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Recent Articles

Swine flu: the threat is real

by Debi Linton     May 1, 2009 at 11:58 am

My usual response when some sickness hits the news is to roll my eyes and change the channel, telling myself it has little to do with me and will probably amount to nothing and it’s not worth worrying about. Earlier this week I decided to crawl out of my “epidemic scare stories are boring exercises in mass hysteria” hole in the ground and educate myself.

I started paying attention to what people were saying  – and by ‘people’, I don’t mean the mainstream media, who as always are screaming loudly for no other reason than that announcing the new apocalypse is more fun than talking about money or whether or not we should prosecute confirmed warcrimes.
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Killing mosquitos with laser

by Debi Linton     March 21, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Star Wars scientists use laser gun to kill mosquitoes in fight against malaria

Yes, that’s the actual headline the Telegraph used, reporting on an article in the Wall Street Journal this week, reporting on work to develop a laser weapon that can shoot individual mosquitoes out of the air. It homes in on the distinctive sound frequency produced by their wingbeats. 1980s Star Wars technology being used in the fight against disease. Excuse my Americanism: That’s awesome.

Well, unless you’re the kind of person who sees a story like this and immediately asks What’s the point? and Can picking off one mosquito at a time really make a difference? or an ecology minded person who wonders what kind of effect genus-level genocide would have on an ecology in which Anopheles have been a factor for about 70 million years.
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Obama allows scientists to do their work shocker!

by Debi Linton     January 27, 2009 at 12:52 pm

It might just be a coincidence – coincidences happen, after all. But they don’t happen in science nearly as often as you’d think. And it’s even rarer they happen in politics – and really, science funding is just politics without a dress code.

Still, it might just be a coincidence that three days after a certain transition of power within a certain world superpower, the Food and Drug Administration of that same superpower has given a stem-cell research group the green light to conduct human trials.

This is pretty damn exciting for this little science geek, and despite being separate from the federal government and any direct control by the USA’s brand new Lord High Superman, is right up there with the Guantanamo closure and abolition of the Global Gag Rule in my list of Things That Have Made Me Happy this week.
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It’s International Year of Astronomy

by Debi Linton     January 17, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Ever late to the party, I’ve just discovered that 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy, organised by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the International Astronomical Union. Fellow blogger Kajivar has already started a sequence of really nice posts on the subject, complete with very pretty images, but I’d been distracted by the fact that this year is also being promoted as Darwin200

I’m an evolution geek, but I’m quite happy to share the year; let’s call it International Year of Science is Awesome. Or maybe International Year of True History; if human history is just a fiddly insignificant epilogue to palaeontologists, then the history of life is just a fiddly insignificant epilogue to astronomers, after all.

By True History, of course, I mean the record we have of things that happened long before humans started writing things down: before humans even existed in some cases.
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