Humane Technology in Science Education

For decades, live dissections have been the cornerstone of anatomy lessons in high school biology classes. According to the American Anti-Vivisection Society (2012), frogs, rats, cats and fetal pigs were often the staple of scientific experiments for students. In 1959, two PhD scientists published The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique, in which they called for the reduction, refinement, and replacement …

Optogenetics: Illuminating the Inner Workings of the Brain

Optogenetics meets “Three Blind Mice” and the mice become blind no more. Researchers from various institutions, including the University of Southern California (USC) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have worked together and succeeded in restoring vision to blind mice [1]. In April of 2011, a paper channeling their breakthrough was published in the journal Molecular Therapy [2]. It …

Scientific Fights, or How Geneticists Have Made Use of Molecular Competition?

Do battles take place in nature? Of course! Plants fight for access to the sun, wild animals wrestle with carcasses in a struggle for the biggest bite, and parasites are advantageously equipped to exploit their hosts, who in turn attempt to withstand the parasites. Hosts, on the other hand, have cells – like eosinophils in humans – that specialise in …

Pitch perfect drugs: A little off-key?

Ella Fitzgerald is believed to have had such perfect pitch that her band tuned up to the sound of her voice. Aged seven, Mozart impressed audiences by naming the note of a pocket watch strike. Four-year-old Mariah Carey sang back pitch-perfect notes to her mother [1]. Musicians in every genre, including Beethoven, Michael Jackson, Chopin and Stevie Wonder, have had …

Leprosy and the Modern Plague

“Fear is a contagious disease, spreading from its first victim to others in the vicinity until it is powerful enough to take charge of a group, in which event it becomes panic.” – Ernest Gann The urban streets of Madurai, a temple city in central Tamil Nadu, India, are overflowing: auto-rickshaws, stands overladen with mangoes and pomegranates, businessmen burdened with briefcases …

View Post

Evo Devo and the Mechanism of Evolution

Evolution, in the macroscopic sense, has probably been explained to you time and time again in your science classes as tiny changes that over time build up and create differences among species. From a single common ancestor, different species evolve, eventually creating the huge diversity of life we see today. But have you ever considered how that change comes about? …