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ERCC Issues a Call to Arms

By | September 30, 2005

Microarray data quality is an issue that has been covered extensively in The Scientist (see, for instance, here and here). The basic issue is this: how reliable are the sometimes-subtle changes in gene expression levels these experiments yield, and how reproducible are they. The External RNA Controls Consortium, an ad-hoc group with approximately 70 members from private, public, and academic organizations formed in 2003, is one of several groups working to address these questions. The Consort

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ID Crushes First Amendment Rights, Again!

By | September 28, 2005

A second first amendments rights case broke out amidst the brouhaha over the legality of teaching intelligent design in a Dover school district. But this battle, over the freedom of the press, is nearing a denouement that?s left me a bit ambivalent. The Thomas More Law Center, which has been defending the Dover school district had subpoenaed two freelance reporters, Joseph Maldonado for the York Daily Record and Heidi Bernhard-Bubb for the York Dispatch, to question them regarding the details of

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No United Front for Intelligent Design

By | September 28, 2005

In the weeks before the battle over first amendment rights ramped up in Dover, the Discovery Institute folks said they didn?t support intelligent design mandates in science curricula, saying that such cases will only be politically divisive. Now, lawyers representing the school board are apparently happy to hear it. The York Daily Record, which has nicely covered some of the dismay experienced by a small town under the media heat lamp and now listed as the Number One Island of Ignorance by on

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The Human Interactome, Take 2

By | September 28, 2005

Four weeks after Erich Wanker?s team published its human interactome paper, Marc Vidal?s group at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston has followed suit. In today?s (Sept. 28) online edition of Nature Vidal?s team reports its analysis of interactions between 8,100 or so human open reading frames corresponding to some 7,200 protein-coding genes. From that ?search space? of 7,200 x 7,200, or nearly 52 million combinations, the group used a high-throughput yeast two-hybrid approach to ide

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Intelligent design in thirty minutes or less

By | September 26, 2005

Looks like I can harden my reserve to never again eat Domino?s pizza ? not that I liked it much anyway. The Thomas Moore Law Center, founded by ?za magnate Thomas Monaghan, is representing the defending Dover school board that tried passing off intelligent design as real science. As a card carrying Pennsylvanian, I?ll be closely watching the proceedings in our neighbor county. But I actually have little faith that the A.C.L.U. will be able to successfully convince district judge John E. Jones

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Plague in New Jersey?

By | September 17, 2005

On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that mice carrying Yersinia pestis ? the bacteria that cause bubonic plague -- had disappeared from a laboratory at the Public Health Research Institute, part of the campus of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The university says it does not know what happened to the mice, first discovered missing two weeks ago. According to the AP, health experts reassured that there was ?scant public risk.? That?s not what Robert Brubaker,

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The I of the Storm

By | September 16, 2005

I was talking Katrina aftermath with a yeast scientist, George Santangelo, at the University of Southern Miss in Hattiesburg. Things were ?a little nasty? he said, even that far inland -- he?s roughly 50 miles from the Gulf. But he ?obviously has no complaints relative to folks further south.? The gulf coast campus apparently suffered significant damage. In Hattiesburg things fared rather well, but it will take until the next rainfall to see if roof repair holds up. It?s nice, Santangelo said, t

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We Came, We Saw, We Computed

By | September 16, 2005

I never thought I'd say this, but I participated in a flash mob last night (Sept. 15). We didn?t congregate on a street corner and start chanting or anything like that. Instead, we solved a molecular dynamics problem. ?Flash mob computing?, the brainchild of Patrick J. Miller, of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, is a way to build ad hoc supercomputers from unused desktop and laptop computers. Arrayed in the M. Carey Thomas Library at Bryn Mawr College were nine "slave" laptops under

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16 days and counting

By | September 15, 2005

Many colleagues, friends and former co-workers have contacted me following my last two blog entries to express sympathy and offer help. These days scientists from New Orleans who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina have many options. I, for example, could relocate my group to a hosting institution anywhere from California to New York. Universities and government laboratories are helping out. Sometimes the conditions in the hosting institution are so great that it is likely that our displaced fac

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Passion of the Penguins

By | September 14, 2005

The Science Times section of the New York Times ran a story yesterday describing how the increasingly popular documentary ?March of the Penguins? is being used by conservatives to justify their positions on abortion, monogamy and intelligent design. One conservative film critic is calling the film ?Passion of the Penguins.? Huh? I?ve seen this movie, and what are these people talking about? Here?s the evidence the article presents: A writer for World Magazine, a Christian publication,

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