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While it may be debated whether Craig Venter’s newly announced creation of a synthetic genome controlling a bacteria is a stupendous breakthrough or just hype, one thing is certain: it has got the public talking. I am fascinated reading the threads of comments following articles about this on the web. They really give me, a scientist-in-training, a glimmer of the public’s feelings and understanding of science and scientists.
Take this thread for example in response to the BBC’s “Have Your Say: Will synthetic biology do more harm than good?” The public seems to have a bit of a B-rated sci-fi flick mentality when it comes to science. They hatch up all sorts of doomsday plots including one of my favorites: what if these bacteria are engineered to consume carbon dioxide but then mutate to consumer oxygen and then consume ALL the oxygen in the ENTIRE WORLD?!! Read the rest of this entry »
A study published Monday in the journal, The Archives of Internal Medicine, shows that women who drink moderately gain less weight they are middle-aged. I first stumbled across mention of this yesterday on the BBC news website in this article, Women Who Drink Wine ‘Likely to Gain Less Weight’. Then I ran into it again today on the front page of the LA Times website in this article, Women Who Drink Moderately Tend to Gain Less Weight in Midlife. Being a moderately drinking woman myself, I’ve decided to delve further into this supposed new, exciting, scientific discovery! Read the rest of this entry »
Headlines like this one I saw in a tweet from the BBC news today, “Swine Flu Woman Dies After Birth”, are quite aggravating and misleading. Especially when, upon actually reading the article, although she may have died of the H1N1 flu, it turns out that they are still waiting to determine the official cause of the women’s death. There wasn’t much detail in this short article, but briefly, the woman, Susan Ford, got a C-section after being admitted to the hospital with flu-like symptoms and apparently she died a few days later once her symptoms got worse. It is unclear if she was admitted because her symptoms were quite bad – or she was in labor. I know that in the media age there is pressure to put stories out quickly – but with tools like twitter it’s dangerous to put misleading and incomplete information out there. Especially with a tool like twitter where a reader may only see the headline and then not even bother to click to find out if the woman really did die of swine flu. Read the rest of this entry »