Category Archives: Humor

Luciferase is not Satanism in biotech

I made a video about luciferase. Some conspiracy theorists think they THEY are putting LUCIFER-ase in the vaccines. I think it’s just a misunderstanding of a paper like Schlake et al. (“Developing MRNA-Vaccine Technologies.” RNA Biology 9.11 (2012): 1319–1330. https://doi.org/10.4161/rna.22269). I have been trying to end videos with some kind of call to action, but in this case I’ve been coming up blank. There are people who apparently believe the name luciferase means bioscientists are satanists and are dropping little “hiding-in-plain-sight” hints about it. What can we do about people who are that deep into conspiracy-theory cult-think?

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Not fighting with commenters, talking about SPR instead

I wanted to fight with some YouTube commenters, but that’s dumb. Hence the comic. But I need to remember that most of the comments I get are very kind. It’s easy to focus on the negative.

Thing 1. Someone said I have lesbian hair. I imagine this person thinks they were trolling me? But I take it as a complement. From what little I know, lesbians have really cool hair.

Thing 2. Someone compared climate science to a house of cards. I think his idea was “the pandemic caused a slowdown in CO2 production and we didn’t see a proportional change in climate! Checkmate, athe- climatologists!”

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Hydra Video! Links and comic, too

I just posted a Video about Hydra and Humanized Organisms. A long, strange train of thought resulted in this comic, too. Art credit goes to Snowman – I love it.

I got to thinking about humanized organisms while I was reading about hydra. Hydra make good models to study the biology of aging because they seem to be immortal: they don’t seem to age at all. If we knew how they accomplished it, it might help us understand how to slow aging. How do we know that they don’t age?

Prof. Daniel Martinez observed groups of hydra for years. He carefully fed them and kept them in separate tubes. Each one was observed making buds – little baby hydra – but the old hydra was put into a fresh tube alone every time. The researchers waited for any of them to get old and die… and none did. Well, maybe they didn’t wait long enough? We can only compare them to other creatures in the same weight class.

Longevity tracks body size and time to first offspring. So orcas (weight 1 million grams, first offspring at 25 years) live far longer than voles (weight 10 grams, first offspring within a few weeks of birth). Hydra weigh in at a fraction of a gram and have their first offspring a few days after being born. But they are still alive and reproducing for years, thousands of times longer than the trend would predict.

What allows hydra to accomplish this? How do they regenerate? What’s special about their stem cells that they don’t deplete? Can we study hydra in a way that’s relevant to human longevity?

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Modernity and youtube production values

We sometimes think (in our age of progress) that if we look back, we must see very primitive creatures. 

But even if we go back ten thousand years, we don’t find primitive humans. We find modern humans.  Genetically, we have not changed very much in 10,000 years. What has changed? We have learned a huge amount of chemistry, biology, etc. Of course we didn’t know which bits were useful. It took a hundred years to figure out. That’s how science works. 

The discoveries of past centuries created some rapid changes. Example of progress: within a few hundred years we went from knowing what gunpowder was, to seizing guano Islands, to synthesizing ammonium nitrate to nuclear weapons. 

Ancient impulses with modern weapons are weird. I have this picture in my head of an angry person saying “I’m going to get that guy. I’m going to go lay claim to a guano Island, refine potassium nitrate, make black powder, and use an explosion to propel a small metal ball through his body.” Then the pre-modern human says “I’d just hit him with this rock. Simpler.”

Anyway.

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A silly pun about lichen

The strange taste of memories; lichen comics; Week 13 of 2021

Funny stuff:

A strange thing happened. I ate a Walmart fudge brownie, then some peanuts and drank some coffee. It tasted exactly like a memory of waiting for a table at Smitty’s with my grandparents. The yellow wavy glass, the vinyl bench, the smell of my grandmother’s perfume, the sound of silverware, the juice glasses with the distinctive bulgy profile… it all came back. It was clear in my mind to a crazy degree. It only worked once, though. No matter how many brownies I ate.

Unrelated: I’ve been doing some macro photography. I saw this weird moss and lichen on the top of a post. The vibrant red color is very interesting. I would love to know what the pigment is. The red nodules were about 2 mm in diameter. What a fun lens. It made me think of an old comic, A Softer World. So, I tried to make some things inspired by their style.

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