Friday Science Whatzahoozit

So I didn’t feel like cracking open the thesaurus for another synonym for “meeting” this week. So what?

Got still more scintillating scientific stuff for you today, science fans, including the conclusion of a hot science mystery, news from the world of blood typing, and two different ways to turn your cell phone into a tricorder.

So let’s get started, shall we?

Yes. Yes we shall.

Blood Is Thicker

The main story here is that some researchers found two new blood types.

Pretty cool, huh? I mean, who knew that was even possible any more?

But the real story, to me and my poor understanding of state of the art serology anyhow, is that this does not, as the Twitter link to this story suggested people might think, raise the total number of blood types to 6.

“Of course not!” ” I haughtily thought. “It makes it eight!”

Turns out I was off by two. Well, a 2, actually. Turns out, adding two makes it twenty eight rare blood types now known to science.

Can a nerd say whaaaaa?

That means there are a total of thirty two of the damn things. And all I can think about is, do we really need that many?

What I want to know is, are some of those cross-compatible? The whole point of blood typing is to make sure the right blood goes into the right people. Can it truly be that everyone in these super rare types can only get blood from their own super rare type?

And if not, what is the point of keeping track?

Killer App For Hypochondriacs and Germphobes

Does this sound like a good idea to you? Or a terrible idea? A device to let you scan your food for E. Coli with your cell phone.

Seems like a fine idea on the surface. Who would not want to know, for a fact, that their food is safe before eating it? Our food is the consumer product with which we interact the most intimately, because not only do we take it directly into our bodies, eventually, it becomes our bodies.

Everything you are was once something that you ate. Think about that.

But the problem I see with a product like that is that most people do not have any idea what the baseline safe level of E. coli is, or how common the bug is, or how much they have been exposed to it without knowing it to absolutely no effect at all, or how good the human body is at handling that particular bug because, honestly, otherwise we’d be sick all the time.

So to me, this seems like a product that would do more harm than good by feeding into people’s irrational and excessive fears about germs and feed into the paranoia of people who are already vulnerable to that kind of thinking.

It is a dirty old world, folks. It is a hard truth to stomach, but you have made it this far without knowing. Your body can handle it. It is only your nerves that cannot.

Gattaca On Your iPad!

A much cooler form of scanning maybe be coming to your USB port in the future : a DNA scanner!

INSTANT WANT! I am serious, the moment I read the headline, my entire soul pulsed with the thought I WANT ONE. What would I do with it? Scan things, of course!

I mean, it’s a DNA scanner that you could use in your very own home! How tricorder can you get? I would be pestering people to let me scan them the moment I got the thing. To me, a thing like that has gizmo appeal off the charts. It completely buries the needle on my geekspazometer.

I could totally indulge my CSI fantasies. Want to find out for sure who took the chocolate bar from your lunch bag at work? Bring the bag to me, and DNA samples from all your co-workers, and let’s find out!

Of course, you would have to get permission to get the DNA samples, because taking them without permission would be totally wrong and completely illegal if you get caught.

I am kind of curious as to the legal status of epithelial cells shed in public places though. Surely it can’t be illegal to get some cells off a freely discarded Starbucks cup, can it? I mean, surely curbage applies at that point…

I better move on to the next subject before my inner mad scientist takes over.

But With A Whimper

Well, this ought to bring me back down to Earth. Remember that bit about the faster than light neutrinos thing I wrote about some time ago?

Even back then, I knew that it would likely all end in something hopelessly and tragically boring, and as it turns out, I was more right than I could possibly have guessed.

Ayup. Turns out that the problem was…. maestro, a highly sarcastic drumroll please… the answer to the big mystery of faster than light neutrinos was…. a incompletely plugged in computer cable!

That is so sad, it is hilarious. A whole big deal stir in the world of physics, something that got the whole world and even the mainstream press excited about the possibility of something, anything, going faster than the speed of light, and it turns out that the now infamous 60 nanoseconds of discrepancy that set the world on fire was merely a matter of cable latency.

That has to be the biggest scientific embarrassment since cold fusion, Piltdown Man, or that space mission that crashed because someone forgot to convert something into metric.

That last one still hurts. Stupid Americans, science is metric! Get with it!

Well that is all the juicy science news that I, your humble science watchdog, have to share with you this week. Tune in next week for more marvels and miracles from the world of science.

A week might seem like a long time. But judging about how I feel today, it will seem to have passed in very little time at all!

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