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A Blog Around the World


Not Steve Jobs in a Garage

The efforts of researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute to move toward creating synthetic life — they recently published a paper in Science on cloning a bacterial genome in yeast — have been compared to the work of computer scientists during the 1980s. Bloggers Ricardo Vidal and Deepak Singh aren't convinced by the analogy. "This comparison just brings along a whole truck load of babble that I think is incorrect," Vidal writes at My Biotech Life. At business|bytes|genes|molecules, Singh adds that "genetic manipulation and sequencing might become available easily and inexpensively some day, but they will never be commodities like a computer."

Where in the World Is a 454?

In August, the Cambridge Research Institute's James Hadfield created a Google Map listing facilities that house next-generation sequencers. He posted a link to the map in the SEQanswers forum and soon opened the map up so anyone could edit it. At Pathogens: Genes and Genomes, Nick Loman did an analysis of the early data to see which next-gen machines were being adopted in the UK. Discounting the Sanger Centre, which Loman says skews the data, the most common next-gen platform is the Illumina Solexa. "Solexa is just in the lead with 12 machines, closely followed by 454 with 9 machines and with ABI SOLiD trailing with just 3," Loman writes.

Trials and Tribulations

Georgia Tech professor Rick Trebino's article on how to publish a scientific comment to a journal has gotten bloggers talking. Trebino's arduous path went through 123 steps, plus an addendum, and never resulted in a comment. Steinn Sigurðsson at the Dynamic of Cats posts the steps as a PDF and assures his readers it's a true story. At Adventures in Ethics and Science, Janet Stemwedel wades through the steps and is left wondering about how scientific communication is supposed to occur if there are stumbling blocks throughout the publishing process. "The idea that the journal here seems to be missing is that they have a duty to their readers, not just to the authors whose papers they publish," she writes.

After the Hood

At her eponymous blog, Female Science Professor wonders what the role of a PhD advisor should be after students graduate. In her experience, she was treated "with the same benign neglect" by her advisors as other students were, but she has problems doing that herself. She blogs that her approach is unfair as there are some students for whom all she'll do is write a letter of recommendation, while for others she'll collaborate or provide other support. Uncertain Principles' Chad Orzel says that he came away from his old lab with an armload of equipment on a "permanent loan." "Obviously, this is not sustainable for any research group graduating more than one student every 4-5 years, but it is food for thought," he writes.

The Scan

Pfizer-BioNTech Seek Full Vaccine Approval

According to the New York Times, Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking full US Food and Drug Administration approval for their SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Viral Integration Study Critiqued

Science writes that a paper reporting that SARS-CoV-2 can occasionally integrate into the host genome is drawing criticism.

Giraffe Species Debate

The Scientist reports that a new analysis aiming to end the discussion of how many giraffe species there are has only continued it.

Science Papers Examine Factors Shaping SARS-CoV-2 Spread, Give Insight Into Bacterial Evolution

In Science this week: genomic analysis points to role of human behavior in SARS-CoV-2 spread, and more.