Scientists and transhumanists like Ray Kurzweil and Aubrey de Grey believe that humans can, should, and will eventually “solve” the problem of aging and death. They believe the human body can be altered on a biological and genetic level and programmed away from age-related decay and disease. It’s a controversial topic, but regardless of your stance on the pursuit of radical life extension and immortality, science has moved one step closer to realizing this goal. For the first time, scientists have regenerated a living organ.
NASA has proven adept at crowdsourcing — it leverages the exuberance and talents of students to build nanosatellites or to participate in lunar plant growth. Now, NASA has other crowdsourcing plans — ones that involve biology rather than cosmology. Josiah Zayner, a NASA synthetic biology fellow, wants to leverage the public to provide greater efficiency when it comes to developing antibiotics.
To that end, Zayner and a neurobiologist colleague have launched The International Laboratory for the Identification of New Drugs, otherwise known as the ILIAD project. Think SETI, except instead of users trying to crunch data about potential alien life at home, they’ll be part of a “Massively Multi-Scientist Open Experiment” in which they tap into their inner mad scientist by examining and testing plant and insect specimens to help identify their antibiotics. Many antibiotics are derived from naturally occurring organisms such as fungi, plants, and herbs, so it’s a perfect way to get citizens involved.
We marvel at the wonders of our universe on a daily basis here at GFR, but if we’re being honest then that usually means drooling over some new batch of astronomy pictures. But science is forever revealing that there is just as much beauty in the very, very small as there is in the heavens above. For proof, you need look no further than the 2013 winners of Nikon’s Small World Photomicrography Competition.
As you might guess from that moniker, the competition challenges photographers to serve up images of the microscopic world all around us, and a whole different reality that usually escapes our notice because it’s too small to be seen with the naked eye. Nikon posted 20 winners for this year, and you can see the gorgeous results throughout this post.
Up top you can see the first place winner, a “Chaetoceros debilis (marine diatom), a colonial plankton organism (250x)” photographed by Wim van Egmond of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Sure, the Nobel Prize is nice and everything, but it isn’t half as interesting as the Ig Nobel Prize. The Ig Nobel Prizes, which are organized by the Annals of Improbable Research and are presented each fall at Harvard University, honor scientific achievements that sound pretty ridiculous, but which are based on sound science and actually merit thought. This year, there were a bunch of fun winners, including a psychology experiment that concluded that people who think they’re drunk tend to also think they’re attractive (this explains a lot, doesn’t it?), an experiment about the effects of opera music on mice who have had heart transplants, and a study that observed dung beetles using the cosmos to help their sense of direction.
The cosmically inclined dung beetle study actually won two Ig Nobels: one for biology and one for astronomy. It was a bIg Nobel win for the beetles and for the scientific team comprised or researchers from Sweden, Australia, South Africa, Germany, and the United Kingdom. They’ve even got the best research project tag line: “Some people think our research is crap.” Yes! Scientists who can pun (and laugh at themselves) are the best!
Over the course of a human year, dogs age seven years — or at least, that’s how the saying goes. Is that a way of making it seem like dogs are living a human-length life span, or is that because, to a dog, one year feels like seven? Is it possible that dogs actually experience time differently than humans?
I wonder this a lot about my cat. Whether I’ve run to the store on a 10-minute errand or have been in Portugal for a month, she’s all over me the minute I walk in the door, as though there’s no difference in the time I’ve been away. She can’t seem to tell 10 minutes from 10 hours from 10 days — is that because she doesn’t own a watch or because her experience of time is wonky, or at least different from ours?
I can’t speak for Zola, but a new study published by Trinity College Dublin scientists in Animal Behaviour indicates that smaller animals perceive the passage of time much more slowly. It’s kind of like that thing Kiera Cameron does to slow time down enough to dodge bullets, except that animals use this time perception difference to escape bigger predators. Ever wonder why a fly seems to be able to detect and evade the swatter you’ve painstakingly poised just above it? Ever wonder why you’re sure you just smashed a mosquito between your hands, but when you open them, there’s nothing? It’s essentially a time and vision-related spider sense. Similarly, bigger animals have the opposite problem, missing details easily detected by smaller animals.
Yeah, we know that you guys are much more interested in hearing about instantly debunked Star Wars rumors and awesome space-related discoveries than anything with any kind of an agenda behind it. Climate change, in particular, seems to be one of the most polarizing subjects we can talk about. Speaking of polarization, were you guys all aware that magnets could be used to prove that gay marriage is wrong? Well, it can’t, really, but don’t tell that to University of Lagos post-grad student Chibuihem Amalaha, who has recently gone public with this bullshittery, along with a few other “scientific” ways in which chemistry, biology, and mathematics also disprove loving, same-sex marriages. Did anyone catch the polarization pun in all that?
This is definitely the kind of story that gets me hot under my collar (with rage, not lust), especially when Amalaha describes the reasons behind his “research.” Get used to the quote marks, folks.
In recent time I found that gay marriage, which is homosexuality and lesbianism, is eating deep into the fabric of our human nature all over the world and this was why nations of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God because they were into gay practice. That is, a man marrying another man and a woman marrying another woman.