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Submission + - Companies Genetically Engineer Spider Silk (

gthuang88 writes: Spider silk is touted for its strength and potential to be used in body armor, sports gear, and even artificial tendons and implants. Now several companies including EntoGenetics, Kraig Labs, and Araknitek have developed genetic approaches to producing commercial quantities of the stuff. One method is to implant spider genes into silkworms, which then act as spider-silk factories. Another is to place the gene that encodes spider web production into the DNA of goats; these “spidergoats” then produce milk containing spider-silk proteins that can be extracted. There’s still a long way to go, however, and big companies like DuPont and BASF have tried and failed to commercialize similar materials.

Comment Re:More feminist bullshit (Score 1) 728

You perceive women as having a privilege of being given the "benefit of the doubt" and getting public sympathy by default (that you claim men do not receive).
Suppose we accept your premise: Why not solve the imbalance by encouraging people to extend those same social privileges to us men?
Those privileges, that you claim are exclusive to women, make the world a more compassionate and understanding place. I think we need more of that for everyone.

Comment Re:Argument from authority to counter an ad hom. (Score 2) 263

Supporters of prohibition frequently believe that the "lazy, stupid, stoner" effects of marijuana persist after the intoxication has passed (and that eventually they become "burnouts" in the style of Cheech & Chong)
"Stoner" is the marijuana stereotype equivalent of "the town drunkard" (and thus counts as an ad hominem).
We all know that the "drunkard/alcoholic" stereotype does not apply to the vast majority of alcohol consumers. The next step is to get the public to understand that "the stoner" stereotype does not apply to the vast majority of marijuana consumers.

Comment Re:Argument from authority to counter an ad hom. (Score 2) 263

Pointing out that Carl Sagan (or Nobel prize winners, etc) liked to smoke marijuana is a valid retort to the popular misconception that "marijuana users are lazy, stupid, stoners" (an ad hominem frequently used by supporters of prohibition).
Knowing that some of the greatest minds of our era are marijuana smokers disproves that misconception.

Submission + - MIT Thinks It Has Discovered the 'Perfect' Solar Cell (

Daniel_Stuckey writes: A new MIT study offers a way out of one of solar power's most vexing problems: the matter of efficiency, and the bare fact that much of the available sunlight in solar power schemes is wasted. The researchers appear to have found the key to perfect solar energy conversion efficiency—or at least something approaching it. It's a new material that can accept light from an very large number of angles and can withstand the very high temperatures needed for a maximally efficient scheme.

Conventional solar cells, the silicon-based sheets used in most consumer-level applications, are far from perfect. Light from the sun arrives here on Earth's surface in a wide variety of forms. These forms—wavelengths, properly—include the visible light that makes up our everyday reality, but also significant chunks of invisible (to us) ultraviolet and infrared light. The current standard for solar cells targets mostly just a set range of visible light.

Comment Re:Case closed (Score 1) 127

I guess what made me think that might have been the story you had in mind was the part about big corporations looking to destroy the reputation of scientists that discover health problems related to the corporation's products.

The story about Tyrone Hayes (and his persecutors at Syngenta) were in my mind when I read about the court verdict that Dr. Michael Mann's persecutors at the "American Traditions Institute" must pay damages for filing a frivolous lawsuit.
I celebrated that verdict because the struggle of Dr. Mann and the struggle of Dr. Hayes are, in my mind, the same:
Wouldn't Syngenta have loved to demand Dr. Hayes hand over his private emails?
Wouldn't Syngenta have loved to torment Dr. Hayes with nuisance FOIA requests?
Wouldn't Syngenta have loved to torment Dr. Hayes with nuisance lawsuits?
Sherry Ford's spiral-bound notebook of dirty tricks tells the whole tale.

There are few things that I'm sure of in this world, but one of those things is:
I am certain that somewhere there is a carbon copy of Sherry Ford employed in the one of PR departments of the Fossil Fuel industry right now, and that Sherry Ford has an identical spiral-bound notebook full of the same dirty tricks that they'd love to pull on Dr. Mann.

It seems to be a common theme of big corporations:
If they can't find a valid flaw in the scientist's research then they order their PR people to attack the reputation of the scientist.

Comment Re:Case closed (Score -1, Flamebait) 127

"There was an article in the New Yorker last year - I wish I could find it - that talked about the enormous about of pressure being put on academic journals that affect big industries. It described cases where Monsanto and another big corporation set out to destroy an otherwise well-respected scientist who discovered a high health risk from one of their products."

It sounds like you're describing:
"A Valuable Reputation
The company documents show that, while Hayes was studying atrazine, Syngenta was studying him, as he had long suspected. Syngenta’s public-relations team had drafted a list of four goals. The first was “discredit Hayes.” In a spiral-bound notebook, Syngenta’s communications manager, Sherry Ford, who referred to Hayes by his initials, wrote that the company could “prevent citing of TH data by revealing him as noncredible.” He was a frequent topic of conversation at company meetings. Syngenta looked for ways to “exploit Hayes’ faults/problems.”
In 2005, Ford made a long list of methods for discrediting him: “have his work audited by 3rd party,” “ask journals to retract,” “set trap to entice him to sue,” “investigate funding,” “investigate wife.” The initials of different employees were written in the margins beside entries, presumably because they had been assigned to look into the task. "

Syngenta couldn't find any legitimate scientific flaws in Hayes's research so they waged a PR war against him.

Comment Re:Scale? (Score 1) 170

"A virus with high mortaility and rapid spread will rapidly kill all susceptible individuals within it's catchment area, so it's likely that such things have never really gotten off the evolutionary drawing board."

Generally speaking I agree, but only when the virus is lethal to all susceptible individuals.
If the virus is non-lethal to some susceptible individuals then those individuals could become carriers (a reservoir where the virus can continue reproduce but does not kill its host). Carriers are how a virus can have a high mortaility and rapid spread without becoming an evolutionary dead-end.

In the case of Ebola I have heard that it is suspected that fruit bats are carriers. If it is true that fruit bats are Ebola carriers then I think that means Ebola has some susceptible individuals (humans) where it is highly lethal and some susceptible individuals (fruit bats) where it is non-lethal.

Comment Re:climate science, conspiracy, scientists (Score 1) 178

I see you've decided to use an article that has nothing to do with climate change as an excuse to make snide comments about climate science and the people who advocate it.
I usually associate that kind of behavior with people who have a "____ derangement syndrome" (they make everything about the topic/person they hate most: Obama or Bush, Liberals or Conservatives, Communists or Capitalists, Secularism or Religion, etc).

Comment Re:That is not how conspiracy theories work. (Score 1) 497

"If you think a whitewash of 5 reports makes all of this ok ... [logical fallacy (ad hominem) omitted]"

I have seen the "skeptics" of climate change state that the independent investigations were, as you have said, "a whitewash" yet they've never provided a shred of credible evidence to support that statement. Prove it (let's just get this out of the way: blogs & op-eds do not count as evidence).
It is time for you to put-up or shut-up.

All I've seen so far is you "skeptics" complaining about getting exactly what you asked for (you asked for "an audit of climate science") but it didn't arrive at the conclusion you wanted (the conclusion you wanted "climate science is a hoax/fraud/scam")!

Comment Re:"Thus ends "Climategate." Hopefully." (Score 2) 497

You say:

"Science is not supposed to be driven by consensus."

It isn't and nobody ever said it was. You're arguing against position that nobody believes.
Scientific consensus is only important as a signal to the general public. When a scientific consensus forms around a new theory it signals that the evidence for a theory is so strong that it has convinced a large majority of scientists in a field of study that the theory is accurate. It tells us "you can take the theory seriously now".

You say:

"You are supposed to design a theory that makes worthwhile predictions about some aspect of the real world and then test it in the real world to ensure it actually predicts stuff."

I'm not a Climatologist but I'm pretty sure that is exactly what they've been doing: Making predictions and testing them.
I suspect that the recently launched Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellite is going to collect data that will be used to test some predictions climate science has made about the sources and sinks of carbon.

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