I was lucky enough that today’s partial solar eclipse passed over my head. The only image capturing device worth mentioning was Nikon D80 with 18-70 lens. I had a tripod so I decided to literally give it a shot. The only problem was that I lacked a sun screen and I had to improvise. First few of pictures I took through a couple of CD-R’s. That worked quite ok. Then a friend came along and gave me few old 3.5″ floppy discs. Demolition was in order and here are the results of me freezing outside at -10 degrees. Celsius. :>
Looking up the sky – a week ago my wife announced that she saw a meteor. Since we were both semi-awake at the time and I must say that probably I glimpsed at it with the corner of my eye, nodded and went to sleep. Not much to do about it … or so I thought.
As it happens we saw one of the Orionids. This is another annual meteor shower, similar to Perseids which were described in this article. As other meteor showers they are named after their radiant, which is located near constellation Orion. Usually they last from 15-29 of October with the maximum between 20-22 of October and this year the peak will be seen on the 21 of October. On average the produce from 20-25 meteors per hour. But reports are claiming that this years activity could be similar to last years, which was around 60 meteors per hour. If you were to be looking for it the radiant is about 10 degrees north of Betelgeuse in the southeastern sky.
First observations of the Orionids were made by E.C. Herrick in the 1839-1840. First documented record was which produced accurate forecasts for the next year were made by the A.S. Herschel. It is now known that the Orionids are a by product of the well-known Halley’s Comet.
Are you sure you know what you eat and drink? Think for a while! Plastics is really everywhere – in cosmetic packaging, drinking bottles, food containers, children toys, credit cards, clothing, … It seems as we can not live without it anymore.
Plastics is organic material made synthetically or semi-synthetically. It is a polymer comprised from molecules of high molecular weight. It’s hard, soft, colored, clear and it can even smell nice (perfumed). Different chemicals enable such features and/or reduce the cost of production. Some of these chemicals are very dangerous. Therefore every plastic piece should be labeled. Are you interested in learning how to distinguish between different plastics? Read on.
Recently I daily enjoyed watching CSI series on our local TV station. I am not into forensic science but I work in a lab for molecular biology and I know a thing or two about DNA sequencing. I would like to show you my perspective of the sequencing process that is simplified by the CSI series.
In school we learn about genetic material. In brief: chromosomes are composed of genes, genes are constituted of DNA and DNA is arranged in a long sequence of four different nucleotides: adenosine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C). The sequence of millions of this four nucleotide letters represents our genome. And here the real work begins. Read further if you are interested in how to obtain a sequence of particular gene, for example to determine the relationship between two persons.
A few weeks ago I watched an interesting movie with Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawk, Gattaca (1997), which raised my attention. It’s about genetically inferior man with a strong wish to fly to planet Saturn. Because of his ”bad” genes and short life expectancy he can not fulfill his wish. A genetically superior man, but paraplegic, helps him to realize his wish. He lends him his generic ID. How do they manage not to get caught?
Genome is something you are born with. It’s unique (except with identical twins), it’s your ID, you can not change it. It’s everywhere on you: hair, eyelashes, saliva,… One hair with a root is enough to determine your genome sequence or sequence of a certain gene (everyone has probably watched one of those many criminal series). Many commercial services are already available to determine DNA sequence. Why do we even need our genome to be determined? First of all, it is being used in a forensics, as we already know. But lately it is getting more and more popular in a predictive and personalized medicine. What are they?
In personalized medicine genome/gene information is being used to determine the most suitable drug to be applied to a patient. In this case it is meant in appropriate amount and appropriate way in order to increase drug efficacy, and with as less side effects as possible. But there are only a few examples so far. It is being expected this kind of drug administration to emerge rapidly.
Another aspect of handling of gene information is in predictive medicine. It is useful for disease risk prediction based on genetic markers. A small change (mutation) in a gene sequence might cause a disease. You should be aware that not every mutation in a gene information also means a risk for a disease. For someone to develope a certain disease there are genetic and environmental factors involved. And both are not yet fully understood. The goal of predicting the future disease is that the health care proffesionals and patients themselves are active in lifestyle modification and increased physician surveillance.
The benefit of personal genomics has already been proven in a breast cancer and some other diseases too. But overall, the usefullnes of genome information in today’s medicine is currently limited.
After I saw this movie I asked myself; what about the ethics of sharing personal genome information? What about discrimination? From an insurer or an employer. Fortunately, in some countries there are laws already that regulate this topic. Let’s hope that future from the movie will not come true. We still want our destiny to be in our hands, don’t we?
Related articles by Zemanta
- Gene Environment Interactions2 (slideshare.net)
- Get Your DNA Sequenced for $200K Less! (blisstree.com)
- Personal Genome Project – Personalized Medicine and Maybe Food Too? (ducknetweb.blogspot.com)
- What do genetic testing and real estate have in common? (scienceblog.com)
- Scientists identify gene that predicts post-surgical survival from brain metastasis of breast cancer patients (scienceblog.com
- Chasing the Genetic Ghosts of Mental Illness (psychcentral.com)
- Genomics and Personalized Medicine: Facts, Fiction,Future? (http://www.genomicslawreport.com)
- The Genomic Frontier: Personalized Medicine in Action (http://venturebeat.com)