2010-05-23

Abiogenesis, Here We Come! Ctd.

Heads will explode:
In a development that seems likely to stir a firestorm of controversy, researchers said Thursday that they have used genes made in the lab to create a synthetic species of bacteria.

"We're here to announce the first synthetic cell," said J. Craig Venter, head of the self-named J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md., and leader of one of the teams that decoded the human genome.

He told reporters that the new species -- dubbed Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 -- is similar to one found in nature, except that the chromosome that controls each cell was created from scratch. The research is reported in the May 20 issue of the journal Science.

The new species, Venter said, started with researchers digitizing the genetic code for the new species on computers, then assembling the nucleotides using "four bottles of chemicals" into sections of DNA. The DNA sections were assembled in yeast cells to form a synthetic chromosome, which was then transferred to a related species of bacteria, M. capricolum.
Yup.  Just a matter of time.

Here's a great line from later in the piece:
"This is the first self-replicating species that we've had on the planet whose parent is a computer," Venter said.
Gotta love scientists.

2010-05-22

Why Republicans Don't Go on Rachael Maddow

Not because she's unfair. Dr. Paul announced his candidacy on her show, you know. I'll let the video speak for itself:



Find the point of contention, then pursue it doggedly, from many angles, until you get an answer. She created this story, by being good at her job. David Gregory would have dropped it after a halfhearted followup. Of course, Dr. Paul could have stopped it from being a story by simply saying, "I believe the Federal Government has the authority to force integration of privately owned, publicly operating businesses and resources." Or something to that effect.

The problem is that he doesn't believe government has that authority, since he's a libertarian teapartier. Because if it has that authority, then he's given up the ideologically pure position and opened the door to all sorts of regulation.

2010-05-20

More Right Wing Terrorists

Here's video of the middle aged white guy carrying his can of gasoline and his pipe bomb, right before he used those things to destroy a Mosque in Florida:



Tally another one for the hate-motivated, talk radio right, eh?

This happened 10 days ago... imagine if it had been a middle aged Islamic Guy, attacking a Catholic Church. Something tells me we would have heard about it.

2010-05-16

Sweet Mother of Crude

This is catastrophic:
Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.

"There's a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water," said Samantha Joye, a researcher at the University of Georgia who is involved in one of the first scientific missions to gather details about what is happening in the gulf. "There's a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column."

The plumes are depleting the oxygen dissolved in the gulf, worrying scientists, who fear that the oxygen level could eventually fall so low as to kill off much of the sea life near the plumes.

Dr. Joye said the oxygen had already dropped 30 percent near some of the plumes in the month that the broken oil well had been flowing. "If you keep those kinds of rates up, you could draw the oxygen down to very low levels that are dangerous to animals in a couple of months," she said Saturday. "That is alarming."
New estimates based on the video recently released by BP put the leak at up to 80,000 barrels a day. That's over 3 million barrels a day. That's an Exxon Valdez every four days.

This has really affected my emotional state this morning.