The Odd Blog

And when our cubs grow / We'll show you what war is good for

The Gospel of Science

Posted by That Other Mike on 04/03/2008

Hehehe… Actually, the title is technically appropriate: “Gospel” is a calque (word for word translation of a foreign word) of the Greek euangelion, which simply means “good news”. I have some good news to report, science-wise.

While the title might itself make for an interesting post roaming over the hope and interesting things science has given us, how it can make for a better life and give us hope for the future, my brain isn’t up to that today. So it’ll have to be literal good news about science.

And yes, I know I said I would post again over the weekend, and it’s now Tuesday. So sue me.

DroughtThe first cool news is the recent discovery by scientists in Finland and the USA of a gene related to the control of the amount of CO2 and water a plant releases into the atmosphere. While this would be an interesting discovery for its own sake (the joy of knowledge for the sake of knowledge, etc.), it could also have major implications regarding climate change.

The gene discovered relates to the action of pores called stomata, which are on the leaves of plants. Basically, these control how much CO2 is absorbed and water lost by how far they open. If they could be tweaked to open wide for CO2 and shrink for water, it could have major implications on farming.

The potential value of the discovery lies in two possible areas: it might be able to help ameliorate the effects of CO2 dumping, through plants absorbing huge amounts of it; or it might simply be a way to continue to grow crops in drought-hit areas. Either way, it’s a good sign for the future. Said future might be twenty years distant, as said in the article, but even then, it’s a Good Thing™

The second good story is focussed on diabetic mice, the news being that scientists in the USA have managed, at least temporarily, to “cure” them of their condition.

One of the major effects of diabetes is destruction of the beta cells, the units of the pancreas which create insulin, as well as C-peptide, which helps maintain arterial integrity. When these cells die or are damaged, the body’s ability to regulate its insulin production is itself severely damaged

The scientists had previously been able to stop or slow the deterioration of the beta cells through a combination of three different drugs; after a fourth was added, they apparently saw a rise in the number of beta cells. This points to the possibility of a more manageable treatment for diabetes or even a cure, and clinical trials should be starting shortly.

Isn’t all of that pretty excellent? Even if the gains from these discoveries are twenty years in coming, at least we’ll have them. It’ll be worth it.

One final thing – if you’re looking at the tags and wondering why I included dinosaur noises, it’s because it turns up every day in the search terms people use to find this blog. I have no idea why. Either there are a lot of people looking for the sound of dinosaurs, or one really obsessed weirdo.

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