Skepchick Quickies 7.16


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. As someone who has had the dread disease, w00t! Kick Malaria’s ass, science!

    But would I be mistaken in thinking breeding malaria-resistant mosquitoes and trying to get them to take over has been done before? For example, from 2007: http://www.pnas.org/content/104/13/5580.abstract

    Maybe it’s the “malaria proof” thing that’s first, as versus “malaria resistant”… though determining that requires some paper-slogging that I’m just not interested in right now.

  2. Malaria-proof mosquitos:

    Initial response: Oh, HELL YEAH! Science is real, bitches!

    More moderate response: These are some very promising results; I hope the malaria-proof mosquitos can thrive in a competitive environment, displacing those that are not.

  3. @QuestionAuthority: I live about 20miles from the epicenter and I usually wake up at least 3 or 4 times a night, but I didn’t feel a thing this morning. Earthquakes only like to hit when I’m sleeping soundly I guess.

    @marilove: Hahaha! I guess they really were serious when they said they didn’t want to talk to no scientists.

  4. Good idea: Malaria-proof mosquitoes.

    Better idea: Mosquitoes that don’t bite peopl– *ouch get off me you itchy little buggers*

  5. Malaria-proof mosquitoes have been around for a while. I used to raise them for a lab. They were Anopheles gambiae, one of the main vectors. They weren’t genetically engineered, but selectively bred from wild populations.

    The problem is that it is difficult to select for mosquitoes that block the transfer of malaria. There is usually little difference in the fecundity and life span of the female mosquitoes that are infected with malaria and those that aren’t. So there is no benefit to the mosquitoes not to vector the disease. Also the mechanism that prevents the transfer is an immune response, which uses resources that could have been used to produce more eggs. So there is a slight disadvantage to the mosquito. Considering that there are naturally resistant populations of the mosquitos, and none of these populations have displaced vector populations, I have my doubts that this could be done.

  6. Even though it was, in reality, mostly parlour tricks when it wasn’t just plain old made up bullshit, I’m still pretty interested in the guy who’s trying to recreate middle ages alchemy. I doubt he’ll discover anything ground-breaking, but then again we did, as a civilisation, forget how to make concrete for a millennium or so, so who knows what he’ll find. ;P

    That is, assuming he can actually decode the ciphers all the alchemists wrote in. Each of them was an amateur cryptologist, and they all used their own idiosyncratic ciphers, so even though they didn’t have the kind of advanced cryptography we do now, the ciphers are still pretty hard to crack.

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