open letter to journals about RSS

November 25, 2009 at 9:14 am | | literature, open thread, science community, wild web

Dear all journal publishers,

If the RSS feed to your journal is missing a TOC image or a full list of the authors, you need to correct that.


Reading just titles can be hard, especially when you skim through many journals. TOC images make that much more enjoyable. It’s the way to go, and if your journal does not include TOC images, you’re behind the times.

Also, it’s very simple to include all authors in the RSS feed. First authors only is not helpful: it’s very helpful to be able to check who the corresponding author is on a paper you might be interested in. (I’m talking to you ACS.)

Mitch’s ChemFeeds is great, but I doubt it can add TOC artwork to journals that don’t request it from their authors!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Hg Thermometry

November 24, 2009 at 1:01 am | | hardware, stupid technology

In keeping with green traditions, we’re required to trade out Hg containing thermometers.  For those cases where no equivalent alcohol thermometers exist, they supply Hg thermometers that are encased in Teflon.  One of those thermometers was my baby, a 1/2 degree with a ground glass joint that goes with my favourite distillation head, range 0 to 400C.  Except that Teflon melts at ~325C.  I discovered this fact when the teflon melted off the thermometer and into my rb during a distillation.  FMC (Fail My Chemistry).

evidence-based medicine

November 21, 2009 at 12:31 am | | science and the public

What is the greatest medical invention of all time? Bob Park says that it was the double-blind study. That may be an exaggeration, but I think we all can agree that applying scientific, fact-based methods to healthcare sounds like a good thing.

But many people don’t like science. The GOP and others are all upset that it turns out that maybe too many tests (mammograms, prostate exams, and pap smears) actually cause harm to patients. Sorry, ’bout that. I know you look forward to having fingers shoved up your ass every year, but it might do you better to get that test every other year.

(Al Gore should make a new movie about evidence-based medicine and call it A Convenient Truth.)

Here’s a good NPR news story about it. Slate has a great analysis, encouraging journalists to actually report facts. Interesting stuff.

UPDATE: Quoting from the Slate article:

So consider the actual numbers: For the average 40-year-old woman, annual mammography for a decade increases one’s overall chance of breast cancer survival from roughly 99.7 percent to 99.8 percent. That is, it increases the final batting average by only 0.001. According to the National Cancer Institute, there’s also a downside. During this time, half of all screened women will have at least one suspicious mammogram, and one-quarter of them will end up getting a biopsy. Mammograms in women from 40 to 50 years old cause a huge number of false positives, resulting in about 100 biopsies for every life saved. Even more worrisome: It’s possible the radiation from those mammograms may end up causing more cancers than they prevent.


November 19, 2009 at 1:26 pm | | news, science community

Not a surprising move, but nice that it’s finalized now. Paul Alivisatos is now the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. He’s taking Steve Chu’s old job. Good luck, Paul.

that’s one way to get your message approved

November 17, 2009 at 1:22 pm | | science community, wild web

I received this email forward, BCC’d mistakenly (I presume) to ACS’s PHYS email list:

HI Anne,

I agree with all of you that we don’t want to do this direct e-mail stuff!

Cheers, Martin

On Tue, Nov 17, 2009 at 4:17 AM, Anne wrote:
> > Martin, Martin, Sharon and Mark,
> >
> > Please see the message from ACS – my inclination is negative regarding the
> > mailing, but don’t have a problem promoting the conf on the website and even
> > mentioning that conf are posted there in my next mailing.
> >
> > Before I reply, I’d be interested in your thoughts.
> > Thanks
> >
> > ANne
> > —– Original Message —–
> > From: Richard
> > To:
> > Cc: Division
> > Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 7:14 AM
> > Subject: FW: Official RSC Request to Engage PHYS Division
> >
> > Laurie and Ann,
> >
> >
> >
> > I am forwarding you a request from the Royal Society of Chemistry to use the
> > PHYS mailing list to promote a new conference, Challenges in Physical
> > Chemistry and Nanoscience (ISACS2), July 13 – 16, 2010, Budapest, Hungary.
> >
> >
> >
> > Please read through the request below from Valerie with the RSC.
> >
> >
> >
> > If approved, I recommend sending the RSC the list as an Excel file with just
> > the email addresses and PHYS member names, not the entire eRoster list.
> >
> >
> >
> > Let me know if you need any additional information.
> >
> >
> >
> > Thanks,
> >
> >
> >
> > Richard



November 12, 2009 at 5:55 pm | | seminars

Just saw a really entertaining talk by Eric Heller about semiclassical approaches to spectroscopy. For instance, he demonstrated how the Franck-Condon factor combined with a wave-packet approach yields high-resolution spectra of electronic transitions. The movies were really beautiful.

Also, he was able to apply to missing-mode effect to why humans hear an apparent tone in a rung bell that isn’t one of the actual frequencies.

It was nice to hear a reasonable and enlightening talk that is simply one scientist’s viewpoint.

P.S. He mentioned this as a good place to find cool physics applets.

even the computer gods don’t want me to work on my thesis

November 11, 2009 at 2:14 pm | | everyday science, grad life, great finds

The driver to my video card exploded yesterday, right in the middle of working on my thesis. Easy to fix (thanks to Brian), but it took a major chunk of my thesis-writing time.

Then, on top of that, SNL was hosted by the greatest musical artist since that hairy guy who banged two rocks together. I had to watch that.

OK, back to the thesis…

this is crap!

November 1, 2009 at 11:11 pm | | literature

No, just kidding. But I like the acronym: iSCAT (for “interferometric scattering”).

Sandoghdar, et al. High-speed nanoscopic tracking of the position and orientation of a single virus. Nature Methods.

They tracked both the scattering from a virus and the fluorescence from a quantum dot attached simultaneously, with a precision of a few nanometers. And they could measure differences in the orientational tumbling of viruses of various sizes as they diffused around on a surface (on a supported lipid bilayer).


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