Be careful who you give your DNA to

In a recent Scientific American article, they warn that giving your genome to 23andme may not be quite as safe as they’d like you to believe.

23andme wants to be the Google of personalized health care. They want to use your genome to sell advertising to you. They also want to be able to use your genetic information to sell to pharmaceuticals and insurance companies. I can easily see companies using this information to deny people service based on genetic potential. They feel that sifting through a database of your genes “does not constitute research on human subjects”. If it did (which it certainly looks like to me), then they would be subject to lots of rules and regulations.

Anyone who’s seen the movie GATTACA will recognize where this is going, and it isn’t pretty. Discrimination based on genetics is not a world I want to live in. Watch the movie, it’s good.

Bohemian Gravity

Timothy Blaise recently wrote his master’s thesis on string theory, and then did a super video of him explaining it while singing a cappella to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. This is so full of win.

Here are they lyrics:

Is string theory right?
Is it just fantasy?
Caught in the landscape,
Out of touch with reality
On S5 or T*S3

Space is a pure void
Why should it be stringy? 
Because it’s quantum not classical
Any way you quantize
You’ll encounter infinity
You see

Must interact
Via paths we understand
Using Feynman diagrams
Often, they will just rebound
But now and then they go another way
A quantum
Infinities will make you cry
Unless you can renormalize your model
Of baryons, fermions
And all other states of matter

Curved space:
The graviton
Can be thought of as a field
But these infinities are real
In a many-body
Loop diagram
Our results diverge no matter what we do…
A Quantum Soup (any way you quantize)
Kiss your fields goodbye
Guess Einstein’s theory wasn’t complete at all!

I see extended 1-D objects with no mass
What’s their use? What’s their use? Can they give us quark plasma?
What to minimize?
What functional describes this
Nambu-Goto! (Nambu-Goto)
Nambu-Goto! (Nambu-Goto)
How to quantize I don’t know
I’m just a worldsheet, please minimize me
He’s just a worldsheet from a string theory
Reperametrized by a Weyl symmetry!

Fermi, Bose, open, closed, orientable?
Modes! They become particles (particles!)
They become particles (particles!)
They become particles (particles!)
Become particles (particles!)
Become particles (many many many many particle…)
Modes modes modes modes modes modes modes!
Oh mamma mia mamma mia,
Such a sea of particles!
A tachyon, with a dilaton and gravity-vity-VITY

(rock out!)

Now we need ten dimensions and I’ll tell you why
(anomaly cancellation!)
So to get down to 4D we compactify!
Oh, Kahler!
(Kahler manifold)
Manifolds must be Kahler!
(Complex Reimannian symplectic form)
If we wanna preserve
Any of our super-symmetry

(Superstrings of type I, IIa and IIb)
(Heterotic O and Heterotic E)
(All are one through S and T duality)
(Thank you Ed Witten for that superstring revolution and your new M-theory!)

(Type IIB String!)
Dual! Dual!
(In the AdS/CFT)

Molecules and atoms
Light and energy
Time and space and matter
All from one united

Any way you quantize…

Lyrics and arrangement by Tim Blais and A Capella Science
Original music by Queen

And here’s a link to his master’s thesis.

Bill Nye and NASA on YouTube

Bill Nye is coming back to video, this time via YouTube with the help of NASA. He’s launched a web series¬†that will talk about the Juno spacecraft, which is on its way to visit Jupiter. It won’t arrive until 2016. It’s just done an Earth flyby to gain the speed needed to escape the Sun’s pull and get to Jupiter.

Juno’s mission is to observe Jupiter’s atmosphere, magnetic fields, and more.