- Examining His Own Body (Science Now) — Stanford prof. has sequenced his DNA and is now getting massively Quantified Self on his metabolism, infections, etc. This caught my eye: George Church, who has pioneered DNA sequencing technology and runs the Personal Genome Project* at Harvard Medical School in Boston that enrolls people willing to share genomic and medical information similar to what’s presented in the Cell report, says some might critique Snyder’s self-exam as merely anecdotal. “But one response is that it is the perfect counterpoint to correlative studies which lump together thousands of cases versus controls with relatively much less attention to individual idiosyncrasies,” Church says. “I think that N=1 causal analyses will be increasingly important.”
- Bus Arrival Monitor (John Graham-Cumming) — hacked a toy doubledecker bus with LED display feeding bus arrival info from the Transport for London API via a modded Linksys WRT router.
- Arduino Tool That Connects Each Board to Its Own Source (Ideo) — If you create something with Arduino and put it out into the world, there is no well-established link to the source. If you personally made the device, the source can get lost over time. If you didn’t create it, you could have a tough time tracking the source down. You have the physical device, why can’t it tell you where it’s code lives? I made a tool for Arduino called “Upload-And-Retrieve-Source” that for the most part solves this problem. (via Chris Spurgeon)
- Mike Daisey is a Liar and So Am I — I linked to the original This American Life story, so now I’m linking to the best commentary on their retraction of the story. This is an excellent piece on the ubiquity and ethics of Daiseyesque means-justifies-the-end for-a-good-cause deceit.
ENTRIES TAGGED "synthetic biology"
The hacker culture that launched the computing revolution is now taking root in the bio space.
The Quantified Professor, Bus Monitor, Arduino Confessor, and Ethics of Deceit
Cell Operating System, Search Savvy, Smiling Sliders, and Recommendation Tools
- Attempts to Make a Cell Operating System (Science Daily) — finally we will be able to have the guaranteed quality of software and the safety of biological organisms.
- Why Kids Can’t Search (Clive Thompson) — kids need to be taught critical thinking skills about what they find on the web. Librarians are our national leaders in this fight; they’re the main ones trying to teach search skills to kids today.
- Smiley Slider — cute little way to get feedback. (via Jyri Tuulos)
- LensKit — an open source toolkit for building, researching, and studying recommender systems.
Data Businesses, Multitouch Charting, 3D-Printing Glass, and Synthetic Biology
- Competitive Advantage Through Data — the applications and business models for erecting barriers around proprietary data assets. Sees data businesses in these four categories: contributory data sourcing, offering cleaner data, data generated from service you offer, and viz/ux. The author does not yet appear to be considering when open or communal data is better than proprietary data, and how to make those projects work. (via Michael Driscoll)
- Solar Cutter, Solar 3D Printer — prototypes of solar powered maker devices. The cutter is a non-laser cutter that focuses the sun’s rays to a super-hot point. The printer makes glass from sand (!!!!). Not only is this cool, but sand is widespread and cheap.
- Synthetic Biology Open Language — a language for the description and the exchange of synthetic biological parts, devices, and systems. Another piece of the synthetic biology puzzle comes together. The parallel development of DIY manufacturing in the worlds of bits and basepairs is mindboggling. We live in exciting times. (via krs)
BioCurious is a Silicon Valley gathering place for biologists and
other people such as artists who are fascinated by biology. It serves
for learning, sharing, and an incubator for products and ideas.
Google Docs APIs, Wikileaks Founder Profile, DNA Hacking, and Abusing the Numbers
- Appscale — open source implementation of Google App engine’s APIs built on top of Amazon’s APIs, from UCSB. You can deploy on Amazon or on any Amazon API-compliant cloud such as Eucalyptus.
- Information Pioneers — the Chartered Institute for IT has a pile of video clips about famous IT pioneers (Lovelace, Turing, Lamarr, Berners-Lee, etc.).
- This Week in Law — podcast from Denise Howell, covering IT law and policy. E.g., this week’s episode covers “Google Books, Elena Kagen, owning virtual land, double-dipping game developers, Facebook tips, forced follow bug and fragile egos, embedding tweets, Star Trek Universe liability, and more.”
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Science Publishing, iState of the Union, Synthetic Bio Obstacles, UK Government Cloud
- Why I Am Disappointed with Nature Communications (Cameron Neylon) — fascinating to learn what you can’t do with “non-commercial”-licensed science research: using a paper for commercially funded research even within a university, using the content of paper to support a grant application, using the paper to judge a patent application, using a paper to assess the viability of a business idea.
- The iState of the Union (Slate) — humorous take on the State of the Union address, as given by Steve Jobs.
- Five Obstacles for Synthetic Biology — a reminder that biology is bloody hard, natural or synthetic. “There are very few molecular operations that you understand in the way that you understand a wrench or a screwdriver or a transistor,” says Rob Carlson, a principal at the engineering, consulting and design company Biodesic in Seattle, Washington. And the difficulties multiply as the networks get larger, limiting the ability to design more complex systems. A 2009 review showed that although the number of published synthetic biological circuits has risen over the past few years, the complexity of those circuits — or the number of regulatory parts they use — has begun to flatten out. (via Sciblogs)
- UK Government to Set Up Own Cloud (Guardian) — will build a dozen data centres (each costing £250m) and push for open source on central and local government computers, eventually resulting in thin clients and “shared utilities”. (via jasonwyran on Twitter)
Video Art, Synthetic Biology Futures, Crowdsourced Personality, and an 1890s Startup
- Projections (YouTube) — the incredible video projection onto an old English manor house by Kiwi Foo Camp alums The Dark Room.
- Business Cards and Crowdsourced Personality Assessments — we scanned images of a person’s business card and asked crowdsourced workers from the Amazon Mechanical Turk channel to write five kind words about the person based on what they saw. I like the idea of being able to crowdsource a quick impartial aesthetic judgement about a design.
- When Sears Was a Startup (Pete Warden) — one of the first catalogues from Sears (1897) inspires comparisons to Amazon and other web startups. On a mission with a new business model. They can’t stop talking about how they’re cutting out the middle men who’ve been gouging their customers, with pages devoted to messianic rants against the monopolies trying to put them out of business. They contrast their order fulfillment process (dozens of clerks dealing with tens of thousands of orders a day) with the inefficient country stores full of assistants being paid to idly wait for customers, explaining how they can offer such low prices despite the shipping.
Where Will Synthetic Biology Lead Us? (New Yorker) — a thoughtful article about the possibilities and cautions of synthetic biology. . “A house pet is a domesticated parasite,” he noted. “ It is evolved to have an interaction with human beings. Same thing with corn”—a crop that didn’t exist until we created it. “Same thing is going to start happening with energy,” he went on. “We are going to start domesticating bacteria to process stuff inside enclosed reactors to produce energy in a far more clean and efficient manner. This is just the beginning stage of being able to program life.”
If you've gotten tired of hacking firewalls or cloud computing, maybe it's time to try your hand with DNA. That's what Reshma Shetty is doing with her Doctorate in Biological Engineering from MIT. Apart from her crowning achievement of getting bacteria to smell like mint and bananas, she's also active in the developing field of synthetic biology and has recently helped found a company called Gingko BioWorks which is developing enabling technologies to allow for rapid prototyping of biological systems. She will be giving a talk entitled, "Real Hackers Program DNA" at O'Reilly's Emerging Technologies Conference in March.