Snuggie Scientific

April 24, 2009 at 8:53 am | | hardware, stupid technology, wild web

Want to not die while working in the lab?  Lab coats are okay, but they don’t show off your awesome ass.  And the second you need to reach for something, you catch on fire.  But now there’s the Snuggie Scientific, from the makers of Snuggie.  It’s a blanket and a PPE.

Now you can titrate without feeling cold.  Run a column and feel slightly less cold.  Check the New York Times and feel slightly less cold.  Make coffee.  Drink coffee, all without ever having to feel the icy pinch of 72 degrees.

Made from space age materials that are totally not soluble in every single liquid you handle, the Snuggie Scientific lets you work alone without ever being alone.  And that’s why I wear one too.


epernicus: the linkedin for scientist

April 15, 2009 at 7:58 am | | science community, wild web

I’ve been waiting for a LinkedIn for scientists. I’ve finally found one: Epernicus. It’s professional, clean, easy, and standardized. Most importantly, Epernicus recognizes that the scientific community already has a concrete network, which is defined by professor-student, coauthor, and colleague relationships. The site has a “geneology” feature and automatically connects you to your coauthors.

Epernicus profiles are focused on scientific network, research skills and background, and papers. This is what the LinkedIn for scientist should look like. (It’s not perfect: I don’t think there’s enough emphasis on finding and sharing articles. See my idea below.)

Of course, there are many versions of online networks for scientist. Here is a sampling of the ones I’ve found: Labmeeting, Nature Network, Research Gate, Sciorbis, Mendeley, Scientific Commons, Scilink, CiteULike, ACS Member Network, 2Collab, Graduate Junction, and the list goes on. None of these I’ve tested really hit the nail on the head. They all have their own cool features, but they either neglect some essential aspect or are just too clunky to use like I want to use it (i.e. like I use LinkedIn or Facebook).

For instance, I use CiteULike to organize interesting articles, and the site does a good job of linking you to similar readers. But the networking is limited on the site. If CiteULike and Epernicus connected, they could make an awesome site! Just imagine: when your former labmate or coauthor reads a paper, it shows up in a list of papers you might want to read. Articles could be weighted by many factors based on your reading habits, interests, and network, giving you a prioritized list of relevant papers. Data about articles and reading habits could be mined from CiteULike, while geneology and network information are inherent in Epernicus. The way we read papers is bound to change dramatically someday, and Epernicus + CiteULike should tackle that paradigm shift today.

Anyway, if you’re on Epernicus, feel free to connect with me here.

deep-tissue imaging spam?

April 6, 2009 at 1:13 pm | | nerd, wild web

I assumed that this was spam regarding two-photon or other deep-tissue imaging:


Nope. It’s non-science spam.

creepy sciencespam

April 3, 2009 at 8:26 am | | science community, wild web

I got a spammy email from one of those science networking sites:

Hello ,

my name is Mirian , it is my pleasure to write you after viewing your profile here in this site which really interests me to communicate with you. it will be better if you can comfirm this message by writing me back via my email ( redacted )so that we can have a comfortable communication . i have something to share with you . i will be waiting to hear from you. have a blessed day.————————————————————from Mirian

I just found it creepy.

New “Not-Science” Website

April 1, 2009 at 9:18 am | | news, wild web

I’m pleased to announce the newest addition to the community, a new political website called – a News “Haven” for Political “Works”.  I’ve decided to move away from WordPress and try my hand at some real website designing, and I do think I’ve done a good job.  I hope you like it!

So that’s how you make a laser work

March 19, 2009 at 5:25 pm | | scientific integrity, wild web



This image is from a Wired! article on a 100kW mobile laser defense system that was recently tested.  I guess they’re planning on just airbrushing out the warheads faster than the Iranians can photoshop them in.

what to do about supporting information

March 9, 2009 at 3:54 pm | | literature, open thread, science community, wild web

I met with David Martinsen from ACS Pubs today to discuss the interface between publishing and technology (internet, Kindle, Facebook, CiteULike, etc.). Interesting discussion. One topic that came up a few times was the supporting information (SI) for articles.

Page limits as well as increasingly complex experimental methods have caused SIs to balloon to sometimes ridiculous lengths. Combine this with the fact that SIs are often barely readable, marginally refereed (if at all), and crammed with unexplained figures, and SIs become ridiculous. Sometime, “see the SI” is a ploy to lull readers and referees into feeling that a statement is supported by data, even when the data is total crap. I’ve seen spectra in SIs that wouldn’t pass muster an undergrad lab, much less a peer-reviewed journal, but they were the primary data of the letter. Nevertheless, much of the core scientific information is often buried in these monstrosities.

Authors need to be encouraged to compile their SIs to be coherent, clean, correct, and scientific supplements to their papers. I have some suggestions. I start with simple suggestions, and move to more fundamental ones:

  1. Offer a single-PDF option. Have an option to download a single PDF that contains all the content for the articles (i.e. the main text as well as the SI). Because the SI often contains vital information to interpret or repeat the results, it’s important to have this data (or synthesis) along with the main text. ACS already has two PDF options (hi-res PDF and PDF with links), so it would be as simple as adding a third link to the page.
  2. Format SIs. This can be as simple as providing a Word template just like there is available for the main text and figures of the article. This shouldn’t increase the editors’ responsibilities, but would make SIs more readable.
  3. Referee SIs. Encourage referees to carefully read and scrutinize the SI, just as they do the main text. If something is unscientific, sloppy, or wrong in the SI, it should not be included. Referees should be encouraged to request SI data or methods be clarified, tested, eliminated, or repeated if necessary as a condition for publication.
  4. Include raw data. Provide space for authors to present raw data if they wish (e.g. structure, NMR, crystallographic, spectral, etc.) in the SI. I personally don’t think this is as important as careful writing, editing, and refereeing of the SI; however, providing raw data could be another level of evidence for the authors’ claims. I don’t think this should be a requirement, because we should be able to trust researchers and not spend all our time redoing someone else’s analysis.
  5. Offer full articles online. Putting 1-3 together, there could be a “full” article form of any paper, which includes all information from the SI, but formatted and organized like a lengthy paper. That way, the paper form of the journal could stay short, while online forms could be complete, yet still professional, readable, and cogent. However, this would add some burden to editors, referees, authors, copy-editors, etc. Paper journals could become more of a collection of executive summaries, with the full scientific data online. (I believe that some Nature journals do this to some extent: having a short Methods section added to the PDF form but not in the paper journal. But there’s still an SI in addition.)

I think #5 is where journals should be going. True, it will add expense to publishers, but that will help them justify the subscription fees when no one receives paper journals anymore.

Other ideas?

UPDATE: Here are some other ideas, which I’ll update as needed:

  • Allow authors to republish. Make it easier for authors to republish the data and figures that are in a SI again in the main text of a subsequent paper. This would permit the SI data to someday be published in a fully refereed form in a follow-up paper. Otherwise, data and figures in the SI will never be properly reported. Of course, there may be a lot of complications with copyright and getting all authors to agree.

why are email clients dumb?

March 2, 2009 at 11:06 am | | software, stupid technology, wild web

Why does Thunderbird not recognize the word “inbox”?


It seems to me that it should.

nuclear duct tape not so hot?

February 23, 2009 at 1:18 pm | | hardware, wild web

Geekologie and elsewhere reported that 3M sells nuclear-grade duct tape, which is true.

But not everybody is satisfied with the tape.


I guess you can’t please everybody.

no one wants to collaborate with Mitch?

February 12, 2009 at 8:25 pm | | literature, science community, wild web

No one wants to write an easy book with Mitch? I’m writing a page. Just choose a name reaction and draw it, yo!

ACS feeds revisited

November 21, 2008 at 2:07 pm | | wild web

The TOC images returned to JACS RSS feeds, but they’re so small to be worthless. I used Yahoo Pipes to edit the feed to show the “medium” images. Here’s the new JACS RSS feed with medium images.

Alternatively, you can use Mitch’s nice Chemfeeds.

Maybe ACS will fix the feeds, but in the meantime, feel free to use our edited feeds.

acs feeds lost images

November 17, 2008 at 11:39 am | | literature, news, wild web

I’m fine with the ACS redesign. What I’m not fine with is no longer having the TOC images in my RSS feeds from ACS. What are they thinking?!? Hopefully that gets fixed soon.


I received this email from ACS:

We are aware that the journal RSS feeds are currently not displaying the TOC graphics that were present before we moved to our new Web platform. Please be patient as we work to bring these graphics back to the feeds. Thank you for voicing your concerns and making sure that we recognize their importance. We truly value your feedback and hope that this will be resolved soon.

So we need to be patient.

UPDATE 2: The images returned, but they’re so small to be worthless. I used Yahoo Pipes to edit the feed to show the “medium” images. Here’s the new JACS RSS feed with medium images.

UPDATE 3: Looks like everything is fixed finally. No need for my Yahoo! Pipes edits anymore.

ACS’ new website

November 13, 2008 at 2:30 pm | | literature, news, open thread, wild web

ACS is upgrading its website. It looks like the Supporting Info link will be a little more visible, which is a very good idea. And an option for PDF with links. It looks like the new ACS site will be even more slick than it already is. Actually, ACS has one of my favorite publisher/journal websites. Better than ScienceDirect. Far better than PNAS, I’d say. ACS is clean and neat and obvious. It doesn’t look like they’ll lose those characteristics with the redesign.

I’m sure some bad will come with the redesign. For instance, it looks like they’re adding a coverpage to each PDF with the TOC figure. I see the reasoning—otherwise the TOC figure is not in the PDF at all—but I’ve never liked coverpages on articles: just an extra page that I rarely need. (Oh well, I’ll just print from pages 2-end.) Also, they include social networking links, like Facebook, but leave out CiteULike. Maybe they’ll fix that. Who posts JACS articles to their Facebook page??

On a side note, one feature that they should fix is in the Advanced Article Search tab: you used to be able to just insert the volume and page, and the engine would output all articles with that combination, regardless of which journal. It was a nice shortcut, because there were rarely more than three or four matches. Now the search forces you to choose a journal, which adds a slow, often unnecessary step to the search.

What do y’all think? Good or bad?

i get some strange emails…

November 7, 2008 at 9:35 am | | stupid technology, wild web

Check this one out:

Hi Sam,

My name is John Foster and I work for a company called Solitaire Creative and we are working with The Johnson Space Center (NASA) and their research arm, Wyle, to promote a Flight Analogs Project (Space Flight Simulation/Bed Rest Study) for NASA and I would like to speak with you about writing an article on the study.  Would you be interested?  I believe your readers would be very interested in learning about the Bed Rest Study because if and when the study is completed, the participant gets paid a minimum of $17,000.  The study can even be branded as an article on “Weird Jobs.”

Here’s alittle about the study:  The ten-year Flight Simulation Study, which takes place in Texas, uses long-term bed rest to simulate the effects of micro-gravity an astronaut would experience during extended space flight (Space Flight To Mars).  Subjects are placed in bed with the head of the bed tilted down at a minus-six-degree incline.  The subjects must remain in bed for 90 days.  If you’re interested in contacting and/or arranging a meeting with a NASA representative feel free to let me know and I will facilitate your request.  We are currently looking for participants, both men and women, from around the U.S.  You can research the topic by visiting and I am also available to send you more information.

Let me know if you’re interested.

Thanks much,


John Foster

Public Relations/Media Specialist/Radio Relations

Anyone interested?

are we still here?

September 10, 2008 at 7:29 am | | nerd, news, wild web

It’s important that we all keep up with the dangerous things that are happening in the world. Fortunately, there are people out there willing to slog through the data and pass on the results to the rest of the world. Of course, there is also this, but it has an obvious liberal bias.

(Thanks, Nanoscale Views.)

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