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Stories by Christina Agapakis

The Sciences

Human Design

Keeping up with the news of synthetic biology means I often see a lot of kooky things. There's the delightfully kooky iGEM project ideas or news of cyborg yeast (more on that hopefully sometime soon), a few conspiracy theory websites, and lots of newspaper articles with headlines like (I'm paraphrasing here) "Synthetic Biology Will Soon Kill Us All" or "Every Problem in the Entire World to be Solved by Synthetic Biology in the Next Decade." This oscillation between certain death and techno-utopia is what Drew Endy calls "The Half-pipe of Doom," the inescapable binary of equally implausible hype surrounding the field...

November 15, 2011 — Christina Agapakis
The Sciences

Diversity by Design

The recent Nature paper from Jef Boeke's group, "Synthetic chromosome arms function in yeast and generate phenotypic diversity by design," begins with an appropriately futuristic sentence: "The first phase of any genome engineering project is design." While there have been efforts to redesign viral genomes and chemically synthesize bacterial genomes, whole genomes of living cells are not yet something that can readily be designed from scratch...

October 28, 2011 — Christina Agapakis
The Sciences

Mad Science: Synthetic Polycephaly

Horror movie mad scientists are often creating some sort of monstrous hybrids in their secret labs/lairs. Their genius misunderstood by their less ambitious colleagues, they are driven underground where their single-minded quest for scientific knowledge or world domination inadvertently or purposely causes disaster, which *spoiler alert!* never ends well for the scientist.Horror movies aren't exactly a good place to learn about what doing science is really like, but they do a pretty good job of reflecting our society's anxieties and fears...

August 9, 2011 — Christina Agapakis
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