Personal Genomes Could Soon Be Public Information

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Discovered: Even your DNA won't be private anymore; a rock harder than diamonds; the depression gene remains elusive; check out these ancient sea creatures straight out of Dr. Seuss.

Personal genomes are everyone's business now. Anyone who's generously given their DNA to genomic research under the assumption that their personal biological code would be kept confidential might be in for a surprise. The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research's Yaniv Erlich and his colleagues were able to connect "anonymous" DNA with specific individuals using just an Internet connection and other publicly available information. "We are not trying to start a panic," says Erlich. "We are trying to illuminate some of the gaps in privacy we have right now and initiate a public discussion." For more on the dangerous implications of publicly revealed personal genomes, read The Atlantic's recent magazine piece "Hacking the President's DNA." [Wired]

Depression gene is proving hard to find. If rogue scientist do somehow gain access to your DNA, rest assured that they won't discover your depression status. They simply won't be able to. After looking through DNA from 34,549 volunteers, a huge international team of scientists was unable to pinpoint a gene linked with depression. "I'm disappointed," says research Henning Tiemeier of the Netherlands' Erasmus Medical Center. But he remains confident that the mental health problem is grounded in genetics. "We think it’s doable to find some of the genes involved," he says. [Science News]

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Tougher than diamonds. Nothing's more resilient than that geological symbol of love, the diamond—right? Wrong! Science can build something stronger than diamonds, shattering such silly romantic notions. A new study shows that nanostructured boron nitride can be engineered into a substance harder than diamonds. These tiny new uber-diamonds even kind of look like the real deal. Lead researcher Yongjun Tian of China's Yanshan University says the material they've built is "colorless and totally transparent ... like glass and diamond in appearance." Could cubic boron nitride be the next cubic zirconia? [Scientific American]


Look at these crazy old sea creaturesCotyledion tylodes have captured the imaginations of marine biologists since evidence of the ancient sea creatures first turned up in the 1990s. And new fossils that were just found of the entoprocts ancestors has just surfaced, making the seafloor dwelling enigmas sound even more whimsical. Cropping up way back in the Cambrian explosion almost 500 million years ago, the C. tylodes were armored and huge. A new paper in Scientific Reports suggests they got their nourishment by filtering food out of currents passing by the rocks they anchored themselves to for life. [ScienceNow]

Zhifei Zhang et al., Scientific Reports

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