Tag: video

Add Streaming Video to any Bio-lab!

Posted by – October 16, 2009

Combining an inexpensive (under $15) USB webcam with free VLC media player software, it is simple to add password-protected internet streaming video for remote users to any lab.  VLC includes the ability to capture from a local webcam, transcode the video data, and stream the video over the web.  It’s available for OS/X, Unix, Linux, and Microsoft systems.

Hint: Video formats are confusing.  Even video professionals have a tricky time figuring out the standards and compatibility issues.  Today’s web browsers also have limitations in what they can display (mime types and such) — which simply means both sides need to use VLC.  Figuring all this out using the VLC documentation takes some work.  Transcoding the video is required and a proper container must be used to encapsulate both video and audio.  Once debugged, it’s good to go.

Here’s how it worked in the lab:

Webcam for Biotech Lab Automation

See the setup below to get it running.


Synthetic Biology Conference 4.0 videos now online

Posted by – March 15, 2009

Videos of the Synthetic Biology Conference 4.0 from Hong Kong are now available.

One of the best all-around talks as an introduction to synthetic biology, and biotech business aspects of syn bio, is the lecture by Amyris Technologies, and an antidote for malaria using synthesis of the precursors to artimesinin; watch the video below.

Amyris’s Artemisinin Project is completely not-for-profit. The company received a large grant from the Gates Foundation for this commercializable research.

The talk also includes a discussion regarding biofuel breakthroughs now possible through syn bio techniques; their project is currently ramping up to make biodiesel sugarcane bioreactors in Brazil.

Stanford University: Programmable Microfluidics (2007) – Video

Posted by – March 2, 2009

October 3, 2007 lecture by Bill Thies for the Stanford University Computer Systems Colloquium (EE 380). Bill Thies provides an overview of microfluidic technologies from a computer science perspective, highlight areas in the which computer science researchers can contribute to this field; he will also describe recent work in developing new architectures, programming languages, and CAD tools for the microfluidic domain.

EE 380 | Computer Systems Colloquium:

Average Americans are Scared of “Synthetic Biology”

Posted by – November 20, 2008

Yes, believe it, non-synthetic biologists have a poor, even fearful, associations when synthetic biology is described to them:

Q: How do the descriptions of these technologies [synthetic biology] make you feel?

Female Respondent: I really thought of sci-fi movies, where, um, something is created in a laboratory, and it always seems great in the beginning, um, but, down the line, something goes wrong because they didn’t think about this particular situation or things turning this way.

Male Respondent: The “Jurassic Park” movie came to mind.

Female Respondent: It’s scary, why do we need to have new organisms? Why do we need to have, you know, you know, genetic engineering? Does it really help with anything? It’s really, it’s not going to help a common person like us. I don’t think, it’s not going to be for helping any of us.

Watch the video for yourself — promise, though, that you won’t throw your mouse at your screen:
Nanotech and Synbio: Americans Don’t Know What’s Coming: “This survey was informed by two focus groups (video – focus groups) conducted in August [2008] in suburban Baltimore [by The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies Synbio Poll]. This is the first time—to the pollsters’ knowledge—that synthetic biology has been the subject of a representative national telephone survey.”

One of the men states he’s a biologist, and later says, “Who’s playing god here? Who are we as humans to think we can design or redesign life? It’s nice to be able to do it but is it right?”

While watching the video, keep in mind the benefits and limitations of focus groups (wikipedia: Focus groups).

Modifying Yeast for Drug Production in Beer – BioBeer

Posted by – November 13, 2008

How synthetic biology gets done in iGEM competition:

Jam08 Live: Rice – BioBeer from mac cowell on Vimeo. [1]

Before getting too excited though, keep in mind:

  • The experiment hasn’t been verified to work. The yeast “seems to be consuming some intermediate products” however the drug production hasn’t been verified.
  • The benefits of resveritrol may be dramatically overstated. It may take very large quantities of resveritrol to have any health benefits [2].
  • The public-at-large has responded very enthusiastically to this idea (same with the modified yeast for Bio Yogurt) — which may signal the tempering of the typical U.S. “No GMO!” paranoia. Random people have proclaimed: “I want to drink this beer!”, casting aside concerns of consuming genetic engineered products.
  • The most remarkable health benefits in both wine and beer may be due to the alcohol (reducing psychological stress); it seems no one (?) has a good study on this because no one studies non-alcoholic wine or non-alcoholic beer.
[1] Jam08 Live: Rice – BioBeer from mac cowell on Vimeo. Filmed by http://www.vimeo.com/macowel
[2] Beer: The Best Beverage in the World. Charlie Bamforth, Ph.D., D.Sc. of University of California, Davis, at PARC Forum. March 22, 2007. Watch the Video as wmv  Charlie Bamforth is Fellow of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling and Fellow of the Institute of Biology, Editor in Chief of the Journal of the American Society of Brewing Chemists and has published innumerable papers, articles and books on beer and brewing.

Next Generation Tech for DNA Sequencing

Posted by – October 24, 2008

Let’s say an organism is successfully modified and seems to be performing a portion of it’s synthetically designed biological tasks.  Several questions are raised:  has the organism evolved, during replication, from it’s original design?  Is the organism’s DNA actually the same as the desired engineered DNA?  Is there some mistake in the new organism’s DNA which could be improved?  If the organism doesn’t function properly, is it because of the designers’ mistake, or is it because of the random chance in nature?

These questions are usually answered by verifying the DNA of the organism — sequencing.  Today, verifying the organism’s sequence in a normal lab is done by a long process of diffusing the DNA through a gel and taking a UV picture of the result.  This is rather old (and annoying) technology.  Yet DNA sequencing is difficult because working with DNA poses several big technical problems.  What is the next generation technology for DNA sequencing which could improve this?

Here are some examples and some cool videos as well:


Synthetic Biology Conference 2.0 – video excerpt

Posted by – July 29, 2006

The Second International Conference on Synthetic Biology (SB2.0) took place on May 20-22, 2006, at the University of California, Berkeley. The conference brought together a diverse group of participants from a variety of disciplines, including some of the world’s leaders in biological engineering, biochemistry, quantitative biology, biophysics, molecular and cellular biology, bioethics, policy and governance, and the biotech industry. A collaborative effort of Berkeley Lab, MIT, UC Berkeley, and UCSF, the conference sought to promote and guide the further, constructive development of the field.