ENTRIES TAGGED "biology"

Podcast: what makes a scientist?

How scientists become scientists, whether science is still advancing at Newton's pace, and the future of neuroscience and bioengineering.

At Sci Foo Camp last weekend, we enjoyed sitting down with several thoughtful scientists and thinkers-about-science to record a few podcast episodes. Here we speak with Tom Daniel, a professor of biology, computer science, and neurobiology at the University of Washington, and Ben Lillie, co-founder of The Story Collider and a Stanford-trained…
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Glowing Plants

I just invested in BioCurious’ Glowing Plants project on Kickstarter. I don’t watch Kickstarter closely, but this is about as fast as I’ve ever seen a project get funded. It went live on Wednesday; in the afternoon, I was backer #170 (more or less), but could see the number of backers ticking upwards constantly as…
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George Church and the potential of synthetic biology

A review of George Church's book Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves

A few weeks ago, I explained why I thought biohacking was one of the most important new trends in technology. If I didn’t convince you, Derek Jacoby’s review (below) of George Church’s new book, Regenesis, will. Church is no stranger to big ideas: big ideas on the scale of sending humans to Mars. (The moon? That’s…
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Biohacking: The next great wave of innovation

The hacker culture that launched the computing revolution is now taking root in the bio space.

I’ve been following synthetic biology for the past year or so, and we’re about to see some big changes. Synthetic bio seems to be now where the computer industry was in the late 1970s: still nascent, but about to explode. The hacker culture…
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Four short links: 5 August 2009

Four short links: 5 August 2009

Rebooting Britain, Revealing Errors, Reproducing Generators, Netflix Culture

  1. Reboot Britain Video Archive — video from the talks at Reboot Britain are online. The event also produced a essay set (PDF), CC-licensed. (via Paul Reynolds)
  2. Revealing Errors — Benjamin Mako Hill blog using computer errors as starting points for understanding how computers control the world around us. (via Dan Meyer)
  3. New Microbe Strain Makes More Electricity, Faster — University of Amherst researchers made current-generating bacteria work harder to live, and in five months had a strain that made an 8x larger current.
  4. Netflix Culture — readable slide deck which talks about the Netflix company culture. It’s hard to read it and not nod in full agreement. (via joshua on Delicious)
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Four short links: 28 July 2009

Four short links: 28 July 2009

UI Library, 3rd Party Wave Server, Mobile Phones + Parasites, Single API to Cloud Providers

  1. CNMAT Resource LibraryThe CNMAT Resource Library is our fast growing collection of materials, sensors, gestural controllers, interface devices, tools, demos, prototypes and products – all organized and annotated to support the design of physical interaction systems, “new lutherie” and art installations. (via egoodman on Delicious)
  2. PyGoWave Server — first third-party Google Wave server, based on Django.
  3. Mobile Phones Identify Parasites and Bacteria — UCB Researchers developed a cell phone microscope, or CellScope, that not only takes color images of malaria parasites, but of tuberculosis bacteria labeled with fluorescent markers.. The sensor network is built out, and the computers in our pockets surprise us with their uses. (via BoingBoing)
  4. libcloud — a unified interface to cloud providers, written in Python and open source. Covers EC2, EC2-EU, Slicehost, Rackspace, Linode, VPS.net, GoGrid, flexiscale, Eucalyptus. (via joshua on Delicious)
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Four short links: 27 July 2009

Four short links: 27 July 2009

  1. Ignite OSCON — 56m of video from Ignite OSCON. They’re all great, but Dan Meyer remains the highlight for me.
  2. gheat — a maptile server in Python, delivering heatmaps to be superimposed on Google Maps. Handy for visualization fiends.
  3. CaDNAnoopen source software for design of 3-dimensional DNA origami. One of George Church’s projects. I love the combination of math, biology, and whimsy in open-source giftwrap. (via timoreilly on Twitter)
  4. CommentPressan open source theme for the WordPress blogging engine that allows readers to comment paragraph by paragraph in the margins of a text. Annotate, gloss, workshop, debate: with CommentPress you can do all of these things on a finer-grained level, turning a document into a conversation. It can be applied to a fixed document (paper/essay/book etc.) or to a running blog. I’m taking a greater interest in tools that channel and focus participation rather than simply providing “edit this page”. (via gov2.net.au’s issues paper)
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Four short links: 15 July 2009

Four short links: 15 July 2009

A collection inspired by Science Foo Camp attendees

  1. Endogenous steroids and financial risk taking on a London trading floor (PNAS) — We found that a trader’s morning testosterone level predicts his day’s profitability. We also found that a trader’s cortisol rises with both the variance of his trading results and the volatility of the market. Our results suggest that higher testosterone may contribute to economic return, whereas cortisol is increased by risk. Our results point to a further possibility: testosterone and cortisol are known to have cognitive and behavioral effects, so if the acutely elevated steroids we observed were to persist or increase as volatility rises, they may shift risk preferences and even affect a trader’s ability to engage in rational choice.
  2. The Origin of Universal Scaling Laws in Biology — eye-opening paper that blew my mind. Highlight of Sci Foo was meeting the author and shaking his hand. Relates metabolic rate, size, heart rate, and lifespan by applying physics to biology.
  3. Ushahidi — open source software for managing disasters. The Ushahidi Engine is a platform that allows anyone to gather distributed data via SMS, email or web and visualize it on a map or timeline. Our goal is to create the simplest way of aggregating information from the public for use in crisis response.
  4. Dissecting the Canon: Visual Subject Co-Popularity Networks in Art ResearchIn this paper we analyze a classic da-
    taset of art research, which collects ancient art and architecture and their Western
    Renaissance documentation since 1947. [T]here is clearly a long tail of monument
    popularity.
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Four short links: 9 June 2009

Four short links: 9 June 2009

Biological Radio, Laggy Smart Grids, API Moneys, and Pubsub Server

  1. Drawing Inspiration From Nature To Build A Better Radio — based on the design of the cochlear, this MIT-built RF chip is faster than others out there, and consumes 1/100th the power. Biomimicry and UWB radio are on our radar.
  2. Why the Smart Grid Won’t Have the Innovations of the Internet Any Time SoonWhile it’s significant that utilities are starting to build out smart grid infrastructure, utilities are largely opting for networks that provide connections that are far from real time, and this could stifle the desired innovation. [...] smart meter data that is pushed to Google’s PowerMeter energy tool has to make its way back to the utility before it can be sent to Google. That means that even for Google’s energy tool, there can be both a significant delay before information reaches consumers, and significant gaps in energy data details. These delays and gaps can undercut the premise of how smart meter technologies will empower consumers to make decisions about their energy use based on real-time costs. Smart grids (houses and devices able to take use of instantaneous pricing changes) have the potential to help us with our energy obesity problem, but the architecture must be right.
  3. API Value Creation, Not MonetizationOn the side of the unexpected but interesting outcomes, Kevin said they have seen a flurry of internally developed business applications. In the past many valuable, internal-facing projects were turned down because the programs had to meet strict top line to bottom line ratios. With the availability to data and services, many teams within the company now have access to things they didn’t in the past, and project costs have been minimized. Throughout the company, consumers of the API have been able to launch successful projects that have created additional revenue and have reduced the overall development costs for new projects. Some solid numbers and names to help convince businesses to offer APIs, though the battle is still much harder than it should be.
  4. Watercoolr — a pubsub server for your apps. A channel is a list of URLs to be notified whenever a message is posted to that channel. Clever little piece of infrastructure for web apps, embodying the Unix philosophy of small tools that each do one thing very well. (via straup on Delicious)
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Four short links: 12 May 2009

Four short links: 12 May 2009

Storage Superfluity, Data-Driven Design, Twit-Mapping, and DIY Biohacking

  1. Lacie 10TB Storage — for what used to be the price of a good computer, you can now buy 10TB of storage. Storage on sale goes for less than $100 a terabyte. This obviously promotes collecting, hoarding, packratting, and the search technology necessary to find what you’ve stashed away. Analogies to be drawn between McMansions full of Chinese-made crap and terabyte drive full of downloaded crap. Do we need to keep it? Are there psychological consequences to clutter? (via gizmodo)
  2. In Defense of Data-Driven Design — a thoughtful response to the “Google hates design!” hashmob formed around designer Douglas Bowman’s departure from Google. When you’ve got the enormous traffic necessary to work out if miniscule changes have some minor, statistically significant effect, then sure, if you can do it quickly, why wouldn’t you? But that’s optimization that should happen at the very end of the design cycle. The cart goes after the horse. Put it the other way ‘round and you have a broken setup. It doesn’t mean horses suck. It doesn’t mean carts suck. Carts are not the enemy of horses. Optimization is not the enemy of design. Get them in the right order and you have something really useful. Get them the wrong way around and you have something broken.
  3. Just Landed: Processing + Twitter + Metacarta + Hidden Data — Jer searched Twitter for “just landed in”, used Metacarta to extract the locations mentioned, and then used Processing to build visualizations.
  4. Do It Yourself Genetic Sleuthing — MIT is starting a hotbed of DIY biologists. The 23-year-old MIT graduate uses tools that fit neatly next to her shoe rack. There is a vintage thermal cycler she uses to alternately heat and cool snippets of DNA, a high-voltage power supply scored on eBay, and chemicals stored in the freezer in a box that had once held vegan “bacon” strips. Aull is on a quirky journey of self-discovery for the genetics age, seeking the footprint of a disease that can be fatal but is easily treated if identified. But her quest also raises a broader question: If hobbyists working on computers in their garages can create companies such as Apple, could genetics follow suit? It’s unclear what those DIY-started “genetics” companies would look like–the potential is there, but it’s yet to met the right problem. (via Andy Oram)

Just Landed – 36 Hours from blprnt on Vimeo.

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