English critic Samuel Johnson once said of William Shakespeare "that his drama is the mirror of life." Now the Bard's words have been translated into life's most basic language. British scientists have stored all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets on tiny stretches of DNA.
It all started with two men in a pub. Ewan Birney and Nick Goldman, both scientists from the European Bioinformatics Institute, were drinking beer and discussing a problem.
Controversial experiments on bird flu could resume within weeks because leading influenza researchers around the world have finally called a halt to an unusual moratorium that has lasted more than a year.
The voluntary pause in the research started back in January 2012. Scientists had genetically altered the bird flu virus H5N1, changing it in ways that allowed it to spread through the coughs and sneezes of ferrets — the lab stand-in for people.
Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 11:15 am
Credit Ted Aljibe / AFP/Getty Images
When it comes to spreading food around the world, Christopher Columbus and his European compatriots get most of the credit.
Yes, they introduced some quintessential ingredients into European and Asian cuisine. Who could imagine Italian food without the tomato? Or Indian and Chinese dishes without the spicy kick of chili peppers?
The National Institutes of Health should retire most of its chimps that are currently living in research facilities, according to a working group put together by the NIH to look at the future need for biomedical research on chimps.
The group did recommend keeping a small number of chimps in reserve in case they are needed for studies later on. But it also laid out a detailed description of the kind of living conditions that would be needed for those chimps, and said any proposed research should go through a review committee that includes members of the public.
President Obama pulled out a surprise in his inaugural address on Monday. After barely mentioning climate change in his campaign, he put it on his short list of priorities for his second term.
"We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations," he said. Today the White House had scant detail on what the president plans to do.
Contrary to its aim of promoting justice and equality before the law, in practice the American legal system increasingly favors moneyed and politically influential groups. The capture of Congress by campaign donors and lobbyists, accelerated by the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, is one prominent example, but this power dynamic is ubiquitous in political and legal institutions. This favoritism for the powerful can be best understood as deeply intertwined with, and even an inevitable result of, increasing complexity in legal institutions.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Back in 1999, I went along with Robert Ballard on a radio expedition to the Black Sea, where he hoped to find evidence that what's now a vast inland ocean was once a small freshwater lake. A controversial theory holds that thousands of years ago, the waters of the Mediterranean Sea suddenly burst through in a flood that may have inspired the story of Noah.
Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 6:36 pm
By Tania Lombrozo
Credit John Moore / Getty Images
Playing Mozart to young children will make them smarter, right?
Probably not. When it comes to media hype and intuitions about intelligence and early childhood, some skepticism is in order. A paper published just this month by John Protzko, Joshua Aronson and Clancy Blair at NYU reviews dozens of studies on a topic likely to be of interest to parents, educators, and policy-makers alike: what, if anything, one can do in the first five years of life to raise a child's intelligence.