Friday, March 31, 2006

Amen Break

I love Democracy Player (maybe because I don't have cable). It has some really crappy stuff and some really good stuff on it. Checkacheckitout: it is basically just RSS feed TV.
One of the more interesting things I ran accross while having it playing in the background was the history of The Amen Break.
Wikipedia:The Amen Break is a break beat that has been sampled more times than Pepin's mom and is just plain awesome. It also says alot about copyright and the importance of the public domain. (FYI: Pepin's mom is also public domain.)


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Breasts, bacon and beer....biotech really is the promise of the future

These recent Nature papers describe how to make everything a man could ever need:


Puberty in rats

I recently became interrested in onset of puberty in rats. I found this priceless piece of research, who thinks about stuff like this: "Ventral, dorsal, and lateral prostates and seminal vesicles were significantly lighter in those rats wearing collars that prevented self-grooming. It was concluded that self-grooming, probably of the genitals, contributes to accessory organ growth in males of this species." So licking genitals makes them grow eh...


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ambien's weird side effect

Aventis, a pharmaceutical company, has found a good way to increase sales of its anti-obesity and cholesterol busting drugs in a unique parternship with Phillip-Morris, the tobacco company. A company spokesperson has been quoted as praising Ambien, Aventis' drug for the recent rise in american obesity "We expects sales of butter and cigarettes to rise 2.3% this year". People on Ambien have been reported to eat weird things while sleepwalking. "Think of the opportunity" said the CEO of Aventis, "we are now working on a drug that makes poeple mail us checks while sleeping".


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Yet Another Mod for Your Pig: Omega-3 Bacon is Here!

Apparently a group in Pittsburgh has made a transgenic pig that produces omega-3 fatty acids, the building blocks of the elusive "good fats" normally found only in flax seeds, fish and those super-pricey eggs that come in the fancy container. Of course, you could just eat fish, but pigs are a much more subservient bunch and besides, modding your food is way cooler than going orgo. Not to mention it gets scientists into Nature Biotechnology.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

Ignorance shall prevail

Everyone's favorite state, Arkansas, where a man can legally beat his wife, but not more than once a month, has managed once again to prove its backwardness. Apparently ignorance does not stop at teaching ID in biology, geology teachers are censored too, on things like dating of geological formations. Clearly rocks in Arkansas are 4000 years old not 300 million... Makes me think the famed evolution scientist Richard Dawkins was onto something.


Friday, March 24, 2006

Stem cells in testes

In a landmark paper in Nature, immature spermatogonias were shown to be able to act as embryonic stem cells. Damn, they beat me to it.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

U of O Will Pay Cash to Get Rid of Grad Students

I just read in the BMI bulletin that U of O will be offering cash awards to grad students based on how fast they complete their degrees. Top prizes are $1500 for MSc thesis submitted in 2 years or less, a cool $4000 for PhD thesis submitted in under 4 years. I can't for the life of me figure out what purpose this will serve. Although it will be a nice little treat for people doing the pre-professional school/mid-residency rush science degrees. Anybody?


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Reading impairs your judgement

Published statements seem to skew the way you interpret your own results. While this seems intuitive the end result is more insiduous. Instead of independent scientific investigations we have a collective "stream of conciousness", which exacerbates the extreems. In other words if we all build on an inital wrong hypothesis we may interpret all our collective results wrongly for a very long time... This doesn't bode well for the idea of wikiscience, "Experiments involving thousands of investigators collaborating on a "paper" will commonplace. The paper is ongoing, and never finished. It becomes a trail of edits and experiments posted in real time — an ever evolving document. "


Monday, March 20, 2006

IA updates

Once again a new collection of super fine posts at IA. How do we miss stuff like those science images, sorry I mean "nudies"? checkacheckitout. I LOVE the Mars Rover panorama, it just needs a rainbow.


Sunday, March 19, 2006

100th post!

What happens when scientists write movie scripts? I for one wished they had more scientific advisors when they make some of these movies... I have this great idea for a fantasy movie featuring unicorns and rob.


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Green Beer

While everybody else is nursing their St. Patty's Day hangovers and detoxing the green food colouring, I came across this article in Wired about green beer of a different sort. It mentions two breweries in the US - one wind powered, and one (much cooler) that uses bacterial co-generation of methane gas from its waste water to power their facility.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The real question is, what cool things CAN'T you do with a virus?

Check out the sweet imaging in this paper. (Done using a virus of course).


Sunday, March 12, 2006

Left-handed DNA?

This hilarious site points out a frequently occuring error of drawing left handed DNA rather than the correct right-handed conformation...


The Graduate Coffee Club Sponsorship Program

In face of the recent discussions about graduate student salaries, the activist in me has been wanting to use people power to increase the social standing of graduate students. This is why I am proud to announce the Graduate Coffee Club Sponsorship Program. Now members of the general population can donate to help relief efforts in the lab and fill the most important need of a graduate student: coffee. Our first graduate student looking for adoption is Rob, a 28 year old boy living in the shanty labs of The Bay area. You can give Rob a chance to grow up into a happy and successful scientist for as little as 30$ a month, the price of a cup of coffee a day. Don’t rob Rob of his coffee, he deserves a cup too. Like many other inhabitants of Soviet Graduatekistan, Rob has never held a job and lives under the poverty line.

Rob is chronically malnourished, and survives on a diet of pizza, coke and nanaimo bars. Rob has had many hardships in his life. His parents told him to become a lawyer or a unicycle rider but Rob took the unfortunate path of science. At first it was just reading a couple of articles in Wired, and then he was sneaking in the Nature magazine into the bathroom, and the next thing he knew, he was involved in hardcore role playing several times a week.

His friends and family pleaded him to stop before it was too late, but to no avail. Now Rob is looking for a sponsor. For the price of a cup of coffee a day, rob can have a cup of coffee a day. That’s 7 cups in a week, and 365 cups in a year! In exchange for this small contribution you will receive a picture of Rob in his natural habitat, “the Bench” and a drawing made by him, featuring rainbows and unicorns.

If you are still unconvinced, read one of our testimonials: “My name is Tony, and before I was sponsored I was really skinny and I had back problems, now thanks to the graduate sponsorship program, I’m skinny, have back problems and have a coffee addiction. Thank you sponsors!”. You too, can make a young graduate student’s dream come true, just like Tony, by sponsoring him into the coffee club.


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Killing off the Other Mammals: A Part of Our Heritage

As you may know, most of the world's large mammals (including such gems as the Sabre-toothed tigers, wooly mammoths, whooly rhinocerouses, giant beavers and cave bears) were eradicated by us humans about 15,000 of years ago. As our ancestors expanded across the globe into new territories, their well-honed hunting skills and taste for meat proved a recipe for the extinction of these trusting and unwitting animals. Thousands of years later history repeated itself as Europeans expanded into the Arctic and started clubbing the living daylights out of those cute, friendly and defenceless little mammals called seals. The whales, those big friendly giants of the ocean, offer another obvious target for any normal bloodthirsty human in search of meat, but have proven a more resilient bunch. Oh we've done our best (see Moby Dick), but these lumbering beasts can swim and hold their breath. With billions of liters of salt water to hide in they've proven a more difficult quarry than their ice-locked cousins the seals. Although the failures of harpoons and row boats have forced us to give up on our cravings for blubber and whale oils, sweet revenge remains within our grasp. There are many weapons available to the forces of extinction, and their numbers are constantly growing. A key part of the arsenal is oil (see Exxon Valdez). Not only does oil deliver a devastating immediate impact, but it is a gift that keeps on giving, targeting the whales and the rest of aquatic food chain for years after its initial release. Although government response to outcry from wussy environmentalists has made the classic oil tanker spill a difficult weapon to deploy in recent years, leaky oil lines isolated from public attention in the Arctic can be used in insidious, stealth attacks on the ocean's beasts. An exciting recent innovation in mammal eradication is the whale-"watching" vessel. Unwitting sight-seers packed onto these boats take advantage of the whale's natural social instincts and draw individual animals away from the safety of their pods. These isolated whales, friendly as they are, will often form a social bond with the boats, and this combined with tourist curiosity brings the two in ever closer contact. Misguided aboriginals may also bond with the whales and unwittingly help lure them away from safety. Eventually, the friendly naivety of the whale will bring it within close enough proximity to be chopped into a mass of inanimate blubber by the boat's razor sharp propellers. Another effective anti-mammal operation has been developed by the ever-industrious Japanese. Not satisfied for simple cold-blooded revenge, they are determined to eat all the whale they can, hunting them under the flag of scientific discovery. So while we have yet to formally prove our inherent superiority amongst mammals by eliminating the competition, there is hope yet. Continued improvements in technology and its application to mammal eradiction will undoubtebly help to keep our bellies full and the species disappearing well into the 21st century. My message to the whales is this - if you want to continue to share this Earth with your obvious superiors, fall in line. Look to the noble examples set by laboratory mice and domesticated cattle across the world and voluntarily enslave yourself to mankind. Makes yourselves useful, otherwise your days are numbered.


Take in a talk (or ten) at The Royal Society

For when you can't make it to Britain, The Royal Society's video and audio library is an academic gold mine of lectures and podcasts. The talks feature some of the world's greatest minds on a wide variety of topics. So far I've checked out Jared Diamond's lecture (ie author of Gun, Germs and Steel, and Collapse). The talk was excellent but an especially unique aspect of the lecture was listening in on the question period at the end to hear a diverse crowd of intellectuals throw around their own opinions and ideas. Definitely worth the listen...can't wait to check out the rest. So many mouth-watering topics, my nerdy little brain doesn't even know where to start


Thursday, March 09, 2006

GM Mosquitos

Stoked for to hear more about if this is going to be used or not. Some guys have decided that instead of killing the messenger it's time to make him immune to the message. They use RNAi to make genetically modified mosquitos resistant to dengue virus type 2.
Awesome. And I guess they are going to release mass quantities of these into the environment to spread the gene around. Crazy.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Newscientist podcast!

The new scientist also has a podcast. Not to miss: it rains aliens in India... Worth a chuckle.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Trailer Park Bench

Marilyn has some styling neuron shaped pipecleaners and a cute looking toy (no stormtroopers on her bench), but I think most notably she put WAY TOO much effort into some eppendorf xmas decorations. I think that someone should remind her that xmas is so 2005.
Artistic Expression: 9.7 with a no stormtrooper deduction of 0.2


IA updates

You betcha, more great IA updates. Apparently we are all supposed to boycott the HD format as, of course, it will have ludicrious copy protection. That will be easy for me as there is no way I can afford it.
Fight the power in low definition!


Ken Garson:
giver of sage science advice
retainer of knowledge on all obscure science facts
and impressively disorganized.
Benchtastic Ken.


D2K Y2K compliant?

I can't believe the infamous Ottawa Citizen article, discussed previously on the bayblab, forgot to mention that not only does Darren Yip, aka Darren2000 aka D2K get paid peanuts but he also has an extremely messy bench. One with think that with stormtroopers present D2K would not allow such benchness to occur. Yet it's completely out of hand. He's obviously even fed the gremlin after midnight. Mess 8.7 Artistic Impression 9.2.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Recycling aka being responsible and aware

So it's my pet peeve when people don't recycle. I know that it's my problem and not theirs. I just find I can forgive arrogance or ignorance but not recycling is just a bad combination of both. There was some discussion, round the bay, about what is the point of recycling if a large portion ends up in a landfill. Well, the point is to supply free material to someone to find a profitable use for it. Case in point.
It was also said that recycling is exploitation of poorer nations because we simply ship it there for their dumps and ruin their environment. Which of course is bull, and it still doesn't make it better for you to throw your bottle or your paper in the garbage. Besides those Chinese are industrious and smart and will have the last laugh for the cheap material we will send to them. Check it out.
Anyways I'm still going to be the loser who will take paper out of the trash and make a fuss.



For those too cool for school, it's D&D online. You thought World of Warcrack was bad.. It's a good article talking about this highly anticipated game and made me feel better at the same time. Apparently it's 'normal' for 35year olds to play and Vin Diesel plays too.