A Cool Blend of Science and Technology

Almost 9,000 years ago, ancient Chinese fermented rice, honey, and fruit. Ancient Egyptians dared to use yeast for leavened bread in 1000 BC. On the other side of the world, Aztecs made cakes with Spirulina algae. What do these foods and beverages have in common? It’s doubtful that any of these ancient peoples understood the science. Yet, they each performed an early bit of biotechnology. Biotechnology has grown from its humble origins into a cool blend of science and technology. What is Biotechnology? Hungarian engineer, Karl Ereky, coined the term in 1919. He invented the term to describe the creation of products from raw materials with the aid of living organisms. While the term is relatively new, humans have always manipulated raw materials hoping to make our life better.  Don’t quite understand what biotech is yet? According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary biotechnology is the manipulation (as through genetic engineering) of living organisms or their components to produce useful products. The dictionary includes that these are usually commercial products (such as pest resistant crops, new bacterial strains, or pharmaceuticals). The History of Biotechnology You may recognize many names in the history of Biotechnology. Names like Darwin, Mendel, Miescher, Boveri, Morgan, Levene, Chargraff, Avery, and many […]

A Peek at Amazing Discoveries of the Past Decade

I’ve posed many questions regarding the ethics of research being done. Today, I want to talk about the good science has done. Let’s take a tiny peak at the amazing discoveries of the past decade.  The Human Genome The year 2000 saw a rough draft of the human genome released. The final draft published in 2003 received updates in 2007.  They believed this research would help alleviate diseases and advance medical break throughs. Sadly, that is slow in coming. The National Human Genome Research Institute estimates that it takes about seventeen years to advance from new research information to something useful for patients. But much is being done. Check out their website for detailed information about research on cystic fibrosis, infectious disease outbreaks, pharmacogenomics, and much more. Archeology The 2010s brought extraordinary discoveries in the field of Archeology. British researchers found the body of King Richard III Airborne lasers led scientists to discover more than 60,000 ancient Maya buildings in Guatemala. The discovery of Homo Naledi, a new species with a mix of human and primate features, suggests they may have been a hybrid. Radar detection and lasers and photographs from space have aided archeologists in their search. The number of discoveries […]

Head Transplant: Science or Science Fiction?

Do you think a head transplant is science fiction or science fact? Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero thinks it will be science fact. Canavero has a reputation for being a sensationalist in the global medical community. But is he?  The Animal Successes Canavero and Chinese surgeon, Xiaoping Ren, published a study that showed monkeys and dogs could walk after their spinal cords were completely severed during surgery and then put back together again. According to USA Today, the study published in the magazine Surgical Neurology International included video evidence.  They applied a polyethylene glycol substance (PEG) to the nerve endings. They want to use PEG to transplant human heads. Patients with incurable and fatal diseases would have a new body in which to live. Think of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), people like physicist Stephen Hawking.  Canavero states that neurosurgeons have been “stuck to the view that a severed spinal cord cannot be mended in any way.” He completely rejects that view.  Is a Head Transplant Possible There have been experiments involving animal head transplants since the early 1900s. None, not even the ones Cavanero and Xaioping did, have survived more than days.  Whole head transplantation must overcome […]