You've probably never heard of Hans Rosling, but he was the rock star of statistics presentation. Sound oxymoronic? When I stumbled across his work a few years ago I was reminded that presentation is nine-tenths of the law. How you tell a story is often just as important as the story itself, and Hans Rosling pulled the human stories out of piles of data and made them sing with his Gapmider software. The NPR story links to videos of some of his best presentations. Oh, and he was also an amateur sword swallower (see end of this video).
As a former vegetarian I love this idea! A professor at Stanford University realized that raising meat is costly to the environment and may not be able to feed our rapidly growing human population. At the same time, he realized that humans have been eating meet for thousands of years and love its taste, and that most 'veggie burgers' just don't deliver on taste. So, he found that much of the taste of a burger comes from the hemoglobin, or blood protein, in the meet. Turns out that plants make small amounts of hemoglobin too. Brown's lab engineered the gene for vegetable hemoglobin into yeast to produce large amounts of it. The resulting burger looks and tastes pretty authentic:
"To charge a premium, Duff says, the makers will have to work hard to tell the story that this burger is better for the Earth, because he doesn't think the taste alone will stand out for people. If you never told people what's in the burger, Duff says, "they quite literally would not know."
An article in today's New York Times revealed one of the secrets to the incredible success of Jasper Farm's award-winning cheeses: microbiologists in an on-farm lab! MIcrobes aren't just essential for turning milk into cheese, but they determine the texture, flavor and aroma of the cheese as well. To learn how and to see photos check out the article. And, of course, microbes are also responsible for the biochemistry that makes bread, wine and beer, all great accompaniments to cheese. Running an on-farm lab shows great commitment and a curiosity I really admire. Go microbes and Kehler brothers!
When I've got a free moment I enjoy poking through science and art websites; I was a fine arts major for a brief shining moment in college. I've just come across this amazing collection of blown glass models of virus particles and it's stunningly beautiful! I spent years working on HIV vaccine research and know something about viruses. I always appreciated the efficient and sometimes lethal design of viral particles but Luke Jerram takes my appreciation to another level entirely. Visit his website to see what I'm gushing over. Here's one of his HIV sculptures.