Tag: laboratory studies

Pain-Free Mouse, being ‘human,’ and more-than-human ethics

In the opening scene of Blade Runner, a fictional diagnostic called the Voigt-Kampff test distinguishes human from android. The test, as imagined in Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi novel and later adapted into the film adaptation, exploits a primary autonomic response: the so-called ‘shame’ or ‘blushing’ reaction to a “morally shocking stimulus.” In the novel, the ‘moral shock’ stimulus invariably involves nonhuman animals: (read more...)

Research in Virtual Lab Worlds during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Heading into Steve’s[1] university laboratory for the first time, I anxiously waited to begin observing the lab members’ work with computational protein structure prediction and design. This lab was one of the first spaces for such work in the US. Gaining legitimacy and recognition after the rise of genomics, protein computation aims to model protein structure and its interactions with other proteins, enzymes, and surroundings. This has become crucial for biological, biochemical, and even medical research. Needless to say, I was excited to see leaders in the field hard at work, but then was shocked to walk into a plain, tan-colored office area with four separate desks, everything completely quiet. Because of their collaborative work with other research projects, I had expected to see a more vibrant and dynamic lab space. Sadly, my excitement and energy slowly dissolved away into boredom watching four students type code into their computers. As I observed lab members code and model proteins, I wanted to understand how so much excitement and a strong collaborative environment with outside sciences could come from such mundane computer work. (read more...)

Can Sucro Futures Answer our Biotechnofix Dreams?

What would plastic containers, cosmetic fragrances, and paint thinners be made of if we stopped using petrochemicals? Some plant biologists and biotech companies are suggesting an answer: sugar. Amid calls for people to change the fossil-fuel consumption habits that drive climate change, replacing petroleum-based fuels with renewable ones frequently takes center-stage. However, we often overlook how petrochemicals—chemicals derived from petroleum, the mixture of hydrocarbons extracted from the ground as crude oil—pervade our everyday lives as an invisible ingredient in a vast array of ordinary materials and items, such as plastics, food preservatives, synthetic clothing, tires, and even toothpaste. (read more...)

Life in the Laboratories of Breaking Bad

A Chemical Drama I freely admit to an obsession with Breaking Bad that hasn’t quite come to an end, despite nearly a year having passed since the final episode aired. I am not the only one, apparently, as a new book written from a media studies perspective, Breaking Bad: Critical Essays on the Contexts, Politics, Style and Reception of the Television Series has just come out. While this is no doubt a productive frame to examine Breaking Bad, I am going to argue that Breaking Bad also illustrates key problematics in laboratory studies. If The Wire can become a staple within urban studies, why not Breaking Bad within STS? In what follows, I will sketch a few possible directions, which assume at least a passing familiarity with the plot and characters. WARNING: spoilers ahead! (read more...)