applied science social commentary

Coral is Bleaching – It is time to do something . . . genetic engineering to the rescue

Have we arrived at a moment in the world’s history where only geo and genetic engineering can stave off the massive extinction many see coming?

I once wrote a short story where the upshot was the extinction of Homo Sapiens via genetic modifications to create Homo Nova. In my story’s plot development this has been done because it’s necessary to adapt man to survive in the toxic world we’ve created for ourselves – to recreate ourselves anew or die off. And once the last human’s get ‘treated’ there are no more pure humans left – the species Homo Sap has gone extinct, long live Homo Nova.

In this article they talk about genetic engineering of Coral to save the species (and the food chain). As our technology advances more alternative solutions just like this will arise. It is an example of the changes in thinking I’ve pointed out in earlier posts regarding genetic engineering.

To restate the initial question of this post: Have we changed the environment so much that we have left ourselves no good choices of how to survive?

Once again – apologies to my Facebook friends who see this as a repeat . . .

applied science

Advances in Microscopy Show Inter Cellular Dynamics as 3D Movies

A new dawn in bio-imaging . . . our old microscope images will be like cave drawings of a bygone era.

Watch the video below – I can almost guarantee you’ve never seen this before.

This is from supporting material from HHMI for an article at

The article is about a major advance in bio-imaging that allows us to see dynamic cellular activity taking place deep within living systems.

The cells being shown are living with the environment they normally occupy (in situ) and not trapped on a glass slide (in vitro). That removes a ton of questions you get with normal microscopy that relate to whether or not the in vitro investigation is applicable to in situ conditions (do they really behave that way in the real world doesn’t mean anything anymore).

I’ve gone back to read this at least two times because of the number of new things it brought to my awareness. A long time ago I read someone’s description of how they rated a technical article by how many times they had to read it to fully understand what it was about. The more reads the more they got out of it and the higher they rated it. This has that feel.

I wasn’t aware of lattice light sheet microscopy (and here) though I am a bit familiar with adaptive optics. In fact I’m still a little uncertain about what a light sheet is and how it is used in microscopy. The Optical Society of America has a rather technical primer on it here. It can also be downloaded as a PDF. It looks like a long read . . . oh yum!

My apologies to Facebook friends if you’re seeing this a second time. I should have posted it here first and echoed it there. I’m still working on weaning myself (and my world) off Facebook.




Crash Corner – Broncos Crash Might Not Be First Multiple Fatality Crash There

I’m watching the repeating coverage about the recent fatal crash of the Hockey team the Humboldt Broncos. Loaded Bus versus Loaded Semi 15 dead on the bus.

Over the past two seasons I’ve been doing volunteer camera work for the local hockey team, the Grand Forks Border Bruins. And I’ve often showed up at the parking lot for the arena and seen the visiting team’s bus. Sometimes it’s coated with evidence of the gauntlet of winter mountain travel – visible warnings to those thinking of heading out on the highway. Do so at your peril. And I feel a little grab at my gut as I’m reminded that these young guys are literally putting their lives on the line traveling in all kinds of winter weather to play the game.

It’s not just in the mountains that winter travel is dangerous . . . the Broncos crash isn’t the only hockey team bus crash on the roads of Saskatchewan. Sheldon Kennedy is speaking about it as I write these words. He survived a crash that 4 of his teammates did not.

So I’m watching the news and they’re showing aerial footage of the accident scene and I cannot help but try and make sense of what I’m seeing. Two large vehicles on their sides in one quadrant off the intersection area. The bus shows extensive damage to one end. The semi’s load has spilled all over the landscape.

I look at the intersection and see skid / drag marks. Then I see a light post with a stop sign attached. The road crossing didn’t appear to have one. This lead me to wonder which vehicle was going which way – who had the stop and who had the ‘right of way’?

From what I could see I couldn’t make out the other side of the intersection. So I went off to Google Earth to take a look. As I was doing that they gave the location so I was able to find the intersection. Hwy 35 and Hwy 335.

The Google Maps Street View image is from May 2013 and it shows that the East/West Hwy 335 has stop signs but the North/South Hwy 35 does not. The Bus was traveling North; the semi West.

So what happened? We don’t know yet. The semi driver was unhurt and was released. No word of any charges.

As I looked around in the street view image something caught my eye.

Just a little bit off the intersection on the other side of the ditch there was a small group of crosses. You know, the ones that bereaved loved ones put up in memorial to those lost in fatal accidents on the highway.

This group had 5 crosses: 3 large ones and 2 small ones.
IF they are still there you can probably see them easily from the crash site.


I wonder what happened at this corner before? And did 5 people die?


It turns out that my count as wrong – there are 6 crosses. They are for a family of 6 that died at that corner in June of 1997. The CBC has noted it.

After that accident the Stop signs were augmented with flashing red lights. But passive control signals require that human beings pay attention and when they don’t . . . people might die.