In 1955 while addressing the National Academy of Sciences Richard Feynman stated "Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty." As usual, Feynman's statement was spot on, and holds true decades later. In his famous "Plenty of Room at the Bottom" lecture Feynman talked about what we now call nanotechnology, and all the different applications. Here I am, half a century later, working "at the bottom" and living in a world of uncertainty. I hope to share some of the exciting discoveries at the nanoscale and explain how they apply to my passion of biotechnology- as well as the everyday world. Learn more about Nicholas Fahrenkopf
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Day 4 was also a travel day so I didn’t get to see much of the conference. I spent time packing, checking out, and getting out of the city before rush hour set in. But I did want to write about one unexpected but interesting talk, and recap some culinary highlights of the trip (sorry, I love food!)
First, the science. After lunch was a session in which the invited speaker didn’t show up. Luckily, a member of the audience (who apparently was acquaintances with the session chair) had a presentation he could give and did so. It wasn’t put together perfectly for this venue, but it turned out to be really interesting. The speaker was from a company called Raindance Technologies which I had never heard of. The presentation was titled “Digital Biology with Droplet Microfluidics”. The general idea is to advance parallel experimentation. Decades ago parallel experiments meant many test tubes. More recently biologists (and chemists) switched to microplates. This switch allowed for smaller sample volumes while allowing for higher throughput. Droplet analysis is the next proposed jump. Instead of working a 96 well plate you can run 1.2 MILLION reactions in about 10 minutes. At the center of the technology is the microfluidic chips that are made using injection molding (think DVDs, in fact, SONY is their supplier). On the chips the aqueous reactions are injected in between two streams of oil creating the reaction droplets. These droplets can then be mixed with other droplets by bringing two streams of droplets together and “zapping” them with an electric field. The speaker didn’t really get into results, but I thought the technology itself was really cool- that you could do all this on a commercially available microfluidic chip. The way he explained it was “massively single-plex”- basically doing one experiment per droplet, but doing a million droplets at a time.
With that out of the way I have to address the topic of food in Boston. Boston is one of my favorite cities worldwide and since I’m only 2.5 hours away I’ve visited many times and found a bunch of great places to eat.
Turner Fisheries – In the Westin Copley Place this place has arguably some of the best clam chowder, and the rest of their menu is pretty awesome too. On the expensive side- I spend $46 for dinner (tax and tip included).
Franklin Café – A bit of a hike from the convention center on Shawmut Ave in the South End this place can’t have more than 12 tables. But their steak frites are to die for. The dish LOOKS simple enough- hunk of meat on fries, but as you eat it you realize how much detail went into it, and it pays off. Their shrimp toast appetizer was amazing as well. To top it off their prices are very reasonable.
The Salty Pig – Literally steps from the Westin this new restaurant is all about pork. That is, half of their menu is cured meats. Our table picked out a couple meats, cheeses, and some salted almonds for a starter (amazing!) and then an entrée each. Mine was a special white pizza with Swiss cheese, cured meats, onions and a ranch drizzle. I had plenty of leftovers and the pizza was unbelievable. Again, great food but priced well too.
Parish Café – Two locations, one in the South End and one near the convention center up Boylston Street (near the Commons). Part of this place is all about the beers- if you drink all 125 beers in 6 months you get an engraved personal mug and discounted beers. But the menu is even better. Basically chefs from around Boston contributed gourmet sandwiches to this Café’s menu. A meatloaf club (the sandwich that got me hooked on the place) served with mashed potatoes and gravy; an open faced Maine crab, sliced mango and avocado sandwich with salted green; the list goes on. Depending on the sandwich Parish can be on the pricy side for lunch, but a deal for dinner.
Wagamama – located in the Prudential Center mall (with another location in Quincy Market) Wagamama is a British chain that focuses on Asian inspired food. Most of the menu items are noodle based but can vary considerably. If you’re even remotely amenable to Asian food, stop by, you’ll find something you like. Good food with a great atmosphere.
Pret A Manger – another British chain slowly making its way into the US there is a café on Boylston near the convention center. The French sounding name literally means “ready to eat” and that’s how this hoping lunch spot works. Freshly made sandwiches are stocked in display cases and customers grab what they want, pay, and are on their way. The corporate culture of Pret is rather interesting. All of their stores are company owned (no franchises) and they are staunchly again air freighting food. As a result you get quality, tasty food, fast, and at a good price.
Mike’s Pastry – easily the first “go to” spot I ever came across in Boston. I go out of my way to Boston’s North End for one thing from Mike’s: gigantic cannoli. I don’t know how else to convince you to seek out Mike’s except for the fact that I go out of my way every time I visit Boston to get cannoli from Mike’s. I’m not even Italian.
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