Monday, July 09, 2007

I saw this in Nature first. I think

This article is interesting in pointing out goals (and the quote about taking over Mars, then Venus, and then Earth is quite amusing), but does a poor job of actually explaining the research. I think that's typical of the New York Times science section, though; in dumbing research down so the average lawyer can understand it, a lot of the cool science gets lost (and likewise for law -- dumbing things down so the average scientist can understand loses the nuance). If you want to read the whole thing, the article was published in Science on June 28. That should be enough to find it, I believe.

In any case, a search for that article led me to Science's website where I discovered that they are trying to reach out to Undergraduates (how convenient!). They even have a facebook group for AAAS -- American Association for the Advancement of Science -- with 95 members. It can't be more than 2 weeks old as a group, so that's pretty damn good. (Of course, most of them seem to be alumni or grad students, so maybe this facebook idea isn't too specific to undergraduates. But we knew that already, I think.)

Other things I found out today:

A study was recently done that polled people going to infertility clinics about what they felt was the most ethical thing to do with leftover embryos (their unborn children?) in which most people responded using them for embryonic stem cell research. Of course, this changes absolutely nothing about the issue and was really a foregone conclusion as well; few people would argue that killing an embryo by throwing it in a toilet and flushing is more ethical than killing an embryo by harvesting its cells for research which could potentially lead to cures for serious and life-threatening diseases. Most people would argue, on the other hand, that the very act of producing these embryos that cannot be born is unethical and we should do our utmost to stop that entirely, while perhaps (or perhaps not) retaining our ability to help infertile couples have children. Which is understood and probably wouldn't be argued against, but impractical in the short-term.

Buckyballs could help fight allergies, according to Nature. Previous studies have shown that they mop up oxygen radicals and protect nerve cells, and now it appears that they block the production of Histamine in human Mast cells when the cells are provoked with (basically) pollen. (The difference between +Buckyball and -Buckyball trials was fifty fold.) Similar results were shown in live mice. They're moving on to clinical trials next. So, in the future, asthma patients will have to remember to take their Buckminsterfullerenes.

Honestly, the more I read Nature and Science and other scientific journals, the more I think I'm living in the prelude to a science fiction novel. It's just incredible.

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