ucsf vs tsa

November 22, 2010 at 1:34 pm | | news, science and the public, stupid technology

Some profs at UCSF have concerns about the radiation dose of backscatter scanners, specifically that all the energy is deposited in the skin instead of being spread throughout the entire body. So the dose is concentrated in time and volume. Basically, it sounds like TSA hasn’t done enough safety testing on these machines.

I would like to see a risk analysis of the probability of the screening causing cancer vs. the reduced threat of airline passengers dying from terrorism. The problem is that all these are very low probability events.

Anyway, this is my response to the entire fiasco: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRpWnK6Rg3E

(via Austin)

rip paul barbara

November 10, 2010 at 9:25 am | | science community

Doug at Nanoscale Views brought my attention to the news that Paul Barbara died very recently. That is sad and surprising. He was a fun, exciting, and important scientist. RIP.

c&e news archive

November 9, 2010 at 10:10 am | | history, literature

Well, Paul inspired me to go check out the C&E News Archives. I looked for some p-chemists at my (PhD) alma mater. I was happy to find an article about my PhD advisor, W.E. Moerner:

The best one I found was on Steve Boxer, mostly because of the photo and caption:

And several articles on Zare, like this one.

History is fun.

UPDATE: A quaint story about a growing department at Stanford.

Also, a cool pic of my old building, from 1961! That building still has those same windows.

JOOT: the journal of one try

November 1, 2010 at 9:43 am | | literature, science community

Today my labmate suggested someone start the Journal of One Try. It could have two sections per issue: “worked” and “didn’t work.”

JOOT would be dedicated to publishing scientific experiments tried only once. It would be an excellent resource for young graduate students to see if they should try an experiment (i.e. if it’s been published in the “worked” section) or try a different route (if it’s been published in “didn’t work”).

This is different than the Journal of Irreproducible Results: The results in JOOT would be reproducible … probably … just no one tried. Because it worked (or didn’t) the first time. Also, it wouldn’t be silly or funny science, simply experiments no one had the patience to try again. And this is different from the Journal of Negative Results, because many of the results would be positive. Well, once.

Maybe I’ll start that journal someday…

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