cosmos_stardust
BiologyChemistryMathNaturephysicsScienceScience & Nature

The stars in our cells

A relatively recent study showed that transcription factors tend to hang out in specific areas of the nucleus, clustering like stars in galaxies. And it’s been rattling around in my head as potentially perfect for Mad Art Lab because they do, in fact, cluster like stars in galaxies — the …

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Denisovan_Featured
BiologyGeekeryScienceScience & Nature

Caveman genes — what our shared history with Denisovans means

A recent article in Nature determines, fairly conclusively, that a certain variant of a certain gene which allows Tibetans to thrive at high altitudes comes directly from interbreeding with Denisovans — from an extinct cousin of Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

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mammothFeatured
BiologyGeekeryMetaNeurologyScienceScience & Nature

Not-So-Jurassic Park

Here’s a question for you: What do you get when you put a mammoth genome into an elephant egg? Is it a mammoth or an elephant or something else? And why would you do it?

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seqfishmalfeatured
BiologyChemistryScienceScience & NatureVisual Art

Biological Units: The Strength of A Single Cell

Several recent papers have proposed methods of seeing huge numbers of individual RNA molecules within a cell. I suspect that half the appeal of these methods is the beautiful images they generate. But they’re significant largely because they allow us to pick apart biology at an increasingly tiny scale — …

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Blastocyst
BiologyfeminismScienceScience & Nature

The things we do with our eggs; reproductive health and genetic engineering

This op-ed in the New York Times set off a few of my warning bells. There’s the refusal of the authors to actually state their specific fears. There’s the recourse to a rhetorical doublespeak in which “we don’t know if it’s safe” is used as an excuse for not trying …

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stemCellfeatured
BiologyChemistryPhilosophyScienceScience & Nature

Stem Cells, Stressed Cells, Healing, and the Lure of Rejuvenation

A recent study in Nature, entitled “Stimulus-triggered fate conversion of somatic cells into pluripotency“, suggests that subjecting cells to dangerous but non-lethal conditions (such as a bath in acid, or a mechanical squeeze) can turn them into stem cells. Unsurprisingly, this publication set off a bit of a media blitz, …

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RedGreenXFeatured
BiologyMedicineScienceScience & Nature

What Can You Tell From a Color-Coded Chromosome?

In an article published earlier this month, researchers color-coded cells based on which of two X-chromosomes they expressed resulting in beautiful images of marbleized cells like the one above. They are undeniably beautiful; but they also rely on complicated biological pathways and illuminate processes at play in every mammalian female. …

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mitochondriafeatured
BiologyGeekeryScienceScience & Nature

Aging, Metabolism, and Basic Biology

I’m really happy when a plan comes together, which means when my general plan of “talk about science journalism and cut through some of the hype” converged with a new year’s resolution plan of “summarize papers regularly on MAL”, I was thrilled. There’s an article recently published in Cell that’s …

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