The Ruffled Crow

Animation, Art, and Other Shiny Things

Tag Archives: science

The Story of You: ENCODE and the human genome

Ever since a monk called Mendel started breeding pea plants we’ve been learning about our genomes. In 1953, Watson, Crick and Franklin described the structure of the molecule that makes up our genomes: the DNA double helix. Then, in 2001, scientists wrote down the entire 3-billion letter code contained in the average human genome. Now they’re trying to interpret that code; to work out how it’s used to make different types of cells and different people. The ENCODE project, as it’s called, is the latest chapter in the story of you.

To read the ENCODE research papers and more, visit

In Other Words… Geology ROCKS!

The Elemental Chemistry Cat

Two of my favorite things, together; science humor and cats!

I, for one, welcome our Chemistry Cat overlords… has a bunch of ’em collected for our perusing pleasure and there are generators everywhere.

And this is a perfect excuse to post a great little animation of Tom Lehrer’s The Element Song. The man was brilliant and will have a digression of his own here one of these days soon.

A Bottle of Antimatter

Antimatter pegs my geek meter pretty hard, especially when it’s in the real world.

[A] research collaboration at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics lab near Geneva, Switzerland, has managed, 38 times, to confine single antihydrogen atoms in a magnetic trap for more than 170 milliseconds.


The magnetic trap was an octopole electromagnet that created a balance point for an atom that “has a more subtle magnetic character that arises from the spins of its constituent particles”. That applies to regular ol’ hydrogen too.

Granted, this isn’t very many atoms, and they aren’t the first to be created, but they lived the longest. Keep this up and we’ll be ready to start construction on the USS Enterprise 1701 in no time.

I won’t pretend to quite understand the spins and outs of creating antimatter, it is after all, rocket science, but the ability to trap antimatter, even as small and simple as antihydrogen, has enormous implications for energy applications. Stable storage of an energy source that packs a punch for it’s size. Of course the trick then is figuring a way to smooth out the energy-to-antimatter-to-energy curve and this will evolve into warp nacelles. Well, that and learning how to control energy release. No sense in having it happen all at once. In fact that could be rather bad in higher doses…

One thing that stands out to me is that; Given that when antimatter and ‘normal’ matter meet they cancel each other out releasing energy, their sustained existence does seem to demonstrate that gravity is indeed a quantum force and without a physical component.

This is a small step, but it’s significant to both quantum and relativist physics. And geeks…

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