Overthinking Apocalypse

There was more, of course. Prof. Piotr Dembowski of the University of Maryland, talking about how difficult it had been to crack the GRM. Someone else from Simon Fraser, reporting that something like Firebrand (“it’s always hard to tell when dealing with encrypted genes”) was showing up in some microbe — Bacteroides thetasomethingorother — that […]

Posted in: biotech, fiblet by Peter Watts 20 Comments

Lateral Transfers

The whitecap’s skin glows with a golden tan of cultured xanthophylls.  Joel’s smile grows a little more brittle.  He’s heard all about the benefits, of course. UV protection, higher blood oxygen, more energy — they say it even cuts down on your food requirements, not that any of these people have to worry about grocery […]

Posted in: biology, biotech, evolution, fiblet by Peter Watts 20 Comments

“PyrE. Make them tell you what it is.”

At the end of one of the classic novels of TwenCen SF, the protagonist — an illiterate third-class mechanic’s mate named Gulliver Foyle, bootstrapped by his passion for revenge into the most powerful man in the solar system — gets hold of a top-secret doomsday weapon. Think of it as a kind of antimatter which […]

Posted in: biology, biotech, scilitics by Peter Watts 42 Comments

The Xenotext Experiment

A few of you may remember a throwaway bit of ecogothic ambience near the start of State of Grace: “…pure tissue was so hard to come by these days. There was always something that didn’t belong. Viral DNA, engineered for the greater good but too indiscriminate to stay on target. Special marker genes, designed to […]

Posted in: biochem, biotech, Dumbspeech, ink on art by Peter Watts 38 Comments

Physician, Heal Thyself.

I was going to devote today’s crawl to a recent study purporting to cast doubts on Libet’s notorious “no free-will” paper from the eighties— kinda pointless attacking that old study when more rigorous and recent studies have been so much more compelling on the same subject, and besides free will isn’t the same thing as […]

Posted in: biotech, neuro by Peter Watts 20 Comments

Ass-Covering Imitates Life

Way back when I was writing Maelstrom, a micobiologist ex-prof of mine asked about this βehemoth microbe I was inventing: how, he wondered, could it subvert the signal molecules on the cytoplasmic side of the vesicle so that the vesicles wouldn’t fuse with the lysosomes? This was not an issue I had previously considered.  In […]

Posted in: biotech, rifters by Peter Watts 5 Comments

Head Cheese Gone Wild

I was plenty pleased when little porridges of cultured neurons took their first baby steps towards running flight simulators or operating robots in the lab; I was downright smug when folks noticed that I’d got there first. Now, though, researchers from the Missouri University of Science and Technology are planning on putting head cheeses in […]

Posted in: AI/robotics, biotech, neuro, relevant tech by Peter Watts 5 Comments

Revenge of the Butterballs

A few years back — before he ascended into Heaven with the angels — Cory Doctorow submitted a nifty little story to the Gibralter Point writing workshop (an annual affair for which, come to think of it, I am about to depart this very weekend). I don’t remember the title, but one of the central […]

Posted in: biotech, Dumbspeech by Peter Watts 24 Comments