Archive for April 9th, 2009

Bacteria that talk to each other

| April 9, 2009 | 7 Replies
Bacteria that talk to each other

Bonnie Bassler, who teaches molecular biology at Princeton, explains that bacteria don’t just grow and divide, grow and divide. They speak to each other and with other species of bacteria through their chemicals.

Bassler studies how bacteria use chemical signals to act as coordinated social units. In this delightful TED talk, Bassler discusses how her research group has studied the manner in which bacteria talk to each other. They make chemical “words” to enable group activities (such as triggering the timing for effective virulence attacks), sensing each other through their “quorum-sensing molecules.” They can also sense the difference between themselves and other bacteria.

Note that each of us is 99% bacterial. Our human body consists of about one trillion of “our own” cells, but ten trillion bacteria. We have about 30,000 of “our own” genes, but we carry about 100 times more bacterial DNA than human DNA. Bacteria live as “mutualists” with us. They help us digest our food, make our vitamins, protects us from other pathogens and help us survive in numerous other ways.

Rather than using antibiotics to kill bacteria (which inevitably selects for more virulent strains), Bassler suggests that a better understanding of the communications schemes used by bacteria is allowing scientists to develop potent new medicines.

This is an upbeat and informative talk regarding a most ancient form of life.

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Rush Limbaugh IS a “Brainwashed Nazi.”

| April 9, 2009 | 4 Replies
Rush Limbaugh IS a “Brainwashed Nazi.”

I’ve long subscribed to a rule which says that in political discourse whichever side calls the other side a “Nazi” first loses. The “Nazi rule” means that if you use it, you lose it. The “Nazi rule” holds true almost universally. I say “almost” because the one calling the other a “Nazi” first loses unless the first one using the term “Nazi” has it right.

Recently, a caller on Rush Limbaugh’s show identified himself as a Republican voter, a veteran and opposed to torture and blamed Rush and his ilk for the recent electoral woes of the Republican Party. The caller, ”Charles from Chicago”, called out Limbaugh for his support of torture and blamed Limbaugh and others which supported torture for why the American people have left the GOP in droves.

Rush begged to differ and Charles called Rush a “brainwashed Nazi.” Rush blamed people like Charles for the Obama win, and didn’t stop there but, called Charles “ignorant” among other things.

First, “Brainwashed” is the intensive forced indoctrination of new beliefs to have them supplant old beliefs.

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