Alfred Nobel was a man who felt so guilty that his invention of dynamite was used as a weapon of war that he spent the rest of his life trying to atone for what he had done. In his will, he created the Nobel Prize to honor the greatest minds humanity has to offer, and winning one of these in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, economics or peace is considered one of the greatest achievements a person can make in their entire lifetime, and not just for the nice trip to Stockholm. Continue reading And the winner is: 2012 Nobel prize in physics
Max Josef von Pettenkofer was as stereotypically stubborn as a German before Germany was even invented. Also highly intelligent, he became famous in the 19th century by being one of the smartest men alive, which after thinking about it couldn’t have been hard because humanity wasn’t exactly at its brightest back then. Doctors didn’t even know to wash their hands after handling dead bodies. Von Pettenkofer made his mark when he was one of the first scientific leaders to step up to ask, ‘Hey, how about we not live in filth all the time?’ Continue reading They don’t make scientists like they used to
The Milwaukee County Zoo is happily welcoming two new additions to its jaguar exhibit. Two unnamed cubs, born last Nov. to the zoo’s female jaguar Stella, made their debut in Feb. where they appeared alongside their mother for a few hours every day. What’s so special about these cubs, however, is not that they’re cute. Let’s face it — all baby animals are adorable. These cubs are special because of their genes. Their father, Pat, was caught in the wild in Central America before being sold to the Milwaukee County Zoo. Continue reading Milwaukee cubs take a dip in a new gene pool
To finish my three-week tribute to the Nobel Prize winners in the sciences, I get to end on a subject that is as controversial as it is miraculously life-saving: stem cells. Now before you burn my skin off with those disapproving glares, let me finish my article. I’m not talking about the embryonic stem cells that get everyone so worked up. I’m talking about induced stem cells, the kind ripped from your own body and infected until they lose their identity so scientists can give them a new one.
Last year’s winners for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine were Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka for discovering “that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.” What that means is that they discovered a way to take mature cells and turn the cells into any other kind of cell they want. Not only does this avoid the controversy brought up by embryonic stem cells, but also avoids many of the medical problems they carry, like the need to suppress the receiver’s immune system from rejecting the new cells. Continue reading The winner is: 2012 Nobel Prize in medicine
As long as there has been man and work, there has been a man trying to make a tool to do the work for him. I’m not saying that people are lazy; I’m saying that I and about seventeen and a half million people would rather be watching a kitten play with a stick. People didn’t always have this much free time, though. It wasn’t until industrialization that we really started using machines to do hard work for us, right? Our forefathers didn’t have the tools available to create modern, complex machines — robots, specifically — like we do today.
Except for the guy in the Middle East who built a robotic music band that ran on water in the 13th century. Apparently, robots have been around for a very long time. Continue reading Robotpocalypse: Replacing man with metal
Continuing from last week, the second science-based Nobel Prize is in chemistry, and unlike physics, the 2012 prize in chemistry was solely an American victory. Right now, America is three for four in Nobel Prize winners. Take that, global rankings!
Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka received their Nobel Prize last fall for the research they’ve been conducting together for decades. Together they identified an entire family of cell receptors call G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) which allow the cell to sense its environment. Continue reading The winner is: 2012 Nobel Prize in chemistry
Marijuana is still considered illegal in a majority of the US, but Americans don’t need to let that little fact keep them from their pleasure-seeking adventures. There’s one drug out there that is completely legal, easily obtainable and we’re told so often it’s part of our normal daily grind that it’s like society is telling us to become junkies. It’s in soda, it’s in tea, it’s in coffee and if that isn’t enough to perk you up for three nights straight, cut the middleman and buy an over-the-counter box of pills. The drug is caffeine. Continue reading We’re all junkies: Caffeine addictions gone wrong
The human brain may be the smartest dumb thing on the planet. The same organ that came up with a solution for how to breathe in space also can’t figure out that it’s more dangerous to drive to work in the morning than it is to fly to another state. Those links aren’t going to ease your fears if you’re afraid of flying or cause a phobia of driving because your brain doesn’t care about numbers. Once it perceives something as dangerous it’s stuck in that way of thinking. Continue reading The neglectful brain
There may be 70 billion copies of George Church and Ed Regis’ Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature in existence, but don’t look for it on any best-sellers list and don’t expect to pick up a copy from Barnes & Noble. On the other hand, carrying all 70 billion copies is easy because you can slip them into your pocket and still have room for your wallet and keys. Continue reading A very tiny printing press: Writing books into DNA
|Put the lime and coconut away because science has found a cure for everything but the common cold. Feeling feverish? Pop some ibuprofen. Got a touch of the clap? Penicillin will clear that up. Feeling like black rappers are responsible for the degradation of society? Take one of these and call me in the morning. Continue reading They’ve got a pill for that: Curing racism with drugs|
In a woman’s journey to aspire for gender equality, she can live like a man, dress in jeans, work in previously male-dominated fields, and now she can die like a man, too. Since the 50s, women have been celebrating their new-found liberation by lighting up their cancer sticks. Consequently, women have suffered a dramatic increase in lung cancer rates in recent decades leading to lung cancer becoming the lead cause of cancer death for women in the United States. Continue reading Lung cancer is no longer a prejudiced disease
It’s the 21st century. We like things fast. Fast cars, fast Internet, fast phones; we want it now. No time to waste. In the world of technology, if you aren’t going faster, you aren’t going anywhere. Moore’s Law states that a computer’s processing power doubles every two years. When you’re twenty, computers are 1024 times faster than they were when you were born. We haven’t neared the limit yet. Continue reading The battery is not going anywhere
Jan. 23 was a great day to be an animal rights activist. After a decades-long battle, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) agreed to retire the majority of its chimpanzee population, leaving only 50 individuals for use in a few final, critical experiments. The rest — over 300 individuals in total — are being moved to a national sanctuary where they will be rehabilitated and cared for for the rest of their lives. Continue reading The battle won: Research chimps realize new life
When Marvel first introduced Wolverine into the Marvel universe, they had no idea they were actually predicting the mutant abilities of extreme athlete, Dean Karnazes. In 1974, Karnazes was an awkward pre-adolescent track star just like any kid with a freak mutant ability, seemingly stuck somewhere between “girls are kind of icky” and “girls are kind of cool.” Before he resolved this great dilemma, he first decided to (thankfully) use his powers of extreme endurance for good, not evil. The world is a safer place. Continue reading Dean Karnazes: Ultramarathon man
If you went through elementary school without taking a bite of mud pie, you missed a staple of wacky childhood hijinks. Eating dirt, or being dared to, is just a thing kids do. How could we help it? They’re called mud pies! Pies are delicious! How does that in any way mean we’re not supposed to put them in our mouths? Screeching mothers aside, all children at heart can relive their glory days by taking a quick trip to Tokyo, Japan, where Chef Toshio Tanabe is making heads turn with his unique menu. Continue reading Is a dirty diet healthy or trendy?
Hello, boys and girls. I know it’s cold outside, and it seems like it will never stop snowing, but don’t worry. The Tomorrow Corporation released Little Inferno to help you stay warm through these bitter winter storms. So sit back, relax, and burn all your toys to make a nice, warm fire. Continue reading Little Inferno: a game to keep you warm
With over a month off from classes, it’s almost impossible that your sleep cycle hasn’t shifted a little bit. It’s okay, sleeping in is great and vacations give you that opportunity. Only now you find yourself with an 8 a.m. class and you don’t even begin feeling tired until 3 or 4 a.m. How can you return to a normal schedule when all you want to do is smash your alarm clock against the wall? Continue reading Hitting the reset button on your internal clock
Birth is always an amazing, powerful event. If people pass out and cry at a single human birth, imagine what they’d do if they’d learn that at this moment we’re watching the birth of an entire solar system for the first time. Continue reading Cosmic birth: Congratulations, it’s a planet