Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Genetic Cause for Bad Hair Days

And you thought science only addressed lofty questions like the origin of the Universe and/or dark matter? Well, think again. Now we know that for some people continuous bad hair days are genetic in origin.

According to Regina Betz, PhD, at the Institute of Human Genetics, University of Bonn in Germany and an expert in rare hereditary hair disorders, there are three genes (DNA material) in humans that code for crazy, uncombable hair. In fact, under a microscope the hair strands from people with the identified mutated genes had clumps along the strand compared to those people with normal DNA coding hair that were clump free. 

The results of this work done by Betz and other scientists in Bonn and Toulouse were published in the November 2016 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics. 

Now, at least for some parents, there is a scientific explanation for critics with smooth hair. Go science!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Cyber Countermeasures

Happy New Year! Now that we're back from the holidays, let's talk cyber. It has been a hot topic for a while. Every time we turn around a bank, credit card company, or health care system  (to name a few) gets hacked. Personal and financial information are stolen and we are left feeling violated and helpless. Don't even start on the ongoing incursions by foreign entities (a topic for another time). 

Anyway, I was excited to read about a new way of protecting data code, called Shuffler being done by researchers at Columbia Univ., Brown Univ., and the Univ. of British Columbia. 

Here's how it works. Instead of protecting against a hackers' inserted code (meant to hijack a program's operations and info), Shuffler runs alongside the home team's program and protects it by constantly shuffling or re-randomizing the code as it is running (i.e. making it harder for an intruder to lock on to a constantly moving/changing target.) On top of that, Shuffler shuffles itself! Cool.

So until unhackable quantum computing is used by everyone, Shuffler appears to be a easy-to-use tool in the fight against cyber crime. Go science!