Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Poor old Mendel's not even around to defend himself...

A landmark paper appearing in Nature, RNA-mediated non-mendelian inheritance of an epigenetic change in the mouse. Like any landmark paper, it raises more questions than it answers, but nonetheless deals another serious blow to almost all facets of the prevalent dogma in molecular genetics. In this spirit, see also:


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

More on global warming

With Canada's "presidente" pulling us out of kyoto comes fear we will go the way of China with it's polluted rivers and desertification. If Al Gore's movie can't scare him, maybe this study (in the journal that rhymes with penis) on global warming and poison ivy will...


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"Carbon Dioxide: They Call It Pollution, We Call It Life"

Ha. These pro-fossil fuel ads do a better job ridiculing themselves than I ever could. "Carbon dioxide is what we breathe out" - how could that be a bad thing? And by the way, the glaciers aren't melting, they're getting bigger. Don't believe the hype - the Earth's flat, happy and cool as a cucumber. Have you heard it complain lately?


Monday, May 22, 2006

Surviving the Juan de Fuca Trail

Just a little hello from the other side of Canada. We've just completed the trail and surprisingly we both survived it. 47 km of crazy ups and downs through the old growth temperate rain forest for five days, 4-7h of walking, going from beach to beach. With very little food to spare, I've grown fond of the mussels peppered over the rocks out here. We saw bald eagles, seals, minks, and a bear. But the most impressive are those massive trees. Suprisingly there are all kinds of different forest ecosystems, and when one of those giants falls, they are soon covered with new sapplings. We were lucky that we only got rain on the last day. Some TC bags and duct tape made our bags waterproof. My knees hurt, my shoulders are sore, but I loved every minute of it...


Saturday, May 20, 2006

H5N1 Outbreak Caused by Chinese Farming Experiment?

Alarm was raised last year when influenza virus serotype H5N1 killed thousands of bar-headed geese at Qinghai Lake in Northwest China. The concern was that as the geese migrated the virus might spread all over Asia and Europe and establish itself througout domestic poulty populations. A full migratory season has passed since then however, and this has proven not to be the case. However it has now come out that the Chinese government has actually been conducting domestication experiments with this same species of wild goose, artificially rearing them on farms in the Qinghai Lake region. This includes raising the geese at high population density, on the very same farms as CHICKENS. Very sketchy. They apparently even re-release some of the geese back into the wild. Also sketchy. With stuff like this going on, it's a small wonder we're seeing new pathogenic strains of virus emerge. The crazy thing these days is that one sketchy little farming experiment on the other side of the world could kill people everywhere if such a virus were to ever go transmissible in humans.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Another Science Podcast

Berkeley groks, a science interview show you may or may not have already known about. I like the look of their topics, maybe someday I'll get around to listening to some. Their listing on is slightly easier to navigate.



Anonymous C thinks he can fish, however, some doctor has raised the bar a tad and caught a 385 pound shark on the fly.
It only took him an hour to bring it in. Add Image


Tuesday, May 16, 2006


This BBC show was supposed to feature an interview with an internet expert, instead a guy who was around the studio for a job interview got accidently thrown onstage. The funniest part is that the interviewer doesn't seem to have a clue, appearing deeply interested in his insight into the online music biz (ie - "you can get everything, fast"). Apparently he later said he went along beacause he thought it was an initiation prank. Ah, so easy to overestimate the intelligence of TV executives.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Geomagnetic Flux and Global Warming?

A paper just out in Science uses old sailing records to show that strength of the Earth's magnetic field was relatively constant from the 1500s to around the 1840s, at which time it entered into a decline that has continued up to the present day. I came across an interesting theory suggesting that this decline is responsible for global warming, which seems to have begun around the same time. Hmmm...does the Earth's magnetic field really shield it's surface from Solar radiation?


Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Pre-Emptive Strike: A New Strategic Paradigm in the War on Non-Human Mammal Species

A great example of evolution in action, humans recently discovered the first known polar-grizzly bear hybrid. What did we do? Damn right, we shot that bad-boy dead. Probably make a nice trophy in someone's living room. From look of his eyes I'd say there was a bit of pizzly-boxing going on too. Goes to show, we're so good at killing off species, they're going extinct before they even exist. That's right, gotta nip 'em in the bud. Don't worry - I'm sure all you tree-hugging scientists out there will get a chance to study a grolar bear soon enough. The North Pole's only getting warmer and greener and there'll be plenty more polar bear's makin' babies with grizzlies before they go extinct.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Proof that scientists know how to have fun...

More studies are needed to investigate any causational relations with alcohol. In totally unrelated news: neat rebuttal in Science on mating strategies.


The True North, strong and free

I've been in Egypt for almost 2 weeks now, checking out temples and pyramids and watching my sister be proposed to by almost every young - and old - egyptian man we've met (for those who are interested, the best offer so far has been 20 camels).

Now back in Canada, we tend to think of ourselves as land of mounties and peacekeepers. I've been mistaken for both Spanish and Italian while here, and as soon as I say I'm from Canada, the immediate (and invariable) response is: "Canada Dry!" So this is how we're known abroad... for a soft drink - which, incidentally, I haven't seen a single drop of while here.

And now, I'm off do to some scuba diving in the Red Sea...


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

IA updates AGAIN!

More IA updates. Doode is starting to post like a bayblabber. Perhaps his job is as slack as ours.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Watch the AACR from your couch

Cool stuff. I wish more conferences were podcasted, and this is a step in the right direction. The following video was presented during AACR's "One World, One Quest Gala," held November 13, 2005 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Cancer researchers from several major institutions recall poignant moments in their careers and why they've devoted their lives to this effort. Nick Valvano, chief executive officer of the V Foundation for Cancer Research, and Dr. Margaret Foti, AACR's CEO, also share their thoughts about the importance of cancer research and the critical role played by the AACR and its members over its almost 100-year history.


True Skeptics

You gotta give it to the Flat Earth Society and Charles K. Johnson for keeping it real. Someone who really challenges the dogma. I mean really what proof do I directly have for a round earth. The moon landings were the biggest round earth propaganda ever and they were faked. The first link about Charles K. Johnson explains the whole history of the pro-flat-earth logo of the United Nations, and since the United Nations is the most authoritative international group in the world I think that the round earth hypothesis's days are numbered. If you still don't believe, then I encourage you to visit some great forums on the topic that explain the great southern ice wall and other facts that prove that we all live on a flat earth. The passionate round earth rebuttals found in these forums are priceless.


Anthropocentric news

Some cool stories today about caloric restriction in humans, and the ontogeny of hair. Friendly tip of the day: never search google images for hairy, trust me on this one...


Thursday, May 04, 2006

X-ray microscopy

Some neat pictures to be taken with x-ray microtomography, thanks to a technique called time-delay integration. No words if they have it in sunglasses version yet...


Dry ice bomb

We have all put some dry ice in a falcon tube and tossed it as a grenade to Rob before. Turns out you can go to prison for it... Also some (lame) jet propulsion experiments with dry ice. We can do better... and pics of a guy who had one of these bombs blow in his face and thumb.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Job vacancy...who really runs the OHRI anyway?

So the other day I'm on the airplane perusing the Globe and Mail's Report on Business. After going through a few pieces on the current oil boom, a large corporate job ad caught my eye - seems the OHRI is looking for a new CEO and scientific director. If you're in the market for a high-paying job (we're talking 300 grand), you must have a "PhD, MD/PhD or MD and an outstanding record as a medical or health sciences researcher, and have demonstrated leadership skills through previous executive positions". The ad offers candidates the reins to the OHRI's "state-of-the-art research facilities, an operating budget of $74.2M, and a workforce of almost 300 scientists and clinical investigators, more than 250 graduate students and over 500 support staff". I was interested to learn that I was part of someone's workforce, even if I had to read it in the business section of the newspaper to find out. So I was also intrigued to read that the new CEO will be "reporting to the Board of Directors and to the Hospital President". It had never occured to me that the OHRI was run by a board of directors (although I guess it makes sense because every corporation is) so I was very interested to know who was on it. Turns out nearly half (8/19) are executives of private corporations, a couple are political types, and the others are governing members of the Ottawa Hospital and/or the University of Ottawa. They apparently serve as "gracious" volunteers, although you can bet that membership to this club is by invitation only.


Acoustic wave immunosensor

This just sounds too cool not to mention. These guys at Georgia Tech have outfitted gold dopped antibodies to a self-assembling membrane, so that binding of the antigen (mesothelin here) changes the resonnance frequency in a quantifiable manner. In essence it's sorta like an ELISA assay that you read with a microphone.


IA updates

More IA updates in the hizouse.
The 'fun stuff' pic is now of David Hasselhoff in order to appeal to za Germans.