History of Biology

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Southern (blot) exposure remains a useful technique

At a meeting recently, I asked two PhD molecular biologists about the last time they used a Southern blot. After nearly a minute of unrestrained laughter, they asked “Who on earth still does...
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A (very) Short History of Histology

Some recent conversations I have had got me to thinking about bioscience students and their first encounter with the word and the world of ‘histology’. In pursuing the study of biology and carving out a...
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Keeping up With the Periodic Table

The periodic table, that ingeniously arranged display of atomic weights, numbers and elements that’s probably posted on a door way in the back of your lab, isn’t a static document. It’s changed a fair...
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How Plasmids Became Embroiled in The Cold War

The humble plasmid. We now know it so well, but as little as 60 years ago the field of extra-chromosomal heredity was decidedly murky. Not only was it the subject of great debate, conflict and friction within...
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Nobel Prizes in Molecular Biology

There are a lot of places to read about the history of molecular biology, but one theme that generally seems to emerge is that discoveries are dependent upon the experimental technology. Take this list of Nobel prizes for molecular biology for instance.
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A (Balanced) History Of Molecular Biology

If you've ever wondered how molecular biology came to prominence in biomedical research, why so many famous molecular biologists of the past century were trained as physicists, or when bacteriophages were first...
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NIH and English as the Language of Science

While there's a lot in "For the Love of Enzymes" to talk about, for this post I'm focusing on just one passing reference that Arthur Kornberg makes on NIH and the use of English as the language of science. In it, Kornberg is describing the factors that made NIH a huge success...
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Birth of the Cell Doctrine

As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended to be familiar with the history of one's scientific field, and not merely the contemporary trends of thought. That's generally why I liked The Birth of the Cell...
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Relating to Historical Contingency in Biology

Two blog posts recently collided for me. First, in a blog discussion on Macroevolution vs. Microevolution, Allen MacNeill clarified some issues for me (thanks to TUIBG for bringing it back up): Add the newly...
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History of Cell Biology

The cell theory, or cell doctrine, states that all organisms are composed of similar units of organization, called cells. The concept was formally articulated in 1839 by Schleiden & Schwann and has remained...
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