For most of the day today, the iGEM teams are breaking up into groups in which students present their projects. The range of projects is pretty dizzying. They are loosely divided into five tracks - energy, information processing, basic foundational projects, health and environment. I started out with a team called the Missouri Miners, from the University of Missouri, Rolla, who showed off two projects they had attempted - a biological timer, which fluoresces for a set amount of time when a cell encounters a sugar molecule, and a biological breathalyzer test, which senses ethanol and methanol. Both projects are still ongoing - many groups don't finish, Peter Carr, the judge at the panel and an MIT Media Lab researcher , told me, "and there?s no shame in that." Especially for campuses entering teams for the first time, getting everything planned and ready for the summer (according to the rules,...

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