Posts Tagged ‘Biology’

Posted: December 31, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Why You Want To Become a Biohacker: Rodrigo Martinez @TEDxBeaconStreet

Imagine living in a building that was not constructed, but ‘grown;’ or imagine designing your own shirt, printing it while you take a shower and recycling it at night…every day. Who makes all the things we use and how these are made is about to change dramatically. Rodrigo Martinez believes that we are in the early stages of a new revolution that will affect every design, manufacturing and industrial process around us – “If you want to be part of some of the most exciting things that will take place in the coming decades, become a biohacker!”

Rodrigo Martinez, Life Sciences Chief Strategist at award-winning design firm IDEO, explores the opportunities at the crossroads of design + biology to envision future products and services.

(by TEDxTalks)

Posted: December 20, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Turning vast amounts of genomic data into meaningful information about the cell is the great challenge of bioinformatics, with major implications for human biology and medicine

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and colleagues have proposed a new “network-extracted ontology” (NeXO) method that creates a computational model of the cell from large networks of gene and protein interactions, discovering how genes and proteins connect to form higher-level cellular machinery. “Our method creates [an] ontology, or a specification of all the major players in the cell and the relationships between them,” said first author Janusz Dutkowski, PhD, postdoctoral researcher in the UC San Diego Department of Medicine. It uses knowledge about how genes and proteins interact with each other and automatically organizes this information to form a comprehensive catalog of gene functions, cellular components, and processes. “What’s new about our ontology is that it is created automatically from large datasets. In this way, we see not only what is already known, but also potentially new biological components and processes — the bases for new hypotheses,” said Dutkowski. Ontologies Originally devised by philosophers attempting to explain the nature of existence, ontologies are now broadly used to encapsulate everything known about a subject in a hierarchy of terms and relationships. Intelligent information systems, such as iPhone’s Siri, are built on ontologies to enable reasoning about the real world. Ontologies are also used by scientists to structure knowledge about subjects like taxonomy, anatomy and development, bioactive compounds, disease, and clinical diagnosis. (via A new ‘network-extracted ontology’ model of the cell | KurzweilAI)

Posted: December 8, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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TUG of war could well be the oldest game in the world. Cells use it for division, and now researchers have measured the forces involved when an amoeba plays the game. Hirokazu Tanimoto and Masaki Sano at the University of Tokyo, Japan, studied what happens during the division of Dictyostelium – a slime mould that has barely changed through eons of evolution. The amoeba uses tiny projections or “feet” to gain traction on a surface. The pair placed the amoeba on a flexible surface embedded with fluorescent beads. They used traction force microscopy to measure how the organism deformed the pattern of beads: the greater the deformation, the greater the force. Dictyostelium normally exerts a force of about 10 nanonewtons when it moves, but the pair found this roughly doubles during division. That’s because the cell uses its feet to pull itself in opposite directions, as if playing tug of war with itself. The forces involved are about 100 billion times smaller than those used in the human form of the game, Tanimoto says (Physical Review Letters, in press). (via Tiny tug of war in cells underpins life – life – 02 December 2012 – New Scientist)

Critics claim that evolutionary biology is, at best, guesswork. The reality is otherwise. Evolutionists have nailed down how an enormous number of previously unexplained phenomena—in anatomy, physiology, embryology, behavior—have evolved. There are still mysteries, however, and one of the most prominent is the origins of homosexuality. The mystery is simple enough. Its solution, however, has thus far eluded our best scientific minds. First the mystery. The sine qua non for any trait to have evolved is for it to correlate positively with reproductive success, or, more precisely, with success in projecting genes relevant to that trait into the future. So, if homosexuality is in any sense a product of evolution—and it clearly is, for reasons to be explained—then genetic factors associated with same-sex preference must enjoy some sort of reproductive advantage. The problem should be obvious: If homosexuals reproduce less than heterosexuals—and they do—then why has natural selection not operated against it?

The Evolutionary Mystery of Homosexuality – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Posted: November 21, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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When David Harel started the experiment, the petri dish of mouse cells looked just like any other. Genes were being expressed, proteins were being made, and the tissue was being perfused with oxygen-rich blood. But then things started to change. First one cell changed position and moved across the plate, followed quickly by another. Eventually, through migration and other changes in cell functionality and signaling, the cells had differentiated, with the lucky ones becoming fully-fledged thymus gland T cells. And it all happened in a fraction of the time that biologists would have expected based on several decades of physiological and development studies; after all, this experiment was happening inside a computer, in virtual organs modeled by complicated diagrams, simulating their real-world counterparts. Harel, a Professor of Computer Science at Israel’s Weizmann Institute, sees his team’s work at the leading edge of a dramatic shift in scientific thinking. “Biological research is ready for an extremely significant transition,” he writes, “from analysis (reducing experimental observation to elementary building blocks) to synthesis (integrating the parts into a comprehensive whole).” (via Why the Frontiers of Biology Might Be Inside a Computer Chip | Wired Science |

In contrast with animal communication systems, diversity is characteristic of almost every aspect of human language. Languages variously employ tones, clicks, or manual signs to signal differences in meaning; some languages lack the noun-verb distinction (e.g., Straits Salish), whereas others have a proliferation of fine-grained syntactic categories (e.g., Tzeltal); and some languages do without morphology (e.g., Mandarin), while others pack a whole sentence into a single word (e.g., Cayuga). A challenge for evolutionary biology is to reconcile the diversity of languages with the high degree of biological uniformity of their speakers. Here, we model processes of language change and geographical dispersion and find a consistent pressure for flexible learning, irrespective of the language being spoken. This pressure arises because flexible learners can best cope with the observed high rates of linguistic change associated with divergent cultural evolution following human migration. Thus, rather than genetic adaptations for specific aspects of language, such as recursion, the coevolution of genes and fast-changing linguistic structure provides the biological basis for linguistic diversity. Only biological adaptations for flexible learning combined with cultural evolution can explain how each child has the potential to learn any human language.

PLOS ONE: The Biological Origin of Linguistic Diversity

Posted: November 13, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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The secret of DNA’s success is that it carries information like that of a computer program, but far more advanced. Since experience shows that intelligence is the only presently acting cause of information, we can infer that intelligence is the best explanation for the information in DNA.

Jonathan Wells (via inthenoosphere)