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    Christina Agapakis Christina Agapakis is a biological designer who blogs about biology, engineering, engineering biology, and biologically inspired engineering. Follow on Twitter @thisischristina.
  • Synthetic Aesthetics: The Book!

    Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology's Designs on Nature

    Synthetic Aesthetics is a project that brings together artists, designers, engineers, biologists, and social scientists to investigate the design of living things. The book, published last week, includes essays on the science and technology of synthetic biology, the conflict between the engineering mindset, the logic of biology, and the language of design, as well as [...]

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    Starters: Fermenting With Finger Yeast

    Nico and Charlie's first sourdough, by Wayne Marshall

    My friend Wayne and his daughters Nico and Charlie recently made sourdough bread with homemade starters containing wild yeasts and bacteria. They started with just flour and water, capturing microbes from the air that start chewing up the flour, making the bubbles and flavors that give the bread its texture and its kick. I love [...]

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    No, there aren’t “two cultures”

    Einstein playing the violin

    I haven’t read Jane Austen, Game Theorist and I’m definitely not going to after reading William Deresiewicz’s scathing review in the New Republic. Deresiewicz calls the book and its attempts at “consilience” between art and science “abominable” and “intellectually bankrupt.” Uniting “the two cultures” by trying to find the scientific foundations to humanistic thought, he [...]

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    Biological Decision Making: The Strange Connection Between Cows and Bacteria

    Are cows more likely to lie down the longer they stand? This apparently simple question turns out to have an unexpected answer. The study, by a team of Scottish sustainable livestock systems researchers, won the 2013 IgNobel Prize for probability and has left many people puzzled about the mysteries of cow behavior. Unlike horses, cows [...]

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    Facts to Share at Your Next Holiday Party: Mistletoe is Weird

    Mistletoe growing parasitically on a tree

    Scientists and other nerds love a good cocktail party fact, and one of my favorites for the holidays is that mistletoe is actually a parasite. While mistletoe is green and can get its own sugar from photosynthesis, its roots are modified to attach and penetrate through the bark of a tree, sucking out water and [...]

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    Diversity Correlates With Success: Gender and Synthetic Biology

    Study of Gender Diversity in Prize-Winning iGEM Teams by Paris Bettencourt iGEM 2013

    I’ve been at iGEM (an undergraduate engineering competition in synthetic biology) this weekend learning about all the amazing bioengineering projects that students from around the world have been building. I’ll be writing more about many of these projects soon, but I wanted to highlight the work of one team on issues of gender diversity in [...]

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    Human Cheese and the Microbial Superhighway

    Cheese is a fascinating model for studying the intersection of human and microbial cultures. My project with Sissel Tolaas explores these connections through the process of making cheese using microbes sampled from the human body. Here is a short film for the project featuring interviews with microbiologist Benjamin Wolfe, cheesemaker Seana Doughty, anthropologist Heather Paxson, [...]

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    DNA stories


    This post was originally written for the Superflux blog. Superflux is a collaborative design practice working at the intersection of emerging technologies and everyday life to design for a world in flux. Their new project, Dynamic Genetics vs. Mann, deals with issues of genomic prediction, privacy, and piracy. This is me What if personalized medicine [...]

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    Some Uses of Bacteria


    Bacteria are very in these days—in probiotic drinks, in news articles, and in scientific research about the connections between healthy microbes and healthy bodies. A growing chorus of post-pasteurian voices are advocating for a new relationship with microbes, one where bacteria are respected and diverse ecosystems valued over sterile surfaces. In 1892, the biologist Herbert [...]

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    Growing the Future of Meat


    Yesterday somebody ate a $375,000 hamburger and we were promised a future of cruelty-free meat grown in a petri dish rather than in an animal. Mark Post and his team of tissue engineers funded by Google’s Sergey Brin made the 5 ounce hamburger patty by assembling 20,000 tiny bits of beef muscle grown in the [...]

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