“A false sense of precision”

“Whenever you hear the term ‘Darwinian’ from anyone other than historians of science, assume the crash position; it’s going to get real ugly.”

The quote is from a blogger known as Mike the Mad Biologist. The title of the post is When Economists Misunderstand Biology, an entry he wrote in response to economist Russ Roberts’ piece called What is economics good for?. In Roberts’ opening paragraph, he refers to his previous argument that macroeconomics is “deeply flawed and not a science”. He goes on to describe that economist Friedrich Hayek (the original anti-Keynesian) felt that to label economics a science gave “a false sense of precision and understanding.”
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DNA, it's not just for genetics any more

Technology Review has an article about a paper in Public Library of Science Biology titled Solid-State, Dye-Labeled DNA Detects Volatile Compounds in the Vapor Phase. In other words, DNA is being used as just a polymer, not the Stuff of Life. Why is this cool?

No self-respecting molecular biologist would have thought of this. Instead, a systems neuroscientist working on creating an electronic nose was thinking on the problem of sensor development. The nose worked on biological principles, identifying odors not by specific sensors (as with a CO2 sensor), but rather by the patterns of activity on an array of sensors. They were working with sensors made of polymers doped with compounds with fluorescent properties that would change in the presence of specific, target odorant molecules. Developing new sensors has been a completely empirical process for anyone in the electronic nose business. How to speed it up? DNA.


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