The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Conservation Genetics is in the good, the bad, and the ugly spotlight. Conservation Genetics “aims to understand the dynamics of genes in populations principally to avoid extinction.” Clear as mud? An Example It may be easier to understand with an example. Conservation genetics aims to help endangered species, like African cheetahs. Today the existing 10,000 African cheetahs share 99 percent of their DNA. In other words, they’re all related. This means there is little genetic diversity. Low genetic diversity leads to a population that is highly susceptible to disease. Disease that could make the African cheetahs extinct. Scientists involved with cheetah breeding projects determine how closely related two cheetahs are. They want to reintroduce genetic variety into the population of cheetahs. So, they choose the ones that are the furthest apart genetically and breed those two together.  If they are successful, the cheetah population will grow. (Source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/better-living-through-conservation-genetics/) Revive & Restore Revive and Restore is a nonprofit organization. Its mission is to “enhance biodiversity through new techniques of genetic rescue for endangered and extinct species.” One of their funded projects searches for the genomic trigger of bleaching the coral reefs. They say that this study has the “potential opportunity to […]

Do You Dream of the Jetson Life?

What futuristic program(s) have you watched and wondered what life will be like that someday? As a science fiction writer, I can’t help but do that. I dream of the Jetson life. I’ve longed for the Jetson’s flying car and robots and a technology-filled home since I first watched the cartoon. Sadly, we’ve not come that far but there are amazing things on the horizon. Take a look with me. The Flying Car There are four prototypes discussed in this video. One is called Pal-V One. It’s a car-gyroplane hybrid. If you’ve read My Soul to Keep you know why this one appeals to me. One of these flying cars runs on unleaded gasoline but you must be a pilot to fly it. Another one claims that if you can drive a car, you can fly it. And one looks like a miniature space shuttle. It needs only a few hundred feet of flat surface to land. There’s a flying taxi, too. I hope it comes without taxi driver, Korben from The Fifth Element. Home Cleaning Robots Not exactly Rosie the robot, but we already have the Roomba vacuum and its kin. This video discusses eight new robots. Fedor is […]

Listen & Learn: Science and History Podcasts

Science and History podcasts are a fun, easy-to-digest way of learning. I’ve mentioned before that I love podcasts. Lately, I’ve listened to fewer because I no longer have a commute. But I try to listen to at least one of the science and history podcasts. They are always fascinating. I always learn some new detail. Often, I find a bit of inspiration for future stories. Science Friday This podcast, hosted by Ira Flatow, covers everything science. From the outer reaches of space to the tiniest microbes in our bodies. Every year they host Cephalopod Week (beginning June 21). You’ll learn fun and cool stuff about cephalopods.  The Science Friday Initiative, a non-profit organization, dedicated to increasing the public’s access to science and scientific information, produces this podcast. Science Friday videos are available on Youtube. The podcast is available on Apple podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, Sound Cloud, Podbay, Tune in, and the website.  You Are Not So Smart Host David McRaney says the You Are Not So Smart podcast is “a celebration of self-delusion that explores topics related to cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies.” It’s always fascinating. McRaney interviews scientists about their research into how the mind works. At […]