Monthly Archives: May 2009

Corn muffin coefficient

From a recent Quotation of the Day Mailing List email comes this gem from a collection of letters written in response to the US Department of Agriculture‘s redesign of the Food Pyramid:

“The cleansing properties of urine are not even addressed in the food pyramid. This must be corrected. We cannot allow small minds and prejudice to bury this useful health information from our brothers and sisters in light.

“Write back IMMEDIATELY and tell me where to report with my diagrams. I am including corn muffins prominently in my calculations. That alone should tell you that I know what I am doing!”

– Mark Martin, Foodician, from his submission to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the redesign of the “food pyramid”.

Here’s a snapshot of the original letter from the collection of letters the USDA received:

I think it’s an artist’s prank. He claims he received a response from the USDA but it was just a generic form letter. Nevertheless, the prominence of corn muffins in his calculations is hard to ignore.

CTRL-ALT-DNA

You’re sitting at your computer, writing your next awesome computer program. You think, “I want to run my new program. But the computer I have is too slow and too boring to run it on.”

You glance over at the petri dish in your biology lab. “What if I could deploy my program as DNA, and the outcome of my program gets expressed as proteins and genes in a real cell?”

Sounds kind of crazy. But Microsoft is researching this.



An Escherichia coli predator-prey system implemented with a synthetic biology programming language developed by Microsoft researchers.

In their paper Towards programming languages for genetic engineering of living cells, Microsoft UK researchers Michael Pedersen and Andrew Phillips have developed a programming language that translates logical concepts into models of biological reactions in simulators. Reactions that have favorable results have the potential to be synthesized into DNA for insertion into real cells, achieving some level of cyborgian awesomeness that we can only just begin to imagine. (Insert obligatory Blue Screen of Death joke here).

More info here. And be sure to check out the full paper here.

Dress for the Aporkcalypse

I was hypnotized by the recent rebranding of “swine flu” as “hamthrax”, which unfortunately compelled to me design a t-shirt for sale on CafePress:

How long until the band‘s lawyers come after me?

Until then, buy a shirt!. Or a hat. :)