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: Born This Way (Thoughts on Sex, Genetic Determinism, and James Tiptree, Jr.)

I first read James Tiptree, Jr.’s beautiful story, “Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death” back when I was a teenager and it has remained with me ever since, a mental touchstone, a reminder of the wonders that can be accomplished in just a few thousand words. It is a story of love, the…… Continue reading Spec Tech: Born This Way (Thoughts on Sex, Genetic Determinism, and James Tiptree, Jr.)

Spec Tech: Easy Recipe for Making a Transgenic Human

There are many news reports about gene therapy, about how we may be able to ‘fix’ genetic diseases such as sickle cell anemia, cancer, and cystic fibrosis. Simply put, scientists and doctors are trying to find ways to deliver a rectifying normal gene into a patient. This type of procedure is called somatic cell gene…… Continue reading Spec Tech: Easy Recipe for Making a Transgenic Human