Links for the week of December 4th, 2009

If you want to follow my shared links in real time instead of as a weekly digest, head over to Delicious. You can search them there easily too.

  • 4 Great Teams From iGEM 2009 – Highlights from MIT's Genetically Engineered Machine competition. Teams from all over the world, including top tier universities, and also community colleges, and even some high school students, building customized microbes to do interesting things, like synthesize a rainbow of different pigments, when the concentration of a designated compound rises above some threshold. As a condition of entering the competition, all the biological components you create must be deposited in the public repository, so every year teams can build on all previous innovation. When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. The going is definitely getting weird.
  • Luck versus Skill in Mutual Fund Performance – A white paper by Eugene Fama on differentiating between luck and skill in mutual fund managers, over the period from 1984 to 2006. Accessible to anyone who is slightly mathematically inclined. They find that actual performance, when expenses are considered, is worse than chance predicts by a small margin, but that in general, the managers of mutual funds really are virtually indistinguishable from the proverbial blindfolded monkey throwing darts at a copy of the WSJ.

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