Announcing the Winners of the io9 Mad Science Contest

Politicians may be worried about the dangers of scientists "playing god" with genetic experimentation, but we want biology to be brazen. We're rooting for mad scientists with homebrew closet labs, grassroots geneticists, and garage genome hackers — because they're the researchers most likely to change the world. And… » 9/15/08 8:00am 9/15/08 8:00am


One of the runners-up for the biobricks lifeform category of our Mad Science Contest was Jonathan Cline, who described what he calls a "ketonalizer." This would be a bacteria-based system for analyzing the metabolic state of "ketosis" in a person's body — this is the state where the body starts burning fat and turning… » 9/15/08 12:02am 9/15/08 12:02am

Software Controlled Organisms

One of the runners-up in the "general synthetic lifeform" category of our Mad Science Contest was Rizgar Mella, who wrote a paper discussing the possibility of software-controlled organisms. Mella studies theoretical physics at the Royal Holloway University of London. Here is Mella's paper. » 9/14/08 11:39pm 9/14/08 11:39pm

The Splinterphage

One of the runners-up for the "general synthetic lifeform" was Noar Livne, who charmed us by asserting at the end of his contest entry that he is not insane. Drew Endy, one of our judges, named Livne's lifeform "Splinterphage." Here is how Livne described it: This life-form has 3 stages and two sexes. Stage 1 » 9/14/08 11:25pm 9/14/08 11:25pm The male…

Making A Biological Counter

Katherine Aull was our runner-up for the biobricks lifeform. She explained her entry like this:
This paper describes a novel counter design, based on a bit overflow detector to signal “carry” events, and a bidirectional toggle switch to update and maintain the count. It also describes work towards a prototype, ongoing… » 9/14/08 11:14pm 9/14/08 11:14pm

Re-engineering Rhizobium

Our winner in the biobricks lifeform category for our Mad Science Contest is Vijaykumar S. Meli. A graduate student at the National Institute for Plant Genome Research » 9/14/08 10:13pm 9/14/08 10:13pm at the JNU Campus in New Delhi, Meli has imagined a way to use a rhizobial bacteria to make growing rice much cheaper. One of the big expenses for…

The Blue Forest

Elliott Gresswell is the winner of our "general synthetic lifeform" category for the Mad Science contest. His entry, about a lifeform called the "Blue Forest," is a fictional lab notebook written by a scientist working on a team that invents a form of plant life that lives on a kind of aquatic nano-goo. As the plant… » 9/14/08 8:47pm 9/14/08 8:47pm

Deadline Approaches! Build a Lifeform and We'll Send You to Hong Kong…

io9 wants to encourage mad scientists in every field, but especially in the area of synthetic biology. That's because synthetic biologists are the people who are going to build new life forms, like ligers and unicorns and people with claws and glowing eyes. OK, they might build bacteria that can clean up oil spills… » 8/21/08 10:00am 8/21/08 10:00am

Reminder: Build A Lifeform and We'll Send You to Hong Kong or Give You…

You still have 12 days to enter io9's mad science contest to build a lifeform. Synthetic biology is the science of the future! You can never have too many garage laboratories and mad scientists devoted to it. That's why io9 is sponsoring a contest to find two of the best synthetic life forms you can design for us.… » 8/14/08 10:00am 8/14/08 10:00am