Let’s face it, scientists: Some genes are meant to be folded

image It was 14 years ago this week that the bucardo mountain goat became extinct after a tree fell on the last of its species in northern Spain, prompting scientists to ponder the age-old question:

If a tree falls on a goat in the woods, does it make a sound?

To that end, U.S. and Spanish researchers are now collaborating to utilize cells preserved in liquid nitrogen to create the very first clone of an extinct species — beginning with the bucardo, whose scientific name is goatus stupidus. While I can appreciate the enormity of this scientific milestone, it also raises a fundamental question about our genetic science capabilities:

Should we duplicate an animal that wasn’t smart enough to avoid its own doom by moving a couple of hooves to the left? Continue reading

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Remote-controlled rats, husbands could mark beginning of Brave New World (and yes, I’m scared)

image As I’ve mentioned before, because of our home’s proximity to the local wharf, from time to time we have a problem with rodents. Now, when I say “rodents,” I mean rats, and when I say “problem,” I mean finding mysterious entries scrawled on our grocery list that read:

Git mor cheeez.

However, I know that we aren’t alone in this, and that our neighbors undoubtedly have the same rodent problem. I know this because 1) They are our neighbors, and therefore live as close to the wharf as we do, and 2) Because we routinely lob assorted cheese curds into their yards before going to bed.

[Note to neighbors: We are NOT trying to entice the rats from our house into yours; we’re simply trying to entice you to eat more cheese.]

That said, some recent discoveries could change the way we go about solving our rat problem. According to a recent article in the journal Nature, researchers at the State University of New York have created the world’s first living remote-controlled rat. By implanting tiny electrodes in rats’ brains, scientists can command the rats to turn left or right, climb trees, navigate mazes, and, in some cases, stage dramatic light saber duels while dressed as tiny Star Wars characters. Continue reading

From across the table…

Just to prove that I am actually at the library working on the final draft of my manuscript, and not sitting at the Beachcomber with a bottle of Dos Eques and a basket of hot wings, this is my current view from across the small table I am now sharing.

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For some reason, I’m really craving some chicken fingers right now…

The verdict is in: we the jury are free to go

image So as it turns out, the closest I got to witnessing any courtroom drama today was while sitting in the jury assembly room watching the Zimmerman trial on Court TV. Apparently, the defendant in the case WE were scheduled to hear this morning never showed. As a result, at approximately 11 a.m., “Municipal Betty,” who registered me when I arrived, stood before us and thanked us for our service before sending us on our way.

“None of you will have to worry about seeing this building again for two years,” she said. But as I walked by, she whispered, “Except for you, depending on what you do with that stolen car.”

“That really depends on you, ” I said, “and whether you want it back.”

Next stop: Circuit court!

For all of you who kept me company in the jury assembly room via my blog, many thanks 😉 Especially you, Lisa and Jen

And to Is Everyone an Idiot But Me, it was nice to meet you.