EteRNA

EteRNA logoEteRNA, developed by Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford University is a Flash-based folding game, like Fold It, that enlists users to fold RNA for optimized versions, which can then be tested in the lab. Citizen science!

You can participate by signing up directly at the site or linking through facebook (and setting your profile on the EteRNA site).

The game comes with a tutorial to get you familiar with the building blocks of RNA and how to manipulate them to get the desired folding shape. After the tutorial one can try to solve a number of increasingly difficult puzzles.

Scores are kept and displayed in a leaderboard. The game auto-saves the progress on the latest puzzle you might have been working on.

For more expert knowledge on how to solve the puzzles, a number of strategy guides can be found through the community which help in solving and further optimizing the RNA folds.

Scoring 10,000 points or more, by solving the tutorials and a bunch of the challenges, gives you access to the RNA Lab where a real version of some version of RNA can be designed and proposed, which after voting, will then be tested in the real lab.

You can get an idea of what it looks like through an embedded version, as below:

For more detailed info on how the folding of RNA is used, see their information page.

Some media links:
RNA Game Lets Players Help Find a Biological Prize (NY Times)
Online game helps predict how RNA folds (New Scientist)
New video game makes game players Stanford professor’s virtual lab assistants (Stanford)

And finally a short video from Carnegie Mellon that explains EteRNA:

Evolution: How We Know it Happened & Why it Matters

A Skeptic video on YouTube with Dr. Donald Prothero:

Dr. Donald Prothero

The hottest cultural controversy of 2005 was the Intelligent Design challenge to the theory of evolution, being played out in classrooms and courtrooms across America. The crux of the argument made by proponents of Intelligent Design is that the theory of evolution is in serious trouble. They claim that the evidence for evolution is weak, the gaps in the theory are huge, and that these flaws should be taught to students. In this brilliant synthesis of scientific data and theory, Occidental College geologist, paleontologist, and evolutionary theorist Dr. Donald Prothero will present the best evidence we have that evolution happened, why Darwins theory still matters, and what the real controversies are in evolutionary biology.

Dr. Donald Prothero teaches Physical and Historical Geology, Sedimentary Geology, and Paleontology. His specialties are mammalian paleontology and magnetic stratigraphy of the Cenozoic. His current research focuses on the dating of the climatic changes that occurred between 30 and 40 million years ago, using the technique of magnetic stratigraphy. He is the author of “Evolution of the Earth,” “Bringing Fossils to Life,” “After the Dinosaurs,” “Horns, Tusks, and Flippers: The Evolution of Hoofed Mammals,” and the textbook “Sedimentary Geology.”

Gary Numan – Cars

Cover

Cars” is a 1979 pop music song by UK artist Gary Numan, and was released as a single from the album The Pleasure Principle. It reached the top of the charts in several countries, and today is considered a new wave staple. In the UK charts, it reached number 1 in 1979, and in 1980 hit number 1 in Canada two weeks running on the RPM national singles chart and rose to number 9 on the U.S. Billboard charts.