Tuesday, 12 February 2008
Appropriately titled What's The Harm, this site lists case studies that are submitted by users about people who have been hurt, either physically, mentally, or finacially, by quack medical claims, religious beliefs, or other forms of pseudoscience and nonthinking. At press time, the site boasts a statistic of "2,435 people killed, 117,727 injured and over $115,817,617 in economic damages" due to such causes. Many of the people featured on the cite are innocent children, who have died because of their parents' religious beliefs, or because their parents chose "alternative therapies" as cures for their childrens' illnesses.
This is the reality of this kind of dangerous thinking, folks. Religion and peudoscience kills.
Monday, 11 February 2008
But what good is this? Adding two new base pairs could give DNA the ability to code for a greater variety of amino acids, meaning a number of new proteins can be produced. This idea, however, is somewhat pointless - the genetic code already codes for the esscential amino acids; any "rare" amino acids are just altered versions of the core 20, modified through specific biochemical pathways. Cells already produce a vast variety of amino acids using the 4 bases we have now. Romesberg has his sights set on other uses for dSICS and sMMO2 - applications in building nanostructures, molecular computing, and highly specific primers or tags. Even more ambitiously, he sees his work as a step towards "increasing" evolution: "We want to import these into a cell, study RNA trafficking, and in the longest term, expand the genetic code and 'evolvability' of an organism."
This technology is far from becoming widely used, and there is still much work to be done to get dSICS and dMMO2 to be used for molecular applications. Nevertheless, the potential behind new synthetic bases will make then an incredibly useful tool in the future.
Saturday, 2 February 2008
And if that were not bad enough, the government has put a muzzle on our environmental scientists. According to the National Post:
Environment Canada has "muzzled" its scientists, ordering them to refer all media queries to Ottawa where communications officers will help them respond with "approved lines."In effect, this means that the government has to approve any responses scientists may have to queries by the media about environmental issues; any response they dislike, they have the ability to "disapprove". Our environmental scientists are basically being censored.
The new policy, which went into force in recent weeks and sent a chill through the department research divisions, is designed to control the department's media message and ensure there are no "surprises" for Environment Minister John Baird and senior management when they open the newspaper or turn on the television, according to documents obtained by Canwest News Service.
What is wrong with our country? It feels like the federal government has suddenly turned anti-science. No good can come of this...