The British heavy metal icon and former Black Sabbath frontman had a good reason for having his full genome sequenced and analyzed: He wanted to know why he was still alive.
“I was curious,” he wrote in a column this week for London’s The Sunday Times. "Given the swimming pools of booze I've guzzled over the years—not to mention all of the cocaine, morphine, sleeping pills, cough syrup, LSD, Rohypnol … you name it - there's really no plausible medical reason why I should still be alive. Maybe my DNA could say why."
The St. Louis, Missouri-based Cofactor Genomics sequenced his genome and Knome Inc. analyzed the data, putting the Prince of Darkness in the same company as DNA co-discoverer James Watson and Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, who also have submitted to the process, Scientific American reported.
People are increasing using genome analysis “to uncover information about their ancestral histories, impending health risks and disorders of potential progeny,” the magazine reported in June.
“Despite the completion of the generalized human genome draft a decade ago, connections between diseases and genetic variations have proved to be evermore complex and elusive,” it said.
Knome co-founder Jorge Conde said Osbourne was interested in his ancestry and in recently being diagnosed with a Parkinson’s-like condition. The test revealed some Neanderthal lineage as well as “novel variants” in genes associated with addiction and metabolism.
The company didn’t divulge the full results of Osbourne’s test. The rocker and his wife, Sharon, are appearing at TEDMED 2010 in San Diego, California, on Friday to discuss the results. His speech is titled, “What will the unveiling of a full Osbourne genome reveal?”
A Halloween treat, no doubt.
Speaking of Halloween treats, Kawash likes them and is willing to defend the sweet indulgences that are so often vilified this time of year.
The Candy Professor talked to The New York Times this week about “the Jelly Bean Incident” that instigated her blog.
She and her 3-year-old daughter were playing at the home of a new friend. Seeing cookies and juice boxes in the kitchen, Kawash pulled out some jelly beans. The mother seemed reluctant to let her child have any because the youngster had never had candy.
The mother relented, but the father called from the other room that you might as well give the kid crack cocaine, the newspaper reported.
Kawash, who has a doctorate from Duke University, says candy carries moral and ethical baggage and is viewed differently from other foods.
“At least candy is honest about what it is,” she told The Times. “It has always been a processed food, eaten for pleasure, with no particular nutritional benefit.”
Foods with these same qualities are on every aisle of the supermarket, but they don’t have the same stigma as candy, Kawash said, noting that a serving of Gatorade has the same amount of sugar as 12 pieces of candy corn.
Her Candy Professor blog “offers a cultural and historical view of American candy over the past century, one post at a time.”
Topics include what people think about candy, how candy is made and marketed, and “who ate candy and when and why.”
With candy slammers out en masse for All Hallow’s Eve, Kawash has a busy weekend mapped out. In addition to appearing on CNN International’s "World Report" on Saturday, she will be on NPR and CBC Radio on Friday, SiriusXM’s “Doctor Radio” on Monday and Radio Ireland’s “Newstalk” on Tuesday.
The Harvard professor is under fire for a letter he sent to his former student, President Obama, during the hearings to confirm Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
He told his one-time protégé in the May 2009 letter that Sotomayor should not be on the high court because “she’s not nearly as smart as she seems to think she is, and her reputation for being something of a bully could well make her liberal impulses backfire and simply add to the firepower of the Roberts/Alito/Scalia/Thomas wing of the court.”
He further told Obama the resignation of Justice David Souter should be viewed as “an opportunity to lay the groundwork for a series of appointments that will gradually move the court in a pragmatically progressive direction.”
Tribe closed his letter by suggesting that Elena Kagan be Obama’s first appointment to the court. Kagan became Obama’s second appointment after Sotomayor.
The letter was unearthed by Ed Whelan of the National Review, who pointed out a 2009 article in The New York Times which seemed to say Tribe, who served as an adviser in the selection process, supported the Sotomayor selection.
Tribe told the paper the White House felt complaints about her temperament were unfounded and had decided her background and perspective would be a “healthy antidote” to the philosophies espoused by the court’s conservative wing.
“The president’s inquiries into the way she interacts with others,” Tribe told the paper, “convinced him that she would be a positive force in the chemistry of the Supreme Court.”
Whelan wrote in his Thursday blog post that the quote could be translated thusly: “I couldn’t persuade Obama not to pick her.”