Field notes and the promise of science…

Read on below for my live-blog post on ‘Helga Nowotny on the promise of science’.

Live-blogging from the Nobel Dialogue conference was a new experience for me—the aim being to sit through a lecture/dialogue, digest the information, write a coherent and constructive blog post and then publish before (or while) heading to next discussion. Despite some thorough research prep ahead of the first day, and reading plenty of live-blogging advice about battery power and staying hydrated, I managed to arrive in the auditorium totally dehydrated, and proceed to deplete my macbook battery in 90 mins. Thus, my first post was executed by mobile phone on WordPress for mobile and submitted by sacrificing my attention to the next talk. Fortunately, the nice thing about having a team other other bloggers is that you know they have the next talk covered.

Continue reading “Field notes and the promise of science…”

Capturing Stockholm…

[This post was restored from a WayBackWhen archive. It was originally posted to a blog called ‘The Gene Gym” that began life on the Nature Network in 2010, and then moved to Spekrum’s SciLogs platform. Unfortunately many of the original images have not survived the import]

It’s amazing how far you can travel internationally before smelling fresh non-air conditioned air. I arrived at Arlanda airport – 50 km North of Stockholm – in the late afternoon, and was immediately siphoned into the familiar human corral of border security that is facsimiled the world over. The fastest route from the airport to the city centre is via the Arlanda Express, a name that evokes a surety of function that I’m willing to accept as a factual statement in this very modern Scandinavian country. Sure enough, in a mere 20 minutes I am delivered to Stockholm central station and can make my bid for the open air; yet emerging into a fog of -9C air was probably rather more fresh than I’d anticipated. Stockholm is seasonably festooned with lights, which twinkle in the crystalline cold and cast their light on streets paved with a compaction of snow, sand and salt, giving the consistency of gingerbread dough.

Continue reading “Capturing Stockholm…”

An interview with Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, comparative genomicist…

[This post was restored from a WayBackWhen archive. It was originally posted to a blog called ‘The Gene Gym” that began life on the Nature Network in 2010, and then moved to Spekrum’s SciLogs platform.]

An important means by which we try to understand the human genome is, oddly enough, by looking at the genomes of other mammals. The aim is to identify areas of evolutionary constraint, regions of the genome that we all share (both coding and non-coding) and are thus likely to be important for all of these species. These regions have not only assisted with the identification and assignment of genes on the human genome, but they also provide important information about disease associated mutation. One mammal genome, unique amongst the others, offers particular insight into our genes and inherited genetic disease, the domestic dog.

The dog genome, published in 2005, was the fourth mammalian genome to be completed (after man, mouse and rat); the dog occupies a curious position in nature as it has shared a mutually beneficial relationship with humans for at least 15,000 years, living in the same environments as us and sharing our food. Over this time humans have selectively bred dogs for companionship, hunting, shepherding and other uses, and in so doing have channeled the diverse canine genome into a variety of behaviours, shapes and sizes.

Continue reading “An interview with Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, comparative genomicist…”