Big Genomic Promise of Big Data

Highlighted by the recent embryonic genetic engineering (CRIPSR/Cas9) controversy, advances in genetics and genomics have been made in leaps and bounds in the past twenty years. It is now relatively easy for us to obtain genetic information about ourselves (23andme DNA kits, for example), and even our pets. Entire genome sequencing is now possible, albeit […]

Bikel Remembered, And Linked

Theodore Meir Bikel was born in Vienna, Austria, on May 2, 1924. His family fled to Palestine after the Nazi Anschluss in 1938. After a lifetime of accomplishments, he died of natural causes in Los Angeles on July 21, 2015. He was 91 years of age. Broadway and Hollywood: Theodore Bikel was a lecturer, author, […]

Mosquitoes. What Are They Good For?

Not much. In fact, the mosquito has long been extremely annoying and extremely deadly, with one half of all human deaths since the Stone Age being attributed to mosquitoes. They are vectors of several human diseases, including encephalitis, filariasis, yellow fever, dengue, and malaria. They also spread West Nile virus from birds to horses and […]

The Bite That Kills

Summer is finally here and for some of us, the sweat-inducing humidity and high electrical bills are the least of our worries. Mosquito bites are inevitable for nearly anyone who ventures outside, but unfortunately the blood-sucking insects display a definite preference for their victims. And while multiple bites can be an itchy nightmare for those […]

The Hyper-Vigilante

Speaking as one whose high school gym teacher once called him a “textbook private school turd,” I feel confident in reflecting on the strange, privileged, frustrating, enlightening world that is private education. As a teenager, I was lucky enough to attend classes whose enrollments usually hovered between 5 and 15 students. Above all else, this made classes […]

Animal, Vegetable, Intelligence

Plant neurobiologists argue the ways in which plants demonstrate behaviors that look very much like intelligence, memory, learning, and decision-making. Rather than relying on a brain and neurons, plants use a decentralized network, but both plants and animals can respond adaptively to circumstances. This list of the 10 smartest animals includes anoles and cockatoos, in […]

Trans Fats’ Last Stand

Forrest Gump famously told us that “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” And while life does throw us curveballs we still need to be wary of that box of chocolates, among other processed foods. A danger of eating prepackaged and processed foods is the cleverly hidden and […]

The Atomic Frenchman

I’m tired of my science-minded friends’ rants about “humanity’s unhindered upward progress.” Sure, most of them will concede in a late night pseudointellectual conversation that the liberal arts all strive to reach some higher truth, and a few have separate bookshelves for their Criterion Collection DVDs, but before they finish their third Marlboro Gold of […]

Let It Bee

Honeybees are sophisticated creatures. They are one of the few nonhuman animals to communicate symbolically, using a waggle dance and excreting pheromones to recruit and direct others in the hive to a new food source. The honeybee waggle dance is a unique animal signal that exhibits several characteristics of true language. Bees have a phenomenal […]

Language By Law

Does the United States need laws to enforce clear writing? Apparently so, because on October 13, 2010, President Barak Obama signed the Plain Writing Act of 2010, which seeks “to improve the effectiveness and accountability of Federal agencies … by promoting clear Government communication that the public can understand and use.” The Plain Writing Act […]