Tag Archives | DNA
New life-forms! Right here on Planet Earth! Jesus Diaz writes on WIRED Science:
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Hours before their special news conference today, the cat is out of the bag: NASA has discovered a completely new life form that doesn’t share the biological building blocks of anything currently living in planet Earth. This changes everything.
At their conference today, NASA scientist Felisa Wolfe Simon will announce that they have found a bacteria whose DNA is completely alien to what we know today. Instead of using phosphorus, the bacteria uses arsenic. All life on Earth is made of six components: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. Every being, from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale, share the same life stream. Our DNA blocks are all the same.
But not this one. This one is completely different. Discovered in the poisonous Mono Lake, California, this bacteria is made of arsenic, something that was thought to be completely impossible.
A “DNA mist” that store employees can spray on unaware robbers: is this the future of crime-fighting? New York Times reports:
Rotterdam, the Netherlands — When the McDonald’s down from City Hall here was burglarized a few years ago, its managers decided they needed a new security system.
It was just about that time that local police officers were offering something totally different that they hoped would stem a rising tide of robberies that occur mainly in the immigrant neighborhoods of this rough-and-tumble port city. The new system involved an employee-activated device that sprays a fine, barely visible mist laced with synthetic DNA to cover anyone in its path, including criminals, and simultaneously alerts the police to a crime in progress.
The mist — visible only under ultraviolet light — carries DNA markers particular to the location, enabling the police to match the burglar with the place burgled. Now, a sign on the front door of the McDonald’s prominently warns potential thieves of the spray’s presence: “You Steal, You’re Marked.”
I have heard this before but looks like genetic testing is finally shedding some light on that idea. Heidi Blake writes on the Telegraph:
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Saliva samples taken from 39 relatives of the Nazi leader show he may have had biological links to the “subhuman” races that he tried to exterminate during the Holocaust. Jean-Paul Mulders, a Belgian journalist, and Marc Vermeeren, a historian, tracked down the Fuhrer’s relatives, including an Austrian farmer who was his cousin, earlier this year.
A chromosome called Haplogroup E1b1b1 which showed up in their samples is rare in Western Europe and is most commonly found in the Berbers of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, as well as among Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews.
“One can from this postulate that Hitler was related to people whom he despised,” Mr Mulders wrote in the Belgian magazine, Knack. Haplogroup E1b1b1, which accounts for approximately 18 to 20 per cent of Ashkenazi and 8.6 per cent to 30 per cent of Sephardic Y-chromosomes, appears to be one of the major founding lineages of the Jewish population.
“It’s not comfortably decades down the road. It’s right now, right here, in our faces, all we have to do is look around to see it.”
A science writer argues we’re rapidly approaching a day when “we can customize the human body as easily as we can customize our car… an era where the genetic lottery of our inherited DNA will no longer dictate who we chose to be.” There’s already stem cell breast augmentation, making ovaries into testes, 3-D tissue printers and “tissue Legos”, and “then add in who knows how many other recent stem cell breakthroughs have happened in the last year and a half…”
He sees a big picture where “advancing computer science mixed with advancing biotech combine to create a potential future in which trolls and elves could walk down the street side by side with humans.”
“Here’s to hoping I’ll see you on the other side.”
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Scientists on Wednesday announced they had created a molecular robot made out of DNA that walks like a spider along a track made out of the chemical code for life.
The achievement, reported in the British journal Nature, is a further step in nanoscale experiments that, one day, may lead to robot armies to clean arteries and fix damaged tissues.
The robot is just four nanometres — four billionths of a metre — in diameter.
Milan Stojanovic of New York’s Columbia University, who led the venture, likens the nanobot to “a four-legged spider.”
The beast moves along a track comprising stitched-together strands of DNA that is essentially a pre-programmed course, in the same way that industrial robots move along an assembly line.
The track exploits one of the basic characteristics of DNA. A double-helix molecule, DNA comprises four chemicals which pair in rungs.
By “unzipping” the DNA, one is left with one side of the strand whose rungs can then be paired up with matching rungs.
Dan Eden for viewzone.com (at mondovista.com):
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I get lots of suggestions for stories, and I really appreciate them. But some of them are too good to be true. An example of this was a story of a giant human skeleton — maybe 40 feet tall — that was discovered by a Russian archaeological team. The story had photos and links accompanying it and looked promising. But when the links were researched they went in a circle. Each link used the other link as the source. Finally the elements of the photos turned up and we recognized a good Photoshop job had fooled everyone.
I had this same experience this week when I was sent an article where a Russian (again) scientist, Pjotr Garjajev, had managed to intercept communication from a DNA molecule in the form of ultraviolet photons — light! What’s more, he claimed to have captured this communication from one organism (a frog embryo) with a laser beam and then transmitted it to another organisms DNA (a salamander embryo), causing the latter embryo to develop into a frog!
Thanks scientists for taking mosquitoes from an “annoying” level to now a plot line for a super-villain. Martin Enserink writes on ScienceNOW:
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Here’s a study to file under “unworkable but very cool.” A group of Japanese researchers has developed a mosquito that spreads vaccine instead of disease. Even the researchers admit, however, that regulatory and ethical problems will prevent the critters from ever taking wing — at least for the delivery of human vaccines.
Scientists have dreamed up various ways to tinker with insects’ DNA to fight disease. One option is to create strains of mosquitoes that are resistant to infections with parasites or viruses, or that are unable to pass the pathogens on to humans. These would somehow have to replace the natural, disease-bearing mosquitoes, which is a tall order. Another strategy closer to becoming reality is to release transgenic mosquitoes that, when they mate with wild-type counterparts, don’t produce viable offspring.
CCTV and DNA are crucial. There are of course some who think CCTV is "excessive", but they probably don’t have to walk home or take the night bus on their own at the end of a night out. For the rest of us, for ordinary hard working, decent people, the evidence is clear: CCTV reduces the fear of crime and anti-social behaviour. That is why this government has funded CCTV in nearly 700 town centre schemes over the last decade — and why in the coming months we are bringing in a new power for people to petition their local authority for more CCTV, with the authority having a duty to respond. Now the opposition parties have campaigned against CCTV — our support for CCTV will be on the ballet paper at any coming election.
One in twelve men suffers from colorblindness, though “The good news here is that these folks are simply missing a patch of DNA… which is just the kind of challenge this Millennium is made for. Enter science.”
But NPR’s Moira Gunn (from Biotech Nation) now asks a provocative question. Is it wrong to cure colorblindness?
She reports on an experiment that used a virus to introduce corrective DNA into colorblind monkeys. (“It took 20 weeks, but eventually the monkeys started distinguishing between red and green.”) Then she asks, could it be viewed differently? “Are we trying to ‘normalize’ humans to a threshold of experience?
“Slippery Slope. Enter here. Watch your step…”