October 31, 2008 at 12:26 pm | | crazy figure contest, literature

Measuring the influence of UV reflection from vertical metal surfaces on humans buried up to their neck in sand:


political science: more anti-science from Reps

October 24, 2008 at 9:53 pm | | news, political science, science and the public

Sorta like McCain and the bears and the projector:

ThinkProgress had the story.

late referee reports

October 21, 2008 at 8:13 am | | everyday science, science community

I just recieved two referee reports with my proof. Strange, that seems sorta late for me to be editing the content of my paper. Thank goodness the comments are generally positive.

First, we received only one referee’s report, with very little to change. That’s actually not very helpful, because I don’t know what parts of the paper need changing. And then we received a late referee report, right when we were about to submit our revision. Now we’re getting two more reports at the proof stage.

Of course, I’m happy that the editors sent us these referee comments, so I can fix things. (I wish the editors of another journal had sent my referee notes to the authors!) Nevertheless, maybe the editors should have waited an extra few weeks before telling us to start making revisions (it was a very fast turn-around). But it could be my own fault, for submitting an invited paper a couple weeks later than the editors asked. That’ll teach me.

glowing bananas

October 13, 2008 at 2:58 pm | | crazy figure contest, literature

Great paper in Angew. from Nick Turro and others: Blue Luminescence of Ripening BananasAngew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2008, 47, 1-5.

The figures are deliciously entertaining!

no figures!

October 10, 2008 at 1:14 pm | | crazy figure contest, literature

This Science paper has no figures. Surprising, with words like “Illusory Pattern” in the title. But I truly appreciate that, if they didn’t need one, the authors decided not to waste space with a superfluous image.

new citation index: the h-bar value

October 9, 2008 at 6:43 pm | | literature, science community

I commented a while ago about the Hirsch h index. In fact, it was one of my first posts 2.5 years ago. Since then, the h index has become the standard in reporting the extent of an author citations. ISI and ResearcherID report h index along with total citations, and scientists have started to include their h value on their CVs and resumés.

But there’s still the problem of self-citation: citing ones own papers in later papers or reviews can increase ones own h index.

PI h
Pande 28 4.5
Moerner 43 6.8
Andersen 48 7.6
Fayer 51 8.1
Boxer 52 8.3
Zare 94 15.0

I now introduce a modification of the Hirsch h index to solve the self-citation problem. The “h-bar index.” The math is very simple: because each researcher cites himself or herself multiple times in each paper, total citations must be divided by a normalizing constant to account for these self-citations. Therefore an author’s  index is his or her h index divided by 2π.

The table above compares the Hirsch h index and the Lord  index of the same scientists I listed in my original post. I argue that the Lord  index is a more accurate measure of an individual’s true citation record.

Prasher and the end of America

October 9, 2008 at 12:09 pm | | science and the public, science community

There’s a lot of buzz about Doug Prasher not winning the 2008 Nobel in Chemistry with Tsien, Chalfie, and Shimomura. Prasher was the first to discover and clone the gene for GFP, which made most of the subsequent work possible. Here’s an NPR story about Doug Prasher and his story.

In my view, the main story is not that Prasher didn’t win the prize (the Nobel committee had to make a decision), but that he is now a bus driver because he cannot get a job in science! What country is this!?! The country that funded great scientific and technological advances (from the atomic bomb to the internet, from the semiconductor transistor to the Hubble telescope).

Where is America going when we don’t fund our best scientists (to say nothing of the mediocre ones like me)?

2008 EDSEL-Nobel in Chemistry

October 1, 2008 at 11:07 am | | EDSELs, nobel, science community

Well, its that time of year again. Nobels will be rolling out soon! Carbon-Based Curiosities has already awarded their CBC Nobel to Krzysztof Matyjasewski of CMU. I endorse this choice, because I have a scientific connection to Kris: My undergrad lab collaborated with him very closely. I even have a paper with both our names on it! So I’d be happy if he won.

But I’ll award the EDSEL-Nobel to someone else, if just to be a contrarian. One thing I promise: I’m not going to put much thought into this.

A few people are unjustly disqualified from this competition: Roger Tsien (too obvious); W.E. Moerner (my PI, wouldn’t be fair); Barry Trost (who?); and myself (because the truths I have revealed in my research would just rip open everybody’s minds!). Some of the criteria I used to judge included: the person’s name size on my CUL author cloud; their index (which is my new citation index, defined as the person’s h index divided by 2π in order to account for self-referencing); and the extent to which I actually believe their reported results.

This year’s EDSEL-Nobel goes jointly to Peter Schultz (Scripps) and Carolyn Bertozzi (Berkeley) for “their applications of click chemistry to something practical: totally messing with cells and making them glow and stuff.”

Schultz has introduced azide/alkyne (and many other) unnatural amino acids into the genetic machinery, thus inserting a specific site for labeling with fluorphores or other probes. Here’s a good Schultz review paper. Bertozzi feeds cells unnatural sugars that have “bioorthogonal” reactive groups (click or otherwise). Here’s a good Bertozzi review paper. Other labs have actually applied these techniques for successful labeling and biophysics experiments. And I suspect their techniques will become streamlined and more broadly accessible in the future. Or maybe not and I awarded this prize prematurely.

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