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Published on Jan 31, 2012
OK, so it's a week late but it got released eventually
In episode 4 of his show "Genesis Week" our friend Ian "Indiana" Juby took it upon himself to dissect a scientific paper on the evolution of multicellularity where a species of single celled yeast had been selectively bred to become multicellular.
As Ian is qualified as voice coach, when it comes to cutting edge science he has to rely on his mensa membership card which is obviously no bloody use what so ever. In this episode he makes a big fuss of the use of a centrifuge to settle the samples with a 100 x g burst for 10 seconds.
Unfortunately though that sounds a lot, he has no idea just how much gravitational force that is and as he has not done the calculations to work out the RCF (relative centrifugal force) he makes the mistake of thinking that the centrifuge must have been running at turbo overdrive to subject the sample to 100 x g
Of course it isn't, 100 x g is what Ian subjects his socks and Y fronts to when he puts them in the spin dryer at its slowest setting.
In fact when a bench centrifuge can go up to 20,000 x g, 100 x g is hardly turning it up to 11, its barely taking it off stop with the unit running at 0.5 per cent full speed.
Of course Ian fails to point all of this out and he goes on to mischaracterise the whole experiment in a way that suggests that he had difficulty finding the link at the bottom of the paper to the supplementary information page that detailed the full method used which can be found here
It is interesting to note that in the supplementary information showing the actual method used, they only use the centrifuge in two parts of the experiment. The first part where they see if the yeast will become multicellular and the second part where they check to see if the centrifuge has any impact on the process and compare it to cultures that have been left to settle naturally for varied lengths of time.
When they are investigating the prevalence of multicellularity or cluster size against settling rates they do not use a centrifuge at all.