Sympathy for the devil

A man that convinced many others that he could use magic to bring a lottery win has been sentenced to a long term in prison.

The Toronto Star devotes a few thousand words to this story, but I’ll confess I have very little sympathy for the victims. The one most prominently mentioned in the story had 105,000 CAD in free cash to spend on this jaw-droppingly stupid scam. The devil (for whom I’m not really sympathetic either; he deliberately fooled gullible people, preying on their mental weakness—evil) was not Bernie Madoff, preying on friendships and moving money around in a Ponzi scheme; this scam was transparently fake from the first words.

Particularly interesting (to me) is how the writer of the Star article somehow treats the victims’ idiocy as a non-issue.

Llama antibodies may lead to new treatments for HIV

Antibodies found in llamas are smaller and denser than ours and may be better at getting at receptor sites that the HIV binds to. Five antibodies against HIV, which work in vitro, have been identified. There’s still the problem that our antibodies may react against the llama antibodies. Read about the newly discovered llama antibodies.

The image below compares a human antibody to a llama antibody.

llama-antibody

I’m surprised that this is controversial

Recent findings that two-thirds of all cancers are likely due to random chance have brought some surprising pushback. There’s an emotional reason for hoping that it’s all controllable, but that’s simply not likely. Cells mutate at random; the body’s defence systems clear out most of them; but by a second chance, some are missed. Get used to it. Eating your veggies won’t prevent all cancers. Read “On the importance of luck.”

The first pterosaur fossil showing complete wings

The first fossil showing the extent of the wing membranes of a pterosaur was found back in 1873.

Ferris Jabr has posted a picture: pterosaur wings.

Happy Holidays!

…or else!

Darth Vader with a Santa Claus hat says, "I find your lack of cheer disturbing."

Happy Holidays from Darth Vader

Y-chromosome sequencing of King Richard III

An unexpected result was obtained from the recently recovered bones of Richard III, the anointed king of England until he was killed by an invading army under Henry Tudor. It seems that his Y chromosome doesn’t match those of his family. This could be a “false paternity” finding or it could be a run-of-the-mill lab error.

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation

This wonderful garden in Dumfries, Scotlandd is open to the public only one day a year. I’d love to visit it; but until I do there’s an online gallery of images: The Garden of Cosmic Speculation by Charles Jencks.

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