Strained relationships: Using the forces that shape living cells to design new materials

Life is flexible. All living cells are basically squishy balloons full of water, proteins and DNA, surrounded by oily membranes. Those membranes stand up to significant amounts of stretching and bending, but only recently have scientists started to fully appreciate the useful organization and functions that result from all that stress. A group at UW-Madison […]

Designed for disaster

Have you ever looked at your hands…like REALLY looked at your hands? Our mitts are massively complicated assemblages of ligaments and bone. Human hands help us pick up pencils, swim freestyle stroke, and even occasionally type blog posts. 30 million years of descent with modification, random variation, selection and adaptation separate our paws from orangutan […]

Support visionary research

Friends, countrymen, Americans, lend me your…eyes? I’m not writing to bury Caesar nor to praise him. In fact, the unfortunate emperor has very little to do with the point of today’s post, except for one character trait that the rockin’ roman had in abundance: AMBITION.      Ambition is a powerful force. Although good old Julius’ appetites tended […]

Nine things I like about Chicago

1) A four hour bus ride flies by shockingly quickly, given good reading material.     2) The Hotel Palomar provides guests with some SERIOUSLY sensual robes.   3) Any unlicensed Chicago civilian may obtain military-grade carbohydrate devices at a moment’s notice, thanks to the dangerous masterminds at Glaze Donut Shop.   4) Divvy Bikes let tourists exponentially […]

The quantified self…or how do you measure a fool’s progress?

Data are a systematic representation of observations about reality. “Raw data” is an oxymoron. Every dataset has some underlying agenda–selecting which parameters to measure, which to ignore, and how to present results constructs a narrative, whether evaluating if Paxil is safe and effective for teens or deciding which state is the worst in the nation for African-American youth. We’re living in the […]