Yeast Paint

[I’m obsessed with clouds]

 

CUMULUS

Still soaring, as if some celestial call
Impell’d it to yon heaven’s sublimest hall;
High as the clouds, in pomp and power arrayed,
Enshrined in strength, in majesty displayed;
All the soul’s secret thoughts it seems to move,
Beneath it trembles, while it frowns above.

 Goethe

 

Encoded poetics timeline

Encoded poetics is a two-bodied project with the same intention at the core, experiment with language visually and physically through gene-editing tools.

I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad one, the fact that even I know, there will be no control on the outcome,  I do have a very clear idea in my head of the plasticity that I’m looking for.

 

Biomaterials

There have always been two lines under Biomaterials that fascinates me. One is the research that is primarily done for health, where the article of the heart vessels made out of spinach leaves hits right on the spot. I guess it talks directly with the notion that everything in nature is connected and we are closer in structure as with any other leaving been. And the second one is all the uses for architecture, like the bricks made out of fungi or the domes that are made using silk caterpillars. It gave me an idea of what if instead of this fantasy of cyborg superhumans, were metal, circuit and metals have been part of our imagination; the reality moved more to a holistic relationship. What if our hearts and houses were restored by caterpillars?

 

Gene editing [links and videos]

Gene editing:

https://www.wired.com/story/wired-guide-to-crispr/

Videos:

http://video.wired.com/watch/crispr-gene-editing-explained

CRISPR to store information:

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/jul/12/scientists-pioneer-a-new-revolution-in-biology-by-embeding-film-on-dna

https://www.nature.com/articles/nature23017

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/07/scientists-can-use-crispr-to-store-images-and-movies-in-bacteria/533400/

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/03/this-speck-of-dna-contains-a-movie-a-computer-virus-and-an-amazon-gift-card/518373/

Gene editing as programming language:

https://www.synthego.com

https://www.wired.com/story/biology-will-be-the-next-great-computing-platform/

Microscopes

Recently, I discovered an old project by Manu Prakash who has become a personal idol, mostly because of the social awareness aspect, plus democratization of the science in his work that makes him so inspiring. This project that I found is a chemistry set that works on a music box. I really appreciate how he’s constantly taking the physics behind long lasting and simple toys to create his project but also takes into consideration the material. An example will be his blood centrifuge and his foldscope. Can we get the classroom kit? Less than 3 dollars each one of us. How great would that be!! We could have our own paper microscope as a tool in the meantime for this class.

 

 

 

Gene drives [Topic: Gene Editing]

 Topic: Gene editing

 

 

When I was little I was obsessed with the prospect of becoming a doctor, to be more specific a neurologist. I don’t remember how it happened but at some point in my life, I was allowed to see a  brain surgery from the gallery of the operation room. I have to say that that day the obsession shifted; I discovered that more than being amazed by the technology and the skilful surgeon. For me, at that moment, that brain became a  beautiful, powerful, delicate computer that was being butchered by a knife, and nevertheless, it worked and recovered from such a brutal experience! 

Something similar happened after I had the opportunity of my own CRISPR experiment at Genspace. After our readings, I have to admit I was a little apprehensive and dizzy about the topic, sometimes the theory is overwhelming and the biology could be a hard friend to communicate with.  At the moment I have too many thoughts about the genome editing, not only because is my topic but because for fortune, it was our first topic. The reading explained how it worked, how it was being discussed or approached around the world, the possibilities, the miscommunication behind it also. You get the idea of what gene editing is, what CRISPR represents in today’s labs and the future. But I don’t think you fully understand the scale of it until you are in front of a centrifuge with your own yeast transformation protocol.

More than amazed by the science (which is by no means smaller or less breathtaking) I was amazed by the possibilities of our bodies as humans, as mammals, eukaryotes, bacterias and viruses. No state is definitive for sure. I mean, we are going atomic and cutting DNA. Yes, is difficult and from trillions of cells a dozen will be actually cut, but the beauty is that it survives, it recovers and function as expected.  Thanks to science we are able to transfer vital organs from one body to another, keep hearts alive in boxes for hours and know have atomic biological scissor. Not only that, recently I remembered the story of how CRISPR was used to store information inside bacteria, taking the uses of gene editing beyond the needs of health

There are some aspects that worry most people, for me, more than anything they make me angry. If the way pharmaceutical industries behave is any indicator, we won’t be seeing gene drives tackling diseases or on wild populations just for the sake of eradication. Money more than morals is gonna be the main protocol system of gene drives, any genetical diseases that only affect 1% of the population or any wild population affecting a population that lives in a state of poverty are not gonna be part of this rush we are hearing, maybe I’m just being pessimistic.