The Plastic Brain

Leave a comment

Biopunk Manifesto: Citizen Science on synthesised-in-the-shed steroids.


A Biopunk Manifesto Category: #diybiology #biopunk by Meredith Patterson


Year: 2011


Description: Scientific literacy is necessary for a functioning society in the modern age. Scientific literacy is not science education. A person educated in science can understand science; a scientifically literate person can *do* science. Scientific literacy empowers everyone who possesses it to be active contributors to their own health care, the quality of their food, water, and air, their very interactions with their own bodies and the complex world around them.

Leave a comment

“Endless forms most beautiful”

Via jsacc001

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Leave a comment

Comparing Photosynthetic and Photovoltaic Efficiencies and Recognizing the Potential for Improvement

  1. Robert E. Blankenship, et al.

Comparing photosynthetic and photovoltaic efficiencies is not a simple issue. Although both processes harvest the energy in sunlight, they operate in distinctly different ways and produce different types of products: biomass or chemical fuels in the case of natural photosynthesis and nonstored electrical current in the case of photovoltaics. In order to find common ground for evaluating energy-conversion efficiency, we compare natural photosynthesis with present technologies for photovoltaic-driven electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen. Photovoltaic-driven electrolysis is the more efficient process when measured on an annual basis, yet short-term yields for photosynthetic conversion under optimal conditions come within a factor of 2 or 3 of the photovoltaic benchmark. We consider opportunities in which the frontiers of synthetic biology might be used to enhance natural photosynthesis for improved solar energy conversion efficiency.

Science 13 May 2011: 
Vol. 332 no. 6031 pp. 805-809 
DOI: 10.1126/science.1200165

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Leave a comment

It’s long – around 90 minutes – but fascinating from start to finish.

Douglas Adams discussing extinction, biodiversity and man.

Via wildcat2030:

Douglas Adams: Parrots the Universe and Everything

Douglas Adams was the best-selling British author and satirist who created The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In this talk at UCSB recorded shortly before his death, Adams shares hilarious accounts of some of the apparently absurd lifestyles of the world’s creatures, and gleans from them extraordinary perceptions about the future of humanity

Leave a comment

From my favourite protistologist, Psi Wavefunction.

This is a heterotrophic euglenid, perhaps a Peranema sp., exhibiting metaboly in all its splendour. The cell might be slightly squashed or otherwise damaged, keeping the flagellate conveniently in one place. The clear vesicle near the base of the flagellum that grows and shrinks is the contractile vacuole, the flagellate’s analogue of the animal secretory system. At the tail end are refractile starch granules used to store energy. 

Metaboly is a form of cell movement that is most famously exemplified by ciliates, but also known in some other flagellates. It appears to be caused by the specific arrangement of microtubule (cell skeleton) bundles at the cell periphery, and greatly enhanced by the ‘armour plates’ of the euglenid surface, which is lined with long pellicle strips going from the flagellar insertion all the way to the tip of the ‘tail’ — as the cell twists about, the strips slide against each other and result in this movement. Euglenids with fused pellicle strips, like Phacus, are incapable of metaboly. The function of this movement is unknown, and there may not be any in particular.

The hairy thing next to the euglenid is a badly mangled ciliate.

Freshwater, Apr 2011, Vancouver

Leave a comment

I love this hybrid, plant/animal illustration by Katie Scott.

Click through the image for more of her work.

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Leave a comment

I like Rizk – a lot.

Problem is, my son found it far too creepy, and won’t let me play.

Correction: he begs me to play, then freaks, and begs me to stop.

Try it for yourself at:

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Leave a comment

I’d like to see the microscope stage used to view that prodigious section.

Reblogged from scipsy:

Scientists Unveil Atlas of the Brain

This gallery contains 1 photo.