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Document Deep Dive: Francis Crick Explains the ‘Secret of Life’ | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine
On March 19, 1953, an eager Francis Crick, still reeling with excitement from his lab work, sat down to write his son a letter. He cut right to the chase. “Jim Watson and I have probably made a most important discovery,” he told Michael, then 12 years old and studying at Bedales, a boarding school in southern England.

Crick and James Watson, a fellow biologist at Cavendish Laboratory at University of Cambridge, had discovered the double-helix structure of DNA. In the endearing seven-page note, written clearly but with high expectations of his young son, Crick describes DNA as being “like a code” and explained how its bases—guanine, adenine, thymine and cytosine—pair up to hold together two twisting strands of molecules. He also spells out how DNA replicates itself. “Read this carefully so that you understand it. When you come home we will show you the model,” Crick instructs, before signing off, “Lots of love, Daddy.”

Until this past spring, the 60-year-old letter was sitting in Michael’s safety deposit box, in an envelope with leaves of acid-free paper placed between each page. “It seemed a bit of a waste,” says Michael Crick, now 72 and living in Bellevue, Washington.

As an adult, Michael can read the letter and appreciate how similarly he and his late father’s minds work. While Michael did not pursue a career in genetics, he has been successful in another manner of coding. He helped design Arpanet, the prequel to the Internet, and the first spell-check tool for Microsoft Word. But, he also realizes the document’s significance to science.

“It is the first written description of what my father calls ‘how life comes from life,’” he says.

In April, Michael and his family sold the letter at Christie’s. The auction house valued the letter at $1 to $2 million, but, ultimately, an anonymous collector shelled out $5.3 million—the highest amount for a letter in auction history. (The buy ousted an Abraham Lincoln letter from this top rank.) The earnings were split between the Crick family and the Salk Institute, Francis Crick’s former employer and a stakeholder in the letter.

Click on the yellow tabs, within the document, to learn more about the letter.



Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/Document_Deep_Dive_Francis_Crick_Explains_the_Secret_of_Life.html#ixzz2euvrtQJt
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter
biology  history  dna  discovery  science 
september 2013 by jdherg
Underwater Experiments Continued: Wonderful New Photos of Jellyfish by Alexander Semenov | Colossal
Since first covering the photography of Russian biologist Alexander Semenov (previously) back in January his self-directed “Underwater Experiments” series has continued unabated as he releases other-worldy shots of the Earth’s most elusive creatures almost daily. Again and again Semenov captures some of the most jaw-dropping photographs of underwater life I’ve ever seen, most frequently an animal called lion’s mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata) which is the largest known species of jellyfish in the world. What you see here only scratches the surface of his work over the last couple of months, definitely urge you to get lost in his underwater gallery.
nature  photography  biology  art  by:alexandersemenov  via:colossal 
august 2012 by jdherg
HeartWave Converts Your Pulse into Water Ripples
Engin Ayaz, Tak Cheung, and Doug Kanter created HeartWave, a tabletop device which uses water ripples to visualize the heartbeat of two people at once. The sides of the tank are equipped with Polar heart beat sensors, which actuate electromagnets to pulse a fin, generating each wave. According to Doug, “variations in liquid and lighting allow for a range of unique HeartWave experiences.” The box is constructed from a plexiglass frame with blue foam, black plastic, and is coated with Magic-Smooth polymer finish. Not only did the group create the great video above, but they also painstakingly documented the process of designing and building HeartWave. It’s definitely a slick project, but they’re not quite satisfied yet. On their wish list is enhanced lighting effects, coding refinements, and better interactivity cues for the user. No matter what, it’s a nice piece!

More:

Collin’s Lab: Infrared heart sensor
How-To: Fingertip heart rate monitor
Arduino  Arts  Biology  heart_rate  heart_rate_monitor  itp  pulse  water  todo:tag 
november 2011 by jdherg
Stop Motion Video Made With Thousands of PCR Tubes
This commercial plugs the Veriti Thermal Cycler, and used over 6,000 PCR tube and 30 plates in the filming, which took an entire month. [Via @cenmag]
Biology  Science  Video_Making  todo:tag 
november 2011 by jdherg
A map of the brain: Allan Jones on TED.com
How can we begin to understand the way the brain works? The same way we begin to understand a city: by making a map. In this visually stunning talk, Allan Jones shows how his team is mapping which genes are turned on in each tiny region, and how it all connects up. (Recorded at TEDGlobal 2011, July 2011, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Duration: 15:22.)

Watch Allan Jones’s talk on TED.com, where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 1,000+ TEDTalks.
biology  Health  Science  TEDGlobal2011  todo:tag 
november 2011 by jdherg
The line between life and not-life: Martin Hanczyc on TED.com
In his lab, Martin Hanczyc makes “protocells,” experimental blobs of chemicals that behave like living cells. His work demonstrates how life might have first occurred on Earth … and perhaps elsewhere too. (Recorded at TEDSalon Spring 2011, “Beauty/Complexity,” May 2011, in London, UK. Duration: 14:38)

Watch Martin Hanczyc’s talk on TED.com, where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 1,000+ TEDTalks.
biology  Science  TEDTalks  todo:tag 
november 2011 by jdherg
The real reason for brains: Daniel Wolpert on TED.com
Neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert starts from a surprising premise: the brain evolved, not to think or feel, but to control movement. In this entertaining, data-rich talk he gives us a glimpse into how the brain creates the grace and agility of human motion. (Recorded at TEDGlobal, July 2011, in Edinburg, Scotland. Duration: 20:00.)

Watch Daniel Wolpert’s talk on TED.com, where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 1,000+ TEDTalks.
biology  Science  TEDGlobal2011  todo:tag 
november 2011 by jdherg
Trust, morality — and oxytocin: Paul Zak on TED.com
What drives our desire to behave morally? Neuroeconomist Paul Zak shows why he believes oxytocin (he calls it “the moral molecule”) is responsible for trust, empathy, and other feelings that help build a stable society. (Recorded at TED Global, July 2011, in Edinburg, Scotland. Duration: 16:35.)

Watch Paul Zak’s talk on TED.com, where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 1,000+ TEDTalks.
biology  Science  TEDGlobal2011  todo:tag 
november 2011 by jdherg
Eyes Are Amazing: A Slow Motion Look at Our Biological Lens
Here’s a slow motion video showing a closeup look at the human eye, our amazing biological lens (and sensor). You might be surprised at how mechanical its movements are and how fluid the iris is. Another crazy fact is that we’re continually relying on “image stabilization” to see things clearly:

The visual system in the brain is too slow to process information if the images are slipping across the retina at more than a few degrees per second. Thus, for humans to be able to see while moving, the brain must compensate for the motion of the head by turning the eyes. [#]

To see a quick demonstration of this fact, try the following experiment: hold your hand up, about one foot in front of your nose. Keep your head still, and shake your hand from side to side, slowly at first, and then faster and faster. At first you will be able to see your fingers quite clearly. But as the frequency of shaking passes about 1 Hz, the fingers will become a blur. Now, keep your hand still, and shake your head. No matter how fast you shake your head, the image of your fingers remains clear. This demonstrates that the brain can move the eyes opposite to head motion much better than it can follow, or pursue, a hand movement. When your pursuit system fails to keep up with the moving hand, images slip on the retina and you see a blurred hand. [#]

Like with cameras, our built-in image stabilization can deal with head shake but not motion blur.
Educational  Finds  amazing  biology  body  eye  eyeball  humanbody  humaneye  interesting  iris  slowmo  slowmotion  todo:tag 
october 2011 by jdherg
Battling Bad Science: Ben Goldacre on TED.com
Every day there are news reports of new health advice, but how can you know if they’re right? Doctor and epidemiologist Ben Goldacre shows us, at high speed, the ways evidence can be distorted, from the blindingly obvious nutrition claims to the very subtle tricks of the pharmaceutical industry. (Recorded at TEDGlobal 2011, July 2011, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Duration: 14:20.)

Watch Ben Goldacre’s talk on TED.com, where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 1,000+ TEDTalks.
biology  Health  Science  TEDGlobal2011  todo:tag 
september 2011 by jdherg
Making matter come alive: Lee Cronin on TED.com
Before life existed on Earth, there was just matter, inorganic dead “stuff.” How improbable is it that life arose? And — could it use a different type of chemistry? Using an elegant definition of life (anything that can evolve), chemist Lee Cronin is exploring this question by attempting to create a fully inorganic cell using a “Lego kit” of inorganic molecules — no carbon — that can assemble, replicate and compete. (Recorded at TEDGlobal 2011, July 2011, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Duration: 15:11.)

Watch Lee Cronin’s talk on TED.com, where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 1,000+ TEDTalks.
biology  Science  TEDGlobal2011  todo:tag 
september 2011 by jdherg
Can we make things that make themselves? Skylar Tibbits on TED.com
MIT researcher Skylar Tibbits works on self-assembly — the idea that instead of building something (a chair, a skyscraper), we can create materials that build themselves, much the way a strand of DNA zips itself together. It’s a big concept at early stages; TED Fellow Tibbits shows us three in-the-lab projects that hint at what a self-assembling future might look like. (Recorded at TED University 2011, in Long Beach, California. Duration: 6:05.)

Watch Skyle Tibbits’ talk on TED.com, where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 1,000+ TEDTalks.
biology  oceans  Science  ted_fellows  TED2011  todo:tag 
september 2011 by jdherg
DNA clues to our inner Neanderthal: Svante Pääbo on TED.com
Sharing the results of a massive, worldwide study, Svante Pääbo shows the DNA proof that early humans mated with Neanderthals after we moved out of Africa. (Yes, many of us have Neanderthal DNA.) He also shows how a tiny bone from a baby finger was enough to identify a whole new humanoid species. (Recorded at TEDGlobal 2011, July 2011, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Duration: 17:02.)

Watch Svante Pääbo’s talk on TED.com, where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 1000+ TEDTalks.
biology  Science  TEDGlobal2011  todo:tag 
august 2011 by jdherg
Beware conflicts of interest: Dan Ariely on TED.com
In this short talk, psychologist Dan Ariely tells two personal stories that explore scientific conflict of interest: How the pursuit of knowledge and insight can be affected, consciously or not, by shortsighted personal goals. When we’re thinking about the big questions, he reminds us, let’s be aware of our all-too-human brains.. (Recorded at TED University 2011, in Long Beach, California. Duration: 5:35.)

Watch Dan Ariely’s talk on TED.com, where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 1,000+ TEDTalks.
biology  Science  TED2011  todo:tag 
august 2011 by jdherg
The great penguin rescue: Dyan deNapoli on TED.com
A personal story, a collective triumph: Dyan deNapoli tells the story of the world’s largest volunteer animal rescue, which saved more than 40,000 penguins after an oil spill off the coast of South Africa. How does a job this big get done? Penguin by penguin by penguin … (Recorded at TEDxBoston, June 2011, in Boston, Massachusetts. Duration: 11:44.)

Watch Dyan deNapoli’s talk on TED.com, where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 1,000+ TEDTalks.
biology  oceans  Science  TEDx  todo:tag 
august 2011 by jdherg
Are we filtering the wrong microbes? Jessica Green on TED.com
Should we keep the outdoors out of hospitals? Ecologist and TED Fellow Jessica Green has found that mechanical ventilation does get rid of many types of microbes, but the wrong kinds: the ones left in the hospital are much more likely to be pathogens. (Recorded at TEDGlobal 2011, July 2011, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Duration: 5:25.)

Watch Jessica Green’s talk on TED.com, where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 1,000+ TEDTalks.
biology  Design  environment  Health  Science  ted_fellows  TEDGlobal2011  todo:tag 
august 2011 by jdherg
Light Sensitivity of the Human Eye
As the low-light capabilities of high-end (and even low-end) cameras rapidly improve, it’s easy to marvel at technology and forget how amazing our own eyes are, but here are some mind-boggling facts to consider: did you know that the human eye can detect as few as two photons entering the retina, and that, under ideal conditions, a healthy young adult can see a candle flame from 30 miles away? To see how mind-boggling that is, try using Google Maps to find a location 30-miles away from where you live.

According to neuroscientist Bradley Voytek, the reason we don’t utilize our full sensory potential is because we’re not paying enough attention to them — kinda makes you want to put down your camera and focus on staring at things, huh?

We are all inattentive superheroes (via Boing Boing)

Image credit: Eye by Furryscaly
Educational  Miscellaneous  biology  eyes  facts  humanbody  humaneye  interesting  learn  life  neat  todo:tag 
may 2011 by jdherg
Light Sensitivity of the Human Eye
As the low-light capabilities of high-end (and even low-end) cameras rapidly improve, it’s easy to marvel at technology and forget how amazing our own eyes are, but here are some mind-boggling facts to consider: did you know that the human eye can detect as few as two photons entering the retina, and that, under ideal conditions, a healthy young adult can see a candle flame from 30 miles away? To see how mind-boggling that is, try using Google Maps to find a location 30-miles away from where you live.

According to neuroscientist Bradley Voytek, the reason we don’t utilize our full sensory potential is because we’re not paying enough attention to them — kinda makes you want to put down your camera and focus on staring at things, huh?

We are all inattentive superheroes (via Boing Boing)

Image credit: Eye by Furryscaly
Educational  Miscellaneous  biology  eyes  facts  humanbody  humaneye  interesting  learn  life  neat  todo:tag 
may 2011 by jdherg
Using nature to grow batteries: Angela Belcher on TED.com
Inspired by an abalone shell, Angela Belcher programs viruses to make elegant nanoscale structures that humans can use. Selecting for high-performing genes through directed evolution, she’s produced viruses that can construct powerful new batteries, clean hydrogen fuels and record-breaking solar cells. At TEDxCaltech, she shows us how it’s done. (Recorded at TEDxCaltech, January 2011 at Pasadena, CA. Duration: 10:26)



Watch Angela Belcher’s talk on TED.com where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 900+ TEDTalks.
Photo: Dominick Reuter
biology  Science  Technology  TEDx  todo:tag 
april 2011 by jdherg
Transplanting cells, not organs: Susan Lim on TED.com
Pioneering surgeon Susan Lim performed the first liver transplant in Asia. But a moral concern with transplants (where do donor livers really come from …) led her to look further, and to ask: Could we be transplanting cells, not whole organs? At the INK Conference, she talks through her new research, discovering healing cells in some surprising places. (Recorded at the INK Conference, December 2010, in Lavasa, India. Duration: 16>26)

Watch Susan Lim’s talk on TED.com, where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 900+ TEDTalks.
biology  invention  Science  Technology  TEDIndia  todo:tag 
april 2011 by jdherg
CNC bacteria swarm builds tiny pyramid
Researchers at the NanoRobotics Laboratory of the École Polytechnique de Montréal, under Professor Sylvain Martel, produced this remarkable video showing a swarm of about 5,000 flagellated bacteria--of a type which are subject to manipulation by magnetic fields--being directed to assemble six 100 μm epoxy bricks into the shape of a tiny step pyramid. IEEE Spectrum explains:

The bacteria, of a type known as magnetotactic, contain structures called magnetosomes, which function as a compass. In the presence of a magnetic field, the magnetosomes induce a torque on the bacteria, making them swim according to the direction of the field. Place a magnetic field pointing right and the bacteria will move right. Switch the field to point left and the bacteria will follow suit.

The corresponding paper title is surely one of the best I've ever read: "A Robotic Micro-Assembly Process Inspired By the Construction of the Ancient Pyramids and Relying on Several Thousands of Flagellated Bacteria Acting as Workers." [Thanks, Glen!]

More:Harnessing bacteria to turn gearsBiohacked bacteria possibly useful for landmine detectionBacterial typographyDecomposing plastic with bacteriaBeach drawn with fluorescent bacteriaHOW TO - Grow bioluminescent bacteria


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Biology  todo:tag 
september 2010 by jdherg
Unveiling "synthetic life": Craig Venter on TED.com
At a press event in Washington, DC, Craig Venter and team make a historic announcement: they've created the first fully functioning, reproducing cell controlled by synthetic DNA. He explains how they did it and why the achievement marks the beginning of a new era for science. (Recorded at the Newseum, May 2010 in Washington, DC. Duration: 18:18)



Watch Craig Venter's talk on TED.com, where you can download this TEDTalk, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 600+ TEDTalks.
biology  dna  life  craigventer  todo:tag 
may 2010 by jdherg
Hooked by an octopus: Mike deGruy on TED.com
Underwater filmmaker Mike deGruy has spent decades looking intimately at the ocean. A consummate storyteller, he takes the stage at Mission Blue to share his awe and excitement -- and his fears -- about the blue heart of our planet. (Recorded on the Mission Blue Voyage, April 2010 on the National Geographic Endeavor, the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. Duration: 16:10)



Watch Mike deGruy's talk on TED.com, where you can download this TEDTalk, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 600+ TEDTalks.
biodiversity  biology  biosphere  fish  life  oceans  oceans  todo:tag 
april 2010 by jdherg

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