Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Biopunk Reader

Okay, so I haven't posted here in months. With the advent of a new year, I think it's time for a little TLC. Aside from a pretty new layout by Blogger to look at, the whole 2.5 (yes, .5) people who visit this blog are in for a news update as well. Sometime in late fall '09, I reached out for other authors with an interest in the science fiction subgenre of biopunk. Many moons later, it seems that an online writing and art community may have begun the building process. If it seems like something you would like to be a part of, check out the blog/ezine that is a current project of author Christine Danse and myself; The Biopunk Reader.

Cheers, and a happy new year!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Pinhole Blender

I was web browsing ultraviolet and infrared photography on this fine, snowy evening when I stumbled across a really intriguing invention. I recently received my own pinhole camera and have been mostly just trying to create images that are not blurred beyond comprehension. But once I get a better handle on my fickle Holga, I may want to give this a whirl. The "Pinhole Blender" is the creation of Chris Peregoy, and like most pinholes, is delightfully simple in its design. The difference between it and my Holga, however, is that the Blender uses multiple light holes to create a panorama of images. Quite brilliant. Check it out or buy one here:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We Still Love You, Rick!

I'm sure you all know Mr. Astley, that weird little guy with the ridiculous hair who pops up whenever you try to stream a popular new release on youtube.
We'll he's back, and potentially the first ever virus to infect Apple's iphone. The 21-year-old student from Sydney, Australia claims to have created the rickrolling virus as a means to point out how pathetically lazy iphone users really are. It attacks only owners of jailbroken phones who have failed to alter their passwords. MailOnline writes: "He is certain it is the first virus of its kind in the world- 'especially the first that spreads from phone to phone.'"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Harry Potter: The Exhibition

Wonderful news, Bostonian fans of psuedo-science! With Halloween just around the corner, Harry Potter: The Exhibition is coming to the Museum of Science on October 25th. It's the second museum worldwide to host the exhibet, which will include; "a first-hand view at more than 200 authentic artifacts displayed in settings inspired by the film sets — including the Great Hall, Hagrid's hut, the Gryffindor™ common room — and more." (

And if you enjoy thinking over the rather low odds of a rocket broomstick ever being invented NASA, you might want to check out The Science of Harry Potter: How Magic Really Works by Roger Highfield, here at

Buon Pomeriggio!~Leah

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Green Glowing Bunnies

I don't want to bump down my post about the biopunk anthology, but I found this piece on the mesh between art, technology, and culture way too interesting not to share.

I ran into an article while web-browsing on a rabbit named Alba, the "GFP" bunny. Alba is living, breathing work of art whose fluffy flourescence ignited global controversy in the year 2000. Now, I'm sure I'm very behind the curb on this, but I was rather too young when the events first occured to take an interest in such things. So, for people like me, or others who just never caught wind, I'm going to go over the concept in brief. GFP is an acronym which stands for green flourescent protein, a gene which allows the jellyfish Aequorea Victoria to glow. This same protein has been injected into primates by researchers before in order to more easily detect viruses. Transgenic artist Eduardo Kac, however, took the idea to untried heights when he created a rabbit with this same gene.

Alba is an albino rabbit. She does not glow all the time, in the dark, or even on command. "When (and only when) illuminated with blue light (maximum excitation at 488 nm), she glows with a bright green light (maximum emission at 509 nm)." (from

Chicago Magazine reported in 2000, "GFP Bunny was due to appear in June at an arts festival in Avignon, France, where Kac planned to put Alba on exhibition in the city's cultural center. There, he had transformed an exhibition space into a cozy living room, including a couch, where he would live with Alba for a week.  By doing so, he hoped to convey the idea that biotechnologies are on their way to entering our lives at the most basic level: in our private homes. Shortly before the exhibition date, though, the head of the institute where Alba had been engineered refused to let the rabbit leave, perhaps fearing the public protest and the scrutiny of genetic engineering that such a show would ignite.

'Many molecular biologists do their work in private and pretend it does not have social impact, yet the technologies they develop -- such as genetic engineering -- will eventually enter the entire society,' says Kac. 'By denying Alba presence in the exhibit, the institute director is trying to keep everything in the lab under wraps and impede debate.'"

Alba the glowing rabbit now lives with Kac, his wife Ruth and daughter Miriam in their Chicago home.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Call To Arms For Science Fiction Writers; Biopunk Anthology

For a while now, I've been contemplating taking on a small publishing project myself. The main idea is to compose an anthology of short, 3,000-8,000w stories related to the genre of biopunk (wikipedia definition: "A science fiction genre that focuses on biotechnology and subversives"). So basically, I'm asking anyone who's interested in submitting a short story to send the text in a .doc or .rtf attachment to in 12point, Times New Roman or Courier font. I also want to stress an interest in stories with a base of hard science, and ideas that are only just beyond the realm plausible. No A.I. apocolypse, or green women on Mars in furry bikinis, and nothing should be explained through magic. At the moment, I am accepting simultaneous submissions, just make 100% certain you tell me if your work is being published elsewhere.

As I said, this is a small project that may end up being privately self-published. Payment will most likely come in the form of royalties divided amongst contributors, but I can't make any promises yet. I'm looking for authors who may not be brand names, but have a dedication to their work and to scifi. Relevant publishing experience should be mentioned in the email, but absolutely don't let it deter you if you haven't got any yet. It's more important that the story reads smoothly and has a certain feel. If you haven't read anything biopunk, and just want to check it out, try the book "Ribofunk" by Paul Di Filippo. 

Ciao and good luck! ~Leah

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

DNA Origami

This I found absolutely amazing. Senior Research Associate at Caltech, Paul W.K. Rothemund, has invented a process for creating images from DNA. 

(from his website at "Each of the two smiley faces above, at right, are actually giant DNA complexes imaged with an atomic force microscope. Each is about 100 nanometers across (1/1000th the width of a human hair), 2 nanometers thick, and each is comprised of about 14,000 DNA bases. 7000 of these DNA bases belong to a long single strand, a DNA molecule that just happens to be the genome of the virus M13. The other 7000 of these bases belong to about 250 shorter strands, each about 30 bases long. These short strands fold the long strand into the smiley face shape. I call the method "scaffolded DNA origami". (For the record: there is no fundamental significance to the fact that it is viral DNA; I could buy it and it was cheap and pure. M13 is a bacteriophage---it can make the bacteria in your intestine sick but not you!)"

Brilliant! IBM is now looking into the technology for possible computer hardware applications.