GATTACA is happening in kuwait

It’s kind of scary t see the ideas from the movie Gattaca enter the real world with Kuwait creating a DNA database for all of it’s residents. It is in response to a local terrorist incident. And there are legal consequences for those who give fake samples.

In the European Union, such a database has been declared by illegal after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2008 that keeping a non-criminal’s DNA sample “could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society”.

Such a database has serious privacy and ethical considerations as to how to information could be used or abused.

Visual Perception, looking at Tetrachromacy & Colour Blindness

Is your perception the same as mine? There are the extremes of Tetrachromacy & Colour Blindness that create unique abilities and problems, but for the rest of use it does raise questions of how we perceptive colour.

Looking at developmental neuro-science for a child I assume that the neural pathways in the visual cortex that handle colour perception are formed early on. Our brain makes the links between the perceived colour and the linguistic label for the colour. So it seams extremely unlikely that the pattern of neurons that formed the visual cortex are identical between people.

Tetrachromacy (tetra = four, chroma = color) in humans is a visual oddity which allows the perception of 100 millions colours (See this from IFLS). This is a boon for artists, like Concetta Antico who can see the colours to produce them in art. (BTW her website has a few pages on Tetrachromancy including a Preliminary report of her ability and the genetics involved) It appears to be X-chromosome-linked, so it will be more common in women, but still exceedingly rare.

On the flip-side there is colour blindness. I’ve used colour-blindness tests to head head off potential visually based problems with assessment. To ensure that it is a fair assessment, based on student skill and accounting for disability.  There is Color Vision Testing Made Easy, which as a bunch of images online, and there is the EnChroma Color Blindness Test an interactive online test and a mobile app. Disclaimer: Neither of these should replace professional expertise.


Open Source cancer drugs?

It appears that the idea of Open Source is being applied to many different fields of research and development. Just look at Project Marilyn on, which has the noble goal of making cancer drug research open source.

We believe that pharmaceuticals can be developed without patents, which would result in a better and less expensive healthcare for everyone.  “Project Marilyn” will develop a new anti-cancer compound, 9DS, which has very promising scientific results and is the best candidate for proving our social cause.

The project has been featured on Techcrunch and wired, It only has a few hours to go (see their pledge page) and has made it’s goal. These crowd funded projects seam to point the way to the democratisation of how money is directed.