150 Years After Mendel Published His Foray Into Life Science.

161 Years Ago In the centuries old St. Thomas Abbey– in the garden and greenhouse– Gregor Mendel tended, crossed, and tracked some 10,000 pea plants (Pisum sativum) through several generations over 7 years. The greenhouse was warm compared to the monastery where his chambers were. The monastery was constantly damp and cool, originally built as … More 150 Years After Mendel Published His Foray Into Life Science.

Plants Matter. Two Reports Highlight Their State– and Ours.

This post was also posted on the SciLogs version of The Quiet Branches. Two reports released in the last month talk about the state of plants. One was the more narrowly focused National Academies report on GE crops,Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects (@NASciences_Ag, #GECropStudy; 1,420 hits on Google in the past month, 92 on … More Plants Matter. Two Reports Highlight Their State– and Ours.

Labels and information.

It’s no accident that a lot of things humans have build resemble natural systems. The internet is a decentralized network of networks, a distributed system. There are networks in nature that are similar. Like packets of information on the internet, information in the form of genetic info is shuffled throughout nature as time goes on. … More Labels and information.


Good coffee has arrived on the International Space Station (ISS). An Italian designed espresso machine designed to fill a pouch with espresso will be installed on the ISS. They do have coffee in space currently, but it is apparently the instant stuff that tastes terrible, but works. I’m by no means a coffee snob and … More ISSpresso.

Small surprises and a new feedback loop.

Say you write something and submit it for editing. Your editor sends it back with comments. And you create a new version and re-submit and so on. it’s a feedback loop. With editor/writer, it’s a loop of iterative improvement resulting in something publishable (ideally). Feedback loops in biology are also quite common. A recent paper … More Small surprises and a new feedback loop.

Norman Borlaug.

Quiet Branches started off with a broad definition of how plants show up in our lives. Two weeks ago, I wrote about translating research into practical products. And highlighted the many ways biotechnology shows up in our lives every day, in some critical (feeding the world) and fun ways (color changing petunias!). The video from … More Norman Borlaug.