iGEM, or How to Build a Biological Organism in a Single Summer

The International Genetically Engineered Machine » 11/20/08 9:00am 11/20/08 9:00am competition brings undergraduates from around the world to MIT's campus to share the results of a summer's worth of synthetic biology research. Each team tries to create the best synthetic organism. Here you can see the iGEM participants (photo courtesy of David…

Three Horror Movies That Even a Scientist Could Love

As a scientist I have mixed feelings about SF-oriented horror, which tends to show my lab coat-wearing brethren as myopic, obsessive, morally challenged individuals or as humorless skeptics. When Fringe » 11/06/08 9:00am 11/06/08 9:00am needed a scientist for its team of white hats, the best they could come up with was a former, vaguely repentant mad…

What's the Future of Cancer Diagnosis?

I talked about the importance of early cancer diagnosis in a previous post » 10/09/08 9:00am 10/09/08 9:00am, and reader Ian wrote back to ask for more detail. Early detection can be life-saving, but accuracy in these tests is also a serious problem - a test that misses existing cancers is obviously bad, but one that detects cancers that there or…

Will I Evolve Into a Being of Pure Energy?

Welcome back to Ask a Biogeek, a column where biology researcher Terry Johnson answers questions about biology — no matter how weird. » 9/18/08 9:00am 9/18/08 9:00am Back when I discussed our as a species, one commenter added to the list of improbabilities our eventual transcendence into a non-corporeal form. That's hardly the only evolutionary myth …

Where Is My Cure for Cancer?

Welcome back to Ask a Biogeek, a column where you ask biology researcher Terry Johnson any question you want - no matter how weird. » 9/04/08 9:00am 9/04/08 9:00am Reader Charlie writes: Sadly, cancer is not a single disease, but a class of diseases - while we may effectively cure some forms of cancer, it's doubtful that we'll be able to cure them…

What Are the Unlikeliest Futures for the Human Species?

Welcome to Ask a Biogeek, a column where you ask UC Berkeley researcher Terry Johnson any question you want - no matter how weird. » 8/21/08 9:00am 8/21/08 9:00am Reader Matthew asks: "Blocked" is perhaps too rigorous a standard, but there are certainly some futures far less likely than others. I can't , but perhaps I can convince you that a few…

Son Of "Where Are My Cybernetic Implants?"

Welcome to Ask a Biogeek, a column where you ask UC Berkeley researcher Terry Johnson any question you want - no matter how weird. » 8/07/08 9:00am 8/07/08 9:00am There seems to be a strong correlation between my posting an article on a subject, and my RSS feeds filling up with exciting new research, which I then wish I'd been able to include. The…

@bjarmson: Perhaps I'm cynical, but I've always thought Wash died because the ensemble cast of Firefly was too large for a series of movies, and of all the roles on the ship that River could have grown into as a replacement, pilot made the most sense. » 7/22/08 5:07pm 7/22/08 5:07pm

Where Is My Hypospray?

Welcome to Ask a Biogeek, a column where you ask UC Berkeley researcher Terry Johnson any question you want — no matter how weird.
Reader Mairi proxies the following question: My mom wants to know when we're going to get needle-less, painless injections.
While I personally covet the medical tricorder, I would almost… » 7/17/08 9:00am 7/17/08 9:00am

Can a Video Game Teach Evolution?

Last week Electronic Arts was kind enough to invite me to a demonstration of Spore's creature creator. A few days ago, we told you about Spore, a video game that challenges you to guide a single cell on the bottom of the evolutionary ladder out of the ocean and into civilization. (Here you can see my creature, » 6/19/08 9:00am 6/19/08 9:00am

Where Are My Cybernetic Implants?

A reader who would like to remain anonymous asks: » 5/22/08 9:00am 5/22/08 9:00am

First of all, Anonymous, my best wishes. I hope that the next advance coming 'round the bend is a comfort to you. There are two fundamental approaches to organ-level repair: the biological approach, which includes transplants and , or what we'll call the cybernetic…