You’ve Heard Of Computer-Aided Design. What About Computer-Aided Biology?

In the early days of the semiconductor industry, integrated circuits were designed by one or two engineers with slide-rules, hand-drawn on paper, and then given to a lithographer to print onto silicon wafers. As circuits became more complex, blueprints gave way to software. These digitally represented designs were much more than a reproduction of a pencil sketch: productivity, design quality, and communication all improved rapidly thanks to software’s ability to codify desired behaviors into actionable layouts, while also allowing for easy, iterative design improvements.

Today, large teams of engineers design circuits using high-level languages that automate the process, and chip layouts more detailed than a street map of the entire U.S. can be generated automatically. The result has been a revolution in engineering and design, manifesting itself as Moore’s Law and the Information Age itself.

Today, a similar revolution is happening in biology, most notably in the field of synthetic biology. And comparisons between computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided biology (CAB) are hardly accidental.

Biology, like integrated circuit design, is complicated.

In recent years, automation has revolutionized how we “do” biology: driving down the cost of sequencing, facilitating open-source science, and pushing screening and many other processes towards higher throughput. In parallel, this trend has pushed biological experimentation into the realm of “big data,” where the inherent complexity of biology is finally beginning to be codified in the form of large datasets from increasingly optimized experimentation. 

However, the engineering and synthetic biology world has not quite been able to harness and systematize these developments into a sustainable positive feedback loop. Single-factor experiments, such as the one described above, remain the norm because of how this automation has scaled — in the form of liquid handling robots or electronic “lab notebook” technology, for example, but not at the foundational

The best internet browsers you’ve never heard of

All browsers aren’t the same. Switching to a new one can transform the way you use your computer and revolutionize your experience with some of your favorite online platforms.

graphical user interface: The window you see the world through affects what you see. Let that sink in for a second.

© Provided by Popular Science
The window you see the world through affects what you see. Let that sink in for a second.

Programs like Google Chrome, Apple’s Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge are good and comfortable, but if you step outside that selection, you’ll see there are plenty of alternatives out there—from browsers focused on security and privacy to others prioritizing customization options. Maybe one of those is the perfect one for you.


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With a highly customizable, fast, and modern interface, Vivaldi combines a strict approach to privacy with some innovative ideas for how best to get around the web. It also gets interesting new features on a regular basis, like the new Break Mode, which will stop media playback, hide the content from your tabs, and disable all of the browser’s features and menus. That way, you can take a breather until you’re ready to get going again.

Right from the start, Vivaldi blocks all web trackers and online ads, but you can tweak these settings and allow adverts on sites you want to support—like Popular Science, for example.

We’re impressed with the different ways you can manipulate browser tabs in Vivaldi. For example, you can split two tabs to take up half of the browser window each, or stack them on top of each other to reduce clutter inside the app. There’s also an integrated notes tool, should you want to write down personal musings, ideas, or reminders while navigating the web.

Power users will really like the customizable keyboard shortcuts and mouse gestures you can add to Vivaldi. You can use these