Category Archives: Technology

Deeply Dipity About Interactive Timelines

Create interactive timelines online for free with Dipity. This would be a great tool for revision of historical topics and it can be shared and embedded.

Ed Yong has a neat example on his NotExactlyRocketScience blog, of the timeline of reprogrammed (induced pluripotent) stem cell research:

Reprogrammed stem cells on Dipity

Why use this?

  • It’s free, visual, quick and easy
  • Images, links and videos can be inserted
  • You can connect it with facebook for easy logins (like SlideShare)
  • Sharing is easy, embeds are possible (though not WordPress.com, again)

What could it be used for?

  • Book or topic reports, such as a timeline of Darwin’s life and work.
  • Mapping any time-related topic. History of the Universe, anyone?

Of course, if you’re studying History, Economics or current affairs, it would be an ideal tool.

Aditi Shankardass: A Second Opinion on Learning Disorders

With an estimated 1 in 6 children suffering from a developmental disorder, Aditi Shankardass asks if we can afford to ignore brain imaging and diagnostic technology when making decisions about brain-related difficulties. Another great short talk from TED, which links to the use of technology in determining brain function.

TOK link: how might the use of brain scanning technology represent a potential paradigm shift in diagnosis? Where we have relied on symptomatic diagnosis in the past, could the use of new neuroscience give a new way of knowing that replaces what we already know?

The 11th Hour re-up: Human Impacts on Ecosystems

In 2007, Leonardo DiCaprio released his environmental call-to-arms, The 11th Hour. And it’s very good. It really knocks home the old proverb that we are not inheriting the Earth from our ancestors, but borrowing it from our children.

Update 2009: the whole film is available on GoogleVideo (as all good documentaries should be):

The movie contains contributions from the likes of Stephen Hawking, Nobel-winner Wangari Maathai and David Suzuki. Particularly useful is Gloria Flora‘s sentiment that we all vote, every day – even those who are too young to cast a ballot – by making informed choices about what we consume, spend our money on and throw away.

Watch It!

Watch It!

The first half of the movie is a talking-heads and imagery look at our impacts on the Earth, with plenty of soundbites and starting-points for further discussion. The political middle section describes how economic growth and interests are driving destruction. The final act is a great collection of ideas and hope – a call to arms and a realisation that the environmental movement is growing quickly and strongly. But is it going to be in time to save our species and the thousands that we drive to extinction each year?

Now here’s Leo’s video message (including the ‘vote’ quote from Gloria Flora):

For some further reading, go to the 11th hour Action website.

IB Biology students:

Here is a quick question sheet for the movie, linking some of the topics to the Ecology and Conservation option.

Higher Level students: pay attention to the parts about the role of trees in the environment, in particular through water-uptake. Also, do you understand how mycofiltration (using fungal mycelia) could be used to clean polluted soils?

For good measure, here’s Linkin Park’s accompanying music video, What I’ve Done :

“Girl, It’s Time to Automate” & “The PCR Song”

This was first posted by TheIntersection over at ScienceBlogs.

It seems the latest way to market expensive Science lab toys (by which I mean equipment beyond the reach of your average school), is to produce a cheesy pop video.

Our first example is clearly aimed at the ladies in the lab and has been produced by Eppendorf to sell their automated pipetting system:

The next makes a mockery of cheesy ensemble charity singles and has been made by BioRad to market their PCR equipment:

I’s amazing what heating and cooling and heating can do-oooo!

More choice lyrics after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry

Synthetic Biology – the man-made future?

Where’s the money in Biology? Probably where the future lies – genetics and synthetic biology.Synthetic Biology

As we learn more about genomes and the way different organisms (including pathogens) work, we can move towards creating targeted responses and DNA-level manipulation. Synthetic biologists take DNA and try to re-work it into a solution to a problem – by creating synthetic DNA, they hope to achieve control over the functions of the organism. They hope to generate alternative sources of fuel, targeted treatments and vaccines and many more applications.

Click on the image to the right to download a useful poster from SEED magazine.

BioBricks (company link) are a leading example of synthetic biology in action. Think of them like lego bricks or parts of standard computer code – you can take them and (theoretically) fit them into any genome. This is one of the wonders of DNA – base-pairings and the universality of the genetic code allow these researchers endless opportunities for tinkering and advancing science. Some BioBricks are ‘parts’, some are ‘devices’ and others are ‘systems’ – sections of code that increase in complexity and functionality.

There is an exciting world of information out there about this topic, and it’s well worth looking at if you think your future lies in biotechnology. It’s a discipline that pulls together Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Engineering and Programming, and the ways in are various. If you want to find out more about a career in synthetic biology, MIT are world-leaders in the field.

For a quick explanation of how synthetic biology works (and an interesting hardware/software analogy) watch the video from ScientificAmerican below:

You might also want to read ‘Prey’ by Michael Crichton for a bit of light holiday scare-mongering. Imagine ‘The Andromeda Strain‘ with nanoparticles.

And while we’re on the subject of Scientific American, you may as well check out their video channel on YouTube. It’s much like the NewScientist one.

Sustainable Dance Club

Here’s a cool idea – put transducers under the floor of a night club and use it to generate electricity to run the light and sound rigs. But just how much energy would be converted? Would it be significant?

Good Science News This Week

The NewScientist channel on YouTube publishes a weekly roundup, which I’ve mentioned here before. This week’s roundup is a good one, including mate selection fashions in lark buntings, swarm robot technology (scary) and what looks like a very time-consuming method for studying wasp colony politics in their selection of a new nesting site. Go have a look.

Rexin G: Targeted Biological Agent

This award-winning animation is a high-sheen advert for Rexin G, a nanoparticle combined with a gene to target tumour cells. Is this part of a new wave of targeted medicine? Time will tell. For now, just enjoy the animation.

This animation was produced by Hybrid Animation, who have a series of animation on their site, all very high quality. Go on – have a look!

Many of them are pretty advanced, but this one is  about antigenic shift in the bird flu virus.

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