From Jones and Bartlett, a book on Stem Cells from Dr. Ann A. Kiessling and Scott C. Anderson:

Selected Articles:

Recent Essays


The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.
- Albert Einstein

May 15, 2014

The Many Deaths of Vitalism

Still looking for the mysterious spark of life

God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance.
― Neil deGrasse Tyson

Recently, in a little-remarked but completely remarkable paper, researchers at Stanford published the secret to life. Well, the paper was just an overview: the actual secret resides in an open-source program they wrote called E-CELL...

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July 26, 2012

God in the Details: the Whole Cell Simulator

Here Comes Science Researchers simulate a living cell down to the last molecule

In the July 20 issue of Cell, Markus Covert and researchers from Stanford and the J. Craig Venter Institute describe a computer program that simulates every aspect of a living cell, down to the last molecule. Their signal achievement is to stitch together all the models of cellular activity, including protein generation, metabolism and cell division, into a single executable. This has been a holy grail of computational biology, and it is now in our hands. Literally. You can download the program...

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July 25, 2010

The Importance of Goo

Here Comes ScienceFirst DNA, then Cytoplasm, then Freak Out

In May, 2010, Craig Venter and his team at JCVI proudly announced that they had created the world's first entirely synthetic genome. Along with Ham Smith, Clyde Hutchison, Dan Gibson and a couple dozen other top-notch researchers, Venter assembled a strand of DNA piece by piece, complete with vanity license plates, and then inserted it into another bacteria to give it the spark of life. This new addition to the thick schmutz of life already blanketing the planet emerged from a computerized gene machine.

Is it time to freak out?

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September 12, 2009

Here Comes Science, by They Might be Giants

Here Comes ScienceA Review of a Rocking Science CD/DVD.

When I was a kid – in the last century – we were occasionally entertained by science. We had Mr. Wizard, the late Don Herbert, who would suck eggs into a bottle and show us how siphons and diesel engines worked....

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August 9, 2009

Why does E=mc2 ?

why does e=mc2?A review of a fresh book on Einstein's famous equation.

Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw have summoned up the audacity to write a book on relativity for lay people. Although this has been attempted before, it has rarely been done so well. Stranger still is the inclusion of a few actual equations. In the title, no less! These are brave lads, indeed....

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January 25, 2008

Nano Computers, Part 1

You think your iPod is small? How about a computer the size of a molecule?

A computer the size of a molecule? Okay, a fairly simple-minded computer and a pretty gnarly molecule, but it’s still a nice trick. Some of these nano-computers are being designed to be injected into your bloodstream. Based on what it finds there, it will make a medical diagnosis and then deliver the appropriate remedy in the form of a drug or a protein – a doctor and a pharmacy all wrapped up in a single molecule. No more waiting rooms, freezing exam tables, rude poking or long lines at the drugstore. Make way for a new world of really smart drugs...

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November 13, 2008

Nano Computers, Part 2

What do tiles have to do with molecules?

So what about the molecular computers I promised in Part 1 of this article? For that we take a break from tiles, math, computers and crystals to talk a little about DNA. Don’t leave yet! You’ve made it this far, and we’re only going to use DNA as a building block, not for any tricky genetic stuff. In the same year that Dan Shechtman found his ten-fold crystal, Nadrian Seeman was playing with bits of DNA as if they were tinker toys...

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June 13, 2004

The Attack of the Killer Nanobacteria

Tiny creatures so small that they've been overlooked by scientists may be slinking around your body right now - and they're probably up to no good.

In the 1970s, while doing field work in his beloved Italy, a geologist named Dr. Robert Folk discovered that bacteria seemed to be precipitating - excreting, really - an unusual type of limestone. Known as travertine, it's been used for thousands of years in statuary and buildings all around the world, from the Coliseum in Rome to the Lincoln Center in New York. Why study travertine? As Dr. Folk puts it, "I was simply looking for a good excuse to continue doing field work in Italy because I loved the food and lifestyle, and hit upon the idea of working on the travertines of Rome."

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May 20, 2004

Who Needs Sex?

Is there another way to mix genes besides sex?

An intriguing idea percolating through the scientific community has the power to upend a lot of biology, genetics and evolution. For that reason, scientists are treating it delicately. They are poking at the theory (because they must), but from a respectable distance. The idea, called "horizontal gene transfer," makes a terrific sci-fi premise - but it may also be true....

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May 5, 2004

The Mathematics of the Internet

The Internet can be viewed as a graph, and that means you can do math with it.

The Internet is connected by links that point to other web pages that have links, etc. If you look at the links as "edges" and the pages as "nodes," you can view the Internet as a giant graph. A graph can be manipulated by the rules of mathematics and that means you can do some very clever things. This article describes one of those clever things...

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April 16, 2004

A Baby's Hair

The first animal cloning was performed with a baby's hair and tweezers.

Hans Spemann was in a foul mood as he rearranged his blankets. The beginning of the twentieth century should be vastly more exciting than this, he thought. Being swaddled in a lounge chair on the sanatorium porch was not his idea of a glorious way to ring in the new century. Getting tuberculosis was damned inconvenient, and the recovery was almost as bad as the disease. He hoped the book he had just bought would keep him from going comatose....

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March 22, 2004

Observing the Deep Sky

The deeper you look into space, the more amazing the view.

People often ask, "What do you look at with that telescope?" Well, of course there are the moon and planets, not to mention all those stars. But it turns out that the sky is packed with interesting objects of many types - nebulae, clusters, galaxies, and more. We call them "Deep Sky Objects" because they physically reside far outside of our solar system, and even outside of our own Milky Way galaxy. There are thousands of such objects within reach of modest amateur telescopes, and many would argue they are the most interesting and beautiful objects to observe...

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February 16, 2004

Understanding Telescopes

Buying a telescope can be overwhelming. This article will help ease the pain.

The primary goals of this article are to explain how telescopes work, what the major types and categories are, and how you can best choose a telescope for yourself or a budding young astronomer in your midst. We'll look at some baseline principles, the major types of optical systems, mountings, manufacturers, and of course, what you can actually see and do with any given telescope...

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February 1, 2004

Choice Words

Can you really suffer from too many choices? Yes, if one of the choices is psychobabble.

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January 22, 2004

The Mad Cow Jumps Over the Moon

Mad cow disease has led to an extraordinary new view of learning and memory.

The genesis of our national mad cow obsession is a fascinating story of adventure, discovery, ghoulishness and even happy endings. The story starts in 1955 with young Carleton Gajdusek, ten years out of Harvard, who was constantly on the lookout for new and unusual diseases. He found a remarkable one in New Guinea...

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December 20, 2003

Natural Complexity

Simple chemistry can provide some surprisingly complex shapes.

Living things are so extraordinarily complex, it's hard to imagine how the happenstance mechanics of Darwinian theory could have brought them into being. We know that the natural order of things -- loosely speaking -- is to get old, break down and turn to crap. So how is it that mere protoplasm has been able to organize itself so successfully that there has been an unbroken chain of life on this planet for over 500 million years?

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December 16, 2003

Electrifying News

A long-held theory comes to a shocking end.

Many young people who study science come away with the impression that all the important questions have been answered, and that it would be difficult or impossible to contribute to such a well-researched body of knowledge. But it ain't necessarily so...

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October 20, 2003

We Know What You're Thinking

Scientists can see your thoughts. You won't believe what's on your mind.

You no longer have to go to Madame LeFoni's to have a mind-reading session. Scientists can read your mind too, at least a little. And what they see when they look into your mind is, well, thought-provoking...

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August 10, 2003

Ears Looking at You, Kid

Some people see with their ears and hear with their eyes. These "crossed wires" may expose the workings of the brain.

Have you ever had the feeling that the person you're talking to has a loose wire or two in their brain? Turns out, you might be right. An amazing cross-wired brain syndrome called synesthesia (for joined sensations) may explain a lot of weirdness and poetry in the world - at the same time that it sheds light on so-called normal brains...

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August 2, 2003

Small Talk

Turns out, bacteria can communicate. Are they talking behind our backs?

A few years ago, Bonnie Bassler discovered something fishy about the bacteria she was studying. Actually, they were already pretty fishy, since these diminutive critters lived in the bodies of deep-sea fish and squid. Weirder still, these bacteria could glow a most beguiling moonlight blue...

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May 7, 2003

Aristotle's Chickens

Aristotle came close to discovering stem cells more than two thousand years ago. Will we have to wait another two millennia for a therapy?

Aristotle strode slowly in the shade of the covered walkway, gesturing as he spoke. In his wake was an excited group of young students, straining to hear his every word. "Welcome to the Lyceum!" he shouted, spreading his arms expansively at the surrounding campus...

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February 15, 2003

A Light Touch

Because astronauts like to eat salad in space, life is getting easier for bone marrow transplant patients. An enlightening story of serendipity.

NASA is justifiably proud of its Technology Transfer Program, which spins off its space-age inventions -- from Tang and Teflon to rechargeable batteries - for use in the private sector. But they recently outdid themselves with a remarkable "healing light" that is starting to make life much easier for patients with hard-to-heal wounds, including those who have had bone marrow transplants (BMTs)...

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January 5, 2003

The New Bone Marrow Transplants

Today's Bone Marrow Transplants are saving the lives of cancer patients in unexpected ways.

By the time he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, (CLL) Michael Billig's cancer had already taken over 90 percent of his blood. His doctors lost no time in getting the 43-year-old into chemotherapy...

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Copyright © 2000-2014 by Scott Anderson
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