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Clue Makers Have Killed Off Mrs. White, Replaced Her With Dr. Orchid


by Kirsten Howard

Who killed Mrs. White? It wasn’t Colonel Mustard in the Billiard Room—it was the marketing team over at Hasbro HQ.

Yes, after almost 70 years of planning, committing, and helping to foil gruesome murders in Clue’s Tudor Mansion, original character Mrs. White is being killed off once and for all in August. The housekeeper will be replaced with Dr. Orchid who, according to Hasbro, "is a biologist with a PhD in plant toxicology, privately schooled in Switzerland until her expulsion following a near-fatal daffodil poisoning incident. She was then home-schooled by the very woman she would go on to replace, the late housekeeper, Mrs. White."

The classic game was launched in 1949 after being invented five years earlier by Birmingham, England-born musician Anthony E. Pratt as a fun way to pass the time in bomb shelters. Hasbro has been manufacturing Clue sets since the early 1990s, when the company bought Parker Brothers and Waddingtons, which were both producing their own editions. Although the game recently underwent a full revamp, this is the first time a major change has been made to the character lineup.

Hasbro has released a bio on Mrs. White’s replacement, Dr. Orchid, explaining that she is the adoptive daughter of Tudor Mansion’s rightful owner, Samuel Black. Dr. Orchid will be joining original characters Miss Scarlet, Professor Plum, Mrs. Peacock, Mr. Green, and Colonel Mustard in new Clue sets beginning in August.

“It was a difficult decision to say goodbye to Mrs. White—but after 70 years of suspicious activity, we decided that one of the characters had to go," Jonathan Berkowitz, Hasbro Gaming's senior vice president of global marketing, said in a statement. “Dr. Orchid is a brilliant new character with a rich backstory and links to the Black fortune. We’re sure families around the world will continue to create thrilling murder mysteries with all six suspects inside of the iconic Tudor Mansion. ”

Farewell, Mrs White. Gone, but not forgotten.

All images courtesy of Hasbro.

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Cell Free Technology
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This Pixel Kit Will Let You Play Tetris With Jellyfish DNA
Cell Free Technology
Cell Free Technology

Forget playing Tetris on your phone. Now you can play it with jellyfish DNA. Bixels is a DIY game kit that lets you code your own games using synthetic biology, lighting up a digital display with the help of DNA.

Its 8-by-8 pixel grid is programmed to turn on with the help of the same protein that makes jellyfish glow, called green fluorescent protein (GFP). But you can program it to do more than just passively shine. You can use your phone and the associated app to excite Bixels' fluorescent proteins and make them glow at different frequencies, producing red, blue, and green colors. Essentially, you can program it like you would any computer, but instead of electronics powering the system, it's DNA.

Two blue boxes hold Bixel pixel grids.

Researchers use green fluorescent protein all the time in lab experiments as an imaging agent to illuminate biological processes for study. With Bixels, all you need is a little programming to turn the colorful lights (tubes filled with GFP) into custom images or interactive games like Tetris or Snake. You can also use it to develop your own scientific experiments. (For experiment ideas, Bixels' creator, the Irish company Cell-Free Technology, suggests the curricula from BioBuilder.)

A screenshot shows a user assembling a Bixel kit on video.

A pixel kit is housed in a cardboard box that looks like a Game Boy.

Bixels is designed to be used by people with all levels of scientific knowledge, helping make the world of biotechnology more accessible to the public. Eventually, Cell-Free Technology wants to create a bio-computer even more advanced than Bixels. "Our ultimate goal is to build a personal bio-computer which, unlike current wearable devices, truly interacts with our bodies," co-founder Helene Steiner said in a press release.

Bixels - Play tetris with DNA from Cell-Free Technology on Vimeo.

You can buy your own Bixel kit on Kickstarter for roughly $118. It's expected to ship in May 2018.

All images courtesy Cell-Free Technology

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Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images
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Play a Game to Help Scientists Defeat a Cancer-Causing Toxin
Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images
Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images

If you're used to fighting virtual zombies or flying spaceships on your computer, a new series of games available on Foldit may sound a little unconventional. The object of the Aflatoxin Challenge is to rearrange protein structures and create new enzymes. But its impact on the real world could make it the most important game you've ever played: The scientists behind it hope it will lead to a new way to fight one of the most ruthless causes of liver cancer.

As Fast Company reports, the citizen science project is a collaboration between Mars, Inc. and U.C. Davis, the University of Washington, the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa, and Thermo Fisher Scientific. The team's online puzzles, which debuted on Foldit earlier this month, invite the public to create a new enzyme capable of finding and destroying carcinogens known as aflatoxins.

Aflatoxins form when certain fungi grow on crops like corn, nuts, and grains. Developing countries often don't have the resources to detect it in food, leaving around 4.5 billion people vulnerable to it. When people do eat food with high aflatoxin levels unknowingly, they can contract liver cancer. Roughly a quarter of all liver cancer cases around the world can be traced back to aflatoxin exposure.

The toxin's connection to agriculture is why the food giant Mars is so interested in fighting it. By working on a way to stop aflatoxins on a molecular level, the company could prevent its spread more efficiently than they would with less direct methods like planting drought-resistant crops or removing mold by hand.

The easiest way for scientists to eradicate an aflatoxin before it causes real harm is by making an enzyme that does the work for them. With the Aflatoxin Challenge, the hope is that by manipulating protein structures, online players will come up with an enzyme that attacks aflatoxins at a susceptible portion of their molecular structure called a lactone ring. Destroying the lactone ring makes aflatoxin much less toxic and essentially safe to eat.

The University of Washington launched Foldit in 2008. Since then, the online puzzle platform has been used to study a wide range of diseases including AIDS and Chikungunya. Everyone is welcome to contribute to the Foldit's new aflatoxin project for the next several weeks or so, after which scientists will synthesize genes based on the most impressive results to be used in future studies.

[h/t Fast Company]

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