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Biotech

The Gene Is Having an Identity Crisis 257

Posted by kdawson
from the more-complicated-than-you-thought dept.
gollum123 writes "New large-scale studies of DNA are causing a rethinking of the very nature of genes. A typical gene is no longer conceived of as a single chunk of DNA encoding a single protein. It turns out, for example, that several different proteins may be produced from a single stretch of DNA. Most of the molecules produced from DNA may not even be proteins, but rather RNA. The familiar double helix of DNA no longer has a monopoly on heredity: other molecules clinging to DNA can produce striking differences between two organisms with the same genes — and those molecules can be inherited along with DNA. Scientists have been working on exploring the 98% of the genome not identified as the protein-coding region. One of the biggest of these projects is an effort called the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements, or 'Encode.' And its analysis of only 1% of the genome reveals the genome to be full of genes that are deeply weird, at least by the traditional standard of what a gene is supposed to be and do. The Encode team estimates that the average protein-coding region produces 5.7 different transcripts. Different kinds of cells appear to produce different transcripts from the same gene. And it gets even weirder. Our DNA is studded with millions of proteins and other molecules, which determine which genes can produce transcripts and which cannot. New cells inherit those molecules along with DNA. In other words, heredity can flow through a second channel."
Games

Non-Violent, Cooperative Games? 329

Posted by Soulskill
from the play-that-myspace-game-to-befriend-monsters dept.
jandersen writes "While I generally don't play computer games, I do occasionally play games like Crossfire or The Mana World, because they have more of a story line and allow you to go at your own pace. What I don't care much about, though, is that they are still focused on killing monsters and amassing wealth, and it gets very tedious after a while. Are there really no games where the goal isn't so much about increasing your own power and defeating others, but where you instead grow by doing things that benefit others, where enemies shouldn't be killed out of hand, but befriended; where learning, teaching, research and social skills are more important than killing and conquering? Would people be interested in a game of that nature?"
Science

How To Cloak Objects At a Distance 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the can-you-see-me-now dept.
KentuckyFC writes "All invisibility cloaks to date work by hiding an object embedded inside them. Now a group of physicists have worked out how to remotely cloak objects that sit outside a cloaking material. The trick is to make the cloaking material with optical properties that are exactly complementary to the space outside them. Complementary means that the material reverses the effect the space has on a plane wave of light passing through it. To an observer this space would appear to vanish. The scientists say that to cloak an object sitting outside the cloaking material, first measure its optical properties and then embed a "complementary image" of the object within the cloak. So a plane wave is first distorted by the object but then restored to a plane by the complementary image of the object within the cloak (abstract). An observer sees nothing. This method has another benefit. Objects hidden in conventional cloaks are blinded because no light enters the cloaked region. But objects that are remotely cloaked like this should still be able to see their surroundings."

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