All 2016 American Nobel laureates are immigrants

❝ In a year in which Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is proposing a crackdown on immigration, all six of the 2016 American Nobel laureates announced to date are immigrants.

“I think the resounding message that should go out all around the world is that science is global,” Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, one of three laureates in chemistry…Stoddart, born in Scotland, credited American openness with bringing top scientists to the country. He added, however, that the American scientific establishment will only remain strong “as long as we don’t enter an era where we turn our back on immigration.”

Stoddart said the United States should be “welcoming people from all over the world, including the Middle East…”

❝ Duncan Haldane, the English Princeton University researcher who won the prize for physics, described the immigration process as a “bureaucratic nightmare for many people” in an interview with The Hill.

The prize in physics was awarded to three British immigrants, Haldane, David Thouless of Yale University and Michael Kosterlitz of Brown University.

❝ Despite procedural challenges, the scientists believe the American educational system will continue attracting researchers from all over the world…

Haldane said top scientists come to the United States because of its research-friendly funding system.

“There’s a tradition of funding very fundamental research without regard for it being ‘useful,’” said Haldane.

❝ The Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to Oliver Hart of Harvard University and Bengt Holmström of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, British and Finnish immigrants, respectively.

I wonder if Trump sheeple follow their master’s contempt for reading and facts. He says he learns everything from watching TV – mostly Fox News. Facts about American immigrants get scant coverage in the world of “fair and balanced” sophistry.

Biologists find surprising number of unknown viruses in sewage

Though viruses are the most abundant life form on Earth, our knowledge of the viral universe is limited to a tiny fraction of the viruses that likely exist. In a paper published in the online journal mBio, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Barcelona found that raw sewage is home to thousands of novel, undiscovered viruses, some of which could relate to human health.

There are roughly 1.8 million species of organisms on our planet, and each one is host to untold numbers of unique viruses, but only about 3,000 have been identified to date. To explore this diversity and to better characterize the unknown viruses, James Pipas…Roger Hendrix and…Michael Grabe…are developing new techniques to look for novel viruses in unique places around the world…The team searched for the genetic signatures of viruses present in raw sewage from North America, Europe, and Africa…

“What was surprising was that the vast majority of viruses we found were viruses that had not been detected or described before,” says Hendrix.

The viruses that were already known included human pathogens like Human papillomavirus and norovirus, which causes diarrhea. Also present were several viruses belonging to those familiar denizens of sewers everywhere: rodents and cockroaches. Bacteria are also present in sewage, so it was not surprising that the viruses that prey on bacteria dominated the known genetic signatures. Finally, a large number of the known viruses found in raw sewage came from plants, probably owing to the fact that humans eat plants, and plant viruses outnumber other types of viruses in human stool…

The main application of this new technology, says Hendrix, will be to discover new viruses and to study gene exchange among viruses. “The big question we’re interested in is, ‘Where do emerging viruses come from?’” he says. The team’s hypothesis is that new viruses emerge, in large part, through gene exchange. But before research on gene exchange can begin in earnest, large numbers of viruses must be studied, the researchers say.

First you have to see the forest before you can pick out a particular tree to work on,” says Pipas. “If gene exchange is occurring among viruses, then we want to know where those genes are coming from, and if we only know about a small percentage of the viruses that exist, then we’re missing most of the forest.”

Great. Just what we need to know. Now, all those sci-fi movies about mutated creatures rising up from the sewers to eat all of us become a bit more real.

I know, I know. I have a strange sense of humor.

What impresses me the most – once again – is how little we know of this world we live on and within. This is just the kind of basic research the know-nothings in Congress and assorted flat-earthers resent and joke about. Their cognizance of the material world is shallow in direct proportion to the amount of time they spend whining about their self-ordained superstitious reasons for the ills that befall humankind.

Stem cell research threatened by Republican opportunists


Is this a Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann voter?

Nearly all of the Republican presidential candidates would put the brakes on President Obama’s efforts to broaden federal spending on embryonic stem cell research, a move many scientists feel would jeopardize the future of a promising but controversial field that has been whipsawed by political shifts over the past decade.

The prospect of an about-face in White House policy alarms researchers, who in 2009 hailed Obama’s executive order to lift Bush-era restrictions on taxpayer support for this type of work as the end of the scientific Dark Ages. Last month, a federal judge dismissed a legal challenge to government funding for the experimentation.

Human embryonic stem cells have the ability to become any tissue in the body and might eventually lead to treatments for intractable diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.

But antiabortion GOP candidates equate the emerging science with abortion because human embryos must be destroyed to extract the stem cells. And like President George W. Bush, who in 2001 barred the National Institutes of Health from supporting most embryonic stem cell research, they vow to restrict future funding for it…

Bush’s compromise drew sharp criticism from some conservatives, who chastised him for allowing any federal support of the research. Now most of the Republican candidates have refused to be pinned down as to just how far they will go in their opposition.

Wary of alienating social conservatives who have become increasingly important to winning in 2012, their campaigns responded to a Globe survey of their positions with vague statements and dodged questions about whether they would endorse Bush’s position of allowing funding for research on a limited number of existing stem cell lines to continue.

Fact is, the Republican Party and their Kool Aid Party brownshirts aren’t even up to the 19th Century Age of Reason when it comes to understanding modern science, the benefits of science. The lives of ordinary human beings, the economic life of businesses grounded in advancing technology, medicine, healthcare, and knowledge in general – grow and thrive in a world where every scientific step forward has both a social and an economic component.

Nothing counts more to the ideologues of the Right than getting elected or reelected and if that means promising to end studies in evolution, geography, astrophysics, genetics and biology – so be it! If the destruction of government requires the end of science as we know it, they have no problem with that!