- May 31 - King Library Opens at 1:00 PM
It’s always in the news that some specific genes are identified for the first time for specified disorders like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
I feel compelled to learn more about the genes and our health. I don’t remember the scientific names in the news and I don’t have a background in biology or health sciences. I did read a book, The Language of Life by Francis S Collins. Apparently there are numerous organizations, government agencies, universities,and commercial enterprises engaged in genomic research. Then I remembered a search engine expert told us that, instead of trying to remember individual URLs, just search for the resources we desire by keywords and the various organizations’ official websites will appear. So I googled the keywords “human genome” and “Human Genome Project” respectively.
The two result lists of “human genome” and “Human Genome Project” overlap, but they all include, at the top of the lists, informative and authoritative homepage, such as Human Genome Project Information; Genome Programs of the U.S. Department of Energy; Human Genome Project - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, etc. I was also pleasantly surprised by the entries of UCSC Genome Browser and its FAQ page. For educators, there are Human Genome Project Education Resources on Dept of Energy’s Information page and the Education page with contents on genetics and genomics from NIH. National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) to begin with. In addition, the result lists provide links to related searches, e.g., human genome definition and human genome map which are important for the subject matter at hand.
Then, the millions of search results may be customized by Google Search options and tools. When my search is filtered by the option of “News” in “Past Month,” there is the entry of The $1000 Human Genome: Are We There Yet? from Scientific American, with links to hundreds of more reports on the same topic. This piece of good news - the price dropped in 10 years from $10,000 to $1,000 per sequencing - is a milestone in the proress of genomic research.
This is where I will take a break until next time when I shall customize my search to “Videos” which would be something to watch for.
Image Courtesy: National Human Genome Research Institute.
How do you look up a word if you don’t know how it’s spelled? That used to be a pesky question, but no more now with the advent of spell-checker and auto-suggestions at search boxes with search engines. As a matter of fact, Google Search provides a special operator “Define:” to perform what dictionaries or thesauri can do, and some more. If you want to see a list of definitions from various online sources, you may input “define:” followed by a word or phrase. The results in a list such generated are generally relevant, comprehensive, and up to date.
With the ease of using the “Define:” feature, not only is the wealth of etymology and usage of certain words accessible to us, but also open to us are the doors to other relevant resources. For example, I have demonstrated "Define:" to a few library users in diciphering words (knowing not necessarily the spellings) such as “a capella”; dearth; polymath; and recidivism. The few users were all pleased with the search technique as well as the quality of the results.
For myself this time, I googled “Define:Virtual” and got a list of about 4,570,000,000 results. Displayed at the top of the page are Pronunciation (phonetics & audio,) Definitions, Synonyms, and links to More info »Wikipedia - Dictionary.com - Answers.com - Merriam-Webster, followed by relevant web resources, such as Second Life, Wikipedia article, etc.
To hone in on a few projects of interest to me, I experimented with the search results Options and Tools (e. g., Images, News, Blogs, Related Searches, and Time) shown on the left-hand navigation panel. With the aid of these filters, I should be able to explore further and discover plenty of expert resources beyond what I realized so far.
For the time being, I am satisfied with the information provided by the sites ranked high on this list of results. I would share with you a particular passage from the “Usage Note” on the above mentioned Answers.com: “The adjectives virtual and digital and the prefixes e- and cyber- are all used in various ways to denote things, activities, and organizations that are realized or carried out chiefly in an electronic medium. There is considerable overlap in the use of these items: people may speak either of virtual communities or of cybercommunities and of e-cash or cybercash.”
For levitation, please look on the same page for a cartoon, “Virtual Ice Fishing.” Funny!
Image Courtesy: U. S. Department of Energy.