Could Humans Soon Regrow Damaged Body Parts?

The LizardDid you watch The Amazing Spider-Man last year? The superhero reboot from 500 Days of Summer director Marc Webb featured a new Spider-Man and one of his fiendish foes, The Lizard. The character of Dr. Connors was Peter Parker’s good friend, who was working on an experiment to introduce the DNA of a lizard into his body so he could re-generate his amputated arm. Unfortunately, this tragic event turned him into the Lizard, and there was much running amok. Well, it appears Australian researchers are performing real-life experiments with the immune system cell in salamanders to regenerate missing limbs and damaged organs in humans.

Salamanders have the unique ability to regenerate almost any part of their body — including their spinal cords, hearts, and parts of their brains — that have been damaged or severed. Of course, mammals don’t have anywhere near the same ability, as our growth response is severely limited. James Godwin and his team at Monash University’s Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute are trying to bridge the gap between salamanders and mammals by trying to transfer the former’s unique ability to humans.


The Old Man’s War Universe Is Back With Two Free John Scalzi Short Stories

HumanWe have an uneven love for Hugo-nominated science fiction author John Scalzi here at GFR. I love love love Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, and would easily classify it as one of the best science fiction novels I’ve ever read. However, publisher Josh Tyler was not a fan of one of Scalzi’s most recent works, the amusingly titled Redshirts. But while Redshirts may have left a bad taste in the boss’ mouth, Scalzi has recently returned to the Old Man’s War universe with a serialized e-book entitled The Human Division, which was collected and released as a whole a few weeks back. Now Tor.com has some extra goodies for Scalzi fans: two new Human Division short stories you can download for free.

You’ll have to sign up for a Tor.com registration, but once that’s out of the way you’ll be able to download “After the Coup” and the uniquely titled “Halfte Sorvalh Eats a Churro and Speaks to the Youth of Today.” They’ve got it available in several formats, including PDF, .epub, and .mobi.

The Human Division follows up on the events of The Last Colony, which was itself the third volume of Scalzi’s Old Man’s War saga. You can pick up the hardcover right here, and check out a synopsis for The Human Division below. And while we’re at it, you should totally be reading Scalzi’s blog.


RNA-Laced Bandages Could Treat Tumors And Chronic Wounds

RNARibonucleic acid, or RNA, is a tricky yet important element of the human body. DNA’s integral cousin, if DNA is the building blocks of life, then RNA helps bring the blocks together through special delivery mechanisms. RNA’s ability to do so means it has the potential to treat certain diseases at the genetic level, which would include tumors and chronic wounds.

The medical application is predicated on oligonucleotides, which are short strands of RNA molecules that are delivered to anywhere in your body that needs to affect the expression of genes. This process involves traveling through the bloodstream to the affected area, but at times the RNA molecules are far too fragile to survive the voyage. The interfering RNA molecules introduced into the body are quickly broken down with enzymes and acids, thus killing the oligonucleotides.

According to Chemical & Engineering News, a new strategy is being developed to bring RNA strands directly to wherever they are needed in the human body, through special nano-coated bandages. To treat a tumor inside of your body, surgeons would treat the area with a biodegradable polymer that would slowly release RNA and dissolve the tumor. A bandage coated with RNA molecules could also treat a chronic wound that refuses to heal.


Doctor WTF? Doctor Who Accused Of Racism

Well, this is one of those stories where I had to double check the byline to make sure it didn’t include the words “the Onion.” It seems that a new book collecting essays about Doctor Who has called the show “thunderously racist.” Why? Because there hasn’t yet been an Asian or black actor in the role of the Doctor, and, according to Digital Spy, the book claims the Doctor is “dismissive” of his black companions.

The book in question bears the ominous title of Doctor Who and Race, so we probably shouldn’t be surprised. The “thunderously racist” comment comes from the book’s editor, Lindy Orthia. The essays also pan the show for “outdated attitudes” and for portraying primitive cultures as “savages.” (Wait, are we sure this book wasn’t written by Q?)


Pictured: the terrible face of racism


Babylon 5 Cast Reunites For 20th Anniversary: Watch The Panel Here

If you were one of the lucky folks who got to hit up the Phoenix Comicon this past weekend, just know that I am seething with jealousy and resentment toward you. I’m sure the con would have been a good time regardless of its guest lineup, but this one was a doozy for Babylon 5 fans. In honor of the show’s 20th anniversary, series creator J. Michael Straczynski was joined by 13 cast members in a huge reunion panel. Several of my friends who attended have been going on about what a cool event it was, which just makes it all the worse that I didn’t get to be there.

But screw all that. This is the internet, baby! Yes, thanks to this most wondrous of world-wide webs, you can now watch the entire Babylon 5 reunion panel, nearly two hours of video, via the embeds above and below. As somebody who’s been a fan since the very beginning, it’s awesome to see the cast onstage together for an event that isn’t a funeral, and even aside from amusing anecdotes and remembrances, there are some really positive messages in here.


Giant Freakin’ Convention Calendar: Week Of 5/27/13

ComicConWelcome to the Giant Freakin’ Convention Calendar! We’ll be your one-stop source for the science fiction/comic/etc. conventions happening during any given week. It’s a light week this time around, but let’s dive in!

  • John Scalzi — Memphis, TN (5/28)
    The writer of Old Man’s War and Redshirts will be signing at Booksellers at Laurelwood.
  • Wizard World Philadelphia — Philadelphia, PA (5/30 – 6/2)
    Guests include William Shatner; Gina Torres, Summer Glau, Adam Baldwin, and Jewel Staite from Firefly; Norman Reedus, Michael Rooker, and Jon Bernthal from The Walking Dead; and John Barrowman from Arrow/Torchwood.
  • ConCarolinas — Charlotte, NC (5/31 – 6/2)
    Guests include Timothy Zahn, Battlestar Galactica’s Kandyse McClure, and Babylon 5’s Jason Carter.
  • Denver Comic Con — Denver, CO (5/31 – 6/2)
    Guests include William Shatner, Kevin J. Anderson, Warehouse 13’s Saul Rubinek, Angel’s J. August Richards, Doctor Who’s Colin Baker, and geek goddess Felicia Day.