Biology

Pure Pedantry

Category archives for Biology

DIY Bio will not end the world

People are doing biology in their kitchen now, or in rented labs with cheaper equipment: In Cambridge, Mass., a group called DIYbio is setting up a community lab where the public could use chemicals and lab equipment, including a used freezer, scored for free off Craigslist, that drops to 80 degrees below zero, the temperature…

Mark this on the list of “things to expect in 2009.” Craig Venter and his team expect to create the world’s first artificially synthesized organism: One likely announcement, which may happen any day of the year, is of the world’s first artificial living creature. The announcer will almost certainly be Craig Venter, an American biologist…

Nicholas Wade on the Colbert Report

Nicholas Wade (a friend of mine’s Dad actually) was on the Colbert Report talking about cloning wooly mammoths. Colbert asks the obvious question: why don’t we just staple shag carpeting to an elephant?

Video of a Rare Giant Squid

Check out this crazy video of a rare “elbowed” giant squid recorded from a Shell Oil remote operated vehicle in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hypothesis-Free Research?

Steven Wiley, writing in the Scientist, discusses the contradiction of the recent fad for “hypothesis-free” research: Following a recent computational biology meeting, a group of us got together for dinner, during which the subject of our individual research projects came up. After I described my efforts to model signaling pathways, the young scientist next to…

I wish I could do this: Scientists exposed 4-day-old sand dollar larvae to fish mucus, a sign that danger is close. They found that the larvae created clones of themselves within 24 hours. “It’s the first time we’ve seen anything clone itself in response to cues that predators are near,” said researcher Dawn Vaughn, a…

This is just too good. All molecular biologists have had a conversation at least once where they try to actually explain what they do with their day to a lay-person, rather than just talking in stale generalities. The problem with this is that molecular biology is technical, and it takes a bit of explanation. This…

Bohr and Complimentarity in Biology

The Scientist has a wonderful article about complimentarity in biology. Complimentarity is the application of two or more different theoretical approaches to a single problem: “Light and Life” is perhaps best known for its focus on Bohr’s concept of complementarity. According to this concept, some natural phenomena can only be completely understood by combining two…

That is so gross, yet also very cool. The cowpea weevil or Callosobruchus maculatus has an arms race that is going between the males and females. This beetle species are promiscuous, and there is a lot of advantage for the males to be the last one to have mated with a particular female in terms…

Debate about life from other planets

Scientists have thawed samples of bacteria that were frozen in ice for up to 8,000,000 years in order to figure out whether these bacteria would still be viable and whether their DNA is intact. It turns out they are viable, but the longer they were in ice the more their DNA was fragmented. This has…