Saturday, August 28, 2004

Vegetarian wait, vegetarian wait, vegetarian sausage

(Originally posted on Saturday, August 28, 2004 by Tim)

Cat and I don't watch any TV and we don't get a paper. I generally get my daily news on the CNN and BBC websites. While there, I always check the science news sections to see if there is anything interesting that I can link on my web page for my students. Many stories are not of much scientific interest, in fact, you get stuff that I think could easily be included in the National Inquirer's science section.

For instance, take this recent story on the discovery of a deep cave in Croatia.

Excerpt from story: At the foot of the Velebit cave are small ponds and streams, including one of the largest known colonies of subterranean leeches...

Now if we interpret the data a bit differently, we have a great National Inquirer story.

Excerpt from story: Explorers find worlds deepest hole.

I often find really great rant material in these stories, like the BBC's recent article about the use of genetic algorithms in blocking email spam. The introductory paragraph had this in it, "Few would have thought that when Crick and Watson discovered DNA, that it would help in making a tool to fight spam."

A H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H !

Francis and Crick did not "DISCOVER" DNA. The DISCOVERY of DNA began shortly after the end of US civil war when Friedrich Miescher isolated it from the pus in surgical bandages. Between then and the 1940's, the covalent structure (which atoms are bound to which atoms) was worked out. In 1943, Oswald Avery, Colin MacLeod, and Maclyn McCarty conducted conclusive experiments demonstrating that DNA carried genetic information. Francis and Crick did not discover DNA. They elucidated the three dimensional structure of DNA. It was good work, but looking at it in the context of what had gone before, they've gotten a hell of alot more pretige than their contribution should merit. One or both of them was apparently very good at marketing.

Needless to say, I immediately linked the BBC article to my web site with the title "What's wrong with this headline!?!". Apparently people were beating the stuffing out of the BBC over the course of the day because Cat noticed that, by dinner time, they had changed the word "discover" to "unravelled" in the introductory paragraph.

When the BBC changed the text I immediately unlinked the article from my class page so as to not confuse my students. It seems to me in writing this that I could have left it in. Let's look at the sentence again.

"Few would have thought that when Crick and Watson UNRAVELLED DNA, that it would help in making a tool to fight spam."

The author or editor over at the BBC tried to be clever by using the weasel word "unravelled", but there are still two things wrong with this sentence. The first isn't so obivous unless you're a scientist. Watson and Crick discovered the three dimensional structure of DNA. In other words, they discovered the shape of DNA. The shape of DNA has pretty much nothing to do with the theories that would be applied to blocking spam. If they want to make this sentence more correct, it should read, "Few would have thought that when Gregor Mendel unravelled the principles of genetics, that it would help in making a tool to fight spam."

Ok, not exciting if you haven't studied this stuff. Let me rant about the obvious thing that is wrong. Watson and Crick determined the structure of DNA in 1953. In 1953, there was no interet, there was no email and there was no spam. Few would have thought the discovery would be helpful in fighting spam because SPAM HADN'T BEEN INVENTED YET! It's like saying, "Few would have thought that when the ancient Egyptians discovered gold, that it would help in the construction of super computers."

It's been almost 2 hours now, and I think I'm through ranting. This wasn't even the news article I had planned to write about. How about a recipe on how to make veggie breakfast meat.

Vegetarian Breakfast Sausage or Bacon (you decide which it most resembles)
10 oz Tempeh (cut into thin strips)
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp chili sauce
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp Pickapeppa sauce (in the catsup section of the grocery store)
3 cloves garlic (crushed)

Mix all ingredients well except the tempeh strips. Place tempeh strips in this marinade and allow to set several hours at room temperature or overnight to several days in the refrigerator. Fry up marinaded tempeh in a frying pan sprayed with Pam until slightly browned or really crispy depending on your taste.

Cat and I had these this morning with pancakes. They are more spicy than the Morning Star breakfast links we get at the grocery store. We tend to swap these in and out with the commercial links depending on our desire for spice and how lazy we are feeling.

No comments:

Post a Comment