Archive by category | Education

SciFoo: scientific fireworks

SciFoo: scientific fireworks

In his list of eight ‘generative’ values (Better Than Free), Kevin Kelly includes ’embodiment’–the actual physical realization of an item or event which could be otherwise freely distributed over the web. While we are all ‘hyperlinked’ on the Internet, the value of those unique qualities that cannot be generated or “copied” on the web is dramatically increased. The type of intense emulation and shared excitement sparked at the recent Science Foo Camp (SciFoo 2008), organized by Nature, Google and O’Reilly, gave a wonderful example of the unique value of direct human exchange during an exclusive event bringing together roughly 200 top scientists, ‘geeks’ and other technologists at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California.  Read more

Contrasts: Craig Venter and NSABB on synthetic biology

Contrasts: Craig Venter and NSABB on synthetic biology

Two rather contrasting videos on synthetic biology this month. In the first videocast, released by TED, Craig Venter exposes his grand vision of synthetic genomics. He insists on the notion of ‘combinatorial genomics’, that will combine the power of large scale DNA synthesis (‘robots that can make a million chromosomes a day’) with a database of 20 million genes, ‘the design components of the future’. This approach, a pragmatic mixture of rational function-oriented design and empirical large-scale selection, is envisioned to prepare a modern ‘Cambrian explosion’ of new synthetic species. It is good to see Craig Venter laughing when announcing casually the ‘modest goal of replacing the entire petro-chemical industry’.  Read more

Systems biology & global warming

Systems biology & global warming

Observations suggest that current climatic models may underestimate how quickly the climate system is changing (in particular for sea level), according to a report in Science a few weeks ago (Rahmstorf et al, 2007). Another Science paper published last week shows that the capacity of the Southern Ocean CO2 sink is weakening, which may result in increased atmospheric CO2 levels in the long run (Le Quere et al, 2007).  Read more