Flipping [on] the Light Fantastic

the observer effect


“‘We can take the whole, intact protein, just the way nature made it, and stick this little knob on it that allows us to turn it on and off with light,’ said Hahn, Thurman Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology and a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member. ‘It’s like a switch.’

The switch that Hahn, Dokholyan and colleagues developed is versatile and fast – they can toggle a protein on or off as fast as they can toggle their light. By changing the intensity of light, they can also control how much of the protein is activated or inactivated. And by controlling the timing of irradiation, they can control exactly how long proteins are activated at different points in the cell…”

Scientists use light to control the logic networks of a cell – Phys.org

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Feigned Science News

Synthetic Genetic Shakespeares

Fake news has become a hot topic recently.  As we have focused on the news reporting and dissemination, it has become clear drawing a line between fake and authentic information can be a challenge. Even ivory tower science has spawned its own versions of less-than-objective public outreach.

How many times have we seen stories of breakthroughs and possible cures for dread conditions like Alzheimer’s disease?  This is not necessarily fraud, but may be due to exuberance and a tendency to extrapolate a few positive results with extreme optimism.  Scientists are working to achieve goals and they can get excited when it seems their efforts are succeeding.  Cutting edge work often demands substantial financial support and obtaining publicity can be an important factor in keeping the money lifeline open.  When you get something good you exploit it.

The publication of scientific results serves a dual purpose; dissemination of knowledge and demonstration…

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Social Media – The You in Disruptive Information Technology

Synthetic Genetic Shakespeares

fakeThe recent controversy over fake news and where the responsibility to control it rests have revealed the reach and power of social media.  Facebook and Google have quietly become some of the most powerful information purveyors on our planet.  Digital incarnations of disruptive technologies, their proprietary programs are bringing change to us all whether or not we like it. 

The full implications of consumer preference-driven news dissemination are unknown and difficult to evaluate because the basic methods have probably been adopted far beyond social media.  National Public Radio (NPR) revealed a bit about how its programming mechanisms help listeners avoid information bubbles (1).  However, although decisions may be reached in new ways today, editorial control of topics and content have always been an integral part of news reporting.  In the final analysis a more diverse bubble is still a bubble.  Whether the NPR programming strategy will entertain and retain audiences…

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