Skepchick Quickies 7.22

  • Vaccine patch may replace needles – “The patch has hundreds of microscopic needles which dissolve into the skin. Tests in mice show the technology may even produce a better immune response than a conventional jab.”
  • The not-so-weird science behind Splice – A real-life geneticist discusses the science of the movie. From Dan.
  • Rare meteorite sliced open – “After 48 hours of careful cutting, a wire saw studded with diamonds released a piece of rock about the size of a large slice of bread Wednesday morning from a hunk as large as a high school student’s backpack.”  Cool photos! From Sean.
  • Male senate candidate: Vote for me because “I don’t wear high heels” – From Chasmosaur who comments- “Okay first, yes, this guy is a douche.  I’m not saying he’s not. But he’s not what annoys me most about this story.  It’s that Ms. Norton’s machine is going around saying that Harry Reid needs a kick in the shins, and Ms. Norton should be the one to do it in her *high heels*.  Why can’t she just be the person to kick Harry Reid in the ass?”


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

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  1. I am excited about the vaccine patch news. I hope to see something like that in action soon. And they look much smaller and lighter than conventional needle vaccines, which will be a huge boon to getting them into places where they are desperately needed, like most of Africa (depending on how cheap they are to produce… the article doesn’t say).

    Not only that, but the article had a sexy “Derren Brown Investigates” banner at the top of the page, which is a big bonus, as far as I’m concerned.

  2. Regarding Splice, it’s great that much of it was “right.” As far as feasability … it’s science FICTION, not science fact. The best science fiction makes it SEEM plausible, whether it’s plausible or not. Suspension of disbelief is what is needed to enjoy this genre, but it’s easier to suspend disbelief when what you believe doesn’t radically conflict with what is presented.

  3. @Garbledina: it will come down to cost. New technologies always replace old ,but cost is a limiting factor regarding implementation,. This technology MAY be cost effective because the syringes are no longer needed. Time and economical analysis will tell. It would be nice to have an aleternative way to deliver a vaccine.

  4. Harry Reid is sort of useless (sorry Nevada) but Ms. Norton is a full-fledged balls-out whackaloon. I’d rather have useless, though crazy is usually more entertaining.

  5. I haven’t seen the movie myself, but here’s another, perhaps more critical take on the science of “Splice”: http://www.multiplexcomic.com/strip/479

    There seems to me to be something akin to an “uncanny valley” effect with science accuracy in entertainment. The more effort they put into making it realistic, the more striking the errors are.

  6. I work in pharma and I’ve heard about the patches. I was really excited in the beginning, but unfortunately, mostly what I’ve heard is bad news. There’s currently too much variability in dosage due to the micro needles breaking and poor application by whoever is administrating the dose. I hear another problem is that it’s actually more painful than a shot.

    Hopefully we can overcome these obstacles soon. How cool would mail-out vaccines be (assuming you have a temperature stable product, of course)?

  7. @Aaron: Brings to mind when I watched Avatar, and saw Sigourney Weaver’s character waving around and turning sideways an autopipetter. That’s a no-no, as you’ll cause some of your sample in the disposable tip to flow back into the mechanism and contaminate or screw it up. I can’t remember if it was empty or not when she did that, but she’d been using it either way.

    I also love trying to figure out what the hell an apparatus you see in a chemistry lab in a movie is for. A lot of times it’s a bunch of glassware connected together in nonsensical ways to make it look like SCIENCE! I assume most of them are supposed to be stills, which makes it even more hilarious as there’s all of three parts that go into a simple still (and usually still three much more specialized parts for a special still).

  8. @tempestbrewer: Hi Tempest. Who do you work for? As a rep, marketing,or research? I have only peripherally heard about this from my Merck people, but I have not researched it for myself. Thanks!

  9. This was a bit depressing – in the meteorite piece the caption under the third picture reads in part “The interior reveals pale nickel-iron alloy mottled with translucent, interconnected greenish spots of a silicate mineral called olivine. It’s also known as peridot, the birthstone for August.”
    Are they trying to appeal to the new-age geologists, or to the astronomy-obsessed jewelers?

  10. @Eugine:

    Actually, I thought it was just a way to make it a little more approachable for us non-geo geeks. Olivine means nothing to most people, but many know what a peridot is.

  11. I love when they use really weird things as size comparisons. I always wonder “How did people know how large anything was before Football Fields were invented?”

  12. I’m a bit late to this party, but:

    First, there are the Atheists who proclaim no one with a religious belief should have anything to with Skepticism, because a believer is not a “True Skeptic”.  This was a running theme in the comments for Masala Skeptic’s post Faith and Fury.  I thought it then, and I will say it now, what a crock of horse shit!

    Really?  No one with a religious belief should have anything to with Skepticism, and this was “a running theme in the comments” of that post?  Really?  You can back that up with citations, of course?  Not just one comment, but enough to show it was “a running theme.” Enough to show you didn’t just present a distorted, absurd and easily refutable version of your opponents’ arguments that you then proceeded to refute, without addressing their actual arguments.

    You are now going to back up that claim, right?

  13. @halincoh:

    Hey, sorry for the late reply– we are the middle ground between research and regular manufacturing. We work with new designs or products to make clinical batches and to ready the product/design process for full scale supply.

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