Category Archives: Biology

Genes, Genomes, and Genies

by James Morris
Illustration by Talia Niederman

We are all, in a way, familiar with genetics. We know that children resemble their parents. We know that there are sometimes uncanny similarities among distant family members. And not a day goes by without some mention of genetics in the news – a gene is implicated in a disease; DNA testing is used to solve a crime; another genome is sequenced.

Yet we might struggle with certain details. What is a genome and why do we care about its sequence? What are genes and how do they relate to traits we see all around us? Why do some traits get passed on – brown eyes, red hair, high blood pressure – but not always, and sometimes in seemingly random ways?

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Cool Beans

by James Morris
Illustration by Sara Haidermota

A few summers ago, I was driving my two sons to a trail head for a hike in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. They were going with a group of kids up a mountain called Iroquois.

I advised them to be sure to bring lots of water for the long hike. In turn, they asked me how I was going to spend my day. “Writing about urine,” I replied.

“Urine?” they asked incredulously.

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