Old hemorrhoid tools, trepanation devices and bone saws. Your comfy, reclining dentist’s chair doesn’t look so bad anymore.
Earlier today, Gov. Charlie Crist released the final report and recommendations from the state’s Task Force on the Study of …Click Here to Read More
The human genome gets more and more complicated
IT WAS, James Watson claimed, something even a monkey could do. Sequencing the human genome, that is. In truth, Dr Watson, co-discoverer of the double-helical structure of DNA back in the 1950s, had a point. Though a technical tour-de-force, the Human Genome Project was actually the sum of millions of small, repetitive actions by cleverly programmed robots. When it was complete, so the story went, humanity’s genes—the DNA code for all human proteins—would be laid bare and all would be light.
It didn’t quite work out like that. Knowing the protein-coding genes has been useful. It has provided a lexicon of proteins, including many previously unknown ones. What is needed, though, is a proper dictionary—an explanation of what the proteins mean as well as what they are. For that, you need to know how the genes’ activities are regulated in the 220 or so different types of cell a human body is made from. And that is the purpose of the American government’s Roadmap Epigenome Programme, results from which are published this week in Nature by Ryan Lister and Mattia Pelizzola of the Salk Institute in California, and their colleagues. …
Prizes for optical fibres, charge-coupled devices, ribosomes and telomeres
HOW do you look through a window that is 100km thick? That, in essence, was the question facing Charles Kao in 1966. For working out the answer, Dr Kao has been awarded part of this year’s Nobel prize for physics. Besides being thick, the window was narrow: it was an optical fibre. Dr Kao’s prize is a belated recognition of his contribution to the telecommunications revolution of the past few decades. But better late than never.
The rest of the physics prize goes almost as belatedly to Willard Boyle and George Smith who, in 1969, ushered the charge-coupled device (CCD) into being, paving the way for the digital camera. The chemistry prize went to Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas Steitz and Ada Yonath for working out the structure of ribosomes—the parts of living cells that translate genetic information into proteins. And the physiology prize went to Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack Szostak for their work on telomeres, the DNA caps that stop the ends of chromosomes either unravelling or sticking to one another. …