Sunday, 20 November 2016
I must admit that I don't normally take my news from this end of the spectrum but there is something deeply concerning about the Trumpster reportedly focusing his main attention on the UK in terms of trying to remove the distant wind-farms that he claims 'blight' his recently-created Scottish golf course (www.express.co.uk/news/politics/734195/Donald-trump-Nigel-Farage-Scottish-wind-farms). This is apparently from a US President-elect who reportedly a) believes that climate change is a scam invented by the Chinese; b) has promised to abandon the Paris (already lowest denominator?) accord on greenhouse gas emissions; c) wants to boost coal mining in the US and d) is a shareholder in Arctic oil pipelines. I think we can forget limiting things to a 2 degrees Centigrade temperature rise.
Saturday, 19 November 2016
The debate about the ethics surrounding the legal case of 14-year old UK girl with cancer who wanted to be preserved cryogenically in the hope of being cured in the future continues to rage (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/nov/18/the-cryonics-dilemma-will-deep-frozen-bodies-be-fit-for-new-life). One can understand people 'grasping at straws' but a) there is very little evidence that re-animation of multicellular mammalian tissue (especially the brain) is possible after being frozen in liquid nitrogen at almost -200 degrees Centigrade; b) as more people are currently alive on the planet than in all of earlier human history it suggests, that if a high proportion of folk took up the option, it would completely overwhelm resources; c) reanimated folk (if it proves possible) might well find it difficult to fit in the future; d) the future populations might well refuse to allow them to benefit from the results of improved medical technologies (this could be a strain on their resources) and e) the cryonics companies (currently looking after 300 folk in the USA and 50 in Russia) may well not persistent long enough to benefit their clients. The current going rate for USA based cryonics customers is $36k, meaning that cryonics is only an option for the comparatively wealthy. Personally, I don't think we should be encouraging people to seriously consider this option.
Tuesday, 15 November 2016
Monday, 14 November 2016
Friday, 11 November 2016
It has been confirmed that Red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) over all their now minimal UK habitats are infected with the disfiguring leprosy bacterium (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/10/leprosy-revealed-in-red-squirrels-across-british-isles), although there are different strains of the pathogen in the separated populations. It seems that this agent has persisted in these animals for hundreds of years (it cannot be treated as the squirrels would have to be injected with antibiotics 3 times per day). infection of humans is unlikely (the last recorded case in humans on these islands was in 1798) but, obviously, care should be taken when handling them. The beast is by no means as 'cuddly' as it is sometimes portrayed
There is a somewhat odd finding that highly toxic Pumpkin toadlets from Brazil apparently cannot hear their own mating calls ( https://w...
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A study ( https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/feb/01/special-spit-is-the-secret-of-uniquely-sticky-frog-tongues-study-reveals ) has...
It is always sad to hear of problems occurring at places you have used for teaching and the outbreak of h5n8 avian influenza at Abbot...