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

Spec Tech: More Monsters or The Beast with a Million Eyes

Last year (September 2, 2010), I posted a Spec Tech column on “Monsters.” In that column I looked at the genetic basis for the Cyclops and the Werewolf. Here I’ll consider mutations that involve homeotic genes and the monstrous results that can arise. First we’ll look at how homeotic genes function in a flower, and…… Continue reading Spec Tech: More Monsters or The Beast with a Million Eyes

Spec Tech: In Darwin’s Footsteps

Over the years, I have contributed to several anthologies that ape the form of a scientific compendium. The first of these, and one that undoubtedly influenced subsequent anthologies of a similar nature, was THE THACKERY T. LAMBSHEAD POCKET GUIDE TO ECCENTRIC AND DISCREDITED DISEASES, edited by Jeff VanderMeer and Mark Roberts. More recently I contributed…… Continue reading Spec Tech: In Darwin’s Footsteps

Spec Tech: Talking to Insects

I enjoyed Chris Doty’s August 26 blog on Linguistic Quirkiness. In that spirit, and coming from my own biological bent, I’d like to consider some zoological approaches to communication. No, I’m not going to interrogate the whole animal world here, but restrict myself to just a couple of insects. I want to consider how insects…… Continue reading Spec Tech: Talking to Insects

Spec Tech: Your Protagonist Wants Sleeves: Fashion in F&SF

Most clothes are uncomfortable, cumbersome, and dangerous, and can really make your characters’ lives miserable.  As a writer, this is an underused resource for inflicting pain and suffering upon your poor, hapless protagonists. Unless manufactured on machines by cotton produced on industrial farms and sewn en masse by underpaid illegal laborers, clothing is expensive. For…… Continue reading Spec Tech: Your Protagonist Wants Sleeves: Fashion in F&SF