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Download a PDF of the complete In Context #32 newsletter

In Context #32 (Fall, 2014)

Letter to Readers

Feature Article

When Engineers Take Hold of Life: Synthetic Biology
by Craig Holdrege

What happens when genetic engineers, becoming yet more ambitious, begin to envision the synthesis of altogether new life forms, using Lego block-like “BioBricks”? The ambition may be foolish, but huge resources are now being devoted to it, with grave implications for the biological future.

Notes and Reviews

Exploring the Exploratorium in San Francisco
by Henrike Holdrege

The Exploratorium is perhaps the most famous “science learning museum” in the world. What is the actual experience of visitors there? Henrike went to San Francisco to find out for herself.

Evolution as a Movement Toward Autonomy
by Craig Holdrege

Craig is impressed by a book reviewing the evidence for an overall evolutionary trend among animals toward increasing autonomy, which includes an internalization of many functions, a greater capacity for self-regulation and more flexibility in behavior.

Let’s Loosen Up Biological Thinking!
by Stephen L. Talbott

Thinking in biology hasn’t caught up with the results of contemporary research. In particular, an apparent taboo against any explicit acknowledgment of intention and agency in the cell and organism is a serious block to further progress in understanding.

News from the Institute

Read about activities at The Nature Institute and by Nature Institute staff. You will also find here (on page 10) an important notice about an opportunity for a learning adventure with naturalists Craig Holdrege and Mark Riegner in the Amazon River basin (June 1 – 12, 2015).

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