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Every time I see an ad for some remedy that “Helps BOOST the Immune System!”  I die a little inside. It’s not just that these products are often homeopathic bull*, but (as I’ve mentioned before), boosting the immune system can actually be a terrible idea. The immune system is a finely tuned instrument, and too much can…

Technology and Intent

No technology is inherently good or evil, it’s the use of that technology that determines its value. A blade can be used in surgery to save a life, or as a weapon to take one. The ballistics that enable missiles to destroy enemies also enables the launch of communication satellites and exploration of other worlds.…

Fuel from Seaweed

I grew up on the coast of California, and I loved to surf. At my favorite break, Pleasure Point, the best waves were often at low tide, but low tide also meant seaweed. Lots of seaweed. [Source] The giant kelp of Monteray Bay is an astonishing organism. It’s not actually a plant, it’s a brown…

When folks in my lab think about biological problems, we think about basics. A pathogen has some molecular component that trips a sensor on the outside of a cell. That sensor (the receptor) grabs on to some adapter proteins and starts a cascade of chemical reactions catalyzed by various enzymes, which eventually leads to the…