viruses tagged posts

If Genetic Engineering Could Cure Your Child, Would You Use It?

Last time, I wrote about how gene therapy is being used to fix certain kinds of errors in DNA, and so cure or significantly reduce certain kinds of cancers. I asked whether you would accept such a treatment for yourself.

It’s one thing to accept the risks that are associated with these still new and experimental treatments, but would you make that decision for a sick child—one of your children?

Little boy in hospital

© Suthisa Kaewkajang | Dreamstime.com

Current Treatments

I didn’t make a point of it last time, but two of the diseases for which this kind of gene therapy is now available, B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and junctional epidermolysis bullosa (“butterfly skin”), are both childhood diseases...

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Science Education Under Attack: Simplicity vs. Complexity

Last time I wrote about how we humans are terrible at comprehending really large and really small numbers. Check that: we can’t. And when we try, either the names for the numbers become just words we sling around, or our brains go TILT!

Unfortunately, scientists tend to work in arenas where they need very large and very small numbers to describe the scales of the objects they’re studying, from billions of light years to fractions of a micron.

That’s not the only obstacle science faces when trying to be relevant and understandable to the general public. Another is complexity. Here’s an example we can all relate to: the human body...

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We’re All Gonna Die!!!!!!

I was going to write this post last week, but that was when there was so much tornado activity in Oklahoma City, and since I used to live there and still have lots of friends around town, it just didn’t seem right, not with a title like that.

Now that things have calmed down there, however….

Virus particle

 One of the things that got me started on The Eternity Plague was the first Asian bird flu epidemic, back in the early 2000s. It wasn’t the epidemic so much, but the way the news media covered it. It seemed like they were almost eager for a pandemic on the scale of the 1918 “Spanish” flu, so they could cover the big, worldwide tragedy.

Well, that was the first pandemic that never really was.

Then there was SARS. Another bust as a news event, as it turned out.

Then there was last winter’s H1N1 flu...

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Great Stuff for Writers, April 22, 2013

If you read nothing else this week, read Joel Friedlander’s piece on the destruction of the writing web site Publetariat down in the Technology section. Protecting your blog or web site needs to be high on your priority list because there are slimeballs out there who will destroy web sites just for the pleasure of destroying them. If you have a WordPress.org-based site, I point you to a resource that will help you keep your site safe.

In addition we have posts on picking titles, getting everything right in a story, ending it well, ebook publishing options and resources, going to writers’ conferences, writer’s courage, and the differences between Microsoft Word formats and why that matters to you.

CRAFT

Kris Montee, one of the sisters who write as PJ Parrish, has plenty of great advic...

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Late to start, late to finish

It’s been a crazy week ’round here and things that should be getting done either aren’t, or are, but late. Like this post.

The good news is that one important task, finishing my last edits, including deleting an entire chapter, got done today. So, all that’ s let to do is write the Acknowledgements and front matter (at least in rough draft form) and the manuscript of The Eternity Plague will be ready to head off to my copy editor. And just in time, as other tasks await.

Meanwhile, in virus news, the latest strain of avian (bird) flu in Asia, an H7N9 strain, is once again killing a large percentage of the people it infects–while infecting very few people...

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Whence The Eternity Plague?

Ever had one of those story ideas that just wouldn’t leave you alone? Or woke you up in the middle of the night? Great, isn’t it? Writers love those ideas.

That’s how my debut novel, The Eternity Plague, got its start.

Sometime in the fall of 2003 (October, maybe?) I woke up early in the morning, thinking about what would happen if people suddenly became immortal, without having done anything to earn or deserve it. Finding the secret to immortality, only to discover there’s a high price to be paid for it, paying it, and then being left to wonder—for the rest of eternity—whether it was worth it or not is an old idea. Robert Silverberg told it in The Book of Skulls.

What kept me awake until I got up and wrote it down, however, was the twist of immortality just happening...

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