Organisers of the International Barcode of Life conference, in Adelaide this week, plan to use miniature DNA decoding devices to answer the question: “What species is that?”
Conference co-chair and director of the Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity at the University of Adelaide, Professor Andrew Lowe, says this is one of the most exciting developments in genomics.
"You point this thing at an alien species and it tells you all about it. That’s where we want to get to … maybe in five years, which is really neat."
By 2015 scientists expect to have a reference library of five million standardised DNA sequences they can use to identify 500,000 species, which is more than a quarter of all known species on Earth.
They would take a sample and then compare it with the sequences in the database, looking for a match.
Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has confirmed plans for the sci-fi drama to air in the autumn next year.
The 50-year-old, writing in Doctor Who Magazine, dismissed the possibility of the show airing during the summer.
Moffat said: “Doctor Who in the summer? All that running down tunnels, with torches, and the sunlight streaming through your windows and bleaching out the screen? All those barbecues and children playing outside, while on the telly there are green monsters seething in their CGI-enhanced lairs? It’s just not right is it? Be honest.
"For me, as a kid, when the afternoon got darker and there was a thrill of cold in the air, I knew that even though summer was over, the TARDIS was coming back! So yes, that’s part of the plan, that’s part of the reason for this little delay. But it’s not the whole story."
At the Chicago TARDIS convention today, Peter Davison was on stage for a Q&A, and everyone was asking typical questions about his work as the Doctor. Then a girl comes up to the mic and says something like, “I just wanted to tell you that I started watching you as the Doctor when I was 14 and I was really depressed. And I just wanted to let you know that you really helped me through everything. And thank you for that.”
It’s sort of amazing to remember, even amongst all of the drama and fights and wars we may see on tumblr, how much this show means to so many people and how much of an effect it can have, especially to someone who needs it.