To be a scientist…

February 13, 2010 at 9:20 am | | nerd

A wonderful XKCD for Valentine’s Day:

Biophysics Meeting

January 7, 2010 at 3:26 pm | | conferences

Give a big shout-out if you’re heading for the Biophysics Meeting in a few months.

On a related note, this here video summarizes why biology is so friggin’ cool!

Some lab motivation

August 12, 2009 at 10:46 am | | cartoons, grad life

A labmate made this motivational poster. Enjoy!


A battle brewing over Napoleon Dynamite

August 8, 2009 at 11:08 am | | literature, science community

I was scanning NCBI ROFL the other day and I came across this little gem of a comment:

Napoleon Dynamite Has Asperger’s? Gosh, It’s Called Cultural Competence, You Freakin’ Idiots

Acad Psychiatry 31:248, May-June 2007
doi: 10.1176/appi.ap.31.3.248

This guy is angry. But wait, there’s more! Here is another comment on the offending paper:

Ligers Lived
Acad Psychiatry 31:247, May-June 2007
doi: 10.1176/appi.ap.31.3.247

So what’s all the commotion all about? Here’s the offending paper on PubMed, but I haven’t been able to download the original yet.

Sounds like a hoot.

Say whaaaaa?

August 3, 2009 at 3:55 pm | | literature

I was clicking through the TOCs for Molecular Cell, when I noticed a not-too-subtle pattern in the titles of the short “Preview Articles.” Most of the articles were trying really really hard to be f(p)unny. Check this one out:

What a Title!

What funny titles have you guys seen?

Dr. Chu goes to Washington

March 23, 2009 at 11:28 am | | science and the public

I was reading the New York Times’ write-up of Steve Chu’s adjustment to DC culture when I came across this quote:

Yet as he takes on one of the toughest policy and management challenges in government, Dr. Chu brings certain assets that none of his peers or predecessors have had: a Nobel Prize, a YouTube following (for his lectures on climate change) and an unofficial theme song (“Dr. Wu” by Steely Dan).

So I had to go look up that theme song and I don’t get it.  Anybody know what the connection is (other than the name of the song)?

Mea Culpa

February 8, 2009 at 6:51 pm | | science and the public

Dear Internet,

Recently, I published two posts concerning an e-mail I received from a rather confused individual regarding his theories on evolution.  Shortly after the threads went up on this blog, I received a very frank message from a reader who knows the author.  Out of respect, I’ve taken down my previous posts.

And now, for a geeky unicorn chaser:

Look Around You: Germs (YouTube)

The Importance of Stupidity in Scientific Research

January 4, 2009 at 3:06 pm | | grad life, literature, science community


I came across an interesting essay about the scientific process.  I agree with the author that students are generally shielded from the  difficulty of doing research until graduate school.  I think that the reality of lab work can be made clear if modern lab classes were less “cook book” and more research-like.  Your thoughts?

Observation of the 0-fs pulse

August 22, 2008 at 5:40 pm | | cool results, literature

I’m coming back from a wonderful single molecule Gordon conference in the picturesque hills of New Hampshire.  Richard Zare gave a fun talk that seemed to be a hit with the crowd.  To commemorate, I thought I’d put out his seminal paper in the field of non-linear optics.

The authors make sure to consider the radical implications of their results:


UPDATE: Dan M writes:

The paper you refer to as Dick Zare’s article was actually written by Wayne Knox, not by Zare. Wayne persuaded Zare and Hoose to be co-authors so that the author list would be amusing. In fact, Wayne didn’t actually know Hoose before this; he had to hunt through various directories in order to find somebody in the field of optics whose name sounded vaguely like “whose”. The other Knox, by the way, is his dad, who was a biophysics professor for many years.

Happy L.A.S.E.R. Day!

May 16, 2008 at 9:57 am | | history, news

When I hit the google front page, I almost leaped for joy.

I’m not really sure when the birthday of the laser really is. Anybody know whether a single date is even relevant? Weren’t there classified projects that predated Maiman’s work? What about the MASER?

Gaming for Science: goes public!

May 9, 2008 at 11:47 am | | science and the public, science@home, software, wild web

I just saw a remarkable take on an age-old problem: Protein Folding. David Baker at the University of Washington converted the problem of protein folding into an interactive game that we can play. Check it out at (currently beeing /. to death)

Details about the science are sparse, but my undestanding is that they’re trying to train us like a neural network of sorts- first we learn to fold known protein structures, and then the group will release new “puzzles” of unknown or unreleased structures and see how the the borg collective does against other folding projects .

Oh yea, I made an “Everyday Scientists”mebeli group! Can’t wait to play when I get home

This is Your Brain on … SCIENCE!

April 16, 2008 at 5:17 pm | | news, science community

Quite a brouhaha building over at Nature and in the blog-o-babble about this little commentary that appeared in the magazine: Professor’s Little Helper. So Nature ran an informal online poll and here’s the result:

Shocked me a little. Am I too naive? I liked some of the more amusing comments to that article.

The Assault on David Baltimore

April 13, 2008 at 7:53 am | | science and the public, science community, scientific integrity

All NIH fellows have to take a course on Ethical Scientific Conduct, so I’ve become quite familiar with all the rights of lab rats. Never mind that down in the subway, just a few floors below the 24hr rat veterinary facility, they’re throwing rodenticide out like candy wrappers.

Amidst the jetsam of the course’s various “case studies” we sometimes get an interesting nugget; the David Baltimore affair was one of them.  Its a very interesting case because of the grayness of the accusations and the high level of the involved parties (Baltimore is a Nobel laureate and was president of Rockefeller at the time). Eventually, Congress and the Secret Service got involved!

If anyone is interested, checkout a New Yorker article about the case (abstract only). I’ve just ordered a book (ISBN: 0393041034) by the author of the New Yorker piece. Another excellent overview can be found in this Ethics & Behavior article.

Social Networking for the Geek Set

March 29, 2008 at 7:57 am | | science community, wild web

Recently I went to a talk on networking that was put on by the people behind Nature Network. It was interesting to see how the editors of Nature saw the future of social networking in the sciences.


I’m generally not a big fan of social networking. Had a Friendster account when it was still in early beta (2000?). That’s about it. Sites like LinkedIn and Nature Network make sense to me though, I just signed up. Do you folks use social networking sites for scientists? Any other suggestions?

Oh, and please drop by my profile if you sign up.

Alice in Neurologyland

October 15, 2007 at 10:02 am | | literature, science and the public

I came across a delightful article about the neurology of Alice in Wonderland (via boingboing, if you must know). If you’re a fan of Jabberwocky, the article is a fun read.

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

My favorite quote:

Sadly this hypothesis is not amenable to empirical investigation since Humpty Dumpty apparently suffered irreversible traumatic injuries in falling from a wall, thereby confounding any further assessment.

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