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Posts Tagged "dna"

Assignment: Impossible

Visions: A Familiar Face

In the series “Visions,” science fiction about the very latest research will be paired with analysis looking into the facts behind the fiction. The goal is to marry ripped-from-the-headlines science fiction with analysis into the possibilities hinted at by new discoveries. The DNA tests of the corpse of the man who tried to kill me [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Scientific American Goes Bananas on December 20

Editor’s note: Join the Hangout by visiting Scientific American’s Google Plus page at 1 p.m. Eastern on Thursday. That’s right. Using ordinary household items and a humble piece of fruit, we’re going to perform a seemingly magical feat of science while you watch on a Google Science Fair Hangout on December 20 at 1 p.m. [...]

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Brainwaves

Why Life Does Not Really Exist

native bee

I have been fascinated with living things since childhood. Growing up in northern California, I spent a lot of time playing outdoors among plants and animals. Some of my friends and I would sneak up on bees as they pollinated flowers and trap them in Ziploc bags so we could get a close look at [...]

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Compound Eye

What DNA actually looks like

This blog often covers small things: insects, spiders, slime molds and so on. In the scheme of biology, though, the usual fare here is pretty big. In contrast, here is something truly small- the first high-contrast microscope image of an isolated molecule bundle of DNA: Researchers at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia strung a molecule [...]

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Cross-Check

Craig Venter has neither created–nor demystified–life

Craig Venter is the Lady Gaga of science. Like her, he is a drama queen, an over-the-top performance artist with a genius for self-promotion. Hype is what Craig Venter does, and he does it extremely well, whether touting the decoding of his own genome several years ago or his construction of a hybrid bacterium this [...]

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Expeditions

You wanted to know: who are these scientists? Introducing: Marco Coolen

Marco in action.

There are two really cool things about this research cruise: time and scale. The researchers are going from satellite images taken from far above the Earth, all the way down to the lipids and proteins found within individual Ehux cells, bridging a huge range of scales. They’re also using today’s observations to tell them about [...]

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Extinction Countdown

DNA Reveals the Last 20 Ethiopian Lions Are Genetically Distinct

ethiopian lion

Every day 20 unusual lions greet visitors at a tiny animal park in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. These lions, which have spent generations in captivity, are not like most African lions (Panthera leo leo). For one thing, they are slightly smaller than the wild lions found elsewhere on the continent. For another, the males carry distinctive [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Ted Turner Donates $1 Million to Help Endangered Gorillas

Grauer

Billionaire media mogul Ted Turner has made a $1 million donation to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International to help support a new initiative to save endangered Grauer’s gorillas (also known as eastern lowland gorillas, Gorilla beringei graueri), a subspecies living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) whose population is on the decline. [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Rare African kittens bred from frozen eggs and sperm

One of the risks in writing about endangered species is concentrating too much on the cute ones. But I couldn’t skip covering the African black-footed cat (Felis nigripes) and the scientific breakthrough that could give this rare species an extra chance at survival. The African black-footed cat is one of the world’s smallest and rarest [...]

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Extinction Countdown

DNA bar codes, a new tool for tracking illegal wildlife trade

illegally traded bushmeat products

The illegal trade of bushmeat—meat and products made from wildlife—has grown dramatically in the past several years, thanks to high demand, enormous profits, a lack of law enforcement and minimal sentencing for criminals caught trafficking in bushmeat. The worldwide market for these illegal products reached an estimated $5 billion to $8 billion in 2008. One [...]

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Guest Blog

Hallmarks of Cancer 7: Genome Instability and Mutation

BRCA1 structure

All cancers share ten underlying principles, also known as the Hallmarks of Cancer. You can read about the first six here. The seventh is defined as genome instability and mutation. Cancer Cells Evolve Not all cancer cells are equal. They vary, they compete, and the fittest survive to pass on their genes to daughter cells, [...]

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Guest Blog

How do you ID a dead Osama?

Osama bin Laden is dead. At least, that’s what we’ve been told, and I tend to believe such things. But how do they know it’s him? Well, they have the visual evidence and the body, for one. But to be certain it’s not a look-alike, the U.S. government has taken a step above and beyond [...]

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Guest Blog

A genome story: 10th anniversary commentary by Francis Collins

francis collins and bill clinton announced completion of human genome in 2000

For those of you who like stories with simple plots and tidy endings, I must confess the tale of the Human Genome Project isn’t one of those. The story didn’t reach its conclusion when we unveiled the first draft of the human genetic blueprint at the White House on June 26, 2000. Nor did it [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Prions May Develop Drug Resistance: The Implications for Mad Cow, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

The brain of a patient with Creutzfeldt-Jakob shows signs of neurodegeneration and the presence of  large clumps of prion protein (purple). Courtesy of Lary Walker.

Clumps of proteins twisted into aberrant shapes cause the prion diseases that have perplexed biologists for decades. The surprises just keep coming with a new report that the simple clusters of proteins responsible for Mad Cow and other prions diseases may, without help from DNA or RNA, be capable of changing form to escape the [...]

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Observations

Sex with Neandertals Introduced Helpful and Harmful DNA into the Modern Human Genome

Neandertal skull

Over the past few years a number of studies of ancient and contemporary genomes have reached the same stunning conclusion: early human species interbred, and people today carry DNA from archaic humans, including the Neandertals, as a result of those interspecies trysts. Now two new analyses of modern human genomes are providing insights into how [...]

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Observations

Supreme Court Rejects Patents on 2 Naturally Occurring Genes

supreme-court-breast-cancer

When Angelina Jolie announced last month that she decided to get a prophylactic double mastectomy, she based her decision on the presence of the BRCA1 gene in her body—a gene that was detected via a costly medical test. The Supreme Court today unanimously struck down patents on BRCA1 and BRCA2—two genes linked to hereditary forms [...]

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Observations

Finding My Inner Neandertal

Odds are you carry DNA from a Neandertal, Denisovan or some other archaic human. Just a few years ago such a statement would have been virtually unthinkable. For decades evidence from genetics seemed to support the theory that anatomically modern humans arose as a new species in a single locale in Africa and subsequently spread [...]

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Observations

Why Total Reporting of Genetic Results Is a Bad Idea

Laboratories that sequence an individual’s entire genome should limit the results they report to clinicians and their patients based on certain usability criteria, according to the first set of guidelines on the subject from the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG). Geneticists simply don’t know what to make of most of the information that they [...]

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Observations

Editorial: Chief Justices Should Not Allow DNA Collection During an Arrest Booking

  The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments this week about whether law enforcement officials have a constitutional right to collect DNA after an arrest and before a person has been convicted of a crime. The argument in favor of this practice holds that it is no different than fingerprinting during a booking procedure. [...]

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Observations

The Most Fascinating Human Evolution Discoveries of 2012

Australopithecus sediba skull

Recent years have brought considerable riches for those of us interested in human evolution and 2012 proved no exception. New fossils, archaeological finds and genetic analyses yielded thrilling insights into the shape of the family tree, the diets of our ancient predecessors, the origins of art and advanced weaponry, the interactions between early Homo sapiens [...]

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Observations

Real-Time Genetics Could Squash “Superbug” Outbreaks before They Spread

track superbug outbreak real time genetic sequence

Genetic sequences of drug-resistant bacteria have helped scientists better understand how these dastardly infections evolve—and elude treatment. But these superbugs are still claiming lives of many who acquire them in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes. And recent outbreaks of these hard-to-treat infections can spread easily in healthcare settings. Researchers might soon be able to track [...]

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Observations

Oyster Genome Pries Open Mollusk Evolutionary Shell

oyster genome sequence

The world of the mollusk genome is now our oyster, as researchers have now sequenced the genetic code of this hearty (and delicious) shellfish, revealing it to be even more complex and adaptable than previously imagined. The new genome provides insights how oysters manage to cope with a dynamic habitat and how they build their [...]

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Observations

Major Phobias Might Hasten Aging

phobias might cause premature aging

Do you get panicky in wide-open spaces? Tight, closed ones? What about in high places or—eek!—around arachnids? If these fears are frequent or debilitating, you might have a phobic anxiety. And you would not be alone—at least 8 percent of Americans have at least one. All of this psychological stress could be taking a toll [...]

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Observations

Men’s Offices Harbor More Bacteria Than Women’s

office bacteria dirtier men new york

What is the dirtiest thing on your desk? If you work in a typical office, it’s not actually your computer mouse or your keyboard or even your desk. According to a new study, published online May 30 in PLoS ONE, it’s your phone—but your chair’s not far behind. Before you drop that receiver or leap [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapse Recorded in Octopus DNA

western ice sheet antarctica

Octopuses have made themselves at home in most of the world’s oceans—from the warmest of tropical seas to the deep, dark reaches around hydrothermal vents. Antarctic species, such as Turquet’s octopuses (Pareledone turqueti), even live slow, quiet lives near the South Pole. But these retiring creatures offer a rare opportunity to help understand how this [...]

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Oscillator

DNA stories

microarray

This post was originally written for the Superflux blog. Superflux is a collaborative design practice working at the intersection of emerging technologies and everyday life to design for a world in flux. Their new project, Dynamic Genetics vs. Mann, deals with issues of genomic prediction, privacy, and piracy. This is me What if personalized medicine [...]

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Oscillator

Identity Theft: Nature and Nurture in Art and Science

Art and science address the question of what makes us who we are in different, difficult, often contradictory ways. Since the phrase “nature and nurture” was first used in the late 19th century, trying to separate the contributions of inborn heredity and external environment to our unique individuality, there have been people who argue for [...]

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PsiVid

HHMI, with Sean B. Carroll, Premieres New Films for Teachers

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 9.38.07 AM

“Film is a powerful way to tell stories. … The right story, told well, can be engaging, informative, and memorable.” —Sean B. Carroll The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) is adding four new films to its award-winning catalog of short science documentaries for the classroom. Click below to watch a composite sample of the four [...]

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PsiVid

A Biologist’s Mother’s Day Song

Biologist's Mother's Day Song

Happy Mother’s Day! A molecular biology ditty for mom by Adam Cole, who has a pretty fun science video channel. You know I love this one! “Slightly more than half of me is thanks to you!!” From his description below the video come his lyrics and a quote by the wonderful Robert Sapolsky. Lyrics: To [...]

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PsiVid

Ada Lovelace Day-Meet the founder of Bioinformatics, Margaret Dayhoff

Ada Lovelace Day allows us an opportunity to highlight the work of women in science. Today I’d like you to meet a pioneer in the field of bioinformatics, Margaret Dayhoff, a visionary who: created the first computer program to analyze molecular data created the single letter amino acid abbreviation developed the first public molecular database revolutionized [...]

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Symbiartic

Forget Skeuomorphic Illustration

Claudia_Stocker_small

Most scientific illustration strives for realism, skeuomorphic textures of pencil and digital paint to resemble delicate insect wings, contours of a mammalian face or the movement in fluid on the cellular level. When I first saw the scientific illustrations by Claudia Stocker, I thought yes – here is scientifically literate artwork that also understands the [...]

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Symbiartic

Sequencing art: Lynn Fellman’s paleogenomic slideshow

© Lynn Fellman

Communicating science through art is sometimes still in its nascent stages, I think.  While traditional + digital scientific illustration using representational techniques will always be central to reaching out with new research, less traditional aesthetic approaches can be just as illuminating and effective at communicating science.  And we’re starting to see some of that develop [...]

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Symbiartic

The DNA Hall of Shame

image of Left-handed DNA

Confession time. Illustrators are people, too. And by that I mean they bring assumptions to the table at the outset of every project. There’s no avoiding it – no matter how educated and experienced you are, you can’t know it all. That is why it is so critical for researchers and editors to be intimately [...]

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Talking back

Out of Africa: Startling New Genetics of Human Origins

I love population genetics for its ability to peer back into human history through the medium of DNA’s ATCGs. One of the stars of this discipline is Sarah Tishkoff, a standout in African genetics, someone who will readily haul a centrifuge into the bush in Cameroon. Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania is lead author [...]

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Thoughtomics

The grandmother and her genes: a grandson’s perspective

Photo by redwood1

Somewhere deep in my grandmother’s veins, a blood clot breaks free. Her blood carries the clot past her heart, to her lungs, where it becomes stuck in a pulmonary artery. This is when my grandmother feels a sudden sting in her chest and loses her breath. She is suffering a pulmonary embolism. My grandmother is [...]

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