Spec Tech: A Biology Lexicon for the Twenty-First Century

This piece is inspired by J. G. Ballard’s “Project for a Glossary of the Twentieth Century,” originally published in Zone in 1992, and later collected in A User’s Guide to the Millennium in 1996. I’ve added links for some of the more specific scientific references. Biofuel. Soylent green. Cancer. Immortality at the cost of your…… Continue reading Spec Tech: A Biology Lexicon for the Twenty-First Century

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Spec Tech: Of Mucus, Bile, and the Indigestibility of Wood (or What We Talk About When We Talk About the Digestive System)

There’s the old saying: you are what you eat. Part of this guilt-inducing suggestion is that you should pay attention to what you ingest, eat more healthily, because your food will become part of you. But hidden within this message is something much more basic, ancient, and largely unacknowledged, namely that all life is made…… Continue reading Spec Tech: Of Mucus, Bile, and the Indigestibility of Wood (or What We Talk About When We Talk About the Digestive System)

Spec Tech: Evolution, Devolution, microRNAs, and You

In my previous column on “Monsters” I discussed the genetic basis for the Cyclops and the Werewolf. Then, in “More Monsters,” I discussed the homeotic genes that act as master regulators of organ identity. But really those genes are so last century. They all code for proteins, and it is the proteins that do the…… Continue reading Spec Tech: Evolution, Devolution, microRNAs, and You