In Silico

I was reading a Nature article tonight on the splicing of tRNAs from separate genes in Nanoarchaeum equitans, and I came across a term I had never heard before but found very charming: in silico. This is in contrast to in vivo (in the living body of a plant or animal) and in vitro (outside the living body and in an artificial environment).

I had never heard of computational biology referred to this way until now. I guess if experiments carried out in computers are in silico, could experiments carried out in thought be called in cognito (rather than gedankexperiment)?

And as a side note, I thought the article was very interesting…a sort of merging of wet biology, computational biology, and the search for clues to genetic evolution. There is an article in the same issue about mapping e coli. genes; they create a very interesting directed graph of gene relations. Biology is starting to look increasingly like something that can be engineered, as opposed to a pure science.

9 Responses to “In Silico”

  1. Question. says:


    Do you have a subscription to Nature and/or Nature Research?

    As I understand it, Nature Research has many different magazines
    such as Nature Cell Biology, or Nature Physics.

    So I am cuorious as to exactly what kind of articles go in the Nature
    magazine. Is some editor making a choice, or what?

    Anyway I have long considered subscribing so any input you have would
    be helpful.


  2. bunnie says:

    Yes, I have a subscription to Nature. There are a bunch of different genre-specific Nature variants, but I just have Nature.

    Nature is a peer-reviewed magazine, so my understanding is that a panel of experts review articles before they are published. It’s very difficult to get into Nature so it’s generally considered prestigious in the research community to be published in Nature. As a result, much of the breaking news/very interesting results in science get published first in Nature.

    I generally read Nature for the editorials and sections like News and Views where people write digestable summaries of the Articles. The Articles themselves in Nature can be reeaaaally technical, to the point where you have to be very much in the research area to get much out of it. The neat thing is Nature is very diverse–I like to read it, even if I don’t understand it, to get a hint at what the rest of the world is doing outside my little enclave of computers and electronics. It’s the fiber in my technical diet. :-]

  3. Seth Schoen says:


    You might enjoy the Public Library of Science journals, which are currently all about the life sciences, now including computational biology.

    There is also a book called Everyone in Silico.

  4. Seth Schoen says:

    A simpler Latin phrase might be “in mente” (in the mind). I can try to come up with others if that doesn’t have the sound you want.

  5. Megan

    I wish more people had the guts to say that

  6. Melissa

    That was a very nice post, I’m proud of you!

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  9. Daniel says:

    I couldn’t understand some parts of this article In Silico, but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.