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Monthly Archives: October 2009

Electronic Beats, Broken Down

I like electronic dance music a lot. But I don’t really know a lot about it, and I’m practically illiterate when it comes to the lexicon that real aficionados use to describe the music’s multitude of subgenres. For those, who like me, get tripped up on the distinctions between trance, techno, and trip-hop, not to […]

All Eyes on iGem

You can expect a veritable who’s who of the synthetic biology community — and a lot of geeky T-shirts — at this weekend’s iGem Jamboree, held on the MIT campus in Cambridge. The annual competition — conceived as a showcase for teams of undergraduate students to demonstrate their skill and creativity in developing genetically engineered […]

Access to Tools: Stewart Brand on Synthetic Biology

Interviewed in Newsweek on his latest book, Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto, Stewart Brand stands up against some of the most sacred cows of the mainstream environmental movement. The visionary behind the Whole Earth Catalog, early online community the Well, and the Long Now Foundation, who lives on a biodiesel- and solar-powered houseboat in […]

Visualizing Risk

Some of the most contentious debates involving laypeople’s understanding of science hinge on the ability, or inability, to assess risk logically. From vaccines to genetically engineered foods to synthetic biology, when a technology is seen as having some risk, there is a tendency among certain people to simply label it “too risky.” Of course, doing […]

Big Investors Embrace Multiple Pathways to Next-Gen Biofuels

This summer, I blogged about Joule Biotechnologies’ high-profile quest to make “solar ethanol” and wondered how it would affect other startups also using synthetic biology to make biofuel production more efficient. Particularly, I wondered whether VC firm Flagship Ventures would continue to support the fuel-focused work of LS9, which in May entered a major deal […]

Not Necessarily Stoned, But Beautiful

One of seven new species of bioluminescent fungi whose discovery was recently announced in the journal Mycologia, bringing the known total of such species around the world to 71. How do you find glow-in-the-dark mushrooms? In the rainforests of Belize, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia, and Puerto Rico, San Francisco State University mycologist Dennis […]

BioBricks and Ginkgo Bioworks in Wired U.K.

Last week I wrote about Ginkgo Bioworks’ move into a new location on Boston’s waterfront. I have to say that for a tiny company, they’ve done a great job getting and keeping visible in the media. In addition to the recent flurry of attention generated by the move and this piece in MIT’s Technology Review, […]

Big, Blue Horse Enters Sequencing Race

Now, this is interesting. Writing in the New York Times, John Markoff reports that  “one of the oldest names in computing is joining the race to sequence the genome for $1,000. On Tuesday, I.B.M. plans to give technical details of its effort to reach and surpass that goal, ultimately bringing the cost to as low […]

Synthetic Biology Raises Its Profile, and New Concerns

GenomeWeb this week reported on the findings of a new poll designed to gauge public awareness of synthetic biology. Conducted by Scientific Blogging, the poll of 1,001 American adults found that 90 percent of them think the public should be better informed about emerging technologies like synthetic biology and nanotechnology. About 22 percent of respondents […]