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Oscillator

Oscillator

Notes, thoughts, and news on synthetic biology.

  • Goodbye

    By Christina Agapakis | December 15, 2014 |

    I'm leaving the Scientific American network, which is being " reshaped ." I'll be returning to my original solo blog , which I left nearly five years ago, continuing to edit Method Quarterly , and writing for other outlets. An archive of my old posts will remain here at SciAm, and you can keep in touch with me and my writing through twitter or facebook . […]

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  • Method Quarterly

    Method Quarterly

    By Christina Agapakis | November 12, 2014 |

    Over the past couple months, I've been working with Azeen Ghorayshi on starting a new publication for stories about science in the making. We're launching the first issue of Method Quarterly today, titled "Boundaries." The following is our editors' letter, with links to all the essays in the issue. […]

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  • Weird Biology Fact of the Day: Mirror-image Amino Acids

    Weird Biology Fact of the Day: Mirror-image Amino Acids

    By Christina Agapakis | September 29, 2014 |

    I learned many interesting things at this weekend's MIT Center For Art, Science & Technology Symposium , but there is one fact that totally blew my mind. In her fascinating and wide-ranging talk on multi-dimensional space and human consciousness, Tauba Auerbach briefly mentioned the fact that after an organism dies its amino acids will gradually change "handedness" — from an entropy defying left-handed favoritism back to 50-50 over many thousands of years. […]

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  • Fist Bumps Are For Germophobes

    Fist Bumps Are For Germophobes

    By Christina Agapakis | July 30, 2014 |

    Fist bumps are back in the news this week after the publication of a study finding that fist bumps transfer fewer bacteria than the more customary handshake. Researchers dipped rubber gloves in a solution of E. coli and measured the number of bacteria transferred onto a clean glove after a variety of different greetings, including fist bump, prolonged fist bump, high five, prolonged high five, moderate handshake, and strong handshake. […]

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  • If you build it, they will come: designing microbial ecosystems in cheese

    If you build it, they will come: designing microbial ecosystems in cheese

    By Christina Agapakis | July 17, 2014 |

    Cover for this week's issue of Cell, featuring a paper on the microbiology of cheese. Microbes live in dense and diverse communities. There are billions of bacteria from thousands of species living together in your gut or in the soil. Sequencing the total DNA of these communities can give us a catalog of the diversity that's there, but it can't tell us much about the relationship between those organisms, how the communities form, and how they evolve together. […]

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  • Four Great Scents from Outer Space

    Four Great Scents from Outer Space

    By Christina Agapakis | July 14, 2014 |

    You don't need your nose to know what something smells like. Perfumers and astronomers can detect and recreate scents based on the chemical signatures of the molecules in the air, even if that air is very very far away . 1. The Space Rose In 1998 the space shuttle Discovery brought a rose into orbit . […]

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  • Through the Anthropocene Looking Glass

    Through the Anthropocene Looking Glass

    By Christina Agapakis | July 7, 2014 |

    There's no doubt that humans have drastically changed the Earth. The global scale impacts of humans on the environment has led many scientists, scholars, and environmentalists to use the term Anthropocene to describe our present geological period. […]

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  • Biological Speculation

    By Christina Agapakis | June 17, 2014 |

    A great short talk by Drew Endy about the early history of synthetic biology and the motivations, hopes, and uncertainties of bioengineering. How do we know we're making good decisions? How can we create more improbable patterns? What should we be vibrating about? […]

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  • If you wish to make a gene from scratch

    If you wish to make a gene from scratch

    By Christina Agapakis | June 14, 2014 |

    According to the New York Times, synthetic biology is creating DNA out of thin air. A recent article about synthetic biology and consumer goods describes DNA synthesis as a process where "DNA is created on computers and inserted into organisms." Computers are pretty cool and really useful in synthetic biology labs, but it takes a lot more than a computer to turn a text file full of A's T's C's and G's into DNA. […]

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  • Which bacteria are in my poop? It depends where you look...

    Which bacteria are in my poop? It depends where you look...

    By Christina Agapakis | May 12, 2014 |

    This is a guest post from my friend and former colleague Tami Lieberman . She's a postdoc in the Kishony Lab in the Department of Systems Biology at the Harvard Medical School, and you follow her on twitter @conTAMInatedsci . As a recently minted PhD, I study the evolution of bacteria during infection. […]

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