Welcome to this week’s edition of Weekend Wonderings. Basketball season is finally over. Congratulations to the UConn Huskies for winning the men’s and the women’s NCAA Championships. Let the good times roll in Storrs, CT. The OSU football team’s Spring game was yesterday, but I’m sure that I’ll have some thoughts in next week’s edition.
Well-Known Cancer Gene NRAS Produces Five Variants, Study Finds
A new study shows that a gene discovered 30 years ago and now known to play a fundamental role in cancer development produces five different gene variants (called isoforms), rather than just the one original form, as thought.
The study of the NRAS gene by researchers at the (OSUCCC – James) identified four previously unknown variants that the NRAS gene produces. The finding might help improve drugs for cancers in which aberrant activation of NRAS plays a crucial role. It also suggests that NRAS might affect additional target molecules in cells, the researchers say.
The isoforms show striking differences in size, abundance and effects. For example, the historically known protein (isoform 1) is 189 amino-acids long, while one of the newly discovered variants, isoform 5, is only 20 amino-acids long. Isoform 5 was the most aggressive variant in proliferation and transformation assays.
The last sentence and a half are not surprising. A smaller, “stripped-down” gene is much more likely to reproduce more quickly than its “bigger” brethren. As such, the isoform 5 variant may be the most dangerous of the five that were identified. As long as I’m on genes..
Here’s an article by Rameek Roychowdhury MD, PhD that explains genomics and its use at The James. It is a good, short overview, and a very good read.
Apparently, there’s been a very recent brouhaha about the trailer for the docu-movie, The Principle, what had snippets from noted physicists such as Lawrence Krauss, Michio Kaku and Max Tegmark. The rub seems to be that the this documentary propounds, for starters, geocentrism, and that line of thinking couldn’t be more anathema to Krauss, Kaku and Tegmark. Evidently, the maker of the documentary Robert Sungenis, and I’ll get to him later, took the liberty of “cutting and pasting” various interviews, or even worse yet, interviewed these physicists under false pretenses for the film. Why would he do that? Very simple; Sungenis’ angle is to promote his geocentric views and decided to “bolster” the scientific “cred” of this premise by showing interview clips of well known scientists.
Well, this little charade by Sungenis was found out, and it didn’t sit too well with Professor Krauss. And, rightfully so.
Nevertheless, even after being inured to such things, I was surprised to learn of the premise of the film, until I learned that its producer also apparently questions the Holocaust. It is tempting to say that both claims are obscene nonsense, but I believe that does a disservice to the word nonsense.
Yep, you saw the preceding link correctly. It’s one thing for someone (Sungenis) being willfully ignorant on the sequence of the bodies in the Solar System (hint: there’s a reason it’s called Solar System and not Earth System), and it’s another thing to willfully be dishonest with inclusion of interview clips, but it takes a special creature to claim there is no “proof” of the the existence of quite possibly man’s greatest inhumanity against man.
So, if you think I am mocking Mr. Sungenis for his antiquated (2.000 years or so) views on cosmology, despite evidence to his contrary, that’s part of it. And only a small part of it…
Before we go, astronomer Phil Plait also had some fun with the premise of the movie and the fake interviews.
Of all the wrongiest wrongs that ever wronged wrongness, Geocentrism is way up on the list. The idea that the Earth is the center of the Universe makes creationism look positively scientific in comparison. It might be edged out by people who think the Earth is flat, but just barely.
Oh, this week, let’s go with Under My Thumb, by a boy band, The Rolling Stones. Well, not exactly, since the Stones are musicians as well as singers, but you get the idea…