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The Dark Matter Metaphor in Biology

Dark matter is a proposed kind of matter that cannot be seen, but that we believe accounts for most of the mass in the universe.  Its existence, mass, and properties  are inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter. The most favored hypothesis is that dark matter is not  composed of baryons, the basic components […]

Aphid attacks should be reported through the fungusphone

We like to think of ourselves as the better results of evolution. We humans are particularly proud of our ability to communicate, having invented cell phones, the Internet, and extended forelimb digits as sophisticated means of communication not found anywhere else in nature. Not true. Where there is life, there is communication. Vocal, visual, chemical. […]

SCOTUS: DNA is information, not a chemical

Should DNA be subject to copyright law, rather than patent law? Section 101 of Title 35 U.S.C. sets out the subject matter that can be patented: Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the […]

Bats use blood to reshape tongue for feeding

Great bit of research showing the amazing adaptation of bat tongues to nectar feeding.   Harper, C., Swartz, S., & Brainerd, E. (2013). Specialized bat tongue is a hemodynamic nectar mop Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1222726110  

DIGging into Images and Genomes

Our lab has a new project and website up. The project is BioDIG: Biological Database of Images and Genomes.  BioDIG lets you combine image data and genome data of, well, just about anything which you can make images and have a genome, or partial genomic information. You can upload your image, annotate (tag) parts of […]

Spaghetti Western Blot

This is simply brilliant. The best thing since Bad Project.

The Origin of Gender Symbols in Biology

A quick post for International Women’s Day: how did the gender symbols originate in biology? What do ♀ and ♂ actually stand for? The answer starts in antiquity, when planets and gods were almost synonymous. Religious rites (at least in Europe) were also associated with the working of metals. Thus, each heavenly body was associated with a […]

Life is short

Continuing with rather philosophical musings about life, Ed Trifonov has recently suggested a new approach to defining life:  let’s just vote on the definition. So how does that work? And why should it work in the first place? Note that I am diving straight into the subject, and not prefacing this post with a review […]

The Search for Small finds Life on a Gradient

In Chapter 3 of The House at  Pooh Corner, Rabbit organizes a search for Small, “One of my friends and relations.”  Like a good manager (or scientist) Pooh lays out a program: As soon as Rabbit was out of sight, Pooh remembered that he had forgotten to ask who Small was, and whether he was the […]

BsB in high school science… nice

A  small spike on my blog traffic yesterday led me to look for the source via Google Analytics. (If you are a blogger, you should really use this tool, lots of useful traffic information.) Seems like most of the traffic came from the page of a high school science teacher at Badin High School in […]

2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

And the winners are…

An Ontology for Biological Similarities

I griped here twice about the abuse of the term homology in biology. And to quote the Bellman in The Hunting of the Snark:  “What I tell you three times is  true”. But while I gripe, someone is actually doing something about the whole terminology muddle. Specifically, Marc Robinson-Rechavi and his group in The University […]

Mad Scientist

From Abstruse Goose

Naturally Obsessed

A new documentary film follows life in a molecular biology lab in Columbia University over the course of three years. It looks very promising: the title is certainly something many of us identify with.