirely. Bah, humbug!
Embryonic stem cells [ESCs] have a special place in my heart, because those little guys are pluripotent, which means they have “many possible outcomes.” You, being the non-embryo you are, are composed mostly of unipotent cells (a gross oversimplification): your skin cells will divide to form more skin cells and your muscle cells more muscle cells and so on. These unipotent cells have long since differentiated from the totipotent cells from when you were a zygote, and now each cell has been programmed to have “one outcome,” to be only one kind of cell. Embryonic stem cells, on the other hand, remain undifferentiated and can give rise to any mature cell or tissue type of the three germ layers. In addition, ESCs are capable of continual self-renewal and are literally immortal, unlike other cells which eventually age, degrade, and undergo apoptosis (cell death). Can you imagine the incredible potential of ESCs?
Once we fully understand the molecular triggers to induce and/or reverse cell differentiation and organ development, we will have the ability to bioengineer all human tissues and organs, cure neurodegenerative diseases, and control cancers. We can create therapeutics to repair or even replace any portion of our ailing human bodies – the possibilities are endless. ESCs represent a veritable fountain of youth and supreme health that need only be deciphered by scientists to obtain. Thus, stem cell research should be allowed to continue by lifting funding restrictions, not by an outright ban.
Click to read Barack Obama’s answers to the top 14 science questions facing America.It’s a pity that these issues that are not brought up often enough in the media.
In one of the plant biotechnology courses I took last year, the professor announced that the course didn’t have a required textbook. [Of course, every time that happens I feel like I’ve won the lottery, since I’m exempt from spending a couple hundred dollars to purchase a slab of bound paper.] Instead, we would be pulling from recent peer-reviewed research publications, because the pace of acquired knowledge in plant biotechnology far outpaces the ability to assemble an up-to-date textbook.
This isn’t only true for textbooks: science and technology, which lie at the heart of a large number of policy issues facing the United States, has advanced beyond the comprehension of current policy-makers (who often have little or no background in the sciences). Science and politics do heavily intersect, despite the common notion that the two exist and should continue exist as incompatible and distinct subject matters. An deep familiarity with science and technology is absolutely crucial in being able to draft and institute these policies dealing with the challenges facing our nation and the world. It’s very important that our next president understands this as well.
I applaud the creators of the ScienceDebate2008. Their mission statement:
Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness, we call for a public debate in which the U.S. presidential candidates share their views on the issues of The Environment, Health and Medicine, and Science and Technology Policy.
The policy issues AKA other things I will blog about in the near future. I’ve added asterisks next to the ones that I am especially concerned about.
- Climate Change*
- Conservation and Species Loss
- The Future of The Oceans*
- Fresh Water: Drought, Pollution, Ownership
- Population Growth and the Environment
- Renewable Energy Research*
Health and Medicine
- Global Diseases and Pandemics
- Stem Cell Research*
- Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria
- Drug Patents, Generic Drugs
- The Genome*
Science and Technology
- Scientific Innovation and Economic Growth
- Improving Science Education
- Space Exploration
- Preserving Scientific Integrity in Government
- Energy Policy*
The Republican National Convention is being curtailed by a hurricane. Could this be foreshadowing?