iGEM, or How to Build a Biological Organism in a Single Summer

The International Genetically Engineered Machine » 11/20/08 9:00am 11/20/08 9:00am competition brings undergraduates from around the world to MIT's campus to share the results of a summer's worth of synthetic biology research. Each team tries to create the best synthetic organism. Here you can see the iGEM participants (photo courtesy of David…

Three Horror Movies That Even a Scientist Could Love

As a scientist I have mixed feelings about SF-oriented horror, which tends to show my lab coat-wearing brethren as myopic, obsessive, morally challenged individuals or as humorless skeptics. When Fringe » 11/06/08 9:00am 11/06/08 9:00am needed a scientist for its team of white hats, the best they could come up with was a former, vaguely repentant mad…

Where Are My Medical Nanobots?

Reader Wendy asks: When will nanobots clean out my arteries? » 10/23/08 9:00am 10/23/08 9:00am While medical molecular machines are not likely to appear in the clinic soon, there's a decent amount of research going into the development of , and not only for therapeutic use. One could easily imagine these widgets appearing in diagnostic assays and…

What's the Future of Cancer Diagnosis?

I talked about the importance of early cancer diagnosis in a previous post » 10/09/08 9:00am 10/09/08 9:00am, and reader Ian wrote back to ask for more detail. Early detection can be life-saving, but accuracy in these tests is also a serious problem - a test that misses existing cancers is obviously bad, but one that detects cancers that there or …

Will I Evolve Into a Being of Pure Energy?

Welcome back to Ask a Biogeek, a column where biology researcher Terry Johnson answers questions about biology — no matter how weird. » 9/18/08 9:00am 9/18/08 9:00am Back when I discussed our as a species, one commenter added to the list of improbabilities our eventual transcendence into a non-corporeal form. That's hardly the only evolutionary…

Where Is My Cure for Cancer?

Welcome back to Ask a Biogeek, a column where you ask biology researcher Terry Johnson any question you want - no matter how weird. » 9/04/08 9:00am 9/04/08 9:00am Reader Charlie writes: Sadly, cancer is not a single disease, but a class of diseases - while we may effectively cure some forms of cancer, it's doubtful that we'll be able to cure them…

What Are the Unlikeliest Futures for the Human Species?

Welcome to Ask a Biogeek, a column where you ask UC Berkeley researcher Terry Johnson any question you want - no matter how weird. » 8/21/08 9:00am 8/21/08 9:00am Reader Matthew asks: "Blocked" is perhaps too rigorous a standard, but there are certainly some futures far less likely than others. I can't , but perhaps I can convince you that a few…

Son Of "Where Are My Cybernetic Implants?"

Welcome to Ask a Biogeek, a column where you ask UC Berkeley researcher Terry Johnson any question you want - no matter how weird. » 8/07/08 9:00am 8/07/08 9:00am There seems to be a strong correlation between my posting an article on a subject, and my RSS feeds filling up with exciting new research, which I then wish I'd been able to include. The…

Where Is My Hypospray?

Welcome to Ask a Biogeek, a column where you ask UC Berkeley researcher Terry Johnson any question you want — no matter how weird.
Reader Mairi proxies the following question: My mom wants to know when we're going to get needle-less, painless injections.
While I personally covet the medical tricorder, I would almost… » 7/17/08 9:00am 7/17/08 9:00am

Where Is My Silicon-Based Life?

Click to viewWelcome back to Ask a Biogeek, a biweekly column where UC Berkeley biology researcher Terry Johnson answers your questions, no matter how weird. Reader Mike asks:
» 7/03/08 9:00am 7/03/08 9:00am

Where Are My Bioengineered Ecologies?

It's another installment of Ask a Biogeek, a column where UC Berkeley biology researcher Terry Johnson answers all your questions — especially the weird ones.

Reader Daniel wonders: » 6/05/08 9:00am 6/05/08 9:00am

I believe we're rapidly reaching the point where scientists will be both ready and able to consider artificially-induced emergent…

Where Are My Cybernetic Implants?

A reader who would like to remain anonymous asks: » 5/22/08 9:00am 5/22/08 9:00am

First of all, Anonymous, my best wishes. I hope that the next advance coming 'round the bend is a comfort to you. There are two fundamental approaches to organ-level repair: the biological approach, which includes transplants and , or what we'll call the cybernetic…

Where Is My Uterine Replicator (AKA Artificial Womb)?

Reader Karen asks: » 5/08/08 9:00am 5/08/08 9:00am

Given the risk - and many months of what can charitably be termed "inconvenience" - what are the alternatives to signing up for nine months of incubator duty? Let's find out.

Where Is My Medical Tricorder?

Reader Juan asks: » 4/17/08 9:00am 4/17/08 9:00am

Nothing against the phaser, but for many of us the most coveted piece of away team equipment is the , the of which can perform a complex examination in a single whistling pass over a patient. If you've ever tried to lie perfectly still in a thumping MRI machine or sat in a doctor's office waiting…

Forget the Jetpack - Where Are My Replacement Organs?

Welcome to Ask a Biogeek, a column about cutting-edge biology by UC Berkeley researcher Terry Johnson. Knowing which organs you can live without is all well and good, but wouldn't you rather have replacement organs? Tissue engineers already have some pretty good ones if you happen to lose your skin or severely damage… » 4/03/08 9:45am 4/03/08 9:45am