Inside the Pancreas: How Beta Cells Change as We Age

[A diabetic supply kit, complete with a knitted pouch that’s shaped like a pancreas. Photo by Erin Stevenson O’Connor via Flickr and Creative Commons.]  The box arrived around 5:00 pm. Many of Efsun Arda’s colleagues were already heading home for Thanksgiving, but Arda had work to do. As a post-doc in Seung Kim’s lab at Stanford, …

Expectations vs. Reality: More Key Questions on Molecularization of Identity

[Above: Rendering of DNA–aka “what most people think about when they hear ‘molecular identity’”–via ynse on Flickr & Creative Commons.  Below: What scientists actually look at when they’re trying to sort out molecular identities. By Micah Baldwin via Flickr & Creative Commons] Two posts and two weeks later, I’ve only covered a fraction of the …

Hybrid Problems: Chimerism, Synthetic Life, and Mixed Heritage

[A hybrid orchid. Photo by Mark Freeth.]  [“Molecularization of Identity” Workshop Recap, Part 2] Genomes of indigenous people, which often include genes found nowhere else in the world, can be powerful symbols for nations that want to showcase their uniqueness.  But when the Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Medicina Genómica  (INMEGEN)  set out to find examples …

“Perceive. Identify. Regulate.” How to be Racist with 21st Century Science

[Image via Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary & Creative Commons] [“Molecularization of Identity” Workshop Recap, Part 1] The diagram of racism was shockingly simple: four highlighted brain regions with black arrows between them, forming an almost-isosceles triangle. [Diagram by Elizabeth Phelps’ group at NYU via The Brain Bank blog] Perception. Identification. Regulation.  Those are the …

5 Amazing Feats Performed by “Meta-Genes”

[Image via the NIH Image Gallery. Photo by Alex Ritter, Jennifer Lippincott Schwartz, and Gillian Griffiths. Full video, complete with narration here.]  Under the Radar: A series of listicles about biology concepts you definitely won’t find in newspaper headlines. #1: Be a Navigation App for Immune Cells Natural killer cells, or “NK cells” are the …

Some people learn from pain, others learn by avoiding it

[Photo by Tomas Fano via Flickr/Creative Commons] Last August, a paper in Nature debuted with evidence supporting an idea that many suspected but few wanted to hear: If two teams of scientists run the same psychological experiment, the two sets of results end up mismatched.  (In fact,  when a network of 270 researchers retried 100 …

Blog Experimentation in Progress: Recaps vs. Listicles

[“Stockpile” photo by Stephen Edmonds via Flickr/Creative Commons] This week, I’m taking a dollop of my own advice and building a “stockpile” of future posts for this blog. But like blogging itself, building a post stockpile requires a lot of guesswork. The Internet is fickle, and even though I have a pretty good idea of …

Best Shortform Science Writing January-March 2016

(A Highly Subjective Round-up of Standout Science News) [Photo above by Raúl Hernández González via Flickr & Creative Commons] How short is a shortform piece of journalism? Under 250 words? Where does that leave all the pieces clocking in at 500, 700, or 1200 words? Those were the first questions that reared their heads when …