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Jan 15, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 2)

Aipotu

URL:intro.bio.umb.edu/aipotu
  • Nice idea
  • Needs better design to be useful to students
I’m not quite sure what to make of a site that thinks the backwards spelling of ‘utopia’ equates with some sort of a software utopia. Aipotu was formerly known as the Molecular Genetics Explorer, and it is a free downloadable software package that attempts to simulate “the genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and evolution of organisms in a biologically reasonable and pedagogically relevant way.” The program contains four modules—Genetics (for explaining living things in terms of genes); Biochemistry (for explaining living things in terms of proteins); Molecular Biology (connects the first two modules to explain how genes encode proteins); and Evolution (explains how features change over time). The software looks fine as an idea, but I found it less than intuitive to use. The instructions for the program’s operation on the webpage were only slightly helpful. I’m not sure I’d recommend the current incarnation to a student hoping to learn these basic biological principles.
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*The opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s) and should not be construed as reflecting the viewpoints of the publisher, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., the publishing house, or employees and affiliates thereof.

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