Code for life

When to kick out a professor

Grant Jacobs Oct 27, 2017

(Or a taught course, or department.) Reading about the latest retraction of a Shaw and Tomljenovic research paper on aluminium (with two ‘i’s!) and vaccines, I was reminded of topics I’ve ruminated on in the past: when to investigate a professor, and when do they no longer justify their position? What criteria might we use? What are the hallmarks … Read More

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Autism is mostly genetic again

Grant Jacobs Oct 24, 2017

Ever since Rain Man, autism has been a condition du-jour for those touting (fake) ’wellness’ remedies, opposing vaccines, and general head-nodding concern. Some claim autism is caused by any number of things, offering just many remedies offered to “treat” it. Recent research reminds us that autism is mostly genetic. People with autism, or autism spectrum disorder, have difficulty in social … Read More

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What do you want in a science commission?

Grant Jacobs Oct 22, 2017

Now that New Zealand has a government, we can look to what they might do. Several parties offered to reorganise the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor role, and to introduce a Science Commission. How would you like to see this role work? I’m going to offer a few suggestions to encourage people to put their ideas forward in the comments … Read More

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Migrating email accounts with custom folders to Gmail

Grant Jacobs Oct 10, 2017

This long suggestion might be useful to those trying to migrate email between other service providers and Gmail. It’s particularly meant for (and inspired by) New Zealanders still trying to get their email accounts with custom folders out of Vodafone’s email system before Vodafone’s deadline to abandon email. [I rarely post how-to’s but this is one of a number of … Read More

Teams, collaborations, lone wolves, and cranks

Grant Jacobs Oct 01, 2017

Jeremy Farrar, the director of the London-based biomedical research charity the Wellcome Trust, has written an opinion piece in the Guardian newspaper espousing the value of (international) collaborations in the face of Brexit, Britain proposed exit from the European Union. Farrar rightfully highlights the importance of collaborations. Collaboration can be essential for many types of work, and direct interactions … Read More

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Avery, a little bird helping children talk about their genetic disease

Grant Jacobs Sep 04, 2017

Science communication takes many forms, even when we limit it to written work. Here University of Cambridge professor Lucy Raymond has worked with children’s illustrator Marta Altes at the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University to make an illustrated book for young children with rare genetic conditions. Part of Professor Raymond’s aim is to give the book to … Read More

From here to there: Installing a 16kb computer to modern tape media

Grant Jacobs Aug 07, 2017

While travelling I’ve visited some science-related locations and seen the odd bit of science-related trivia. On a wall of the ferry I took between Swedish the port town Oskarshamm and the walled city of Visby at the Baltic sea island of Gotland was a collection of photographs offering a pictorial history of the shipping company. One delightful photograph highlighted that … Read More

USA team editing embryos, early thoughts on alternatives and limitations

Grant Jacobs Aug 03, 2017

Widely reported today is the research paper by an USA team who edited a gene that causes sudden heart failure in young adults. I’d like to take a different approach, briefly raising just two things that nagged at me while reading this work. Before I do be clear there are real technical advances reported.* I’m not denying or opposing them. Read More

Fixing our genes

Grant Jacobs Jul 30, 2017

Gene editing could be a big deal. It offers some great stuff. For a few applications it also raises some interesting ethical questions. We might be able to treat some genetic disorders by convert a “broken” gene associated back to the working version of the gene, potentially providing a one-time, life-long fix for the patient. Gene therapy has a surprisingly … Read More

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