Category Archives: Uncategorized

Science Caturday: Bigger Fish Faster? Yes, Please!


This week, the US Food and Drug Administration approved its first genetically modified animal, the AquAdvantage salmon, as safe to eat. The FDA found that the GM salmon are “as safe to eat as any non-genetically engineered Atlantic salmon, and also as nutritious.” It will not require that stores label the salmon as genetically modified, although they may still do so.

The AquAdvantage salmon, created in 1989, is similar to the Atlantic salmon, but is modified so that it carries a growth hormone found in the Chinook salmon and a segment of DNA taken from the pout fish, which boost its growth. As a result, the AquAdvantage salmon grows much faster than normal Atlantic salmon, reaching a market-ready size in about half the time. Bigger fish faster? Our science cats give this genetic tweak two paws up.


Treat everyone like they are your friend – even if they are not.

That is from my five year old child summing up the philosophy of Jesus*. We were talking about how to deal with classmates who are not being friendly. It struck me that this might, just might, be relevant to the current rhetoric surrounding the humanitarian crisis of Syrian refugees.

*We live in the pervasively Christian middle of South Carolina.

Science Caturday: New Old Hoomins


The biggest news in science this week was the announcement of the discovery of a new human ancestor, Homo naledi. After anthropologists excavating in South Africa found an almost inaccessible cave which appeared to contain hominid remains, they recruited a team of the smallest, skinniest cavers they could find and sent them to explore it. What they found was astonishing – the skeletons of some 15 individuals of a human-like species with features unlike any seen before. This article in National Geographic gives many more details, with more sure to come as teams of researchers study the finds.

While our science kittehs applaud the discovery of new hoomins, they are slightly vexed that they were not allowed to join the team, given that they are experts in crawling through small tunnels and also highly skilled at guarding valuable stuff.


Science Caturday: The Cat’s-Eye Street View


A map generally shows a bird’s eye view, but now a small Japanese city has pioneered a paradigm-changer, the cat’s eye view.  The tourism board of Hiroshima prefecture has created an online map for cats — similar to Google Street View, but at a cat’s height instead of a car’s — of a commercial area in the city of Onomichi.

This article in Vox explains the features of the cat map, including cat locators and biographies of the neighborhood’s kitties. Needless to say, it appears vastly superior to a view from a bird, satellite or car. Two paws up.


The Chevin

I visited the area around Leeds recently, and came across this sign [pdf] by the Leeds Geological Association, on the Chevin.


The Chevin is a ridge in the West Yorkshire landscape, formed over thousands of years. The surrounding area is mostly a valley (one of the “dales” of the Yorkshire Dales) formed by prehistoric rivers and glaciers.


The view

I wasn’t expecting to encounter any science on this trip, so the geology sign was a surprise. Fittingly, I found it at “Surprise View”, the highest point of the Chevin.