Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Glow in the Dark Mice

This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to scientists who took a fluorescent protein from jellyfish and developed a technique to tag proteins with it, "shedding light," so to speak, on countless biological processes. One of those scientists, Osamu Shimomura, writes here about the early days of that research, cutting up jellyfish and extracting the protein.

And here is an example of an application of that technique, with some surprising findings about stem cells:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Mickey!

The most famous mouse of all made his debut on November 18, 1928, in Steamboat Willie.

Walt Disney, who provided Mickey's first voice, had originally intended to call him Mortimer.

Imagine the theme song:

M-O-R-T Tea and scones anyone?
I-M-E-R Are you sure?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Page 56 Meme

Thanks to QuakerDave, I finally have a meme I can do.

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence along with these instructions on your blog (or Facebook wall).
* Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Here's mine:
"Stereocilia increase the surface area of the epithelium for absorption."

Oh, what a fascinating life I lead...

Tag, you're it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's Alive!

Scientists in Japan have succeeded in producing healthy cloned mice from mice that had been frozen for up to 16 years.

Usually, when you clone an animal from a frozen specimen, that specimen has been intentionally frozen for future cloning. That means great care was taken to prevent the cells from rupturing and a cryoprotective agent (like polyvinylpyrrolidone or glycerol) was added to keep the membranes intact.

In this study, there was no cryoprotectant and the cells were not viable. The investigators managed to produce their clones using just the nuclear material, and not living cells.

This means that it may be possible to produce living clones from frozen specimens of animals that are endangered, or even extinct.

Like the woolly mammoth.

Here's the paper.