1. Bacteria created with first wholly synthetic genome.

    27 May 2010

    Late last week it was announced by the J. Craig Venter Institute that they had created the first synthetic cell, a variant of the bacterium mycoplasma mycoides, which is the micro-organism that causes bovine contagious pleuropneumonia. The project cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $40mus, and involved a team of geneticists sitting down and writing an entire genome of 1.1 million base pairs, using the much smaller genome of related species m.genitalium as a template. Once the smaller genome was understood it then became possible to develop a brand-new one from scratch. The research team then figured out …

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  2. Busy times, crazy life.

    24 May 2010

    It's been a really busy week or two so I haven't had time to write much. I realize that it's only common sense, but I still find it amusing that I have the least time to write about what's going on when the most is happening. Funny, how that happens. Anyway, once the opportunity presents itself I like sitting down to make an attempt at describing everything that's been happening. I've mostly been posting hit and run messages to Twitter lately (like everybody else on the planet these days) because I can do that without looking up from everything else …

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  3. Mage rote: Portal Gun

    16 May 2010

    Game: Mage: the Ascension
    Rote: Portal Gun (alternatively, Artifact *)
    Spheres: Correspondence
    *
    Tradition: Sons of Ether
    Commonly used focus: Self explanatory

    Effect: The Virtual Adepts came up with it but it took the Sons of Ether to make it practical. Nobody's quite sure if Valve only has Sleepers on staff or if there are a couple of VA's among their coders, but everyone agrees that having a device that can forge Correspondence portals in the blink of an eye is a handy thing, albeit horribly vulgar. While gamers eat this stuff up like cake using one of these badboys outside is …

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  4. Kindle highlights may be used by Amazon.

    15 May 2010

    If you're anything like me, at some point you started to run out of room for your dead-tree editions and started downloading e-books. While you no longer have the tactile experience of reading e-books you have to admit that having a fixed-sized device with which you can store hundreds upon thousands of texts makes life a lot easier, plus, not everyone can read comfortably on a laptop or desktop display. Enter Amazon's Kindle, the darling of the e-book reader market which not only lets you buy e-books wirelessly (which can either tank your bank account or save your sanity while …

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  5. Boosting the signal: Kiana Firouz

    15 May 2010

    It's something not often mentioned in the news over here, but Iran's a rough place to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Iran is ruled by Sharia Law, in which homosexuality or bisexuality are explicitly illegal and punishable offenses. If you're caught you'll be lucky if they just throw you in jail; maybe you'll be tortured while you're in there. Repeat or 'unrepentant' offenders are executed (note: that link's NSFW and probably triggering, view at your own risk). Period. There is an LGBT rights movement in Iran and has been for about twenty years now but it's largely underground due …

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  6. Hubble 3D and the Baltimore waterfront.

    08 May 2010

    Last Tuesday I scored a couple of tickets at work to reserve seats at the Maryland Science Center to watch Hubble 3D in their IMAX theatre. Navigating rush hour traffic in Baltimore is actually much easier than the DC Beltway because the cars aren't nearly as densely packed, but if you don't know your way around already you're in for a rough time. At any rate, Lyssa and I got there in time to meet up with Kash, walk halfway around the building to find the front door (which faces the Baltimore waterfront) and head inside. We got our VIP …

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