Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ASC and MS

Interesting article from Science Daily showing the benefits of combining ASC and genetic reprogramming in mice.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christian Video Games

Interesting post at Ars (a decidedly non-Christian site).

From one angle, it seems natural that there are no (good) Christian (science) fiction books or video games. Christians have more eternally minded things to work on.

At the same time, we have freedom to relax and spend our free time as we wish. In these times, it would nice to relax with something from a Christian perspective.

This is something I would like to work on, but generating such things always takes longer than consuming them - and I barely have time for consumption!

Monday, December 21, 2009

ASC Supply

We have seen there are potentially large sources of adult stem cells (from fat, umbilical chord blood, and amniotic fluid).

Now we are seeing the umbilical chord itself is a possible supply.

It seems even CNN has caught on to the state of adult stem cell research.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

ESC and Justice

An odd article from Science Daily:
"there's a lack of diversity among today's most commonly used human embryonic stem cell lines, which highlights an important social justice issue."
Not sure what their definition of justice is...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

ESC Research

I carefully monitor the Science Daily RSS feed for articles on stem cell research. There are a great many applications for adult stem cells, progressing in human trials.

To date, I have found one application for embryonic cells (just starting human trials).

Now, two more articles on using ESC for simple research:
  1. Using gene "knock-out" to study the effects of a gene on cell transport (normally done in mice)
  2. Studying the underlying mechanisms of stem cells

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ASC Update

A lot of news:

- It would definitely seem that treatment for heart attacks is the leading use of adult stem cells.

From Science Daily:
"They randomized 101 heart attack survivors to receive a solution including progenitor cells from their own bone marrow. The other 103 patients received a placebo solution."
A much larger population that previous studies.

- Also, a possible new source of stem cells, from Science Daily.

- And a possible treatment for sickle cell disease (tested in humans)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Healthcare and Abortion

An infuriating article from CNN:
"'Why are women being singled out here? It's so unfair,' said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, adding there is no medical procedure for men that cannot be purchased with private funds."
She's right. Women are unfairly targeted by abortion (through sex selection).

Huh? Oh, she is saying it is unfair that more women cannot be murdered. That's women's rights?

Monday, December 14, 2009

ASC Update

Several new updates on adult stem cells:
  1. Treatment of blood vessel blockage in mice, using ASC and gene therapy.
  2. Using umbilical chord stem cells to treat cornea damage in mice
  3. Blood stem cells genetically engineered to kill HIV in human cells implanted into mice
Good day for mice!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How Do You Know

It's been a long time since the last epistemology post...

Interesting news from Science Daily:
"evidence that craving disrupts an individual's meta-awareness, the ability to periodically appraise one's own thoughts."
A rationalist's foundation lies in his own thoughts ("I think, therefore I am"). If his mind is lying to him, he is lost - and he doesn't even know it.

Yet, evidence that his mind is lying to him (in certain circumstances) does nothing to shake his faith that it is not lying to him in other matters.

Perhaps, he is better called an Irrationalist.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


A lot of news about global warming, with the current conference of world leaders going on.

I'm falling behind, so I will kill two articles with one post.

First, we have an example of some of the very scary talk that comes out of environmentalists and global warming supporters:
"the meeting of Humanity's future"
"Our current trajectory of inaction, unabated consumption of natural resources and unhealthy addiction to dirty energy won't result in a soft landing. Humanity is teetering on the edge of what I can best describe as a massive global systems failure."
I am no fan of unabated consumption. However, this is a sin issue. Things like greed, conspicuous consumption (pride). These things are very hard to legislate, without a lot of negative side effects and oppression (which ultimately hurts the weak and poor the most).
"What this flagrantly disregards is an ever-increasing population with a veracious appetite for growth and a vastly diminishing resource base. Any agenda that does not acknowledge those issues is not all comprehensive. In other words, we are fundamentally moving from an era of resource abundance to an era of resource scarcity."
The worst sort of scarcity is artificial scarcity (for example, intellectual property depends on artificial scarcity). This creates an overwhelming feeling of injustice, which leads to Robin Hoods (like DVD Jon), which leads to scoff-laws, which leads to craziness like DMCA.

I don't see any sort of real scarcity from environmental concerns today. There is talk of treating CO2 emissions as a scarce resource, which must be managed. I doubt any good will come of that. Talk of "ever-increasing population" smacks of the anti-life trends we see in culture today.

Second (I will try to be fast), we have an emotional appeal to "save the glaciers". I particularly like the comparison to the British navy and limes. How can we be certain which side of the AGW debate is comparable to the British navy? Of course, the author believes himself right (pun intended).

Why is saving glaciers a good thing? They are big blocks of cold water. Fresh water. Water we could be using. Isn't it better to free up that water? Rather than shutting down our activities, and shifting from efficient means of energy production to inefficient ones, shouldn't we be preparing to harvest all this fresh water? To store it, before it runs into the ocean (averting fears of raising sea levels). Why doesn't anyone propose that?

Friday, December 11, 2009

IVF and Gender Choice

An insulting article from CNN.
"Genetic screening techniques that allow parents to choose their children's gender are now more accurate than ever and are becoming increasingly mainstream, but experts are divided over whether the technology should be used in this way."
This makes it sound like we can switch an embryo from male to female. The procedure is selecting one, and destroying the others. Nowhere is this mentioned in the article.
"But Steinberg argues that it's wrong to limit scientific capabilities. 'I say to critics that the last thing in the world that you want to do is put the handcuffs on science.

'We've been giving women expanded reproductive choices for 50 years. This is another choice.'"
This is about the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Science allows us to destroy all life on earth with nuclear bombs - is this a valid choice? Are we "putting handcuffs on science" by not allowing people to carpet bomb the planet with nukes? We have the technology to remove all the organs from living people. Is this a valid choice?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

AGW and Soteriology


"Salvation talk" is a big red flag. There is one Savior, and one thing we must be saved from (judgment for our crimes against God). Anything that supposes a greater need for salvation, a greater threat, is anti-Christ (a replacement for Christ).

I can't help but laugh at the latest global warming propaganda from Science News:
"what has previously been reported on forests' worth of newsprint in recent years"
Doesn't chopping down a forest increase global warming? Aren't these newspapers hypocrites? They should shut down their presses if they are really serious.
"Sure, we will feel some pain in coming years, it says, but that's to save the planet from long and dire agony in the next few centuries." [emphasis added]
There's that salvation thing. Also, this statement needs some translation:
"we" means "you", particularly "you poor people". The rich and powerful are not going to feel the brunt of any global warming legislation. The poor people who can no longer afford food and shelter, they will feel it.

"some pain" means death for those who cannot get adequate food and warm shelter. Also shattered dreams for those whose hard work is taxed and regulated away.

"save the planet" means avoiding a catastrophe which we were never certain would even come about. This is win-win for the prognosticators. If it doesn't happen, "See, we saved ourselves just in time". If it does, "You should of listened to us sooner" or "You should have done more".

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

ASC Update

Science Daily has an interesting group of updates in the status of adult stem cell therapies.
  1. Using donor T-cells to suppress rejection of donor bone marrow stem cells (in humans)
  2. Using a drug to prevent side effects in children receiving donor stem cells
  3. A better method of removing T-cells from done bone marrow stem cells (in humans)
  4. A better method for growing different blood cells from adult stem cells (tested in mice)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

More Global Warming

As I mentioned, global warming is heating up in the news (hah!)

Now Science Daily is adding fuel to the fire (hehe! oh, it's too easy!)
"the Earth's temperature may be 30-50% more sensitive to atmospheric carbon dioxide than has previously been estimated"
This sort of thing would be an embarrassment in microarchitecture models (oops, yea our old performance model was off 30-50%, but the new one is good, trust us!). Somehow, in climate models, being less hugely off is a big improvement.
"We found that, given the concentrations of carbon dioxide prevailing three million years ago, the model originally predicted a significantly smaller temperature increase than that indicated by the reconstructions"
Now we come to one of the big points that causes my skepto-meter to spike. If you are correlating data in your model against events from millions of years ago, you are feeding data that is almost certainly wrong into it (since the earth is, very likely, only thousands of years old).

Bringing bad assumptions (which makes bad models), and feeding in bad data is going to drive you into circles of bad decisions.

Making wild predictions ("the world as we know it will end unless we shut down our economies!") doesn't help.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


It's funny how angry atheists are about the selection of Francis Collins (an avowed Christian) as the new head of the NIH.

It's also sad what Albert Mohler has discovered about Dr. Collins and his stand on embryonic stem cell research.

Quoting Dr. Collins:
"I am happy to say that we now have human embryonic stem cell lines eligible for use by our research community under our new stem cell policy. . . . In accordance with the guidelines, these stem cell lines were derived from embryos that were donated under ethically sound informed consent processes. "
There is no ethical process by which one person can elect another to be murdered. That is evil.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Speed of Evolution

One of the most interesting points of contention in the evolution/creation controversy is the "speed of evolution" (or more precisely, the rate of speciation - the time required for one species of animals to become two).

Creationists actually have the more stringent requirement.

For us to observe all the species we have today, starting from the limited "kinds" taken on the ark - speciation must happen pretty quickly (relative to "geological" time scales).

Of course, the evolutionist gets hit coming and going on this one. If evolution is fast, then we should be able to observe transmutation of species (cats becoming dogs) - which we don't. If evolution is slow, then we should not even observe speciation (wolves becoming chihuahua and St. Bernards - not quite different species, but close).

Observations repeatedly show that speciation can happen quickly (latest from Science Daily).

Friday, December 4, 2009

ASC and Heart Attacks

A lot of work going on using adult stem cells to treat the heart. In addition to my last summary, we have a report from a human trial from Science Daily.

This is different in two ways:
  1. The cells appear to be taken from different people
  2. The cells are administered through an IV

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

ASC and Bone Fractures

Exciting news from Science Daily. Adult stem cells (from bone marrow) have been used in humans to treat bone fractures.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Science of Global Warming

It's been a while since I last covered global warming. With the upcoming Copenhagen talks, it is back in the news...

The leading proponents of anthropic global warming (AGW) constantly plead with us to listen to the science. Of course, science is an abstract noun. And abstract nouns hate it when you anthropomorphize them.

And then, they don't even tell us the science. They just tell us to trust them. Like this article from Ars.

So, I have dug into the science for myself. The basics are pretty straightforward, and we can see where the difficulties lie:

It all starts with the Sun.

The Sun is a huge nuclear furnace (operating at almost 16 million degrees K). Inside, hydrogen becomes helium, with small amounts of matter converted to energy. This energy spills out into the outer layers of hydrogen, until it reaches the surface (at a temperature of about 6 thousand degrees).

The Sun can be modeled as a "black body", one which is in equilibrium (emitting as much energy as it receives). This gives us an idea of the sort of light coming from it, and allows us to calculate the energy received by the Earth (intensity of about 1.4 KW/m^2).

Modeling the Earth is much more complicated. If the Earth were a true black body, the surface temperature would be about 278 K (5 C, or 41 F - pretty cold).

Actually, the surface of the Earth can be modeled fairly well as a black body (or actually, gray body with some albedo/reflectiveness).

The trouble comes in that the energy emitted by the surface is not radiated directly into space.

We calculate the wavelength of light emitted based on temperature. For the Sun, with its high temperature, the light is what we call "visible" - short wavelength. The Earth, with its lower temperature, emits infrared light (long wavelength).

The atmosphere passes visible light (low absorption), but absorbs infrared light. This creates the "greenhouse effect". The atmosphere acts like a blanket or insulator, reflecting some of the infrared back to the Earth, before passing any out to space.

Modeling the effects of this blanket is the hard part...