Episode #623

News Items

Who's That Noisy

  • Answer to last week: Neural Network

Question #1: CRISPR

  • Sorry if you’ve already talked about this in your latest show (I just saw that a new one came out and I didn’t have time to listen to it yet). Last week in science or fiction there was an item about >1500 off-target mutations in CRISPR-Cas9 treated mice. Science Friday podcast also covered this (http://www.sciencefriday.com/episodes/june-9-2017/ at t-26:55). tl;dl: It seems this finding is controversial: the statistics are shaky, and so is the editing technique used. On top of that, the article is a Letter-to-the-Editor, which does not go through peer-review. So maybe not all is lost with CRISPR-Cas9, and even if there are more off-target mutations than previously thought, CRISPR remains a revolutionary gene-editing tool as compared to other techniques like zinc-finger nucleases. I’m sure Bob is relieved to hear this. Cheers, Marc Züst

Science or Fiction

  • Item #1 Science

    Vienna has a population of 1.8 million, which is the same as its population in 1900, and represents over one quarter of the entire population of Austria.

  • Item #2 Science

    Both the snow globe and the Pez dispenser were invented and first sold in Vienna.

  • Item #3 Fiction

    Schönbrunn palace, the summer home of the Hapsburgs, was modest by European standards, containing 74 rooms.

  • Item #4 Science

    In the old markets of Vienna it was common to find monkey grooming services, to pay to have a monkey remove lice and fleas from your head.

Skeptical Quote of the Week

“People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” - Blaise Pascal