SCIENCE IS SO COOL LIKE
"We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours."

This tumblr's for all the great men and women of science for whom we owe our current understanding of the natural world; their achievements, their failures, and even their quirks, we celebrate them all.

For Science. For Inquiry. For Humanity.
TEXT

talk-nerdy-to-me-:

(Source: unzip-my-genes)

PHOTO SET

jtotheizzoe:

Big Week for “Synthetic” Biology

A jellyfish made of silicone, and a bacterium made in silico

Synthetic biology is traditionally thought of as repurposing existing or designing new biological parts to do novel things. But in a larger sense, it can be thought of as the ability to create biological systems outside the limitations of pesky things like global and evolutionary time scales. This week marks two really stunning bio accomplishments, each fitting into their own definition of “synthetic”.

Whoa, Jellyman: Cal Tech and Harvard biophysicists announced that they had created a sort of “synthetic jellyfish” this week (pictured above left). By taking thin, carefully designed sheets of silicone and layering rat heart muscle cells over them, they were able to make a bell-shaped living device that pulsed and swam just like the bell of a jellyfish.

Heart muscle cells, or cardiomyocytes, naturally grow together in sheets and will automatically “beat” in a petri dish (with the help of a little calcium). If you provide an outside voltage (like a pacemaker) they will beat in unison! The rat-heart-silicone “medusoid” shape contracted, with the beating cells pulling on the silicone substrate just as a jellyfish’s own muscle cells act on its bell to swim. 

Of course, this isn’t a real jellyfish, but for extra credit you can read Ferris Jabr’s take on what it would actually take to build one.

Byte-size Bio: The other big news this week comes from Stanford and the J. Craig Venter Institute (gracing the cover of Cell this week, above right). Not content with making the world’s first synthetic organism and synthetic genome (Venter’s ambition knows no bounds), they decided to build a computer model of an entire bacterium. Well, mostly.

They modeled, on a very general scale, the tiny bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium, which only has 525 genes compared to our ~20,000, and all of its internal processes on 128 computers operating for 10 hours. To complete a single cell division, it required half a gigabyte of data. But you have to be careful before you call this a completely “simulated organism”. Normal cells have many, perhaps hundreds, of just different types of genes, and they interact in myriad ways … we have just begun to scratch the surface of those networks. Just look at how complicated even the tiny changes in a cancer cell can be!

By simplifying their model down to 28 minimal systems, their computer program matched the bacterium’s biology as we know it. But a more “realistic” model is going to be exponentially more complicated. Here’s some collected reactions at Tree of Life. But, still … wow!

Modern biology has done a very good job at describing the function of individual genes and proteins, but our next chapter lies in how these interactions build into systems. The “-omics” era will be one where we map how the thousands of parts that we are made of combine to make us whole.Simulations like this will be at the leading edge of that era. But we have a long way to go … how many computers would it take to model the trillions of cells in the human body?

PHOTO
deconversionmovement:

Mysteries of Evolution: The Narwhal’s “Tusk,” or Rather, Tooth
For some reason, atheists are obsessed with narwhals, a fascination that I can’t quite understand.  I mean, I do like them, but why do they come up so often, invariably accompanied by incredibly annoying narwhal songs?  At any rate, let us leave this persiflage behind and deal with some real narwhal science, reported in a new journal paper. It’s an investigation of the nature of their tusks, and gives some fascinating results.
But first, a bit about the beasts.  The species is Monodon monoceros (Greek for “one tooth, one horn—a clue to what its “horn” is), and its closest relative is the beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas), with these two species constituting the entire family Monodontidae.  Narwhals are small, with males growing up to only sixteen feet long, but they’re heavy: although three times as long as a human, they can weigh up to 4,000 pounds!
Continue Reading

deconversionmovement:

Mysteries of Evolution: The Narwhal’s “Tusk,” or Rather, Tooth

For some reason, atheists are obsessed with narwhals, a fascination that I can’t quite understand.  I mean, I do like them, but why do they come up so often, invariably accompanied by incredibly annoying narwhal songs?  At any rate, let us leave this persiflage behind and deal with some real narwhal science, reported in a new journal paper. It’s an investigation of the nature of their tusks, and gives some fascinating results.

But first, a bit about the beasts.  The species is Monodon monoceros (Greek for “one tooth, one horn—a clue to what its “horn” is), and its closest relative is the beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas), with these two species constituting the entire family Monodontidae.  Narwhals are small, with males growing up to only sixteen feet long, but they’re heavy: although three times as long as a human, they can weigh up to 4,000 pounds!

Continue Reading

(via academicatheism)

PHOTO SET

genannetics:

awww…sad face…

PHOTO

(Source: academicatheism)

PHOTO SET

gastornis:

The tusks of the Babirusa (genus Babyrousa) can, in fact, grow in such a way that they pierce the skull.

The tusks are used for intraspecific fighting. The upper tusks have developed as shielding and the lower tusks are offensive and dagger-like. The Babirusa male actively sharpens his lower tusks on trees.

(Top photo credit: Masteraah)
(Bottom photo credit: Darren Naish)

(Source: arrowtongue, via shychemist)

PHOTO
somersault1824:

Synapse
more scientific illustrations
follow us on Facebook

somersault1824:

Synapse

more scientific illustrations

follow us on Facebook

(via scinerds)

PHOTO
ggcc-aaaaatacaaaaaa-aaaaaaaaa:

BLAM T-Cell

ggcc-aaaaatacaaaaaa-aaaaaaaaa:

BLAM T-Cell

PHOTO
creeganana:

I don’t care if I’m a killjoy, I’m having fun.

creeganana:

I don’t care if I’m a killjoy, I’m having fun.

(via creeganana-deactivated20120925)

PHOTO

“Man’s mind, once stretched with a new idea, never regains its original dimensions”
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. 

“Man’s mind, once stretched with a new idea, never regains its original dimensions”

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. 

(via bitchezandblow)