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Senior RIKEN Scientist Involved In Stem Cell Scandal Commits Suicide

Niedi Re:Case closed (127 comments)

Disclaimer: I work in bioscience, so I actually know a thing or two about the process.
If there is a comparatively trivial way to produce stem cells THAT ACTUALLY WORKS, people will go heads over tail to do it themselves. I'd assume every lab that is even remotely connected to the stem cell field would set people on replicating this since the method is basically the equivalent of turning lead into gold. It is the holy grail. No matter how much money you have, no matter how much influence you have, you can't contain such a breakthrough, especially not after it's published. That is, if it actually is what it is claimed to be.
On the other hand, if you claim to have made such a breakthrough, everyone tries it out and no one can replicate it, weeeellll, you'll piss a few people off. Considerably more people than when you just say you found that protein X interacts in subcascade Y under conditions Z and it turns out it doesn't after all.
And if serious intentional misconduct is found, the result is burning at stake. I suggest having a look at
And finally, Sasai wasn't the main author behind the whole thing but rather the seniour guy who slapped his seal of approval on it. So even IF the conspiracy nutjobs were true, it's the wrong man that's dead.

about a month ago

Edward Snowden Leaks Could Help Paedophiles Escape Police, Says UK Government

Niedi Sorry, pls ignore (510 comments)

Clicked the wrong entry while moderating, so posting this to undo it - please ignore.

about 10 months ago

OmniCam360 Camera Cluster Lets You Choose the Viewing Angle

Niedi Re:Not what you need for sports! (66 comments)

Imagine something like that with the Occulus Rift... You could basically look around in the virtual space as if you were sitting there!

about a year ago

Volkswagen Concept Car Averages 262 MPG

Niedi Re:One problem (353 comments)

They are actually going to produce and sell a small number of them (250 I believe), though I fear the price might be a bit prohibitive for the mass market...

about a year ago

Hydrogel Process Creates Transparent Brain For Research

Niedi Re:It is a brain dead application. (46 comments)

Then they apply electric current and study the connectivity.

Nope, that's no longer possible on such a brain. What you do is you inject special tracer substances (while the mouse is still alive). These substances will stain neurons at the site of injection and then cross the synapse to connected cells, either in the direction of the information flow or opposed to it, depending on the system used. These tracers are then imaged using the method that this article is about. To further aid you, you can do different stainings to see what type/subtype of neurons you are looking at. By combining this information with known functional properties of the found neuronal types, you can try to infer what is actually happening in the area you examine.

about a year and a half ago

Hydrogel Process Creates Transparent Brain For Research

Niedi Re:Clear brains is not the story (46 comments)

The headline is focusing on the wrong thingThere was already a process to make brains look like glass. It was really cheap and easy too: it's just urea basically.

True, but the level of transparency wasn't that impressive with that method, it only worked up to 1-3mm of depth. BABB based protocols were a lot better in that regards.

The real story is the second part. You can stain for proteins and see where the localize. With SCALE, the previous method, you couldn't do that easily. Probably anyway, I never tried. You had to have fluorescent proteins expressing in the tissue, which isn't possible in human tissue samples from deceased patients unless you're trying some weird shit. Alternatively, you could stain sections, but that doesn't give you as good a 3D image of the 3D structure. It's really interesting work. If it doesn't cost too much, I may have to try it in my lab (though I don't work on brains.)

Hell yes, that's the big one here. Plus, expressed fluorescent proteins in the tissue don't get degraded as much as with BABB et al. Definitely give it a shot, you probably have all the ingredients around the lab anyway. The clearing is done with PFA, acrylamide, bis-acrylamide, VA044 and PBS. The slices should then be immersed in glycerol, so nothing special there as far as I can see it. You only need to build a custom electrophoresis chamber to stain the brain, but even that shouldn't be too hard.

about a year and a half ago

Firing a Laser Into Your Brain Could Help Beat a Drug Addiction

Niedi Re:Really? (156 comments)

so what you are saying is that it has the potential to turn out like resident evil?

No, I was thinking of something still lethal but less freaky: cancer. Plus, even if one of the patients goes insane for whatever strange one-in-a-billion chance, it's not really infectious unless he's still capable of drilling a hole into your skull and injecting a tiny amount of purified virus into precisely the correct area of the brain (think micrometer precision). So no zombie apocalypse there, sorry.

about a year and a half ago

Firing a Laser Into Your Brain Could Help Beat a Drug Addiction

Niedi Re:Really? (156 comments)

Adult myogenesis in skeletal muscles isn't really happening much either. As for integration into the genome, I was under the impression that you can actually chose the place in the genome it would integrate in, but that this is mostly irrelevant as adenoviral vectors are preferred over lentiviral ones.

True, but I would say that a few lost muscle cells are less problematic than a few neurons lost in the wrong part of the brain. AFAIK there is no reliable way to control the site of lentiviral integration. Plus, purifying lenti properly is nasty, the stuff can be either quite neurotoxic or not infectious at all if something goes wrong during that step.
Recombinant Adeno Associated Virus is much less problematic, it's dead simple to manufacture and only the potential protein overload problem remains (and in mice we're using them a lot without any apparent problems). However, in an adult brain, the effect of rAAV is only temporary since it doesn't integrate and gets degraded over time.

about a year and a half ago

Firing a Laser Into Your Brain Could Help Beat a Drug Addiction

Niedi Re:Really? (156 comments)

Gene therapy is not particularly hard, and there's clinical trials and decades old cases where it have had success. Why is this myth propagated? Did the major fuckup and misconduct in the Jesse Gelsinger case really have that much publicity?

Though I guess, every religious nut, moral-code internet warrior, environmentalist nutcase and anti-GMO opinionist would of course latch onto this outlier case and present it as a rule rather than exception, because some delusion of purity is more important than saving and improving lives.

Disclaimer: I work in neuroscience and have used viral transfection quite a lot.

Myth? It's not trivial to get the infectous titer and purity of the virus right and it's even harder (read: almost impossible) to predict the exact expression levels that the virus will cause in an actual brain. Much less if such a potential overexpression of a non-native protein will mess up regular cell trafficking/function. Even if the protein is thought to be harmless (as is the case with Channelrhodopsin or Halorhodopsin), the sheer fact that the cell now has to produce, store and process large numbers of something it usually doesn't have can cause problems and take resources away from the normal function. Plus any virus that will stably integrate into the genome can cause all kinds of fuck up down the road since you don't know WHERE it will integrate and what other function it might overwrite.

Don't get me wrong, it is interesting, it is potentially very beneficial but I'd still be cautious when applying it in the brain (as opposed to applying it in muscle or skin cells) since adult neurogenesis isn't really happening much...

about a year and a half ago

How Close Is Iran, Really, To Nuclear Weapons

Niedi Re:How Close? (299 comments)

As interesting as ever:
Adam Curtis - The Power of Nightmares
It gives an interesting view of how this whole situation with evil states and global terrorist networks spiralled out of control.
If you have three hours of time that is... But it's definitely fascinating imho.

about a year and a half ago

How Not To Launch a Gadget

Niedi Re:Recipe for disaster ... (160 comments)

I personally have purchased a set of gaming dice 3d printed with stainless steel.


It's a small but important distinction. The ability to print stainless steel would be revolutionary, while the ability to powder cast has been around for millennia. A hyped convolution of the mold making process is not going to change much besides the number of shitty knives and dice in pawn shop display cases.

It is indeed possible to print IN stainless steel, titanium etc.... Using a technique called selective laser sintering, fine metal powder is selectively melted/fused by a high power laser, allowing you to directly print custom parts from metal.

about a year and a half ago

Valve Sued In Germany Over Game Ownership

Niedi Re:Trade-offs (384 comments)

Simple solution: They shouldn't try to fool people into thinking they are actually BUYING the game. Rename it to say "license the game" or "rent for an unlimited time" or whatever. I'm fine with their non-transferable model as long as they do not try to tell me I'm actually buying the game. Because if I buy something I expect to actually own it and be able to give it away anytime I want.

about a year and a half ago

VLC Running Kickstarter Campaign To Fund Native Windows 8 App

Niedi Source... (252 comments)

What is the situation with the source/GPL?
"Any code touching the user interface created within this endeavor will be licensed under the GNU General Public License Version 2 or later (GPLv2+), possibly with an exception for the Windows Store if needed."
I remember vaguely that there once was a VLC for iOS around before some internal debate about whether or not this sort of port was acceptable with the GPL caused apple to remove it. Exception for Windows Store? How should that work out then?

about 2 years ago

The Coming Internet Video Crash

Niedi Re:Yes or reply to someone who ignored Adam Smith (419 comments)

Germany has them as well for landline, it's actually the standard option
for mobile, most german providers will slow you down to GPRS speed after a certain amount of data consumed per month (anywhere between 100MB and 30GB depending on the contract)

about 2 years ago

Robot Brings Patch-Clamping To the Masses

Niedi Re:Brings patch-clamp to nobody new. (59 comments)

Mod parent up, it's spot on! The actual patching is not really hard, especially since it only seems to do "blind" patching (just guided by the electrical response).

The only things to add are
- Fighting with your pipette puller to deliver constant results, because either you have your own crappy little puller that is hideously unreliable or you have a fancy one which is shared, meaning there is a high risk of someone messing with the filament and/or settings. And if your pipettes are crap, neither you nor the robot are going to succeed...
- Finding out why you suddenly have massive noise in your recordings
- Not freaking out after matlab, igor et al crash halfway through your recording session taking all your data with it.

about 2 years ago

Google's Self-Driving Cars: 300,000 Miles Logged, Not a Single Accident

Niedi Re:Rear Ended (465 comments)

Anyone wants to bet how long it'll take for "Pay 5000$ now or you'll hit that nice tree over there" style rootkits to appear? Scareware indeed...

more than 2 years ago

Windows Phone 8 Officially Unveiled

Niedi Re:64 cores (414 comments)

It's worth noting that the Lumia 900 came out five months ago...

5 months ago? Vodafone Germany will START to sell them "in a couple of weeks". I'm sure it will be really popular here...

more than 2 years ago

Journal Offers Flat Fee For 'All You Can Publish'

Niedi Re:Chicken/Egg (53 comments)

"Will you publish my paper? I'll give you 1000 dollars!"

It doesn't make a difference, anyone who wants his/her paper published will give the 1000 dollars (because they have to). And either way, I don't think science and nature will run out of people wanting to publish there...
But I fully agree that open reviews is a bad idea. In a field where almost all players know each other it would really hamper objectivity if you knew the person whose (bad) work you just shredded might come back to bite you.

more than 2 years ago

Fox News Ties 'Flame' Malware To Angry Birds

Niedi Re:Red birds (188 comments)

But then, in some ways they still have a classic view:
"Flame is described as enormously powerful and large, containing some 250,000 lines of code, making it far larger than other such cyberweapons." [...] "But this new weapon is twenty times the size of earlier cyberbombs and far more powerful, making it practically an army on its own, said Roel Schouwenberg, a senior security researcher with Kaspersky Labs."

Wait until they finish the TerraBomb, with it you can overload many a computer simply by copying the WEAPON to the HD. It doesn't even need to be launched (though you might need to copy it once or twice on machines with a larger HD...). Only downside is that the attack takes a considerable amount of time to carry out.

more than 2 years ago


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