A twitter acquaintance asked me today about DIY thyroxine. As this acquaintance is a “collapsonomics” nerd, I took this question to be in the context of “what if the world’s supply chains freeze and I/we/my friends die?”. The question broadened to include insulin, another critical drug needed daily by those with a common condition, diabetes. That’s a fair question. After all, while one can grow food locally, and purify rainwater (when blessed by rainfall like we are in most of Europe), and tend to many other necessities of life locally in a total infrastructural breakdown scenario, pharmaceuticals are one of the few things that we can’t DIY easily.
I was just reading through this really encouraging sum-up of progress on preventing and treating HIV: http://old.news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110720/hl_afp/healthaids On the whole, it’s great news. I mean, as much as I dislike making circumcision mainstream, if it saves lives in a continent where AIDS is at full epidemic strength, it’s a no-brainer. I just hope we can move past it with more advanced methods at some point in the future. However, the bit that caught my attention was the ongoing (though low-level) debate as to whether a practical cure for HIV will ever be possible.
DIYbio and its more professionally oriented cousin, Garage Biotech, are undergoing a revolution at present. Essential equipment that used to cost thousands is now available at affordable prices, in many cases under open licensing schemes and open to community development. Knowledge of biology, genetics and the procedures underlying it all is being disseminated in ever-more-abstracted forms to make it easier to get started. And soon, even the biological components: strains, enzymes and substrates, will likely become mass-marketable.
I have just read a pair of papers, both of which outline theoretical methods of creating synchronised oscillation circuits in bacterial cells. Synchronising Genetic Relaxation Oscillators by Intercell Signalling Modelling a Synthetic Multicellular Clock: Repressilators Coupled by Quorum Sensing In essence, the idea is to make bacteria who “blink” as whole colonies, by creating and destroying a fluorescent protein in an on-off manner at the same time as a group. This has been done in single cells, but as you might imagine the pattern of on-off gets lost in the crowd of a whole colony of millions, so the effect isn’t clear to the naked eye.
Ask any RPG gamer whether they buy their books locally anymore, and you will usually get one of two answers. Either they don’t, because it’s so much cheaper to buy them online, or they do, and they do it to support their local gaming store. When Gaming Retail Becomes Charity But, when did it become a matter of charity whether or not to buy locally? The fact of the matter is, for a variety of reasons tied into Gaming Culture and the profit margins of selling books of any sort, it’s simply not cost-effective to run a traditional RPG store anymore.
Site Maintenance Update Something horrid must have happened to the old auto-set-up database that Letters was based upon, because one day the site just stopped working due to database issues. Because the old database had been helpfully locked by the “Easyapps” service that helped set up wordpress in the first place, I couldn’t do anything about it, and trying to back up and restore the database encountered similar issues. Ultimately, I solved it by just copying all the table entries to a new database and pointing wordpress at that database instead.