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Monthly Archives: April 2009

Bonnie Bassler on the Social Life of Bacteria

In this recently posted footage from the TED Conference in February, Princeton University professor and MacArthur fellow Bonnie Bassler offers a compelling introduction to the cutting edge of molecular biology. Bessler is probably most famous for uncovering the mechanism that bacteria use to communicate via chemical messages, called “quorum sensing.” Bacteria aren’t simple, lonely, isolated […]

Chickens Are the New Adirondack Chair: Urban Chicken Keeping Workshop

On the short walk from here to the preschool, we pass cages of quail, next door to a two-hen household looking to welcome a third this spring, which will come in a shipment shared with two other sets of neighbors. Caroline Street is gaining at least two new coops, with the rumor being that at […]

Sounds from a Black Jewish Synagogue, Chicago

There was an interesting article in the NYT Magazine last weekend about Michelle Obama’s cousin, Capers Funnye, a convert to Judaism who is the rabbi of [the largest?] black synagogue in Chicago. About a year ago, the Times did another story about Funnye, which has a great little multimedia slide show embedded. This is a […]

Bio-Battery Breakthrough

The journal Science last week published news of a cool breaththrough in bioengineering by a team at MIT headed by materials scientist and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Angela Belcher: a highly efficient virus-built battery. Earlier, Belcher’s team had created an anode by genetically engineering the M13 virus, a common parasite of bacteria, to attract cobalt […]

Do Green Cleaners, Um … Clean?

Well, that’s not exactly the question that’s discussed in this article from Slate, but close. Disinfecting — killing germs — is different from cleaning. And, according to the article, “At the moment, none of the big green cleaning companies—Seventh Generation, Method, Ecover, or Clorox’s new Green Works line—offers an EPA-registered disinfectant or sanitizer.” Of course, […]

Synthetic Biology Updates from MIT and Woodrow Wilson Center

Reshma Shetty, a cofounder of Ginkgo Bioworks, and MIT biological engineering instructor Natalie Kuldell give their “Synthetic Biology for Dummies” talk in this discussion recorded in January 2009. Of course, the dummies in question are MIT students, so don’t feel too bad if some of this goes over your head. It’s long, but really fairly […]