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Fermenting thought: A new look at synthetic biology

I have become involved in a new project related to synthetic biology. The University of Nottingham has received funding for a big Synthetic Biology Research Centre. I am a social scientist within the new team and in charge of keeping an eye on ‘responsible research and innovation’. This is not what this post is about …

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Gene drives and metaphors

I have been writing about developments in the biosciences for twenty years. In that time, I have covered a wide variety of topics, such as cloning, genomics, the human genome project, the microbiome project, faecal microbial transplants, synthetic biology, epigenetics, genome editing and now gene drive. I was lucky enough to get many reflections on …

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Metaphors, metaphors, metaphors

Recently somebody asked me something about metaphor and I thought to myself, what the heck do you know about metaphor? Actually, not an awful lot, given all the stuff I have written about it, or rather the stuff that I have written which involves some sort of reference to metaphor. So, I started to make …

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Minimal genomes, maximal assumptions

This is another guest post by Massimiliano Simons who is a postdoctoral researcher at the department of philosophy and moral sciences at Ghent University. He is also a member of the Working Group on Philosophy of Technology (WGPT) at KU Leuven, Belgium. *** Ten years ago the J. Craig Venter Institute announced the birth of …

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Making Science Public 2019: An overview

Every year I think: This will be the last year I write something for this blog… and each year I write a bit more. And so it was this year. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I really don’t know. But it distracts me from life’s increasing troubles and keeps me sane. …

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Metaphors, machines and the meaning of life

Machine metaphors are ubiquitous in biology, nowhere more so than in synthetic biology, a type of biology that is inspired by engineering and design. This has attracted the attention of metaphor analysts, but also of philosophers and ethicists. Various scholars, both from the humanities/social sciences and the life sciences have grappled with some of the …

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