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An entirely appropriate stew of scientific vexation and mortification has accompanied revelations that the incredible Korean achievements in human embryonic cloning and stem cell research are exactly that: incredible. But midst the hand-wringing over failures of peer review--and justified alarm over the future of human embryo clones and stem cell research--an intriguing fact has been obscured. Woo Suk Hwang would still be a rock-star equivalent, and frustrated researchers would still be trying

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Genomes in the Supermarket

By | December 22, 2005

I can no longer shop happily. Representing the first genomics craze to hit supermarket shelves, Sciona, a Colorado based biotech just started marketing a nutrigenomics product called Cellf in supermarkets for about $100. These kits include a lifestyle-assessment and family-profile questionnaire and a cheek swab. Mail in the lot and you?ll get back a genetically personalized recommendation for living healthy. A collaboration with the supermarket chain includes specific advice from supermar

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Discovery Institute?s Silver Lining

By | December 21, 2005

The Discovery Institute, a well funded Intelligent Design mouthpiece, offered a scathing review of Judge John E. Jones III?s decision in Kitzmiller vs. The Dover Area School District. This is the same Discovery Institute that had all but deserted the school board in an effort to distance themselves from proceedings admonishing the board for stepping so early into the fray of teaching their fledgling hypothesis to minors. The distance and static they put up indicated that they expected the Dove

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Judge Jones Kicks out ID

By | December 21, 2005

Judge John E. Jones III ruled that the mention of Intelligent Design in Dover area high schools as an alternative to evolution was not only unconstitutional but unscientific. In the final days of the case it appeared more and more apparent that the judge was less than impressed by the arguments of the defendants as they bumblingly tried to cover their motivation for injecting ID into the schools. But Jones? ruling really takes the whole ID hypothesis to task as a blatant and undeniable extensio

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Science speaks about cloning controversy

By | December 16, 2005

At a press conference today (December 16), Science editor-in-chief Donald Kennedy and deputy editor for life sciences Katrina Kelner presented their side of the story in the ongoing controversy over a cloning paper the journal published this year. Since the article, last author Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh has pulled out of a collaboration with his Korean co-authors, and first author Woo-suk Hwang admitted to both illegally obtaining eggs and tampering with images. Both Sch

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Intelligent Design on the Skids?

By | December 4, 2005

A piece in this morning's New York Times is reporting that, despite what you've been hearing, the Intelligent Design take on evolution "is failing to gain the traction its supporters had hoped for." As my Mom used to say, "From their lips to God's ear."

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Toward Intelligent Design for Data Sharing

By | November 18, 2005

The US National Academy of Sciences just issued one of its matchless Big Fat Reports, this one on intellectual property rights, patents, and patenting related to genomics and proteomics. Don't nod off; the report came to a couple of intriguing conclusions that are likely to have a big impact on the life sciences. One surprise is this: the conventional wisdom that US patenting has interfered with or somehow prevented academic research, especially in genomics, is wrong. Not so, the report sai

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Dalai Drama Averted?

By | November 14, 2005

The Saturday afternoon lecture at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Washington, DC, by the Dalai Lama had been widely anticipated, and had sparked a petition of protest organized by mainly Chinese-origin researchers. In the end, however, there was just one protester standing silently outside the press conference room, holding up a conference tote bag with the words ?Dalai Lama NOT qualify to speak here? inscribed in barely legible ballpoint ink. Instead, thousands of conference atten

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"Friendly" bacteria are truly friendly after all

By | November 11, 2005

A recent item [subscription required] in Nature made me feel happy as well as healthy... For a while I've been telling some selected people about the wonders of probiotics on my health... I've always wondered though if I'm being duped or if there is some form of placebo effect at play. Now there seems to be some evidence and I feel far less of a "snake-oil-salesman-by-proxy". "according to a study of Swedish workers who took supplements containing microorganisms: those on the 'friendly' b

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Lichens... In... Space...

By | November 10, 2005

One more organism has taken a giant leap and gone into space, the humble lichen (really more than one species, as we all know that lichens are composites of algae and fungi). The European Space agency removed the lichens from the comfort of their rock dwelling and blasted them off on a Soyuz rocket where they were subjected to the cold vacuum of space for just under 15 days. Their tough mineral coating seemingly protecting them from the whole spectrum of UV radiation and cosmic rays. The two

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