Blog Compilation Dylan Goodrich 703648427Major: Biochemistry Honors 177 Professor Vesna
Code and Carrier SafetyWed, 05/23/2012 - 22:28 | dylanjgoodrichFor our project where we are using DNA to code for messages. The idea is to inject cells withthe DNA into a human who can then transport the message onward to others who will be able toisolate and identify the code. This will allow for numerous layers of defense:1. Existence of the codeThe "enemy" would have to know of the existence of the code in order to try and decrypt it. Thisnew tactic we are using would likely remain secretive for a time simply because of the novelty ofthis idea2. Identifying people who have itIf the existence of the code becomes public then those trying to intercept the message will needto identify if people actually have it. One countermeasure against this could be to "pretend" toinject the DNA into people so that they think they may have the code even though they do nothave the coded message. This way it lowers the chance of people being able to accidentally orpurposefully give away the fact they are carrying the message because they may not actuallyhave it in the first place3.Location on the bodyAnatomically, the human body is rather large and complex. Figuring out where a small colonyof injected cells were put would be exceedingly difficult. Furthermore, similar to what wasmentioned in number 2, we could pretend to inject multiple places on the body. That way eventhe carrier would not be sure as to the relative location of the actual code. If they do not knoweven the relative location of the code then it makes it that much more difficult to find the cells.4. Knowing the primer sequenceSpenser detailed the process of using primer sequences and PCR to isolate the code from theDNA. Without the proper primer it would be exceedingly difficult to isolate the area of themessage on the DNA.5. Cracking the codeJanet discussed the idea of creating a code based on the DNA sequence. Making thiscomplicated will further ensure the safety of the message, but this is likely the weakest form ofsecurity since code cracking is doable as seen by Turing.Those initial 5 layers of protection are an incredible way to help ensure the safety of themessage. Obviously there are flaws that could be exploited depending on human error or
betrayal, but I think this is an elegant system that would be difficult to crack once let alonemultiple times because of the various places within people that the code could be putWIth this system there will need to be a number of precautions to help insure the safety of thoseinvolved in transport1. Limit of Cell ProliferationThe cells that are injected should be able to divide and grow in order to insure that the cells withthe message do not die while "in transit", however we cannot afford to have a code that willcause the tumor to become uncontrollable and cancerous.2. Death PreventionThe cells we inject will need to be very sensitive to loss of nutrients. This way if a carrier iskilled then the enemy cannot spend as long as they want trying to find the locatiion of thecells. Also this will help as a precaution to stop the carriers from being killed in the first place,because the interceptors will not want to lose the message. Also if the carriers are malnourishedor subjected to abuse the code may also be lost, hopefully preventing this from happening.With these layers of safety from a code standpoint and biological standpoint, I feel that this newway of encoding messages will be a safe and reliable way to send important information.Week 7Biotech+ArtRead more about Code and Carrier Safety | Add new comment |DMA177|Spring2012Complaining Is Starting To Get OldTue, 05/15/2012 - 22:33 | dylanjgoodrichKathy Brews exhibit on aging was an interesting experience. I took the Human Aging Clustermy freshman year and in that class we learned about many of the psychological difficultiesassociated with aging and ageism. This helps me understand where she was coming from andhow people feel about the ageing process.Furthermore we explored the science behind aging and how it is related to telomeres located onthe ends of DNA strands meant to protect that coded genes near the ends. As cells replicate, thenthe telomeres shorten and eventually the cells stop dividing. One particular disease calledHutchinson Guilford Progeria Syndrome which accelerates ageing at an alarming rate and ishighly rare.
This is a picture of a young boy affected by progeria who is made to look much beyond his yearsdue to this debilitating disease that gives these children and average lifespan of only 13 years.http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=5788144Above is a link to a video done by ESPN to tell the story of a young boy named Josiah whodespite this disease tries to be active and play the game of baseball. Although it is from a sportsperspective, it highlights many of the struggles of aging and how it impacts your quality oflife. Please watch it. It is very inspiring.I know many enjoy villifying society for being superficial and encouraging the use of anti-agingproducts/cosmetic surgery, but I have no problem with this concept. Society is run by sex andlooks and thats how it always will be. We can sit around all mad and talking about how lamesociety is or we can spend time doing the things we enjoy and minding our own business. Oneof the central tenants of my Human Aging Class was how older adults should adapt to their agingand making sure to find new ways to be happy and be productive despite the many ways theirlife changes. This concept should really encompass our entire life course. Being mad iseasy. Being happy takes work. Society isnt 100% repsonsible for how each of us feels.Of course I do not condone ageism in any way. If anything I find that older adults have a lot tocontribute to society. It is unfortunate that ageism exists. However, throughout the many topics,I feel like many in this class focus on being mad at society. It isnt productive. Kathy Brew usedher disappointment about ageism to inspire her art and provide an avenue of expression andcommentary. Simply being angry accelerates the aging process. Maybe if we stopped beingmad at society we wouldnt need to use as many anti-aging products to appease society.http://www.progeriaresearch.org/about_progeria.htmlWeek 6Genetic Engineering+Transhumanism
Read more about Complaining Is Starting To Get Old | 3 comments | Add new comment |DMA177|Spring2012Texture of Art and the BrainSun, 04/29/2012 - 20:58 | dylanjgoodrichNoa Kaplans presentation showed how interesting science can be at a microscopic level. Ashumans we interact in our space with a macro perspective, often focusing on the implications orsymptoms of things rather than the core of the problem itself. We overlook the small because itis irrelevant to most daily life activities. I enjoyed the different subjects that she pursued for herpieces and I think it was illumnating to see how fascinating small things can look, despite beinglargely unseen.Upon internet research I found an example where the process Noa used was reversed; sciencewas used to elucidate the structure and texture of art:http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/nstv/2010/11/medical-technology-sees-b...In this video it explains how famous art can be seen on a microscopic level and analyzed to seehow the artist layered or structured his paintings. Art historians could speculate as to the purposeor origins of work and artists themselves can learn more about the individual technique used toprocure the work. In this case, empirical microscopic evidence can be used to educate artists intheir craft. Interesting.In this next video I came across it shows an exhibit that uses medical images of your braincombined with motion sensor activity to be able to see your brain as you operate in theexhibit. It shows both a 3d model and 2d medical image slices of your brain so you can see boththe inside and the outside of your brain at the same time. In this case the art isn’t portrayingmicroscopic structures, but it still is exhibiting fascinating parts of the unseen brain within youthat you take for granted as much as the tinier things in life.http://youtube.googleapis.com/v/p9HPxrg4uTY?autoplay=1&rel=0&enablejsapi=1&playerapiid=ytplayerWeek 4Medical Technologies+ArtRead more about Texture of Art and the Brain | Add new comment |DMA177|Spring2012The Fear VirusTue, 04/24/2012 - 17:53 | dylanjgoodrich
I had never been particularly fond of animals until I got my new dog Reginald a few summersago. My friendship with him made me realize that I seem to treat animals similarly to humans; ifI am around them and we develop a friendship then I will care for them and spend time withthem like any one else. Other animals are strangers. So I have no more or less emotionalinvestment into their wellbeing than if they were a random person on the street. I suppose thatme being a human does make me biased and so I likely have a greater capacity to care andempathize than I do with animals. In this way I am saying that my relationship with animals isbased on the same relationship paradigm that I have with other people, but does not equal inextent.If anyone hasnt seen the story of Christian the Lion, I suggest you check it out. Reallywonderful story.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOLqVshIM4wNow for the important part (ironically about humans)The saddest part for me about watching Strange Culture was that I am not surprised that thishappened. It further corroborated the notion that there is a bigger estrangement between scienceand politics/justice than there is between science and art (the subject of our course). The actionsof the government in this scenario show how the fear of science and the ambitiousness of peoplecan create a craze that is easily exploitable. Luckily, in the end the justice system got itright. But that doesnt absolve the actions of the prosecutors and FBI that illegally did things totry and convict Steve Kurtz while using MILLIONS of tax payer dollars to do so.The underlying notion driving all of this and continues to do so is fear. Most people dontunderstand science (and furthermore dont want to) so the idea of genetic testing andmodifications sounds like one stop away from world domination. WIth this in mind I wanted totry and analyze what ways history and pop culture have exascerbated this fear.Movies/Books:
Although only a select few, the above movies/books center around a plot where geneticengineering resulted in catastropic events to occur. In I Am Legend and 28 Days Later there is ahuman made virus that ends up becoming a severe pandemic that wipes out almost the entirepopulation on earth, but only after turning them into zombie-like figures that no longer have anycontrol over their actions. This sort of plot device has become common in pop culture because itdepicts possibly the most dramatic thing that could happen if genetic engineering goeswrong. We especially fear it because genetics at a molecular level cannot be seen and so takes a"magic" type of quality to it. These movies entertain us because they capitalize on this notionwhich provokes strong feelings within us. Furthermore, it could be argued that these moviescreate a greater fear in some of the population. This fear causes people to disregard all possible
benefits from genetic research, condemning it for how it is portrayed rather than how it isactually occurring in laboratories or in industry. Sure, there may be unknown side effects tosome genetic research, but then again every single pill you have taken has lists of side effects andyou take pills anyway because you know it is in your best interest. It is in humanitys bestinterest to continue genetic research much like it is in Hollywoods best interest to continuemaking these sorts of movies. Science is predicated on knowledge and empirical evidence andart is predicated on emotion and entertainment. The best way Hollywood can practice its artwhile involving science is by exploiting the things that provoke the most emotion within us. I donot at all condemn them for it, I just find it interesting how the relationship between science andmedia tends towards the negative aspects.http://i2.listal.com/image/1173907/936full-28-days-later...-poster.jpghttp://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Jurassic-Park-logo.jpghttp://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Bb4G5HwBrpw/TwtbUFb_YDI/AAAAAAAABSs/4SjAdVbvJ8...Week 3Genetic Engineering+AnimalsRead more about The Fear Virus | Add new comment |DMA177|Spring2012Goats with Super PowersSun, 04/15/2012 - 22:09 | dylanjgoodrichI have always been a fan of genetically modified organisms. I have heard of the ethical issuesand their possible negative effects but that still doesnt deter me from supporting the pursuit ofexperimentation at the genetic level. In the past I had heard of genetically modified goats beingused to produce new things within their milk and for this assignment I decided to delve furtherinto that one interesting discovery channel show that I half paid attention to.I think the problem with GMOs comes from the potential harm of putting byproducts into ourbodies. Dr. Mercola of Mercola.com, the apparent #1 natural health website, takes this stanceamong many others. In his article concerning genetically engineered goats that produce themalaria vaccine within their milk, he emphasizes the negatives and decries the practice despitethe fact that genetically engineered drugs must be approved by the FDA just like any otherdrug. What drug doesnt have side effects? Is trying to mass produce malaria vaccine to helppeople in third world countries really such a BAD idea just because it MIGHT leak into our foodsupply which MAY cause issues? Pardon me for supporting scientific progress moreso thanpropaganda. However, this coincides with many attempts at creating GMOs. People do notwant to risk putting something harmful into their bodies. This is understandable to a degree, butI dont think that research into this area should be stopped just because it scares a few
people. This controversy makes me think we should explore creating GMOs that produce thingsthat we arent meant to consume.Genetic engineering has allowed scientists to cross DNA of silk producing spiders into goats,causing the goats to be able to produce the silk in their milk but at a much higher input. Thespider silk is stronger than kevlar and can be used for a variety of functions. In this case thegenetic engineering provides a material good rather than a controversial consumable product. Itshard to predict how people would detract from this other than the fear of genetic experimentingitself.In summary, I believe that GMOs are a worthwhile area of study because of the numerouspossibilities. Nearly every action we do in science and production has some negative effects tonature and others so I do not think that is a worthwhile argument within the context that they arebeing highly regulated by the FDA. People arent used to the idea of genetic testing andmodification, but then again people werent used to a lot of things before they eventually becamecommon practice. Perhaps exploring further into the areas regarding making products like strongspider silk and other more material-like goods would get people used to the idea of geneticallyproduced materials. Why dont we portray the goats as super powered animals rather thandeformed and natural? Everyone likes super heroes
Sources<http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/03/20/geneticall...<www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/jan/14/synthetic-biology-spider-goat-gen...">http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/jan/14/synthetic-biology-spider-g...Week 2Genetic Engineering+AnimalsRead more about Goats with Super Powers | 2 comments | Add new comment |DMA177|Spring2012The Zeroth Culture: Human NatureTue, 04/10/2012 - 22:17 | dylanjgoodrichHello, my name is Dylan Goodrich. Welcome to my first blog post. I am a fourth yearBiochemistry major and I plan on attending medical school in the near future. What interests meabout this course is to see the kind of things I have been studying from a different perspective;being a scholar of physical sciences makes it difficult to consider how those in the arts andhumanities view science and how it could possibly relate to their studies. This discussion of"two cultures" with a third culture becoming more prominent is interesting, however I see it asevolution more so than a revolution in thought.It is human nature to be competitive, in fact competition (from an evolution standpoint notnecessarily an economic standpoint) is the purest medium of change and advancement. For thisreason we are often compelled to label ourselves and gather amongst our peers because the mostbasic form of strength is larger numbers. In order to have the largest groups of peoplecongregating to fight head to head (while there still being an actual competition) there needs toonly be two distinct sides.At our institution people often point out the so called "divide" between north campus and southcampus, but I believe it to be a social construct conjured from ourselves in spirit of thiscompetitive nature. I wouldnt call our campus divdided, I would call it compartmentalized. Itmakes perfect sense to have most of the scientific buildings near eachother to allow for adequatecollaboration and also because of logistical concerns for students. Isnt it easier to drop offbarrels in chemicals all in the same place so that they may be distributed to the necessarybuildings? Bruinwalk is the main vein of campus and cuts almost exactly between the so called"divide" between the north and south sides of campus. Its a 15 foot wide section of concretefolks, not the Berlin Wall.We see this in politics as well. Also in the case of sports because many of us hate USC sportsJUST BECAUSE we are supposed to. I dont hate USC football. I actually prefer to watch themplay football because they are always so much better than we are. Blame it on the somewhatpresent artist within me-I like watching good looking football. Sorry I got off the main topic, butI felt this was a good example to present.
In the case of our discussions, the divide between science and humanities has inevitably becomeless and less distinct because of developing knowledge and circumstance. In earlier times,humanity took legends and myths and stories to be TRUTH without question because there wasno way to know otherwise. In these times the divide between science and humanities waspehaps at its greatest because science not only had to discover new things but present them indefiance of traditional beliefs. Time wore on and now we are in an age where art and humanitieshave come to accept not only the validity, but also the significance of the natural sciences. Ifanything I think I more often see north campus majors using laptops in class than south campusones. In the past the written word could have nearly been deemed sacred, yet here we arelearning to collaborate and nearly (not really) eliminate it altogether.The Zeroth culture, which I have dubbed to refer to human nature itself, is the overriding"culture" that encompasses all three of the cultures that we have discussed. In the zeroth culturewe are all infinitely united and divided by the concepts of humanity and personhoodrespectively, leaving all else to be derived from this base. Pursuit of scientific knowledge andartistic expressions have all come from the same source- us. So it makes sense that in the infinitepursuit of truth and meaning we must bring science and art (the two cultures) closer and closertogether until we enlighten oursevles completely. in this manner I do not see it so much asbridges between cultures like Professor Vesna discussed in her article "Toward a third culture:Being in between," I see it like a venn diagram with the two bubbles slowly converging into fullyoverlapping bubble that will never be able to achieved due to the intricacies of the zerothculture. Rather than the bridge between the two being "delicate", I see it as being narrow;therefore it is currently more difficult for the exchange and collaboration of separate (but notmutually exclusive like many of us think) ideas. In this class I am excited to see how the bridgeis beginning to widen and see how the possible realms of truth and expression can create a worldgreater than the sum of its current parts. There is no division, but a continuum which we cancontinue to explore.Week 2Two CulturesRead more about The Zeroth Culture: Human Nature | Add new comment |DMA177|Spring2012