DNA survives a ride into space—on the exterior of a roc

The ability of biomolecules—and entire organisms—to survive space has implications for a number of scientific questions: whether molecules from space could have seeded life on Earth, or whether life could spread among the inner planets following impacts. It also has practical implications, in that it dictates how careful we need to be in sterilizing hardware we send to other planets.

Chance gave some biologists access to a rocket, and they figured out a way to answer one of the questions. While prepping a sounding rocket for an experiment that briefly lofted some of their samples to space, they decided to put some DNA on the rocket’s exterior. And when it returned to Earth 780 seconds later, they were able to recover the DNA and put it to use.

Sounding rockets are typically used for payloads that only have to be put into space briefly. In this case, the researchers were putting cells into the payload of a VSB-30, a two-stage, solid-fueled rocket manufactured in Brazil. While doing so, they decided it would be interesting to see what happened to samples outside of the protection of the payload. So they obtained some DNA called a plasmid that carried two genes: one that provides antibiotic resistance to bacteria, and a second that encodes a green fluorescent protein.

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Holiday reading for a certain sort: If Hemingway Wrote JavaScript

Ah, JavaScript—a scripting language oft abused nearly as much as the masses abuse English. But what if the great literary minds of the ages were harnessed to craft code in the way they tackled verse and prose, to both get the job done and raise the doing to art?

That’s the concept behind Angus Croll’s If Hemingway Wrote JavaScript, a book that explores the liberties of style JavaScript allows by putting it in the (imagined) hands of literary heavyweights ranging from Shakespeare to Douglas Adams to Tupac to James Joyce.

Croll, a member of Twitter’s UI framework team, throws a set of mathematical and string manipulation assignments at the imagined literary codesmiths, and renders their responses in script that reflects, for good or ill, their unique personalities.

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South Korea: $27k fine, 3 yrs in jail for unregistered

South Korea: $27k fine, 3 yrs in jail for unregistered 'selfie-sticks'Selfie-taking South Koreans have one-upped the rest of the world with the rapid popularity of “selfie-sticks,” or low-tech solutions to improving self-portraits taken with our high-tech phones while in public. But now the country is getting ready to crack down on the tools, even making them illegal. For becoming public nuisances? For being used as weapons? No, it’s simply because … Continue reading