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Athena Andreadis, Ph.D.
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Entries by Athena Andreadis, Ph.D.

The 'Language' Gene and Women's Wagging Tongues

(0) Comments | Posted March 4, 2013 | 6:06 PM

Aka, How to Twist Science to Reinforce Gender Stereotypes

Genes are subject to multiple layers of regulation. An early regulatory point is transcription. During this process, regulatory proteins bind to DNA regions (promoters and enhancers) that direct gene expression. These DNA/protein complexes attract the transcription apparatus, which docks next to...

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Hagiography in the SFX Age: Jackson's Hobbit

(0) Comments | Posted December 31, 2012 | 5:04 PM

Note: For a larger context of this discussion, interested readers may want to look at A Plague on Both Your Houses.

I did not write a review of Jackson's Lord of the Rings (henceforth LotR) trilogy. One reason was my extreme ambivalence over Tolkien and his oeuvre. Another was...

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Why We May Never Get to Alpha Centauri

(0) Comments | Posted October 29, 2012 | 2:36 PM

(Sung to the glam tune of "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys")

This month astronomers announced that Alpha Centauri B may have an Earth-sized planet in tight orbit. Space enthusiasts were ecstatic, because the Alpha Centauri triplet (a close binary, Alpha A and Alpha B, circled by Proxima) is...

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Gender Essentialism? Elementary, My Dear Watson!

(0) Comments | Posted October 18, 2012 | 6:13 PM

I first read the collected Sherlock Holmes stories in a really good translation when I was very young. I recall that even back then I wondered about its attitudes towards women. Beyond the single token appearance of Irene Adler and the long-suffering Mrs. Hudson (a typical caretaker role), it was...

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Junk DNA, Junky PR

(0) Comments | Posted September 21, 2012 | 9:48 PM

A week ago a huge, painstakingly orchestrated PR campaign was timed to coincide with multiple publications of a long-term study by the ENCODE consortium in top-ranking journals. The ENCODE project (EP) is essentially the next stage after the Human Genome Project (HGP). The HGP sequenced all our DNA...

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Those Who Never Got to Fly

(0) Comments | Posted July 30, 2012 | 10:00 AM

Sally Kristen Ride, one of the iconic First Others in space flight, recently died at the relatively young age of 61: she was the first American woman to participate in missions. Her obituary revealed that she was also the first lesbian to do so. Like other iconic First Others (Mae...

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Basic Research: The Fountain About to Run Dry

(0) Comments | Posted April 10, 2012 | 12:21 PM

Recently, I saw two petitions. One was at the site of the Alzheimer Foundation, asking for increased funds for research in the disease. I don't know how long it has been there, but it has 166,000 signatures. The other was at the White House, asking that the budget of the...

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The Circus Ringmaster: John le Carré

(0) Comments | Posted December 19, 2011 | 3:25 PM

Those that I fight I do not hate,

Those that I guard I do not love.

-- William Butler Yeats, "An Irish Airman Foresees his Death"

My mother used to joke about me, "Put a sheet with moving shadows in front of her and she will watch them."...

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Slouching To The Right Of The Drake Equation

(11) Comments | Posted December 6, 2011 | 11:06 PM

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

-- William Butler Yeats, "Second Coming"


The last few years have been heady for planet hunters. First the hot Jupiters; then the will-o'-the-wisp Glieslings and their cousins; and in the...

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"Are We Not (as Good as) Men?"

(0) Comments | Posted August 23, 2011 | 11:17 PM

-- paraphrasing The Sayer of the Law.

When franchises get stale, Hollywood does reboots -- invariably a prequel that tells an origin story retrofitted to segue into already-made sequels either straight up (Batman, X-Men) or in multi-universe alternatives (Star Trek). Given the iconic status of the Planet of the Apes...

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Area 51: Teen Commies from Outer Space

(0) Comments | Posted May 20, 2011 | 2:10 PM

(With due props to Douglas Kenney, National Lampoon co-founder.)

Driving to work earlier this week, I heard Terry Gross of Fresh Air (NPR) interview Annie Jacobsen about her new book, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base. Jacobsen is a national security reporter, which...

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Distant Celestial Fires

(0) Comments | Posted January 24, 2011 | 9:48 AM

In line with end-of-the-world prophecies linked to Maya calendars, there's sudden noise on the Internet that Betelgeuse (the bright red star that marks Orion's left shoulder) will become a supernova in 2012. The segue is that this will first give us Tattooine-like sunsets, then singe earth and all upon...

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The House with Many Doors (or, at the Caucasus, Hang a Right!)

(0) Comments | Posted January 18, 2011 | 3:11 PM

When people think of fiction that depicts human prehistory, Jean Auel's Cave Bear books invariably poke up their woolly heads. The SF-learned may also recall William Golding's The Inheritors and two Poul Anderson stories dealing with Cro-Magnons; the literati may be aware of Björn Kurtén's Dance of the Tiger. But...

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Yes, Virginia, Hellenes Have Christmas Traditions

(0) Comments | Posted December 30, 2010 | 9:41 AM

Two decades ago, Ann Landers did a column about how various cultures celebrate Christmas. Halfway down her list was this gem: "If you are Greek Orthodox, your sect celebrates Christmas on January 7." Several people wrote back that 1) the Orthodox church is not a sect -- it is the...

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The Agency That Cried "Awesome!"

(0) Comments | Posted December 13, 2010 | 8:32 PM

"Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad." ~ Anonymous ancient proverb

In the 1961 film The Guns of Navarone, Greek resistance fighters and Allied demolition experts set out to destroy a nest of large cannons so that a rescue convoy can go through the straits the...

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Arsenic and Odd Lace

(33) Comments | Posted December 3, 2010 | 9:29 AM

When you hear about lots of cherries, bring a small basket. ~ Greek proverb

About a week ago, I started receiving a steady and progressively swelling stream of emails, asking me if I knew anything about the hush-hush "amazing astrobiology discovery" that NASA would announce on December 2. I replied...

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Once Again With Feeling: The Planets of Gliese 581

(10) Comments | Posted October 1, 2010 | 3:29 PM

Gliese 581 may be small as stars go, but it looms huge in the vision field of planetfinders. As of yesterday, measurements indicate the system has six planets, of which three are Earth-size and -type, within the star's habitable zone, with stable, near-circular orbits.

The Gliese 581 system has a...

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Ashes From Burning Libraries

(6) Comments | Posted September 13, 2010 | 2:26 PM

...like amnesiacs
in a ward on fire, we must
find words
or burn.

Olga Broumas, Artemis

In the last few weeks, I've been watching the circus show of the (now postponed) Quran burning with disbelief. Christians and Muslims have been playing variants of "If...

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The (Game)play's the Thing: The Retro-RPG Eschalon

(2) Comments | Posted June 15, 2010 | 11:50 AM

Five and twenty years ago, far back in the mists of time, a cyber-aficionado friend invited me to see her new game. Despite the primitive graphics, I liked the game's feel, the sense of adventure and story, the witty allusions and non-linear play. The game was King's Quest I. At...

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The Sirens of Titan: Alien Life?

(2) Comments | Posted June 8, 2010 | 2:40 PM

(Title borrowed from Kurt Vonnegut)

In the novel and film 2010, when the Monolith builders force Jupiter into nuclear ignition they also program poor put-upon HAL to broadcast, non-stop, "All these worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landings there."

Arthur C. Clarke was deemed uncannily prescient when he wrote...

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