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Monthly Archives: July 2009

American Ingenuity

I just love Maria Kalman’s work. Love. ThisĀ  … I don’t know what you call it — a graphic editorial? — manages to provide a succinct and compelling biography of Benjamin Franklin and say something important about the nature of American ingenuity not to mention the path to personal fulfillment. And it’s also just really […]

Another Player on Synthetic Path to Biofuels

I’m not sure exactly why a simple announcement — with no accompanying “proof” — is getting so much play in the media, but a press release this week from the previously “stealth” Cambridge-based biofuels outfit Joule Biotechnologies Inc. has set off a flurry of of breathless blogging and mainstream news pickup. Founded in 2007 by […]

Harvard Scientists Pioneer High-Speed Gene Tweaking Method

In the new issue of Nature, published online July 26, a team of researchers working out of George Church‘s lab at Harvard Medical School describes a new cell programming method called Multiplex Automated Genome Engineering (MAGE) that promises to be a transformational technology for the field of synthetic biology. Currently, genetic engineers use a linear […]


Fresh carrots.

Synthetic Biology, West Coast-Style

From Stanford Magazine, a nice feature by Kara Platoni on Drew Endy and Christine Smolke that gives a well-rounded overview of synbio’s big goals along with the now-mandatory roundup of the major ethical and safety criticisms. Endy, one of the real “inventors” of synthetic biology, and one of the field’s most visible and eloquent spokespeople, […]

Omar Souleyman

It’s probably a good thing that I don’t understand the lyrics to this or know anything about the politics of Syrian techno-popstar Omar Souleyman. (Don’t tell me!) I first heard him on a recent episode of Bob Boilen’s very hip weekly NPR podcast All Songs Considered that was guest-deejayed by Bjork (who made some other […]

Synthetic Biology News: Promise and Risk

Several news outlets have reported on a recent big deal between ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics Inc., a privately held company headed by Craig Venter, to collaborate on the development of biofuels from algae. According to the Business Wire report, if research and development milestones are successfully met, ExxonMobil expects to spend more than $600 million […]

“Rock Star” Butchers

Whether they’re all as rock-star cool as these guys the NY Times is salivating over or not, it would be nice to see a true revival of the butcher’s trade, and especially the local butcher shop. Saveur magazine last year cited U.S. Department of Labor statistics showing that nearly two-thirds of America’s 122,830 butchers were […]

“Darwin Would Have Been So Thrilled”

This just showed up YouTube: Unedited video of Richard Dawkins interviewing Craig Venter for “The Genius of Charles Darwin”, an award-winning 2008 documentary shown on Channel 4 UK TV. In it, Venter explains the tools and methods used for DNA sequencing, and what it reveals about life’s underlying code. Dawkins: “It’s so immensely exciting — […]

The Stuff of Nightmares