CRISPR and editing the germline in the US (part 3 of 3): public discussions and pop culture

After giving a basic explanation of the technology and some of the controversies in part 1 and offering more detail about the technology and about the possibility of designer babies in part 2; this part covers public discussion, a call for one and the suggestion that one is taking place in popular culture. But a discussion does need to happen In a move that is either an exquisite coincidence or has been carefully orchestrated (I vote…

Continue reading


CRISPR and editing the germline in the US (part 1 of 3): In the beginning

There’s been a minor flurry of interest in CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats; also known as CRISPR-CAS9), a gene-editing technique, since a team in Oregon announced a paper describing their work editing the germline. Since I’ve been following the CRISPR-CAS9 story for a while this seems like a good juncture for a more in-depth look at the topic. In this first part I’m including an introduction to CRISPR, some information about the latest…

Continue reading


DISCmini: world’s smallest handheld nanoparticle counter

DISCmini: a handheld diffusion size classifier for nanoparticle measurement Courtesy: Testo They’/re claiming this is the world’s smallest in a July 12, 2017 news item on Nanowerk, Testo, Inc., the world’s leading manufacturer of test and measurement instruments, announces the DiSCmini, the smallest handheld instrument for the measurement of nanoparticle. DiSCmini measures: particle number, average particle diameter and lung-deposited surface area (LDSA) with time resolution and logging at 1 second (1 Hz). … Testo’s DISCmini…

Continue reading


Materials that may protect astronauts from radiation in space

Sparing astronauts from harmful radiation  is one of the goals for this project according to a July 3, 2017 news item on Nanowerk (Note: A link has been removed), Scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have designed a new nano material that can reflect or transmit light on demand with temperature control, opening the door to technology that protects astronauts in space from harmful radiation (Advanced Functional Materials, “Reversible Thermal Tuning of All-Dielectric Metasurfaces”).…

Continue reading


Materials that may protect astronauts from radiation in space

Sparing astronauts from harmful radiation  is one of the goals for this project according to a July 3, 2017 news item on Nanowerk (Note: A link has been removed), Scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have designed a new nano material that can reflect or transmit light on demand with temperature control, opening the door to technology that protects astronauts in space from harmful radiation (Advanced Functional Materials, “Reversible Thermal Tuning of All-Dielectric Metasurfaces”).…

Continue reading


Building metal nanoparticles: one step closer

University of Pittsburgh scientists have researched why metal nanoparticles form, a necessary first step before developing techniques for synthesizing them commercially. From a July 10, 2017 news item on ScienceDaily, Although scientists have for decades been able to synthesize nanoparticles in the lab, the process is mostly trial and error, and how the formation actually takes place is obscure. A new study explains how metal nanoparticles form. Caption: This is a structure of a ligand-protected…

Continue reading


Are plants and brains alike?

The answer to the question about whether brains and plants are alike is the standard ‘yes and no’. That said, there are some startling similarities from a statistical perspective (from a July 6, 2017 Salk Institute news release (also received via email; Note: Links have been removed), Plants and brains are more alike than you might think: Salk scientists discovered that the mathematical rules governing how plants grow are similar to how brain cells sprout…

Continue reading


Science for the global citizen course at McMaster University in Winter 2018

It’s never too early to start planning for your course load if a June 20, 2017 McMaster University (Ontario, Canada) news release is to be believed, How can science help address the key challenges in our society? How does society affect the way that science is conducted? Do citizens have a strong enough understanding of science and its methods to answer these and other similar questions? In the Winter 2018 term, the School of Interdisciplinary…

Continue reading


Ingenium or (as we used to call it) the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation (CSTMC)

The Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation (CSTMC) has always been an unwieldy name in light of the fact that one of the three museums in the cluster is called the Canada Science and Technology Museum. (The other two are the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.) So, the July 6, 2017 CSTMC announcement (received via email) is a relief from the unwieldy corporate name, A new national brand launched…

Continue reading


Profiling Peatlands to Safeguard Canada’s Wetlands

By: Natalie Sopinka Peatlands are unique wetland terrains made up of an accumulation of decaying plants; they also cover over 1 million km2 of Canada. Don’t be fooled by these swaths of decomposing vegetation, peatlands provide essential ecological services such as capturing carbon dioxide and also contribute to increasing regional biodiversity. In addition to finding an array of bird species in peatlands, you can also find an abundance of orchids, including rare and endangered species. Peatlands…

Continue reading