Related to the last, here’s a beautiful (but already out of date) look at the Kepler exoplanet candidates. Kepler detects exoplanet candidates by looking for the dip in light as they pass in front of their parent star.
So many suns out there, some hotter, some colder, but all hugging planets close.
And again, incase you somehow miss me constantly reminding you about it :) … here’s my video all about those other Earths.
(image via NASA)
Scientists, like Joe Hanson of It’s Okay to be Smart are quitting their day jobs and heading to YouTube! What do you think about that?
Well, I’m glad you asked, because I happen to think it’s pretty awesome.
Forty years ago today, Pioneer 10 made its closest approach to Jupiter and sent back these images. It was the first spacecraft to venture beyond the asteroid belt and get close-ups of Jupiter.
Can we just talk about how awesome this image is? Pioneer 10 had an artsy streak. I would totes hang on my wall.
Previously: Just how big IS the solar system? And what have we learned about planets beyond our solar system?
(image via NASA)
girldivided asked: Hi Joe! My name is Gigi, I've been following your blog for quite some time now and I think its awesome! I have a question though, what is your opinion about 23 & me? I've always wanted to trace my DNA back and see if I am predisposed to any genetics diseases or advantages, but with the recent FDA lawsuit against them has chance to know been shattered? The article I read from NBC did not provide any science based details. I want to know if you know more about this company, thank you!! :)
I was just about to order a kit to do an episode on 23andMe when the FDA shut ‘em down! So I’ll have to wait a while to get my first-hand reactions together. For those who don’t know, 23andMe is a company that offers personal genome sequencing and counseling direct by mail, all you have to do is spit in a tube.
Consumer genetic testing is, unsurprisingly, a complicated issue. The economics of DNA sequencing technology, meaning that sequencing whole genomes, billions of bases, is getting really cheap and really fast, makes it clear that someone, somewhere, if they are allowed to, is going to offer consumers the chance to get their own genome read. Getting DNA data, a lot of it, is just plain easy these days. And the ancestry part is cutesie-pie stuff. It’s the medical applications that bring on the comparisons (some warranted, some not) to GATTACA and Star Trek.
The hard part is figuring out what all that data means. Which differences are just sequencing errors and which are mutations? How much is just natural variation? What does a “normal” genome even look like? Most importantly: How do we really tell whether a mutation will increase someone’s risk for a disease to the point that they and their doctor need to do something about it?
Many people think that they should have unobstructed access to discovering the DNA bases that make their genome. But when that genome sequence starts being used to diagnose people or to guide medical treatment, that’s the FDA’s territory, and they take that stuff very seriously. 23andMe wasn’t playing ball, so they got in trouble.
What will happen now? Is consumer genetic testing the Right Way™? Or should this be managed by doctors and federal regulators? I don’t know. Hundreds of thousands of words will be written on this subject before it’s said and done.
If you’d like to read some of those words, and get some opinions from some very smart people, here’s a whole mess of ‘em:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Oh Chemistree, oh chemistree,
How lovely are your beakers.
You wish your chem lab was as cool as mine.
Der Tannenbeaker ist sehr schön.
Sing it, Dr. Mead.
If you’re not following The Reconstructionists, you should be.
Truth. We need more of the first, less of the second, and none of the third.
Develop a lust for learning for life. (that should be a song)