Who is Barack Obama?


Eric Saveau has a nice summary in “Midnight on the Firing Line“:

Let’s begin with Obama himself and take a look at his history. Contrary to wingnut memes that have been forcibly embedded into the media over the last several months he is an extremely accomplished man who has consistently demonstrated a measure of intelligence, learning, judgment, temperament and leadership that the Founding Fathers themselves would have regarded with approval. His work and education at Harvard, his teaching and community organization in Chicago, his work in the Illinois State Legislature and the United States Senate were all logical outgrowths of an upbringing that endured hardship and tragedy but was supported by a strong and loving family who valued hard work, learning, and community.


Going to the sun

The sun is roughly 93,000,000 miles away. It’s hard to grasp how far that really is.

A million seconds is about two weeks. So if you flew at a mile a second, it would take about 93 million seconds or 47 weeks to get to the sun, i.e. about 11 months.

If you flew at mile a minute (60 mph) it would take about 55 years. And no pit stops! Amazing, n’est-ce pas?

Posted in science. Tags: . 1 Comment »

What’s an indel?

Ah. An indel is one of those collapsed pairs of words, like modem (modulator-demodulator) or codec (coder-decoder). It means an insertion or deletion of nucleotides in a DNA molecule. It can mean either a difference from comparing two sequences, where you can’t tell if one has in insertion or the other has a deletion; or a genetic mutation, either an insertion or deletion, because the two have similar effects.

Two-thirds of the time an indel, the mutation, shifts the “reading frame” of RNA transcription molecules .  Let me explain. After a start codon, each sequence of three nucleotides codes for on amino acid.

  • If the indel is a multiple of three nucleotides, it causes the loss or gain of an amino acid in a protein molecule or peptide chain.
  • If it’s not a multiple of three, the whole transcription gets scrambled from there on. That’s called a “frame shift.” Results are unpredictable.

P.S. Corrected – I got the definition of Frame Shift backwards last night.

If a nucleotide is substituted instead of being lost or gained, that is called a “point mutation.” A point mutation might or might not have an effect on the function of a resulting protein molecule or peptide chain.

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