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Immortality Through Nouns and Other News of the Week

Just in time for Halloween (Image Credit: Mayo Clinic)

Immortality through nouns

Krulwich Wonders is chock full of helpful advice on the topic of achieving immortality through nouns. Turns out maverick, bloomer, cardigan, and guillotine all were the names of people once, and have now become nouns with definitions that range greatly in terms of their appropriateness in summing up those people’s lives. Makes for fun reading on a Friday morning.

Extinction by Asteroid Less Likely Than Feared

NASA announced this week that an extinction-causing collision with a major asteroid is slightly less likely than they had previously thought. Thanks to a space telescope called the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), NASA now knows that there are far fewer massive asteroids out there than they had previously thought. Even better, scientists may already know the locations (and orbits) of 90% of them. But before you get too jubilant, the mid-size asteroid class — you know, the ones that are merely big enough to take out Washington, DC — are both numerous and badly accounted for.  The near-Earth asteroid field study suggests that there are around 19,500 of them out there. So far, astronomers have only described the locations and orbits of some 4,500 of them. That’s a lot of loose ends.

Glow in the Dark Kittens

In the quest to find a cure to Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), a disease similar to HIV that affects some 1-3% of cats in the U.S., scientists have genetically engineered kittens that glow in the dark. So far, FIV has only ever been cured in Rhesus monkeys. Apparently Rhesus monkeys can fight off FIV because they have a special protein in their cells that cats don’t. The scientists wanted to know a) if there was a way to genetically modify cats so that they could manufacture this protein for themselves and b) if those genetically modified cats were then resistant to FIV.  To make it easier to tell if the experiment was working, they paired the gene that manufactures the monkey protein with one that makes cat fur glow in the dark. They still don’t know if the cats are resistant to FIV, but they are glowing nicely (as you can tell from the picture above).  What my Caterpickle and I want to know is, if the experiment works, will they make the FIV-resistant cat available to the mainstream pet owner, and can we get it in neon pink?

So, what about you? What caught your eye this week?

5 Responses to “Immortality Through Nouns and Other News of the Week”

  1. Old Jules

    Been watching all the strange sunspot and coronal hole activity for the past couple of weeks. That, and the radio frequencies old Sol’s squirting out.

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  2. “Do mice have eyebrows?” | CATERPICKLES

    […] Dr. Google, unfortunately, did not have a definitive answer either on the question of whether mice have eyebrows. But he was able to conjure up hundreds of images of mice, including this batch of little fluorescent green ones (will scientists ever tire of creating glowing green mammals?) […]

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