Once again, it's Nobel Prize season; and like I did last year, I'm going to offer my comments on the winners and their discoveries and work.
Andrew Z Fire (Stanford) and Craig C Mello (U Mass) split this year's medicine prize, for their 1998 discovery about the flow of DNA from the nucleus to the cytoplasm and what happens when "sense and anti-sense" RNA meet up. Quite literally, they annihilate each other. It's somewhat similiar to the analogy between matter and anti-matter, or for that matter (no pun intended) time and anti-time. Technical details can be found here.
Bottom line: It was a major breakthrough in the fight against rapidly spreading viruses and diseases, especially in lower organisms. The long term implications are that it could help to lead to cures for genetic diseases if the genes that cause them can be tricked in a similar way to kill itself.
My thoughts about this one? Wouldn't it be great if they could use that and other breakthroughts to cure breast cancer, Parkinson's Disease, muscular dystrophy, even AIDS -- all diseases the "will of God," according to Christian "conservatives"? Get those diseases to commit suicide too? Faith and science have never been incompatable, it's some elements of religion that have made them so. Illness is not the will of God, no matter what disease it is; and the sooner we can put the money grubbing "faith healers" out of business and make people whole through genuine faith both in themselves and the positive possibilities in science the better.
Great pick, in my opinion. Hope this sets a theme the Institute intends to set for the next two weeks -- like last year, one can hope there is actually a practical purpose in the selections, unlike some years when some choices are so hard to explain even a rocket scientist can't figure it out.
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