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Category archives for Science

I built a microscope today

I did! It was an origami microscope, with a single simple lens added. Here’s what it looks like: It’s called a Foldscope, and I got it as part of a beta test program. It’s a bit like the original Leeuwenhoek microscope, which you held up to your eye to see a magnified image.

That quote is from a good article in Nature on how sex is non-binary — my only quibble would be with that “now”. You’d have to define “now” as a window of time that encompasses the entirety of my training and work in developmental biology, and I’m getting to be kind of an old guy.…

It’s the same old story

Denialists claiming to be pro-science. Politicians insisting on a balanced treatment. A population ignorant of the science indignantly rejecting a clear and well-established, evidence-based conclusion. I’m not talking about creationism, although it’s exactly the same story. It’s the anti-vax position now. That dishonest weasel, Chris Christie, is now talking about respecting the choice of anti-vax…

Just yesterday, Japanese fishermen caught a 6m long giant squid, and it lived for a few hours before expiring. Here’s a video of the rare beastie swimming about, with shots of the tragic corpse afterwards.

Cancer: bad genes or bad luck?

If there is one cause of cancer, it would be genetic damage to somatic cells. So all we have to do to cure cancer is prevent all genetic damage! That’s not a very useful prescription, unfortunately; it’s rather like saying that all we have to do to prevent accidental deaths is prohibit all potential causes…

Michael Egnor, neurosurgeon, has made a bizarre post in which he reveals that he knows nothing about how the brains he cuts up work. Egnor claims that it is impossible for the brain to store memories. Yes, he knows that neural damage can cause loss of memory, that certain delicate areas of the brain, if…

The Lancet done screwed up

Chelsea Polis and Kathryn Curtis wrote a paper that asked whether hormonal contraceptives affected your likelihood of being infected with HIV, Use of hormonal contraceptives and HIV acquisition in women: a systematic review of the epidemiological evidence. Here’s the abstract: Whether or not the use of hormonal contraception affects risk of HIV acquisition is an…

Mary’s Monday Metazoan: Best name ever

It’s the Bone Eating Snot Flower Worm. As a bonus, it’s also one of those species where the large adult forms are all females, and the males have been reduced to a tiny bag of sperm attached for life to a Bone Eating Snot Flower Worm.

The Discovery Institute doesn’t understand the protein folding problem. I mean that literally: they don’t understand the problem. Scientists don’t know the answer, but they have a clear understanding of the problem. PNAS published a “Perspective” article, “The Nature of Protein Folding Pathways,” by S. Walter Englander and Leland Mayne. Unsurprisingly, they try to approach…

The image below is a phylogram, illustrating the degree of variation in a sequence of mitochondrial DNA. The concept is fairly simple: if two DNA samples are from individuals that are evolutionarily distant from one another, they’ll have accumulated more differences in their mitochondrial DNA, and will be drawn farther apart from one another. If…