30 April 2015

The LilBubome



Disclaimer: I am more in the side of dogs than cats, for one simple reason: if you throw a dog a stick or ball he'll go and fetch it, and he'll play with you, filled with happiness; if you throw a stick or a ball to a cat, most likely he will look at you like saying 'Do you think I am a stupid dog? you go fetch the ball yourself'.

That said, cats are sure a big thing in our lives and our culture. IBM decided to start building an AI some time ago, and while they could try to emulate in silico the computational power and prowess of any animal, they went for a cat brain. Even Google's AI, when it (he, she?) came to life, it decided that of all the things it could possibly want to know, of ALL of them, it wanted to know what the fuck was a cat. And it started watching YouTube cat videos. There have been a number of reasons why cats maybe so dominant in our culture

Nevertheless, there are some of our felid companions that stand out above all their fellows for different reasons. And one of them is Lil Bub, of whom you can learn by yourself if you did not know him already. At a medical level, Lil Bub has several abnormalities that give him his unique looks. And because of this, a group of researchers in the Max Plank Institute in Berlin (among who I count one of my very best friends) are crowdfunding for sequencing the genome of this prominent feline, in hopes not only to learn more of his unique phenotype, but also about the genetics of how limbs develop in general.

If you are a fan of Lil Bub, Science or both, just head to experiment (a crowdfunding for science) and support the LilBubome.