Wednesday, 31 July 2013

An institute for evil science!

The X-men: Days of Future Past PR machine is off to a great start with this Trask Industries website. It does feel a lot like a pharma/manufacturing website and I love that it uses graphs! the icing on the cake is a mention of Thomas Hunt Morgan and his genetic studies in Drosophila as a bench mark in their alternate history in genetics :)
It also seems like they are applying a pseudo-scientific approach to mutants by describing low-threat mutations (multi-coloured eyes) and high threat mutations (shape-shifting, telepathy and super strength). The wiggle room for such a variety of powers as the result of one gene is that the "X-gene" affects gene expression on a multitude of levels. Nonsense, of course, but genetically "sound".
They also seem to try and make plausible the concept of mutant detection and suppression as well. It's well worth a look!

The question is would I work for such a company? Well, if they offered me a good salary and didn't base my work on paper publication (but X-gene innovation) and have permanent positions for Postdocs, I'd probably consider it given the poor alternatives. I'd have to check the small-print on whether being Ginger was a high-threat mutation first.

I've heard rumours that a millionaire called Warren Worthington III has a more benevolent research program under the supervision of Henry McCoy. Maybe they can make a better offer, I'm sure my knowledge of Drosophila genetics could come in useful.

Monday, 29 July 2013

The "hit" list

There is something decidedly sinister about this "updated" lab members list.

Feels like a scene from some serial killer blockbuster. Thankfully, I'm not on the list but I fear for those who are. I think an updated new list would be better on pretty much every level.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Hung Out To Dry

I noticed this in the stairwell at work today and was struck by the visual simile :)

Note: Not that the metaphor is directly associated with the person who made the poster!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Temperature Sensitive

There has been a statistically significant span of "hot" (in comparison to British controls) weather in the UK for the past 2 weeks.

At first this rare occurrence is welcomed with national glee but after a week the media decides it has to be a sign of the apocalypse and issues weather warnings. The British also discover they have no small-talk when the weather is consistently good and so have to find things to complain about.

It makes me wonder whether there is a temperature sensitive mutation that occurs to denizens of the UK where after temperatures exceed 27 degrees we can no longer function? This would make sense if the UK was an isolated nation with a narrow gene pool but we aren't. This leads me to think there may be some kind of retrovirus that only exists in the UK. Upon infection it rewrites our DNA to be useless in warm conditions. This must be a virus that can only survive outside the host at temperatures below 27 degrees. I guess it makes sense that it would program the host to seek out mundane temperatures so that the virus can propagate.
The virus may have other personality-altering functions such as encouraging heavy drinking (a feature that is probably always being expressed). This could suggest the virus spreads via beer glasses or badly maintained urinals. It would also help explain it's prevalence in the UK and not other parts of the world.

I've never heard of a case of a virus being able to infect metals but I am starting to wonder whether this may be the case. Afterall, I can't understand why railway tracks become "unstable" in the UK at temperatures above 27 degrees. If this was true of all steel then surely huge parts of the world would be back to horse and cart or cars throughout their summers?

So I think this would make an excellent grant proposal to try and isolate this amazing virus. Not only could it help us under stand host behaviour modification but it could also be a breakthrough in materials science. It may be years away but imagine how nice it would be during the next heatwave (probably sometime in 2025) for the British government to provide an immunisation program against this virus (assuming it doesn't change us on a DNA level). Maybe then it would be possible for us all to enjoy the weather?

Of course we could just avoid the news while the weather is nice.

Friday, 5 July 2013

fly in the ointment

Some afternoons just don't go to plan and this was one of them.
All set to do a GFP pull-down on 10 plates I'd transfected on Weds only to discover 2/3 were infected. That's that experiment in the bin.
I then found out that most of my other cells were also infected. It could have been lousy technique but apparently most of the lab got an infection late last week which I didn't know about as I was at a wedding.

Nevermind, I'll go and set up those fly crosses I was planning on doing. Tipped 50 odd virgins out only to find a male fly in there with a wide grin on its face. Because I could no longer be certain they were virgins they were useless for crossing so they took a plunge in the ethanol bath.

At this point there wasn't really anything else to do and being a bit superstitious decided there was more chance of it working if I do it tomorrow.

The morning went ok with 24 mini-preps. The downside to that was having So Solid Crew's "21 seconds to go" stuck in my head, changing the lyrics to "24 preps to go"