Monthly Archives: May 2009

And it gets even better..

Synthetic Gene Networks that Count. From Science Magazine.

Synthetic gene networks can be constructed to emulate digital circuits and devices, giving one the ability to program and design cells with some of the principles of modern computing, such as counting. A cellular counter would enable complex synthetic programming and a variety of biotechnology applications. Here, we report two complementary synthetic genetic counters in Escherichia coli that can count up to three induction events: the first, a riboregulated transcriptional cascade, and the second, a recombinase-based cascade of memory units. These modular devices permit counting of varied user-defined inputs over a range of frequencies and can be expanded to count higher numbers.

Another inspired piece brought to you by Life Inspired.

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Interactions between zebrafish pigment cells responsible for the generation of Turing patterns

Have I also mentioned that I am interested in ways that information is formed and displayed in nature? This is a great article about zebra fish patterns and their relation to Turning patterns. [From the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)]

This is yet another great article I found via the Life Inspired blog.

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One if by land, two if by sea

As part of my theorizing about ways to preserve information during a so called “Digital Dark Age,” I have spent a fair amount of time thinking about/looking for ways to imprint or encode messages without using electricity. You know, besides writing on paper, carving messages in stone, or micro-etching in metals. Realistically, we can use any type of medium to arrange patterns which communicate messages to each other and use any number of methods to contain and and release these messages. We are so wrapped up these days in sending all of our messages through electronically operated conduits (for good reasons – they’re really effective) that novel non-electrical means of communicating can take us by surprise.

David Walt of Tufts and George Whitesides of Harvard have developed self-powered “infofuses” which use chemical reactions to communicate.  From what I can tell, you still need electricity to encode the fuses (they are currently using micropippeters and ink jet printers to encode them; and you need some kind of device to read the message. I still have a lot of questions about the process and its effectiveness in the field, but it’s an interesting approach at the very least.

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