SCREEEE SCREEEE SCREEEEEEEEEEE.
Given that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence has been given a $100 million shot in the arm, I am motivated to explain why I think it is a colossal waste of money.
Below is a greatly simplified chart of the history of mathematics. The interesting bit is the black bar on the time line, which indicates where (optimistically) high school math stops. With calculus? I got pre-calc/trigonometry in high school, most of our incoming students haven’t had calculus yet, so it’s a little bit off.
Wait. I’ve had a fair bit of statistics…that’s early 20th century! What a relief, I won’t have to worry the ridiculous over-the-knee boots and pelisse when my classes drift into a little mathematics.
It’s CRISPR/Cas. I’m feeling a bit square because I’m not doing it yet. But maybe you’re so squaresville that you don’t even know what the heck it is. You’re saved like a hipster at a flea market: here’s a primer on CRISPR/Cas so you can pretend to be one of the with-it kids.
Simply put, this is a tool that combines targeting information that homes in on a precise location within the genome (that’s the CRISPR part), with the ability to generate DNA breaks at that site once it arrives there (that’s Cas’s job). Such tools are integral to the process of gene editing, because the ability to interrupt a continuous strand of DNA at a specific location is the first step to altering the information encoded there. There are other gene editing tools currently in use in research labs, but CRISPR/Cas has quickly gained popularity for the very practical reason that it’s a bit easier and less expensive to use than the other options.
Using a paleobiology database, here’s a map of all the fossils that have been discovered in the US, of all sorts.
There are some patterns in there. The one that disappoints me, though, is that western Minnesota, where I live, seems to be a great wasteland for fossils.
It’s very strange to see all the hullabaloo about this New Yorker article on imminent catastrophic demise of the Pacific Northwest. I grew up there, I consider it one of the best places in the world to live, and most of my family still lives there…I ought to be horrified, terrified, and frantically calling my mother and telling her to move.
Unfortunately, we get this same story every few years. I lived in the Green River Valley, and every once in a while someone would notice that all that fertile farmland was built on top of a pyroclastic mudflow, and the valley was actually a great big chute for deadly lahars from Mt Rainer to the gates of Seattle.