Category Archives: Science

All things scientific

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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Pretty Pictures of Nature, touching grass, microscopy

I went for a walk and took some pictures of nature today at a bunch of scales. Microscopes, macro lenses, and I even saw a couple of mallards. Just fun to get out and see some tiny bits of the world. I made a video version of this little outing on youtube.

I don’t have quite so many links, videos and articles to share this week. But I took a bunch of pictures, check them out below the fold.

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Cocktail Inspired by Frank Herbert’s Dune

I posted a video with some thoughts on Dune and Nootropics. I also came up with a cocktail inspired by the book. I am in love with this cocktail. The 2021 film is coming out soon on HBO(!) so if you want to make this for your screening, here’s the recipe:

Spiced Tequila Sour Of Shai Hulud (May His Passing Cleanse the World):

Assemble in a shaker with ice:

1.5 oz Corzo Silver Tequila (for the memory of the desert sands of Dune)
0.75 oz ginger syrup* (to stimulate the mind)
0.75 oz fresh lemon juice (it gives its body’s water that the tribe may survive)
Two dashes cinnamon bitters (for the Spice must flow)

Shake

Place a large, clear ice cube in a glass. Add one bar spoon of blue curacao (for the blue within blue eyes of the fremen). Strain the drink over the cube and serve.

*To make ginger syrup: Assemble 0.5 cup sugar, 0.5 cup water and ~4 ounces of sliced fresh ginger in a pot, heat over medium heat while stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture just starts to bubble. Strain into a bottle for storage.

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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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