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Not In The Room Where It Happens!
2023-02-02 21:51
My 9th great grandfather is John Banks (1619-1685) who was born in Essex (England) and moved to the colony of Connecticut in 1634. He marrried Marie Tainter (1619-1667) and settled down in G… Read More
How Big Is The Human Genome (2023)?
2023-02-02 20:42
There are several different ways to describe the human genome but the most common one focuses on the DNA content of the nucleus in eukaryotes; it does not include mitochondrial and chloropla… Read More
ChatGPT Won't Pass My Exams!
2023-01-28 21:16
Here are a few questions for ChatGPT and its answers. The AI program takes the most common information on the web and spews it back at you. It cannot tell which information is correct or whi… Read More
Jupiter Weighs Two Quettagrams
2023-01-02 17:21
New names for very large and very small weights and sizes have been adopted. Last November's meeting of the General Conference on Weights and Measures wasn't covered by the major media o… Read More
The Function Wars Are Over
2023-01-01 22:37
In order to have a productive discussion about junk DNA we needed to agree on how to define "function" and "junk." Disagreements over the definitions spawned the Function Wars that became in… Read More
A Multivalent MRNA Flu Vaccine
2023-01-01 17:38
Scientists have recently developed an mRNA-lipid nanoparticle flu vaccine that protects against all known flu variants. There are four types of influenza viruses but only the A and B viruses… Read More
Can The AI Program ChatGPT Pass My Exam?
2022-12-16 21:02
There's a lot of talk about ChatGPT and how it can prepare lectures and get good grades on undergraduate exams. However, ChatGPT is only as good as the information that's popular on the inte… Read More
How Not To Write A Nature Abstract
2022-11-21 19:45
A friend recently posted a figure on Facebook that instructs authors in the correct way to prepare a summary paragraph (abstract) for publication in Nature. It uses a specific example and th… Read More
How Many Enhancers In The Human Genome?
2022-11-19 21:30
In spite of what you might have read, the human genome does not contain one million functional enhancers. The Sept. 15, 2022 issue of Nature contains a news article on "Gene regulation"… Read More
2022-11-18 15:45
I discuss a recent editorial in Science that advocates expanding university education in order to prepare students for jobs. I believe that the primary goal of a university education is to… Read More
Macroevolution
2022-10-14 00:07
(This is a copy of an essay that I published in 2006. I made some minor revisions to remove outdated context.) Overheard at breakfast on the final day of a recent scientific meeting: "D… Read More
2022-10-11 22:06
I've been trying to reason with creationists for more than 30 years, beginning with debates on talk.origins back in the early 1990s. Sometimes we make a little progress but most of the time… Read More
Evolution By Chance
2022-10-03 19:38
Can natural selection occur by chance or accident? No, with qualifications. Can evolution occur by chance or accident? Yes, definitely. While tidying up my office I came across an antho… Read More
2022-09-04 18:25
The ENCODE article on Wikipedia is a pretty good example of how to write a science article. Unfortunately, there are a few issues that will be very difficult to fix. When Wikipedia was forme… Read More
The Creationist View Of Junk DNA
2022-08-29 16:34
Here's a recent video podcast (Aug. 23, 1022) from the Institute for Creation Research (sic). It features an interview with Dr. Jeff Tomkins of the ICR where he explains the history of junk… Read More
Junk DNA Vs Noncoding DNA
2022-08-24 22:19
The Wikipedia article on the Human genome contained a reference that I had not seen before. "Finally DNA that is deleterious to the organism and is under negative selective pressure is cal… Read More
NPR Vs CDC On The New COVID-19 Guidelines
2022-08-22 22:30
NPR tweeted out a summary of the new CDC (United States) guidelines on COVID-19. The figure was posted under the name of Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer for the Association of Stat… Read More
Is Every Gene Associated With Cancer?
2022-08-22 20:10
There has been an enormous expansion of papers on cancer and many of them make a connection with a particular human gene. A recent note in Trends in Genetics revealed that 15,233 human genes… Read More
Splicing Errors Or Alternative Splicing?
2022-08-21 21:48
The most important issue in alternative splicing, in my opinion, is whether splice variants are due to splicing errors (= junk RNA) or whether they reflect real biologically relevant alterna… Read More
2022-08-20 17:06
My account on Wikipedia has been blocked by some editor named Bbb23 after receiving a complaint from another editor named Praxidicae. Praxidicae has been blocking my attempts to edit article… Read More
2022-08-18 20:35
I used to think that Wikipedia was a pretty good source of information even for scientific subjects. It wasn't perfect, but most of the articles could be fixed. I was wrong. It took me m… Read More
Junk DNA Causes Cancer
2022-07-31 22:21
This is a story about misleading press releases. The spread of misinformation by press offices is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. The Institute of Cancer Research in London (… Read More
Kat Arney Defends Junk DNA
2022-07-28 20:08
I'm a big fan of Kat Arney and I loved her 2016 book Herding Hemingway's Cats where she interviews a number of prominent scientists. If you haven't read it you should try and get a copy even… Read More
Alternative Splicing And Evolution
2022-07-15 18:14
The important issue is whether alternative splicing is ubiquitous or rare. What are the evolutionary implications? I believe that almost all of the splice variants that are routinely d… Read More
Do We Need A New Theory Of Evolution?
2022-07-09 22:26
The classic Modern Synthesis is effectively dead. It was replaced by a more modern version that includes Neutral Theory, Nearly-Neutral Theory, and the importance of random genetic drift. Pr… Read More
The Function Wars Part X:
2022-06-23 20:24
The authors of a recent paper think we need a new term "spam DNA" to describe some features of the human genome. Fagundes, N.J., Bisso-Machado, R., Figueiredo, P.I., Varal, M. and Zani, A.L… Read More
Manolis Kellis Dismisses Junk DNA
2022-06-13 21:16
Manolis Kellis is a professor of computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Sandwalk readers will remember him as one of the ENCODE leaders who participated in the… Read More
My Father On D-day
2022-06-06 20:34
Today is the 78th anniversary of D-Day—the day British, Canadian, and American troops landed on the beaches of Normandy in World War II.1For us baby boomers it always meant a day of sp… Read More
Most LncRNAs Are Junk
2022-04-15 19:38
A hard-hitting review will be published in Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics. It shows that the case for large numbers of functional lncRNAs is grossly exaggerated. A long-tim… Read More
The Structures Of Centromeres
2022-04-08 17:11
The new complete human genome sequence gives us a first-time look at the structures of human centromeres. This is my sixth post on the complete telomere-to-telomere sequence of the human g… Read More
Segmental Duplications In The Human Genome
2022-04-03 20:53
The new completed human genome sequence contains some previously unknown large duplicatons (segmental duplications). This is my third post on the complete telomere-to-telomere sequence… Read More
A Complete Human Genome Sequence (2022)
2022-04-03 20:52
The first complete human genome sequence has finally been published. This is my first post on the complete telomere-to-telomere sequence of the human genome in cell line CHM13 (T2T-CHM13)… Read More
Illuminating Dark Matter In Human DNA?
2022-04-01 15:18
A few months ago, the press office of the University of California at San Diego issued a press release with a provocative title ... Illuminating Dark Matter in Human DNA - Unprecedented Atl… Read More
John Mattick's New Book
2022-03-30 21:11
John Mattick and Paulo Amaral have written a book that promotes their views on the content of the human genome. It will be available next August. Their main thesis is that the human genome i… Read More
John Mattick Presents His View Of Genomes
2022-03-30 18:44
John Mattick has a new book coming out in August where he defends the notion that most of our genome is full of genes for functonal noncoding RNAs. We have a pretty good idea what he's going… Read More
Science Communication In The Modern World
2022-03-26 16:47
Science editors asked young scientists to imagine what kind of course they would have created if they could go back to a time before the pandemic [A pandemic education]. Three of the courses… Read More
Junk DNA
2022-03-14 19:27
My book manuscript has been reviewed by some outside experts and they seem to have convinced my editor that my book is worth publishing. I hope we can get it finished soon. It would be nice… Read More
2022-02-20 17:20
Jacques Fresco died last December. I am kind of a scientific grandson of Jacques Fresco since he mentored my Ph.D. supervisor, Bruce Alberts when he (Bruce) was an undergraduate at Harvard.W… Read More
Akiko Iwasaki Talks About Mucosal Immunity
2022-01-09 20:36
Akiko Iwasaki is a Professor of Immunology at Yale and a former student in my department (Dept. of Biochemistry, University of Toronto). She got her undergraduate degree in biochemistry in t… Read More
2022-01-08 19:47
Take any vaccine you can get whenever you can. Moderna is the probably the very best vaccine and Pfizer-BioNTech is a close second. AstraZenica is very good but Johnson & Johnson not so… Read More
Omicron Variant: Lessons From Denmark
2021-12-21 22:55
Danish scientists have looked at the first 785 cases of Omicron variant in Denmark. The most important lesson is that 83% of the cases were fully vaccinated. (Mostly two doses of an mRNA vac… Read More
2021-12-17 20:34
I've learned a bit of immunology from hanging out with immunologists so I'm going to try and explain how vaccines protect you from the worst consequences of an infection and why booster shot… Read More
2021-11-18 18:59
This is a debate sponsored by the Royal Institute of Philosophy on the question "Has science killed philosophy?" It suffers from one of the main problems of the philosphy of science and that… Read More
2021-11-03 19:41
This is an updated version of what's in your genome based on the latest data. The simple version is ... about 90% of your genome is junk The more sophisticated version is… Read More
On The Importance Of Active Learning
2021-10-31 15:25
I'm on the editorial board of an education journal so I've been following the pedagogical literature for many years. The idea of active learning, or student-centered learning, has been aroun… Read More
Science Writing In The Age Of Denial
2021-10-29 19:52
Here's an interesting presentation by Sean B. Carroll, the evolutionary biologist and author of several books on evolution. He's also written a fascinating book on Jacques Monod and he gave… Read More
2021-10-28 15:17
You can't get much more anti-science than a book about Adam and Eve. Nevertheless, Stephen Schaffner—a computational biologist at the Broad Institute of MIT in Boston—decided tha… Read More
2021-10-27 22:21
Lots of people seem to be confused about the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. The investigating committee ot the World Health Organization (WHO) conclud… Read More
2021-10-27 15:23
Dogs can be trained to detect fresh cadavers but can they detect bodies that have been buried for months or years? Can they detect places where a dead body has rested for a short period of t… Read More

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