Politics, Information Technology, and Genomics

Knit one, purl two

Want to give just the right present to your favorite genomicist, how about knitting a sweater made out of DNA? Japanese researchers have developed a technique that can manipulate DNA like thread (or yarn) without breaking it. Using optical tweezers (lasers) to place DNA extended by electroosmotic flow in microfabricated hooks, they were able to wind the DNA around miniature bobbins. After the DNA is localized on the bobbins, it can be probed for different... Full Post

Personal DNA testing

Last night on NOVA scienceNOW there was a segment on the personal DNA tests currently being marketed to consumers (you can watch the segment on the website, unfortunately no ability to embed video on other sites). The host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, had his DNA tested by Navigenics and learned his "probability" as compared to the rest of the population for getting certain diseases; even deciding to learn the genotype associate with his APOE4 gene, the... Full Post


Lawrence Lessig has an interesting take on the recent dust up over Sen. Obama's positions on campaign financing and telecom immunity. In short, the Obama campaign is attacking Sen. Obama's strongest traits. I guess they don't want to be outdone on any measure by the McCain campaign (reversals on campaign finance, torture, tax cuts, off-shore oil drilling, and Iraq). Full Post

Living data storage

Researchers in Japan have created the first DNA molecule made from entirely artificially created bases. While some are trying to manufacture artificial life by creating DNA molecules in the lab, the aim of this research is to take advantage of, and in this case expand on, DNA's high information density to create a very dense data storage platform. Natural DNA has four different bases (A, G, C, and T) it can use to encode information.... Full Post

Lincoln and Darwin

It turns out that Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day. No, they didn't just share a birthday, they were actually born on the exact same day: February 12, 1809. In fact, there were even more parallels between their lives, e.g., both lost their mothers early in childhood and both suffered from depression. These and other similarities and differences are explored in recent books (e.g., Rebel Giants by historian David R.... Full Post