Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Tribute (2nd Aug 1978 – 6th Nov 2010)

Not a standard post today. And I’m doing this more for my own sense of catharsis than anything else.

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Symphony of Science

You may have seen some of these. And of course, I did not create these. However, I love this series of videos. People have a misconception that scientific study somehow diminishes the awe that you should feel when you think about the world in which we live. Well, these videos completely sum up why I think this argument is wrong.

When you attempt to truly appreciate the complexity and intricacy of the universe as it is, this doesn’t have to be a dry thought exercise. Nothing stands alone. Everything is intricately related. And this, to my mind, is absolutely breathtaking.

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HeLa

Science tends to work as a gradual accumulation of knowledge and technical progress in numerous fields. Then you get the bigger events which have wider felt consequences and represent a larger leap forward in understanding and ability. Such an example of this would be the recent creation of “Synthia”, the artificial Mycoplasma generated by Dr. Craig Venter’s team.

Then there are revolutionary events that transform our understanding and/or capability in a field. I say “and/or” but in reality a revolution in technical skill nearly always leads to a revolution in understanding of a field, eventually, and vice versa. I would argue that Craig Venter’s achievement, though massively impressive, does not constitute a revolution. If it hadn’t been him now, it would have certainly been someone within the next 5 years. In other words, and without detracting from the event, the creation of the first ostensibly artificial life is a natural progression in the chain of advancements in molecular and cellular biology. Craig Venter is a very talented scientist, with an excellent team, but he equally excels in promoting the Venter legend.

Henrietta Lacks was an African-American woman born in 1920 into a pretty tough life. And yet as a result of her suffering a true revolution in biomedical research arose. I am currently reading Rebecca Skloot’s new book on the story of Henrietta (it’s not like I’m advertising, so if you really want to know about the book, then Google is your friend!).

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