5 things to read instead of… eating CRISPR veggies
So you may have seen the news that a Swedish scientist, Stefan Jansson, had served up a pasta dish with a CRISPR twist; some gene-edited cabbage. While many blogs and news sites are chowing down on the ethics of applying gene-editing to our food, this blog post written by Jansson himself is a diary of the trials and tribulations inherent to growing a world-changing cabbage.
Naturally, this story has rocketed around the internet, and has been taken to some… interesting places. UK tabloid The Daily Mail turned “Scientist eats CRISPR cabbage” into “Amateur biohackers could build a biological weapon: Gene editing may be used by terrorists, scientist warns“. So there you go.
Ants are pretty amazing. They use their own bodies to build bridges and scaffolds, and according to researchers studying army ants, they could teach us a thing or two about robotics, engineering, and cooperation.
Rhett Allain (he of Captain America’s ricocheting shield) has some valuable and interesting lessons on how to communicate science effecitvely. In this article he argues the case for ‘content bridges’ – the role of a science communicator is to build a bridge that connects “some event or phenomena” to the audience. Picking the right bridge, that matches the audience, is the communication challenge.
A little podcast recommendation for you this week – the latest episode of Freakonomics. If you are interested in anything and everything, and how it works, this is the podcast for you. In this episode, Stephen Dubner takes a look at the revolutionary and controversial company Uber. “To you, it’s just a ride-sharing app that gets you where you’re going,” says Dubner, “but to an economist, Uber is a massive repository of moment-by-moment data that is helping answer some of the field’s most elusive questions.
And one from us…
Yep, it turns out that Clippit, disgraced Microsoft paperclip, they of “it looks as though you are trying to write a letter” helpfulness, is having the last laugh from beyond the digital grave. Default settings in Microsoft Excel have a tendency to change some gene names to strings of numbers and dates, leading to serious supplementary table errors in around a fifth of genomics studies. Oops!