Archive for the 'biology' Category

13
Nov
09

Platinum nanoclusters + photosynthetic bacteria = crapload of hydrogen

image001

Okay, I don’t care if you’re NOT a geek… read this. Because it’s just cool. (click-y read-y)

Can you imagine the implications if a good chunk of the acreage being given over to low-yield ethanol production was replaced with this (theoretically) 79-fold-improvement? WHAT energy problem??

17
Feb
09

Evidence: ESCs are NOT the answer

Aside from the host of ethical issues involved with developing therapies from cloned embryonic stem cells (ESCs,) the greatest barrier to their use is their unwelcome tendency to form teratomas (Latin: “big a** tumors”) if introduced into living tissue before they have differentiated into one of the 210 or so varieties of mature cells found in a non-embryonic person.

News today from Israel offers a grim example: the intended cure has given rise to a would-be killer in a 17-year old Israeli boy.  His family, desperate to try anything to treat his rare neurodegenerative disease, arranged for Russian doctors to give him injections of raw stem cells — from multiple donors — starting when he was only nine.

The tumors started showing up three years ago.  Doctors were able to remove and biopsy the one on his spinal cord, confirming that it arose from the donated cells.

The tumor pressing on his brainstem is still there.

Adult stems, coupled with pre-injection GFP screening, is the way to go folks.  Minds on the leading edge of medical genetics know this to be true.  As usual, the media and the politicians are the last ones to catch on.

Sadly, it will take more than one dying teenager half a world away to wake them up.

12
Feb
09

Peanut update (or) “Oh RATS, we’re on CNN!”

PB_ratatouilleDeep, deep nastiness… (click and gag)

I’m beginning to lose some of my vast, VAST appetite* for peanut butter.  Seriously.  Right now I’d probably even eat McDonalds food rather than a PBJ.

And I’ve SEEN Super Size Me.

*No really.  It’s pretty freaking VAST.

11
Feb
09

Plainview, Texas – “You’ll go NUTS over us!”

Why is it that when I find myself (almost) the subject of notoriety, it’s always something that’s cast in such a rotten light?

First it was the Lockney ISD mandatory student drug testing thing.  The resulting lawsuit and media hoopla (we even merited a PBS documentary — no foolin’) overshadowed an otherwise pleasant first year of teaching, waaaaaay back in 1999-2000.

Last month, said school burned down, the alleged results of alleged arsonists with alleged teen angst that allegedly got WAY out of hand.   (For the record, I love both of the alleged girls dearly… and I wish I could express to both of them how much I and others are hurting for them.  I hope I allegedly get to do so in the alleged future.)

And now our local peanut plant has put my town in the national spotlight, because YES it’s owned by the same idiots who own the Blakeley, Georgia plant that has been at the root of (so far) over 600 salmonella poisonings and 8 deaths, and YES it hasn’t been inspected by health inspectors since it opened about 5 years ago, and YES an independent test confirmed the presence of the bacterium here too…

But come ON, folks… let’s not drown in all this negative press.  I think the hometown of Jimmy Dean and Jim Clark deserves a better legacy than THIS one.  Let’s pull out the big guns.  Let’s ignite the passions and imaginations of Hometown America and the entire free world.

I’m all for an aggressive bumper sticker campaign.

Maybe it could say something like, “PLAINVIEW:  It Could Be WORSE — You COULD Be Living In Blakeley, Georgia”

I’m open to more bumper sticker suggestions in the comment section.  Go nuts.

09
Feb
09

Zombie insects! In 3-D!!!!!

This is, without a doubt, the most bizarre thing I have ever seen (next to the births of my three — soon to be four — children.)

CLICK HERE for video.

That’s right, kids.  The army is funding research into HACKING THE BRAINS OF INSECTS!!

This reminds me of the zombie cockroach story I read a few years back (link).  Now if only someone could figure out how to mount frickin’ laser beams to their little heads…

08
Feb
09

Attention: potheads who DON’T want testicular cancer…

… Sucks to be YOU right now.  CLICK HERE to read why.

(Image from REEFER MADNESS… a most excellent propaganda film.  CLICK HERE to watch it.)

15
Jan
09

Back in business…

Me in the choir room biology/chemistry lab at First Baptist Church LHS – Downtown Campus.

Things are going surprisingly well.  Cozy.  Very cozy.

08
Dec
08

“Gattaca” (1997) — Watch it on Hulu (UPDATE: NOT ANY MORE!!)

Easily my favorite movie of all time.  Gattaca is a disquieting peek at the world around the corner, a touching underdog story, a taut mystery thriller, and just a beautiful film to experience.

The cinematography, the score, the understated sets and costumes, the (mostly) well-crafted characters… I never fail to be amazed and moved when I watch this — even though I see it at least three times a year with my biology students.

And now you can experience it (or RE-experience it) for free at Hulu.com.  Here’s the link. Click and watch now.  Feel free to thank me later.

(EDIT:  They took it down.  Hulu giveth, Hulu taketh away…)

(See how many “science fiction” bits from this film are now “science fact.”  Scary.)

07
Dec
08

File under “scary as h*ll” – Prions in animal fats?

This article from the science journal at Ars Technica gave me chills. (CLICK HERE to read it.)

If you haven’t the time (or are suffering from mouse-related trigger finger,) let me summarize:  prions — malformed proteins which cause neurodegenerative wasting diseases such as BSE (“mad cow disease'”) — which were previously only thought to exist in neural tissues of infected animals have NOW BEEN FOUND TO ACCUMULATE IN FAT TISSUES.  Think “sausage” or “ribeye steak.”

See if I get any sleep tonight…

(CLICK HERE for a table of links for more information on prion-related… stuff.)

(CLICK HERE for a Powerpoint ’07 presentation I put together a few months ago.)

06
Dec
08

Juannah, bless your heart.

Thanks for adding my name to the data you turned in for the t-test, and effectively saving my bacon.

At the moment, I’m trying to return the favor by putting all our crapole together for our “scientific paper.”  I’ll email you copies of what all I do with it (and post it here) before I submit it to Dr. T..

Hope the Owls are having a kickin’ day.

— JC




The random musings of a 30-something, West Texas high-school science teacher. Hoo-RAY.
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