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Quote of the Month – Climate change vs. Genetically Modified Crops

In Uncategorized on June 1, 2017 at 8:20 am

This months quote is provided by Cornell Prof. Sarah Davidson Evanega, a mother of three children, an environmentalist and a plant scientist:

“You cannot at the same time uphold the scientific consensus around climate change and deny the scientific consensus around the safety of GM crops.”

You can of course argue that this is not entirely true since politics to fight climate change and politics to stop GM-agriculture are both driven by fear over worst case scenarios.

She nevertheless, has a really good point. The quote perfectly exemplifies how we choose our scientific facts to suit whatever political means we want to support.

A christmas revelation

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2016 at 10:17 am

Well, two revelations actually.

Yesterday I set out to watch Westworld.

HBO, for some reason, sort the episodes from bottom to top. Me, not always the master of clever, thought through decisions, pressed the top episode.

As I was watching the season finale, thinking it was the first episode, I thought to myself “Wow, this was an intricate and elaborate way of starting out, I hope at some point they explain the plot a bit more”. They didn’t. So I watched the whole season finale, and then I stopped watching Westworld.

From this I got two revelations:

  1. There’s a lot of time to be saved watching just the last episode.
  2. In the Michelangelo picture “The creation of Adam“, God sits within a human brain. We create God in our brains, not the other way around – this should be obvious to everyone and not really the revelation in itself. The revelation, rather, is that Michelangelo managed to communicate this right under the noses of the Christian authorities, in the centre of their power houses,  – and managed to get paid for it. What a great man Michelangelo was.

 

P.S

The shape around God, the angels and saints, may also be interpreted as a uterus. In this interpretation the green vail symbolizes an umbilical cord. Combining the two interpretations leads to the conclusion that not only is God a figment of our imagination, but the offspring we produce are god-like. Michelangelo comes full circle: We are the gods of our minds.

Merry christmas

Creación de Adán (Miguel Ángel).jpg

Quote of the month April 2016

In Uncategorized on April 29, 2016 at 11:17 am

From fightaging.org. You can replace the text in [brackets] to make the quote about any scientific field.

I’ll note that the publicity department that formed up this release should be ashamed of themselves for the title, which is a enormous exaggeration. It is bad enough that the popular press consistently misstates the results of research into [aging], when so much of that research produces only small effects, without the allegedly more responsible parties also doing so. Not all [longevity] science is equal, but when everyone claims to have stopped aspects of [aging] – when no such thing actually happened – it becomes that much harder for laypeople to gain an appreciation for what is more or less useful in the field.

Well said. This cannot be repeated enough times. Hyping of scientific research results achieves the exact opposite of what it was meant to do – it feeds anti-scientific and irrational thinking. If you want anti-vaxxers, climate-change deniers and conspiracy theory nitwits to rule the world – then keep doing this, if not, then please stop.

So what happens when the sorting sets in

In Uncategorized on October 12, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Looking into the crystal bowl

2020- : Pre-implantation testing has become the norm. The sorting society is a reality

 

Our subject

2025:  The “perfect” embryo (our subject) is chosen based on predictions from genetic testing.

2026: Subject is born. Tests-results: “Everything as expected, all is well”.

2026-2036: Social interactions deviates from the planned course. Subject not as outgoing and happy as predicted. Social “incidents” and “minor traumas” may have impacted on behaviour.

2034-2046: Athletic abilities fall short of target. Ruptured tendon. Subject is putting on more weight than expected.

2044-2047: Academic results declining. Depression despite lack of predisposition ?

2047-2057: Professional career fails to reach target.

2058-2060: Social decline, lack of permanent adress. Subject in psychiatric care.

2060 – : Subject’s condition improved. Dismissed from further care. Genetic determinism abandonded as any form of guiding principle for future plans.

 

More from the crystal bowl

2030- :Pre-implantation genetic testing for personality traits and physical ability becomes out of fashion. “Natural” child birth increases in popularity.

 

Turns out we couldn’t eliminate unpredictability. Come to think of it, that wasn’t to hard to predict.

 

 

Correct me if I am wrong

In Uncategorized on March 19, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Background: The Hyperion Cantos book 1 and 2  and The New York Times on mitochondrial manipulation (see further description on bottom of page).

It is my impression that theres an underlying, and absolute, assumption that genetic engineering will lead to less diversity.

But,

If given a choice of a range of possible engineered enhancements, would all societies, ethnicities and subgroups have the same preferences ?

I think not.

Then it follows that future genetic engineering will lead to greater diversity. Strange and unpredictable diversity.

The difference would be that it is now humankind deciding which different variants that are brought to life, not “nature”.

We would still need to accept and accomodate the “different” individuals in our society, probably even to a greater extent.

Would that not be a good thing ?

If you keeep putting up hurdles to stop implementation of advances in genetic engineering, are you not halting the development of a “natural” way to save humankind in the future ?

Genetic engineering is by this reasoning, the natural way forward.

It should be cool an unpredictable, just like nature is today.

The Hyperion Cantos book 1 and 2 describes a struggle between three parties: 1) artificial intelligence (AI), 2) a probable extension of our present tech-savvy society dependent on AI and 3) an AI-independent “natural” biologically diverse society (based on genetic engineering !?). Spoiler: The “natural” biological society wins.

Quote from NYT-article: “Some told the officials that the technique could introduce new genetic mutations into the human gene pool. Others warned that it could be used later for something ethically murkier — perhaps, said Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, “to engineer children with specific character traits.””

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Too much time on the train

In Uncategorized on February 10, 2014 at 8:33 am

You can recognize a good tale/story when you pause from it to continue your life, and realize that your life is dull and insignificant in comparison.

An excellent story is the same, but now your second thought when you pause is that everything you do in your dull an insignificant life leads up to that great story.

A truly brilliant story makes you realize that you are living it yourself, or could be if you didn’t focus on someone elses story.

I did not want to write this

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2013 at 11:09 am

This happened

Many, many yars ago – I was a PhD student. At a conference, late evening, at the bar. A female post-doc in a low-cut dress and a jacket, asked me if I could buy her a drink. I did, even though I didn’t have much money and she had more. We talked, mostly on work related issues, but after a while she steered the conversation on to personal matters. She removed her jacket. There was a dance floor and she wanted to dance.  We did, but it was awkward as she danced in a provocative manner. We sat back down at the bar. She slipped her room number into the conversation a couple of times. She wanted to dance again but I managed to find an excuse and left to find my own room and go to sleep.

The whole episode troubled me for the rest of my PhD-period as I was unsure of whether this would influence my chances of finishing my PhD, – she was after all influential in the lab.

This has happened to me several times later. I have other examples of women in influential positions, wearing low cut dresses,  sometimes high heels  – touching my hand, sometimes my thigh, and asking me to participate in dancing, sometimes provocative dancing.

I’m not sure if they are aware of what they are doing, – ….. oh wait …  I am perfectly sure they know what they are doing, …. and what effect it has on me.

I wish these things wouldn’t happen as I feel as though I am being taken advantage of. I know I should have stopped things as events were closing in on my personal boundaries, but being in a vulnerable position in my career when these things happened …. I simply didn’t manage to.

Women in power needs to be made aware that wearing sexualized outfits, dancing in a provocative manner and touching other people can lead to serious distress and sometimes psychological damage to vulnerable individuals.

Note: I have left out names and description of places to protect those involved, and myself. This post is purely fictional.

Updated junk DNA post

In Uncategorized on August 5, 2013 at 8:40 am

Just updated: Hammering nails in the “junk-DNA” coffin with this Cell paper “Orchestrated Intron Retention Regulates Normal Granulocyte Differentiation

Why ?

1. The junk-DNA discussion, even the scientific one, refuses to die even though it is not a very interesting one, which is interesting in itself.

2. Cool/strange/scary expression in the title of the paper: “Orchestrated Intron Retention” ….

Tidbits from the www that makes you think

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2013 at 9:25 am

From a comment on a post on my friendfeed (I hope its ok that I quote this from you Kamilah Reed):

This makes me think of the mantis oothecae that I saw the mother lay on the edge of our deck. I saw her stand guard there until the cold killed her. The egg cases still out there, toughing it out through all this nasty cold weather. I can’t wait to see if we’ll actually have dozens of baby mantises next year. We’ve had them before, but I didn’t see where the case was last time.

I recently finished The Social Conquest of Earth (recommended), and found myself buying into Edward O. Wilsons arguments on social evolution vs. kin selection. We have become social beings based on traits like compassion of and empathy with, other individuals of our kind.

Based on th quote above though, you might want to expand the reach of those human traits to include other species as well. This quote encompasses empathy, compassion and sympathy towards a species far removed from our own. Importantly, a species I do not particularly care much about myself. Without the particular context of the story, I would gladly have gotten rid of those eggs, but since I find myself intrigued by the sacrifice of the mother-Mantis, I probably wouldn’t.

So, to all of you out there dooming the human race, despair not, – there may be hope. There are individuals out there that will share stories and facts that saves us – be thankful for diversity and keep listening.

Mantis religiosa trademark

Mantis religiosa trademark (Photo credit: macropoulos)

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Qustions I can’t seem to find answers to

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2012 at 11:58 am

What is it with genetic information that is so scary. I honestly do not understand this.

The more we learn about the human genome the more we understand how little it by itself, determines. Sure, it is our genetic framework or DNA-recipe-book or whatever other analogy you want to use. But, for almost everyone of us, our DNA sequence itself does not mean much in terms of  personal or professional opportunities or even health. DNA-information is pretty useless without context basically.

DNA sequencing trace

DNA sequencing trace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Still you apparently need laws and regulations and ethical boards and counselors to protect your genetic information. Not only from the public, but sometimes even from yourself.

Your lifestyle and health (and that of your family), your friends, your living environment – those are things that really, really matters – the true life-determinators or the context if you will. Which by the way, is useful information (that can be misused or exploited) also in the absence of knowledge of your DNA-sequence.

This information however, most people are allowed to  put on the internet for everyone to see. And they do so gladly.

This is puzzling to me.

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