RNAi and hwaelweg


Another Friday night at my place in the frozen North, more appropriate than ever today as it rains and snows outside. It has been a relief to come to the end of this week, so I can catch my breath a little and get caught up to where all my class material is. Courses certainly seem to get harder at upper levels, and I could swear they need more time now than say, in my second year. And of course this term has been fairly relentless with midterms, having nearly one every week for half the term. I picked up a book at the discount book shop in the mall on campus the other day titled The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester. The book chronicles the history of the English language, and the birth of the most authoritative works on one of the odder languages in history. I bought it after the advice of one of the people on a committee I serve on. I have not been disappointed. Thus far, the book has been quite entertaining and very well written. The word hwaelweg was an Old English word for the sea, meaning whale-way.These and other such trivialties are just a piece of what the book offers. The term RNAi refers to a revolutionary new understanding of of a mechanism in the cell which allows us to selectively block the expression of undesirable traits, like those in genetic diseases. It was the subject of this year's Nobel price in medecine.