Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A military frame of mind.

US Military looks into modifying soldier mindset.

An amazing and powerful concept, this kind of product is nothing new, rather the delivery system has just become efficient and invisible. The idea of an isolated 'fear gene' sounds a bit too science fiction for my tastes, but that aside, the ethical implications of breeding 'fearless' people is pretty shady at best and outright destructive otherwise.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Riding on the Flu-tails

Over at Rice University scientists have hit upon a new target in the flu wars. Antiviral research is a dense field, given that most screening isn't target specific, mostly because we know so few targets. Identifying this pocket is just the first step, though. Finding a molecule that can get down in there and disrupt the pocket as a viable drug is a whole other flu-tainted enchilada. Still, it's a big step in the right direction, and allows replicon-based screening to move forward with a much more powerful filter on potential compounds. As to whether such a pocket is a drugable target, well, that's like, a whole other flu-filled burrito, or something.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lepidopterous Weapon

Butterfly as the hammer of Intelligent Design.

This lovely vignette shows just how awesome nature can be in complexity yet still be without an intelligent purpose. One supposes the IDer claims this is all God's plan, as is his usual finicky and chaotic nature. As usual, God's actions are a mystery that are not to be discovered but to be worshipped.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Torcetrapib: Down in Flames

As you might have heard, Pfizer yanked torcetrapib out of the pipeline this weekend, just two days after the brass had hailed the new lipitor/torcetrapib hybrid as the crown jewel of the new product profile. The ramifications are unsettling to say the least. With Lipitor set to come off patent next year, there's a huge gaping hole in Pfizer's portfolio and there appear to be few projects with the legs to fill the gap in the short term. Feel free to look over the technical details.This comes on the heels of Pfizer announcing a large cut to its sales force, as well as as-yet-unannounced cuts across the entire company in January. I have a feeling it's going to be an atrocious new year for my pals over in the Ann Arbor campus

The Future!

Take a look over at New Scientist where they asked 70 scientists what the next big breakthroughs will be over the next 50 years.

Some of my favorites: Machine-Brain interfaces, Unified Particle Theories and Conquering the Fear of our Mortality.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sick of waiting their turn.

Check out this awesome video from the Planet Earth series showing a variety of parasitic fungi.

At one point, I wanted to be a mycologist. These species were a primary reason for that interest.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

World's First Computer: Pretty Awesome.

Scientists have been using modern technology to examine The Antikythera Mechanism, generally regarded as the world's first computer.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Abstract of ongoing research.

Much like in the natural world, we often see bits of technology developed independently, and it appears here once again we see a second, albeit eventually aborted genesis of computing technology. Makes me wonder what else might have been lost along the way.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Mannequins on planes

TSA testing out backscatter X-ray security.

Seems like a leap into the movies, but as the article states, this technology has been around for quite a while. Biologists have been using X-rays to characterize protein structure for almost 50 years now, going back to when John Cowdery Kendrew won a Nobel Prize for having characterized the structure of myoglobin, the key protein that binds oxygen in the muscle tissue.

It feels vaguely Max Headroom-ish.