Sci-fi + Current Technology = Full Body Shivers…

OK, So I ran across this article describing exciting new technology that may get us a step or three closer to a treatment for cancer, or at least brain cancer.

Now, rewind a few weeks to my experience sitting in the theater watching Will Smith in I Am Legend staring as a post-apocalyptic scientists, all alone in a world devastated by a mutated virus designed buy humans to kill cancer.

Geez!  I know it’s “just a movie” but c’mon…..that’s just scary!  I had nightmares when I originally saw the story of Robert Neville played by Charlton Heston in The Omega Man.  My son had a reaction to I Am Legend almost the same as my original experience.  He’s a few years older so I suppose a slightly less memorable experience is to be expected.  Now I have to think about this?

Seriously, I am glad that scientists are making strides.  It’s just one of those coincidences that bring back a strong memory.

Bend 4th grade kids create online museum

4th graders from Juniper Elementary in Bend have created an online virtual museum.  Their teacher decided to introduce the students to technology for a history project by bringing in digital cameras, computers and the Internet to bring a high level of excitement and interest to the kids.

The children took on the exercise with great enthusiasm.  The end product is a testament not only to their ability to produce their virtual museum, but to their learning and creativity to help teach others about the history of Oregon.

Humans: Herbivore, Carnivore or Omnivore?

Scott Adams, as I’ve stated previously, is brilliant! He has ideas which are, right or wrong, thought provoking and he does it with a sense of comedic timing that is wonderful to read. His latest on the debate of vegitarians vs. meat eaters is a great case in point. I highly recommend it!

Update: I should point out that I fall in the omnivore category with strong carnivorous tendencies, just my own choice. My personal opinion is that people should do what they want as long as they’re not hurting each other. 🙂

Update: I should also point to Scott’s previous post which prompted his post from today.

Cancer cure patented | Press Esc

I just finished reading an article on Press Esc entitled Cancer cure patented.   It is an interested read however I think the title is a bit misleading.

In short, a group of scientists is experimenting with a new compound of a “short-chain fatty acid called butyrate” combined with a sugar used to attack cancer cells.  Butyrate was tested by itself and with other chemicals up to 20 years ago and it was effective slowing cancer cell growth, however there was never a compound created that was effective enough to be considered as a cure.  This group of scientists have experienced some promising results with this new compound.  From the article:

“After 15 days, cancer growth had resumed in dishes treated with four of the compounds, but in samples treated with the butyrate-ManNAc hybrid, all of the cancer cells had died.”

Testing has not progressed beyond testing cell samples yet, in other words no animal or human testing has begun.  While results are promising, it will probably be a while before we have any concrete findings to its true potential, but it does give hope.  Having lost a family member last year to cancer, I will certainly be keeping an eye on this bit of news.

DNA as a Weapon

OK, that title may be a stretch. There is an article on NewScientistsSpace discussing research into sequences of DNA that does not exist in nature. The theory behind the research is that the sequences do not exist be cause they are “not compatible with life.”

Exactly what would happen if the sequences were introduced to an organism are of course uncertain however the research team has shown enough promise to be the recipient of a 1 million dollar grant from the Department of Defense. The grant is targeted at developing a marker that could be used in certain criminal cases, however with one theory that some sequences may produce some sort of “suicide gene” in the future, I can see where the DOD may have other interests not publicized.

Of course this is all theory, conjecture and opinion, but it is interesting nonetheless. Science fiction has long had the idea of genetic warfare. Could this be a stepping stone to the next sci-fi reality?

Update: I forgot to cite the Slashdot article that originally led me to this story.

Lowering the Cost of Space Flight

On November 13th, 2006, Blue Origin had a successful test flight of a vehicle that is one step towards development of a launch / landing system for future spacecraft.  According to their sight they are “working, patiently and step-by-step, to lower the cost of spaceflight so that many people can afford to go and so that we humans can better continue exploring the solar system.”

That is, in my opinion, a goal that is both noble and large.  I wish them the best of luck.  I would love to travel into space in my lifetime, although I doubt that technology will move fast enough for that to happen without winning the lottery!  😉  Thanks to people like those at Blue Origin my son and daughter may have that opportunity in their lifetime and that brings at least some satisfaction.