popular science

One annelid, three headlines. 

New Scientist- good headline, explains exactly what was found, doesn’t sensationalize
Cosmos- ok headline- “bizarre” kinda clickbaity, but hey, it IS bizarre- it’s got this really neat symbiotic sulfur-eating bacteria that lives in its gills and a tiny digestive system- and yes, it was found in the Philippines
Popular Science: 

Originally posted by hairsandfashion

If you’re a science writer, then act like it. Calling a harmless shipworm a “horrifying nightmare monster” is irresponsible. It’s not a monster, it’s just a worm. And it’s not a new species, either. Linnaeus described the thing in 1735. It’s just that this was the first live specimen ever found. 

Science faces enough challenges in communication. One of the biggest problems is that scientific writing is often inaccessible and jargony to people who don’t know the specific lingo. Popular science writing online can help to change that, but not through clickbait and not through trying to gross people out. Don’t scare people away from embracing discovery for clicks on Facebook. 

On Prompto’s Bar Codes

Disclaimer: I am a scientist. (Neurochem)I know this doesn’t work in real life applications, but I thought it was interesting to see anyways.


So I threw this numbers into GenBank – NIH genetic sequence database just for fun because I was drunk one day. They are associated with some pretty interesting DNA sequences.

The bottom number there is part of a retrovirus.  An ENV protein specifically.  It would trigger a conformational change, allowing for binding of the fusion protein. So what does that mean fro Prompto? Well,  retroviral vectors are the most widely used delivery vehicles to integration genes into chromosomes of affected cells. So he’s a “knock in” animal for sequences that would allow him to change. For fantasy purposes, we could say he’s He’s been genetically programed to mutate.

This 01987 – that’s a fun one. It’s swine IL-alpha. I work with ILs on a daily basis and they are used as markers for “something gone wrong.” For instance, if I take a tissue from a stressed animal vs a nonstressed animal, the stressed animal will have produced more IL-alpha. It is the marker various immune responses and and hematopoiesis (The production of all types of blood cells). This cytokine is released in  response to cell injury, and thus induces apoptosis. (cell death) That is to say, he’s durable. He can regenerate blood cells, including his immune system white blood cells, to ward of disease and infection. Then he has the ability to kill off and clear out the “bad cells” faster too. It’s even been implicated in protection from gamma radiation (meteor anyone?) But this is not without consequence. Its a marker for inflammation, neuro-degenerative diseases, and diabetes. So, he’s sturdy, but he’s also set up for a lot of problems later. Implication? He’s not made to live long. He’s made of pig and virus parts because he’s disposable.

And the best bit? NH. He’s non human. He’s a non human primate. Therefore he wouldn’t be afforded personhood.

Edit: Feel like I should say too that he’s properly coded. As in you put non-human primate codes on their outer wrist so it’s scannable when they grip the bars. He should have had a chip implanted at that age which should be in his right bicep. Maybe it rejected and he covered it with that bandana?

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… push-button transmission! by James Vaughan

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1957 … in the future! by James Vaughan

How not to be wrong by Jordan Ellenberg • My sister gave me this book for Christmas. I’ve not read many popular science books about maths before, but this was really interesting. It’s written in such a way that it doesn’t feel taxing to read (the maths is well explained and not at a level which is super hard or mind boggling), and it was really cool to see the ways maths is literally everywhere (god that sounds cheesy!) but yeah I definitely recommend it 📖