The Odd Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘science’

Girl digs up 160 million-year-old fossil using plastic spade

Posted by That Other Mike on 17/09/2011

Girl, six, digs up 160million-year-old fossil using plastic spade –
LITTLE Emily Baldry beams with pride as she poses with a 160million-year-old fossil she dug up using a seaside spade.
The six-year-old unearthed the 130lb, 40cm ammonite after accompanying her father Jon on an archeological trip to Cotswold Water Park, Glos, last year. Now it has been carefully restored by experts and is to go on show at a local visitors’ centre.

The fossil is officially known as a Rieneckia odysseus – but Emily, of Chippenham, Wilts, has affectionately dubbed it Spike.

She says: “I took him to school and all my friends think he’s great.” Dad Jon, 40, said: “It’s an amazing find.”

Pretty cool.

Via PZ.

Posted in science | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Someone bring me a glowing cat!

Posted by That Other Mike on 11/09/2011

Aids research creates glowing cats

Green glowing cats have been created by gene scientists working on the Aids virus.

The spooky-looking moggies had their DNA modified with a gene from a fluorescent jellyfish. Placed under blue light, their fur, claws and whiskers emit an eerie green glow.

The purpose of the study was to show how a natural protein that prevents macaque monkeys developing Aids can do the same in cats.

Scientists in the US used the jellyfish gene to track the gene for the protein. Both were inserted into the DNA of adult tabby cats, which gave birth to luminous kittens.

Cats are susceptible to their own version of the HIV virus that triggers Aids, called FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus).

Normally the immune systems of cats and humans are overwhelmed by the viruses.

But macaque monkeys possess “restriction factor” proteins that can stop the viruses invading immune cells.

When cats were genetically engineered to produce one of these factors, TRIMcyp, FIV replication was reduced.

Two male cats and one female with the genes were born and survived. The male passed the genes down to kittens of his own, which emitted a weaker glow.

Eric Poeschla, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, New York state, who led the study, reported in the journal Nature Methods: “One of the best things about this biomedical research is that it is aimed at benefiting both human and feline health. It can help cats as much as people.”


I want a luminous cat!

Posted in science | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Science and Religion

Posted by That Other Mike on 19/09/2010

It’s old news, but still funny…

Posted in Atheism, funny, Politics, science | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

An Evolutionary Snapshot

Posted by That Other Mike on 02/09/2010

Evolution in Action: Lizard Moving From Eggs to Live Birth

Brian Handwerk
for National Geographic News
Published September 1, 2010

Evolution has been caught in the act, according to scientists who are decoding how a species of Australian lizard is abandoning egg-laying in favor of live birth.

Along the warm coastal lowlands of New South Wales (map), the yellow-bellied three-toed skink lays eggs to reproduce. But individuals of the same species living in the state’s higher, colder mountains are almost all giving birth to live young.

Amazing stuff – go and read the rest at

Some of the comments are fairly depressing, though. Why is it that people who obviously have no understanding of evolution whatsoever persist in insisting that they know so much more and better than people who actually study it for a living?

Nevermind, though; this is fascinating news.

Posted in science | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Cool Science News

Posted by That Other Mike on 04/06/2010

No following comment, I just thought this was cool:

‘Printer’ designed to create made-to-measure human organs

It is hoped that the development could one day mean that patients in urgent need of new organs will no longer have to join transplant waiting lists.

A prototype machine developed by the California-based regenerative medicine company Organovo is already capable of growing new arteries.

They hope that the same techniques could be used to create new organs.

It is based on 3D laser printing technology used to create new machine parts for industry.

But instead of combining layers of plastic and metal, the “bioprinter” puts living tissue together.

Two laser-based printing heads are used to place living cells onto thin sheets of gel with microscopic precision.

Multiple layers are then laid on top of each other in a specially designed mould, or “scaffold” and the cells begin to fuse together.

“Ultimately the idea would be for surgeons to have tissue on demand for various uses,” said Keith Murphy the company’s chief executive.

“The best way to do that is get a number of bio-printers into the hands of researchers and give them the ability to make three dimensional tissues on demand.”

Source: Daily Telegraph

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

On the way out? You should be so lucky, Bibleboy…

Posted by That Other Mike on 24/10/2009

Shorter Joey Nelson, Spiritual Questions
Is Evolution On Its Way Out?
My strawmen, let me show you them.

I’m somewhat in awe of Joey Nelson’s post – I’ve never seen so many misconceptions, ignorance and plain old FAIL about evolution gathered together in one place before. Even AiG can’t do it as well as Joey has here.

Joey has taken internet discourse to a whole new level – by writing a post which actually fisks itself.

That is teh awesum.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

A ‘verse, a ‘verse, my brain for a multiverse!

Posted by That Other Mike on 03/06/2009

The ability of Creationists to fool themselves into thinking they understand science always astounds me — they so obviously and plainly fail at it on every level. And yet they always seem to think that they are able to see something that actual scientists don’t or won’t, because there’s some huge anti-Creationist conspiracy of scientists who hate God or something equally ridiculous – and they, by golly, with their third grade level of science understanding, are just the ones to overturn all those thousands of hours of study and experimentation.

Or something. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Atheism, blogging, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Strange Alternative Power Source: Expired Medications | snarfd

Posted by That Other Mike on 30/11/2008

Imagine this sticker above your light switch: Powered by Prozac.

No, it’s not likely that your local power plant will be swapping coal for old Celebrex tablets anytime soon. But a little free energy is the happy byproduct of drug disposal by Milwaukee-based Capital Returns, a company that specializes in the management of old pharmaceutical stocks.

Drugs have shelf life, beyond which they cannot be sold. But old medications are more difficult to get rid of than you might think. Drugs which get sent to landfills will eventually leech their way into the groundwater. Flushing old stock — the method generally recommended to consumers — puts chemicals into our watershed even faster.

Drug-Filled Rivers

And that’s a problem. Ignored for years, pharmaceutical water pollution is finally getting the attention of U.S. and European scientists as unexpectedly high levels of antibiotics, heart medication, anticonvulsive drugs, and a host of other powerful medications are turning up in rivers and groundwater. Perhaps the most disturbing pollutants are endocrine disruptors: human estrogen from birth-control pills and the vast effluence of animal hormones produced by commercial livestock production.

The effects of these substances on wildlife — and the human food chain — are just now being studied. But they’re likely to reveal bewildering mutations similar to the dual-sexed smallmouth bass turning up in the Potomac River north of Washington, DC.

Most pharmaceutical pollution makes its way to our watershed through the release of treated sewage. But controlled industrial incineration prevents old drug stocks from adding to the problem, and is being harnessed by Capital Returns to produce surplus power.

Prescription for Free Power

Every day, the company receives millions of expired pharmaceuticals from drug manufacturers, cataloging their receipt and routing them for hazardous disposal or to Covanta Energy, a company which specializes in converting waste into energy. Covanta currently operates thirty facilities in the United States, offering communities an alternative to landfill dumping in the disposal of such things as municipal solid waste and household trash. Their incinerators exceed EPA regulations for air purity.

And now, expired drugs. Capital Returns disposed of over 6.5 million pounds of pills in 2006 — producing enough energy to power about 220 homes for a year. That’s tons of coal or natural gas saved and fewer pollutants making their way into the water table.

Next Stop: Your Corner Drug Store

Capital Returns says it handles about a quarter of the industry’s disposal needs. But they don’t address expired drugs already in the hands of consumers. Washington State is among the first to set up pilot programs to test the viability of public drop-off centers. Emma Johnson, who works for the state’s Department of Ecology, says a five county area has been experimenting with pharmacy-based drug collection centers since last October. If successful, the effort will be expanded statewide.

Converting drugs to power is, admittedly, a footnote to emerging story of 21st century alternative power solutions. But it illustrates the larger strategy of closing the loop on consumer goods, keeping dangerous wastes out of the environment while converting them into something useful.

Via Snarf’d

You know how sometimes you come across a news story that just makes you sit up in delight? This one did it for me.

The growing levels of pharmaceutical pollution in groundwater have been a concern for a long time; a lot of people believe that falling levels of male fertility in the West are connected to rising levels of female hormones in the water table, and that it is linked to use of the Pill. I’m not so sure on that last one, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if there were a link to pharmaceutical pollution; that’s not figuring in the extra hormones used in meat farming, either, which is something else which needs to be sorted out.

Either way, though, this is a great story: recycling, energy from waste and less polution are all winners in my book!

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Teh Coolness!

Posted by That Other Mike on 27/11/2008

Via BBC News:

Robots!First there were dancing robots, then house-sitting robots and now a new breed of acting robots is making its big debut on the Japanese stage.

The play, which had its premiere at Osaka University, is one of Japan’s first robot-human theatre productions.

The machines were specially programmed to speak lines with human actors and move around the stage with them.

Now this is kind of cool! Quite aside from the coolness factor of there being robots walking around on stage declaiming lines on stage, this does bring up some interesting ideas, especially when coupled with the following news item:

IBM has announced it will lead a US government-funded collaboration to make electronic circuits that mimic brains.

Part of a field called “cognitive computing”, the research will bring together neurobiologists, computer and materials scientists and psychologists.

As a first step in its research the project has been granted $4.9m (£3.27m) from US defence agency Darpa.

Now, I know this is only in the planning stages, and probably won’t go anywhere, but it’s still really exciting. It raises the idea that there might be humanoid robots which can interact interestingly and fruitfully with human beings in a way which isn’t just another Alice.

I know, I’m letting my imagination run away with me. That kind of thing is probably decades, if not centuries, away. I’d be surprised to see it in my own lifetime, to be honest, although the idea of a robot companion for my dotage does appeal somewhat.

It’ll be a long time before we see any kind of AI or anything even superficially similar to what you might find in the movies, but it’s still cool.

Posted in Odds and Sods, science | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »


Posted by That Other Mike on 30/10/2008


How true is this cartoon? A darkness supposedly filled with dragons which turn out never to have been there in the first place… A perfect metaphor.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »