Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Generalised Update

I seem to actually have a few readers of this thing, so feel obligated to put an update here, explaining why the regular flow of irreverent opinions based on partially understood analysis of scientific reports seems to have suddenly halted.
Basically, it the thesis. Always comes back to the thesis. It needs doing, I haven't done it, so am doing it, which means it will be done. All possible tenses covered there I feel. Will be cracking on with it as intensely as possible for the next few weeks, so will be scaling back the blogging.
Some things of interest have occurred, my wife is now on a backpacking holiday in Vietnam, she left on Saturday, will be back in a few weeks. When she called about to get on the plane, I harassed her and made fun of her until she said 'Screw you, I'm going to 'Nam'. As she promised she would. She also promised that when she tells people about her holiday she has to start every story with 'you weren't there man, you weren't there', and attempt a glazed faraway expression.
That's what I would do, but she probably has more sense. Oh well.

A rare mammoth skull has been found in the South of France. Well, that seems a bit misleading, all mammoths are more than rare, achieving extinct status some time ago now. But obviously I'm being an idiot, it's the remains of these mammoths that are rare. And there are some theories that mammoths still exist somewhere, in Arctic tundras or uncharted regions of Siberia. Admittedly, I can't link to pages about these theories, as I don't think they're based on actual science, more a willingness to believe that the big furry creatures weren't all wiped out by our mindless ancestors. Wouldn't be the first time that happened, though.
The articles explains it all, its the pictures I like. Because archeology is such a painstaking, slow process it inevitably looks quite dull. Although TV seems determined to prove otherwise (Time team, etc.). But the pics of this historic find don't really match up to the excitement of the story. Its basically some guys measuring a big rock. Obviously the sediments surrounding the skull can't be just hacked off, and the properties of fossilised bone probably renders them quite rock-like. Still, it can't be argued that this story consists of what looks like men poking at a rock. And that looks dull.

Cancer: Slightly less deadly?

They've established a potential weapon in the war against cancers. They know have the structure, and therefore a potential target for drugs, of the enzyme that allows the exponential, unregulated growth of cancer cells, which is what makes it deadly. I think they've underestimated the impact of this. Telomerase effectively shuts off the aging mechanism of cells, thus cancer cells don't die off like normal, healthy cells (ironic, I know, that the healthier cells age and die). All good if you can stop that happening, but if you can stop it, could the process also be started? Could you switch off the ageing in normal cells, without the explosive fatal reaction cancer cells undergo? Perhaps. But should you? People will want it if there's even the slightest chance of it working, side-effects be damned. bare in mind how many people inject powerful toxins into their face just to remove a few wrinkles. Interesting times ahead.

There, that's a few things. Also, as part of the first Cardiff Science festival, I'm putting together possibly the first Science-based stand-up night. This is an experiment of mine, and like all experiments worth doing, the outcome is unknown. Which is my way of saying it might be rubbish. But it'll be interesting. Will keep you informed with details as and when they're available.


1 comment:

dave_hullo said...

I don't think offensiveness counts if it is against Boris or racists. Or Creationists. Or H from Steps.

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