xkcd by Randall Munroe (CC BY-NC 2.5)
xkcd by Randall Munroe (CC BY-NC 2.5)

Turns out biology is hard because biology is hard.

Art + Travel + Science on the DNA Trail

On a rainy day in London, Eva and friends went on a quest to find the DNA sculptures scattered around the city by Cancer Research UK.

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

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