OK, a few things that have caught my interest today that I’ll post here for whatever limited sense of posterity it can offer.

Today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, Pete Diamandis announced an X-Prize for a tricorder-like device. The X-Prize Foundation is one of those organizations that make me proud of humanity.

Emily Willingham deftly dissects an awful attempt by a writer for The Atlantic at turning a cool scientific discovery into a “Frankenfoods” fear fest. Emily sums up the science in question — findings on how little bits of rice RNA can have an affect on our genes — in these passages :

A study from a Chinese group led by Chen-Yu Zhang of Nanking University and published in Cell Research, has uncovered the fascinating result that when people eat rice, they can absorb microRNAs (miRNAs)–tiny sequences of RNA–from the rice into the blood. These rice-originating miRNAs turn up in blood and tissues of people who eat rice and…here’s the kicker…one type of rice miRNA interacts with human proteins that are responsible for removing LDL (“bad” cholesterol) from the blood (!). It’s the first report of plant miRNAs ending up in people by way of diet and the finding that at least one of them alters an important process in the body.

{A bunch of cool stuff you should read cut out.}

Researchers have discovered myriad ways that miRNA influences human development and disease, and these discoveries open the way to using that information to cure disease. But all of the miRNAs investigated thus far in people have come from people themselves, either present for normal functions or overabundant and linked to disease. The flashy take-home from this latest rice study is, We can pick up these tiny regulators from what we eat…and they can interfere with the functions of proteins we make.

She then goes into The Atlantic author’s illogical leap attempt to turn into a cautionary tale of genetically-modified food. I understand (via her Twitter handle) that she’s updating the piece. I look forward to following the tale.

Oh, where were we? History, yes! NEJM is 200 years old and they’re celebrating with a cool site and timeline.

Science Fiction magazines (like all genre literary magazines) are suffering what are probably unsustainable drops in readership, which makes it curious to see that MIT’s consumer-friendly Technology Review has just announced its own Skiffypub: TRSF. I know you can find Analog and Asimov’s in “e” versions, but I’m shocked neither has an Android or IOS app. Its not like they cater to savvy geeks or anything.