Erica P. Johnson
In the early days of American television, the late Steve Allen created a comic persona called "Question Man." An expert in whatever, Question Man contended that the public was so well-informed, knowing more answers than questions, that it was leaving many answers unquestioned. So, Question Man invited his audience to send him answers out-of-context, and he provided the questions. They were the punch lines.
Today the soaring medium is the Internet, where hundreds of molecular databases hold answers to countless biological questions, most of which have yet to be asked, or even conceived. Increasingly popular among biologists, the databases are as challenging as they are invaluable. Information overload is but one hurdle: Every day, laboratories contribute new information that must be vetted, organized, and made accessible to life scientists who are not trained in computer science.
"The biomedical and...