- Apparently there is a ‘philosophy-opera’ out now by Kate Soper called “Ipsa Dixit,” which artistically illustrates Aristotle’s Poetics, Metaphysics, and more. Many clips of it can be found on Soper’s Vimeo page.
- Dr. Alan Cann on the past and the future of microbiology, including some interesting comments about the strong link between the brain and gut flora, and an especially important one about CRISPR:
- Though this may be little-known today, from the 1950s to the 1970s a significant number of scientific and medical journals published summaries of their articles in the constructed language Interlingua. The choice that many editors made of Interlingua over Esperanto provoked some controversy, although one reason Interlingua was favored was because it was already readily intelligible to Romance language speakers. Read a little about it in this article by Dr. Jonathan Thon.
- A brief paper about the history of metformin. It is humbling that a compound which is not that far removed from a component of a plant (goat’s rue) which was used in medieval and early modern times to treat various diseases, including (it seems) diabetes, and whose precise mechanism of action is still unknown is a highly safe and popular way of treating type 2 diabetes.
- Excel has a (sometimes) annoying habit of converting input to a format that the entered data resembles. This cannot be turned off globally, and so certain gene names often get mangled by Excel: e.g., the gene SEPT7 becomes 07-Sep. One study found that nearly 20% of papers in a sample of published articles from genetics journals contained some form of mangled gene names. Read about it and a possible solution here.
Many people would argue that CRISPR has been the great leap forward of the last decade, but I’m not so sure. To me it’s just another tool, following on directly from cloning and PCR. When people involved the first human genome CRISPR trials tell you they are “a huge undertaking and not very scalable”, they may have a point. As the NHS crumbles in the UK, what hope will there ever be for rolling out such expensive technologies worldwide?