Weekly Round Up: Alphabets, Songwriters, Cancer Cures, Tosca and How Donald Trump can cope with failure

Alphabet on a Comb The change from a pictorial alphabet like the Egyptian one, where every single word has a unique symbol, to a true alphabet, where a few symbols can suddenly convey the entire sounds of a language was like the digital revolution of its day. The earliest evidence of it was not in some portentous work of great literature, but a simple inscription on a humble comb as Ian Sample makes clear for the Guardian. Ian Sample-what a great name for a Science editor, by the way!


Joni the Pioneer Attentive readers of this blog will recall our praise for the songs of Joni Mitchell, who as early as the 1960s was pointing out the ravages that crass materialism was inflicting on our planet. Turns out she was pioneering in other ways, like upsetting the boys with her frank expositions of the human condition. Or didn’t they realise women are human too? Once again, the BBC has it all


Can CRISPR cure cancer? Imagine if every cancer patient had there wn treatment system, specific and unique to them. Well, our old friend CRISPR, long boosted in these blogs, may make that possible. Here’s snippet from Nature Briefings Most Complicate therapy ever.……..

A small clinical trial has shown that CRISPR gene editing can alter immune cells so that they seek out and destroy a person’s cancer. T cells, a type of white blood cell that patrols the body looking for errant cells, were modified to recognize the mutated proteins in tumours, which are different in every person. It is the first attempt to combine two hot areas of cancer research: gene editing to create personalized treatments, and the engineering of T cells to make them better at targeting tumours. “It is probably the most complicated therapy ever attempted in the clinic,” says study co-author Antoni Ribas, a cancer researcher and physician. “We’re trying to make an army out of a patient’s own T cells.”Nature | 5 min read

Sympathy for the Devil Poor Mr Trump, whose hopes have suffered such a crushing at the recent US elections! His quest now we surely be: how do I cope with being such a dreadful failure? What will Daddy say? Fortunately, help is at hand in the shape of this article from the Conversation, which basically recommends the consolation of Philosophy. Such an erudite, reflective man as Mr Trump will lap this up, no doubt.


Terfel Magic Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel has been one of the best singers around in the last few decades. One of our favourite moments in his illustrious career was this Te Deum from Puccini’s Tosca, here with the Royal Opera. How do these guys belt it out so loud yet still say in tune? Remarkable.

#donald trump #crispr #bryn terfel #puccini #joni mitchell #alphabet #archaeology

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