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What's in a Gene Name?

By | February 28, 2005

If you thought the hard work of sequencing the human genome was complete, think again.

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Left Out

By | January 31, 2005

, a recent film about Hughes' early career.

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Black Cats on the Black Sea

By | January 17, 2005

One summer in the late 1980s, Yuri Lazebnik needed to sort some cells.

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Stem Cell Semantics

By | December 20, 2004

It's been six years since human embryonic stem cells appeared on the public radar screen, and we still don't know what to call them.

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The Meselson-Stahl Experiment Lives On

By | November 22, 2004

Matthew Meselson and Franklin Stahl's 1957 demonstration of DNA replication is considered "the most beautiful experiment in biology."

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In Search of the Human Genetic Code

By | October 25, 2004

Scientific terminology is intentionally precise: One would not confuse a peptide with a peptidase, or DNA with RNA.Unfortunately, the public has been slow to embrace the word "genome" because of a continuing confusion with the term "genetic code" that is perpetuated by editors, writers, and even a few prominent scientists.The dictionary defines "code" as "a system of signals used to represent letters or numbers in transmitting messages." Substitute "amino acids" for "letters or numbers" and you

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From Science Fiction to Science Fact

By | September 27, 2004

A few weeks ago I spotted, in someone's trash, Isaac Asimov's science fiction classic, The Foundation Trilogy. Shortly after, I found the 1954 giant-ants-in-L.A. film, Them, in a discount store video bin. Garbage to some, these tales were once treasures to me, although I prefer science fiction more subtle than the formulaic doomsday scenarios of humanity succumbing to oversized or overabundant (a) birds, (b) mind-snatching seed pods, (c) blobs, and of course (d) ants. The humans always prevail.T

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Roadkill Rules

By | August 30, 2004

Normal people collect stamps and coins, CDs and concert tees. Some biologists with a zoological bent, like myself, collect roadkill, originally dubbed "road fauna" in 1938 by James Simmons in his book Feathers and Fur on the Turnpike. Is there no one besides me who relishes stopping to explore a freshly splayed digestive tract, or marveled at the unique aroma of squished annelids driven from their underground lairs by rain?Roadkill finds often come unexpectedly. I move most away from traffic, so

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Fat Tax, a Recipe for a Healthy Population?

By | August 2, 2004

Taxation of fat, an idea that has been kicked around on both sides of the Atlantic for a few years, has suddenly been elevated to the forefront of government consciousness in the United Kingdom. The premise, which is dubious at best, is that a fat tax might make the population healthier and happier, and simultaneously reduce the financial burden of healthcare. Here I examine this compulsion to legislate the populace towards health. Can it possibly be good for us?PROBLEM 1The confusion of a mixed

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Fake Method for Research Impartiality (fMRI)

By | July 19, 2004

For decades, the behavioral sciences have been at a dramatic disadvantage to the hard sciences. When a biologist hypothesizes that the addition of a particular ligand to a cell will cause a certain gene to turn on and thus produce a certain protein, all she has to do is to introduce the enzyme and then test for the protein. If it's there, she publishes a paper; if it's not, she quietly discards the work.The psychologist has a much steeper hill to climb. Let's say he's trying to prove his hypothe

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