Tag Archives: dna

Art of Science: Deborah Cornell’s Drifting DNA

Deborah Cornell, Species Boundaries: Wind Map. Digital Print, 2006

Deborah Cornell, Species Boundaries: Wind Map. Digital Print, 2006

Printmaker Deborah Cornell juxtaposes familiar images in unexpected ways to prompt viewers to reflect on big questions in science and culture. Her work explores ideas of reality and change, particularly regarding the interaction of science, technology and nature.

Cornell created a series of prints entitled Species Boundaries that look at the consequences of genetic engineering and the unpredictability of genetic interactions over time. This print, Wind Map, uses the visual echo between a map of wind currents and a micrograph of chromosomes to raise make a point about complex systems and the illusion of control. No matter how hard scientists strive to control their experiments, genetic material is about as respectful of borders as the wind.

Says Cornell, “Nothing exists in isolation – complex interrelationships can produce unexpected results. Questions arise connecting genes to the market economy, altering genetic codes, the migration of altered organisms and their impact on environments, humans and on other species.”

You can see more of Cornell’s work at her website.

What Jim doesn’t know could fill a [INSERT REALLY BIG THING HERE]

Laura Helmuth pretty much nails it in her Slate piece on the auction of James Watson’s Nobel prize medal:

Watson…knows fuck all about history, human evolution, anthropology, sociology, psychology, or any rigorous study of intelligence or race. – Laura Helmuth

HT: Deborah Blum

“James Watson deserves to be shunned”

The phrase “must read” gets used too lightly. In this case, however, I must insist you read Adam Rutherford in The Guardian. Rutherford summarizes why we should respect the scientific discovery of James Watson, why we should shun the failed humanity of the man, and why this is far from a unique problem in the history of science.

Here’s our challenge: celebrate science when it is great, and scientists when they deserve it. And when they turn out to be awful bigots, let’s be honest about that too. It turns out that just like DNA, people are messy, complex and sometimes full of hideous errors. – Adam Rutherford

HT: Alok Jha

Science for the People: Troublesome Inheritance

sftpThis week, Science for the People is looking at the intersection of race, history and genetics in science writer Nicholas Wade’s 2014 book A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History. DNA researcher Jennifer Raff and science journalist David Dobbs share their critiques of the claim that differences between genetically distinct “races” are responsible for global divergence in cultural and political structures. Blogger Scicurious walks us through the (delicious) basics of the scientific method with Cookie Science.

*Josh provides research help to Science for the People and is, therefore, completely biased.

Jargon will make time travel very confusing

6c8be9cc69d429e19aa0eb80216d2c91

This was a gift from my sister and is a solid science fictiony quote – one that I’m quite happy to put on my wall1.

The Time Machine by HG Wells (1991 Bantam Classic Reissue from library of Josh Witten)

The Time Machine by HG Wells (1991 Bantam Classic Reissue from library of Josh Witten)

Being a fan of, but hardly an expert on HG Wells2 and being a fan of, but hardly an expert on the history of science, I had to wonder if this quote was actually from HG Wells’ The Time Machine, or was from one of the movie adaptations. As you will see, this is an easy question to answer. The trick is figuring out why you might want to ask the question in the first place.

HG Wells was brilliant and reasonably familiar with scientific research. To pen that line, he would also need to be a time traveler himself. Continue reading