molecular biology


Lies, Damned Lies, and Tissue Culture

I originally wrote this in Feb 2008, and later updated it for the old Lay Science. While making sure that this website was up-to-date, it occurred to me that this post would have disappeared with the rest of the Lay Science site. I have forgotten what updates I made when […]


Model splicing

This is another archival repost, written for the old blog in January 2008. The central dogma of molecular biology, first described by Francis Crick in 1958, describes the flow of information between DNA, RNA, and proteins.[1] The central dogma is interesting, but I believe that its use in teaching is […]


The selfish gene drives an operon

This is another archival repost first written for the old blog in 2007. On Monday I mentioned John Maynard Smith’s videos at People’s Archive. They really are marvelous, and you should watch them all. One of the topics he discusses is horizontal gene transfer in bacteria, a subject I discussed […]


Lay Science: The Selfish Genius

This was originally written a year ago on a now disused blog. I’m reposting it here because I enjoyed writing it so much that I wouldn’t want it to disappear. People love a good argument with Richard Dawkins. So many people are so desperately seeking reassurance that he is wrong, […]


Evelyn Fox Keller on genes, evolution, and epigenetics

This is another archival repost from the old blog, first published way back in March 2008. I’ve been following CBC’s How To Think About Science series, and caught the Evelyn Fox Keller episode the other day. It was interesting, but there were a couple of issues that I just can’t […]


Lay Science: Lies, damned lies, and tissue culture

Skepticism is about critical thinking and knowing how to avoid being fooled by charlatans and the honest but mistaken.  Over at Lay Science I explain one way that you can get fooled: by people citing the activities of cells in a dish as scientific proof for anything and everything.  Read […]


Having a BLAST with Darwin

-or- “(One of many reasons) Why genomics matters” This is an archival repost which was originally posted on the old blog in feb 2009, during the Darwin 200 celebrations. In chapter 14 of The Origin Darwin discussed embryological stages and their utility in classification. This utility derives from the fact […]


Origin Ch.9: Recombination

This post is part of a series on The Origin Of Species.  It was originally posted on the old blog in feb 2009, during the Darwin 200 celebrations. In chapter nine, Darwin takes a long look at hybrids. And I mean a long look: he can really go off on […]


Light years upstream, dipping in the River out of Eden

This is another archival repost, originally written for the old blog in May 2008. Darwin’s 1837 phylogeny, with root and branches. I’ve talked about Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) on the blog a few times before, particularly in the context of bacteria acquiring genes for things like antibiotic resistance, and in […]


A rambling introduction to chemical carcinogenesis

This is an archive from the old blog, originally written in 2008. Regular readers may have noticed that I get rather annoyed by the casual use of the word “chemical” to mean “synthetic chemical”, and the use of the naturalistic fallacy (natural good, chemical bad) that is associated with this […]


Sunday syndrome #5: The anarchist that wasn’t

This is another archival repost from the old blog — this one from January 2008.  The post is part five in a series. The series so far can be found here. In the first installment of Sunday Syndrome I used the example of Prader-Willi Syndrome. This week we’ll bring in […]


Sunday syndrome #4: Concentrate!

This is another archival repost from the old blog — this time from Nov 2007.  The post is part four in a series. The series so far can be found here. So far in the Sunday syndrome column, we’ve been talking in terms of the all-or-nothing loss (or gain) of […]


Carefully sabotaging the genome

This is an archive from the old blog, originally written in 2007. The “Thursday Paper” column on the blog is for reporting on a recently published peer-reviewed research. Apologies if this one isn’t so polished, but I have a train to catch. It would appear to be medical genetics week […]


A brief taxonomy of mutation

This post is an archive from the old blog, originally written in 2007. I’ve been discussing in the “Sunday syndrome” column various disorders caused by genetic aberrations, but I haven’t really explained how such aberrations occur.  There are several different types of aberration that occur, and several different mechanisms that […]