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Everything posted by Blahah

  1. I rather think Dawkins was just stroking Neil DeGrasse Tyson's ego and being polite when he said that (he actually said "I think there's more to be naive about"). There is no way astrophysics can seriously be claimed to be more complex than biology.
  2. Blahah


    No, because homozygous children (those whose parents are both dwarves) do not survive more than a few days, so the trait is deleterious. Heterozygous children (with one dwarf parent or as a result of a novel mutation) with achondroplasia have a high risk of developing spinal abnormalities leading to paralysis, so infant mortality is much higher among dwarves than in the general population. Because two dwarves cannot usually have children who survive to procreate themselves, the trait could never come to dominate our species. At most you could get 50% of the population being dwarves but in reality, some non-dwarves would always be mating with other non-dwarves and the dwarf population would drop rapidly. Also achondroplasia can be detected early in pregnancy, and the option to terminate is offered in countries where abortion is permitted. Stillbirths are much more likely, as are other health complications leading to death in very early life. Add to all that the fact that dwarfism conveys no evolutionary benefit, and you have a strong case that dwarves will never be more than a small minority.
  3. What are you trying to analyse? Do you want to know absolute quantities of some chemical(s), or relative amounts of several things? Do you want to target a specific class of chemicals or a broad range? Please give more detail about your assignment, then we can help you.
  4. I've used a vortex on a the lowest setting, but others don't like to because it may shear the DNA. I wouldn't do it with plant DNA, but would chance it with bacterial. If you google for this you'll find others have the same problem a lot. In plants it's often due to polysaccharides i don't know about in bacteria. Perhaps you could rewash in ethanol and try again to suspend in TE. What texture is your pellet? CharonY can maybe give better guidance.
  5. Upgrading is cheaper than buying the best machine up front, because components get cheaper over time, i.e. the price per GHz or per GB decreases very quickly over time. Nothing wrong with building a really nice PC, I'm just saying it's always cheaper to upgrade in a few years than to buy extra capacity in anticipation. It's especially true of RAM where you can just fill another slot in a few years.
  6. The point is that the cod (I assume you mean aquaponics) doesn't work anywhere near as well as modern agriculture using 'artificial' fertilizer when used for staple foods (cereals). The question is not about cost but about space, which is why people talk in terms of yield per unit area and not about initial cost as you suggest. The limiting factor is always space - we do not have enough space on the planet to feed the world using aquaponics, we have to use green revolution technologies for now, and soon we'll need much better technologies which will be provided by GM. Aquaponics is cool, it's a nice self-contained system, but it can't feed the world. It's nice for small-scale vegetable production, but from what I've seen so far, no good for producing staple foods on an enormous scale. There seems to be very little scientific literature about aquaponics, it's all from aquaponics organisations and companies. I'd like to see some real research about its potential.
  7. I think we should be clear what we mean by organic farming. In the UK 'organic' when applied to foods has a regulated meaning, it means the production methods have been certified by a licensed agency as not using any of a particular list of methods or chemicals. It's a bit unfortunate that organic farming supporters have managed to get the term into general use to claim ownership of traditional or small-scale farming methods. There is no reason why small-scale agriculture shouldn't make use of whatever technologies make them most efficient. It's possible that composting, crop rotation and seed saving is most effective for many farmers at the moment who don't have access to other resources, but that's a temporary solution in terms of global food supply. We will have 9 billion people to feed by 2050 at a conservative estimate, and the world's arable land will only support that population if we use it at a high efficiency, much higher than traditional varieties and methods can manage. Actually we need a higher efficiency than we can currently achieve with any technology. GM doesn't need to be tied in with Monsanto and big agri-business bullying farmers and all that nonsense. China, India and Brazil have national programmes to develop their own GM varieties which are free from commercial patent restrictions. Some international charitable organisations are making huge leaps forward with GM crops, like the IRRI (rice), CGIAR (all) and CIMMYT (wheat). We don't need people to protest against Monsanto, or against GM, because international government is already working to overtake Monsanto and there's nothing wrong with GM as a technology. GM is going to play a massive part in feeding the world, theres no way any amount of public misunderstanding can stop that. People who understand it aren't afraid of it, and thankfully the important people understand it. Some cool ways in which GM might help us achieve global food security and solve other problems include: - Engineering the C4 photosynthetic pathway into rice and wheat, making them ~50% more efficient (i.e. 50% more yield per unit area per year). - Engineering salt-tolerance into all major crops, meaning we can grow them on land which is currently unusable for agriculture like estuarine flood plains. - Making weedy species into good bioaccumulators of various toxins, allowing us to decontaminate land for agricultural use. - Pharma crops, which synthesize and concentrate medicines - Improving the nutritional profile of staple crops I've been thinking for many years about what the most direct career path for a scientist who wanted to help save the world would be. The best I can come up with is to work on GM crop improvement. Contributions you make have the potential to save many lives, improve quality of life for billions, eradicate some of the worst human effects on the environment by removing resource pressures, and at the same time being an awesome challenge. That's what I plan to do with my career. Sorry to drag this out again, I just wanted to point out that it is not true to a good approximation. Especially the part where you said "they kill all insects indiscriminantly whereas synthetic ones show selectivity to the pest you are trying to remove.". There is precisely one highly targeted common pesticide in organic agriculture (Bacillus thuringiensis) and the same pesticide (the Cry protein in Bt engineered crops) is the only highly specific one used in non-organic agriculture. Most pesticides, both organic and synthetic, have low target species specificity. It is definitely not true that organic pesticides kill indiscriminately whilst synthetic ones do not: they all do to some extent apart from Bt. I'm not saying organic agriculture is good, or that you don't know what your talking about, just that your statement about the pesticides may have been poorly phrased or careless.
  8. That's what I meant. Why should a humanoid engineered to feel nothing be given rights? They would make excellent tools and menial workers, no different from using a horse to pull a cart. I don't think it's disgusting at all, I think it would be fine to be able to produce worker humanoids.
  9. If we engineered them to lack consciousness, it would be no different to farming human-looking animals.
  10. Hasten the day! I vote to remove all limitations on cloning, and to provide massive public funding for a Marliyn sex-machine cloning programme. unless... did you mean Marlin?....
  11. The supposition regarding tRNAs predating their synthetases is not that life was uncatalysed before that, but that there was a different set of catalysts before the current ones emerged. Specifically, the authors of that paper your quote is referring to suggest that a catalytic RNA may have been the catalyst before the later aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases. For an example see this paper: Aminoacyl-RNA synthesis catalyzed by an RNA (Illangasekare et al. 1995) And I believe the most commonly (but not universally) accepted idea is that mineral surfaces or clay matrices acted as catalysts for the initial synthesis of complex organic molecules. I'm no expert, but I think the reactions are not thermodynamically favourable enough to make products in any significant concentration, so that any form of catalyst is more likely than none.
  12. There are loads of protocols which don't use the phenol/chloroform method. Example protocol not using phenol/chloroform: OpenWetWare: Chromosomal DNA Isolation from E. Coli Also an alternative to protease is to precipitate the proteins, centrifuge and take the supernatant.
  13. Has someone done extensive enhancer trap lines in mice? I would expect they have. If so, you should be able to target GFP to your tissue of interest by placing it under the control of the right enhancer. Most enhancer trap lines already use GFP, so that would make it even easier. Then you could see your cells much easier under a confocal laser microscope. You could also use immunolocalisation to target those cells, if there is some protein known to be expressed only in those cells. Or you could use in situ hybridization with mRNAs expressed only in those cells. You'd have to do the detective work to find those targets if they have been described. When I have to do repetitive work I listen to audiobooks on my mp3 player. After a while at the microscope though, just the manual repetition and sitting in the same posture gets uncomfortable. Genotyping sounds like the most fun out of all of those things.
  14. I'm not a nuclear physicist, my information is not technical. I speak (moderate) Japanese, so I've been helping out families who have relatives in Japan by directing them to resources and translating them when necessary, and in general trying to convey information to the panicky western online communities faster and more accurately than it gets into the western press. I really do not think any individuals can be held accountable for the nuclear situation. The whole of Japan knows it is seismically unstable, and it is as democratic as any nation on Earth. If the public did not want nuclear reactors, they had a choice in the matter. But they did want them - Japan wanted energy independence; nuclear energy has helped bring prosperity to the nation and security to many. The enormous benefits to the Japanese economy and therefore the people over the last 60 years far outweigh the small cost (in lives and money) of this incident. The workers currently at the plant all knew when they either took the job or volunteered for emergency service that they were putting themselves at risk. There are certain social benefits that go with that (honour, financial and social recognition for your family, personal satisfaction and sense of self-worth), and they chose them. What happened was an unprecedented natural disaster. No responsible person will die because no person is responsible. In general Japan has done extremely well, better than any other nation on Earth, in preparing for and securing itself against such natural disasters. The designers didn't plan for such an event because they thought they had considered the worst possible case. Now we know better, and existing and future plants will be much more secure against an even more unlikely set of extreme circumstances. There are dozens of factories, petrol stations, leisure centres etc. which were wiped out in the tsunami and more people were killed in each one of those than will be killed in the entire nuclear incident. Should the designers of those buildings be killed too? Of course not. Are manufacture, petroleum use, and getting exercise to blame for those deaths? No, it was the massive wave. Let's not start blaming people. In general the effects of this event have been so massively overblown and disproportionately reported. The real story are the massive earthquakes and tsunami, not the resulting nuclear accident which will have a far smaller effect. By far the biggest effect of the nuclear situation will be the fear caused to the Japanese people by the media collaboratively scaremongering, and the damage caused worldwide to nuclear energy because of people's unfounded fears.
  15. I'm still interested, but since the people taking part in the thread are either a.) already well informed or b.) distinctly unwilling to be sensible I decided to stop posting in the thread and focus on some other forums who are more in need of information.
  16. In addition to CaptainPanic's suggestions you could also try searching expired patents on google patent search.
  17. I've shaved peoples eyebrows before and they have always grown back. When I was a teenager, it was a standard prank at houseparties to shave one eyebrow of any girl who passed out. The damage was always only temporary. Perhaps it's different when you're an adult though.
  18. Apartheid was not instigated by the British, but by the Afrikaaner Nationalist Party. However, the pass laws and various other segregating laws which were basically precursors to Apartheid were passed by the British colonial rule.
  19. I think being more eco-conscious in the direct meaning of the word is a great thing and is part of modernization, but the eco-consciousness movement is about sharing a consciousness with nature, not about being more aware of ecology. It's the kind of "let's all express our emotions instead of having a rational debate" which leads to popular fears about GM crops and nuclear power which are not supported by the facts. Of course not every hippy is directly responsible for the misunderstanding of science, but as an attitude I wouldn't promote it. Don't get me wrong, I think trees and plants in general are fantastic (that's why I study them) but I feel no need to have a conversation with them, hold a tree by the leaf and confess my feelings for it whilst looking deeply into its knotted bark, or settle down with a bush and start a family. Actually I read on a kindle!
  20. Google is as reliable as the question you ask it and the sites available on the internet. Not trusting google is basically saying you don't trust the internet. Asking people on the internet the answer to a question suggests that you do trust the internet, so you should try googling next time.
  21. Why did you post a link to a place to buy it? Whilst some of the content is scientifically based, and she describes new technologies, it seems as though it's also got a lot of spiritual stuff in there. I'd prefer a nice motivating popular scientific treatment which didn't make me vomit by suggesting I heal my soul with a nice look at a tree. Eco-consciousness is more like neo-pagan spiritualism than anything scientific. It's nice that she's motivated in the right direction, but the baggage isn't for me.
  22. steevey might be referring to Mesonychidae, an extinct family of land mammals which was once thought to be the ancestor of many modern mammal lineages including cetaceans (whales and dolphins), and which existed from around 65 to 35 million years ago. Those things really looked like wolves. The studies were all based on dentition (tooth anatomy), but this has recently been discredited somewhat. Now it is thought that cetaceans branched off from other mammals in the artiodactyl lineage (along with the hippo). However, there were actually some wolf-like cetaceans before the non-aquatic ones all died out, for example Pakicetus (see pic below) and Ichtyolestes. There was a 2001 paper in Nature about it: Skeletons of terrestrial cetaceans and the relationship of whales to artiodactyls (Thewissen et al.). It's important to note that the 'wolf like' ancestor of dolphins and whales was not actually a wolf, so directly drawing a comparison between whales and modern wolves is a bit confusing. The spine idea is a good one though: fish flex the spine laterally (side to side) whilst most mammals flex it dorso-ventrally (up and down). See the Wikipedia page on evolution of cetaceans for more info. Pakicetus attocki skeleton (early land cetacean).
  23. Cool. The website doesn't say what operating system the program is for, perhaps you should put that in. Also on the Koch curve page you say: "add another part which goes from the end of part to to the beginning of part 4" surely this should say "add another part which goes from the end of part 2 to the beginning of part 3" (you missed out the 2, and the other part is part 3 until you've added a new part).
  24. I was being facetious, and failed to appreciate the allegory of completeness. Your explanation that objects in 3D space must be 3D makes it seem more sensible.
  25. Globally there are slighly more males than females (102 males per 100 females): http://www.geohive.c...pop_gender.aspx The source is the UN population prospects report (2008). You can get all the UN population stats here: http://www.un.org/esa/population/
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