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Science

Suggest a name for the next BIG journal

The Max Planck society, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Wellcome Trust have announced their plans for a new journal for biomedical and life science research to be launched summer 2012. From the joint press release: The journal will employ an open and transparent peer review process in which papers will be accepted or rejected as […]

Alan Turing’s 99th Birthday

I can’t bring myself to say Happy Birthday Alan Turing, for Turing was definitely not a happy man towards the end of  his life. All his contributions science and society amounted to naught when he was persecuted for his homosexuality, eventually driving him to suicide. What that brilliant mind could have contributed to society beyond his 42nd year, […]

Zombie science roundup

  I am fascinated with zombies. Always have been, but even more so since I took an interest in microbiology. The zombie apocalypse is the best known and best chronicled viral infection which hasn’t happened. But it could happen any day, so stock up on non-perishable food, medical supplies, water purification tablets, chainsaws, machetes, baseball […]

Life is not a tree, it’s more of a…

  OK, I think the tree of life is obsolete. I have been spending a lot of time looking at horizontal gene transfer, reading about it, looking at it in genomes until my eyes water and my brain dessicates, occasionally blogging about it and soon to be publishing about it. Life is not a tree. […]

Shavuot is a microbial holiday

  Tonight is Shavuot. That wonderful holiday which includes midnight studies, water-bombing and dairy products. Mmmmm…. cheese. A food product heavily embedded in the science of microbiology. Cheese is the founding product of the biotech industry (along with beer and bread). So here’s to Lactobacilli and Lactococci which are at the center of the production […]

Free science books!

  The National Academies Press are offering all their books in PDF format for free. The announcement yesterday created a serious traffic surge on their site. But the books are still there, and are still free. Got to buy that new 5Tb external disk now….

Grant Opportunities from Agilent

  Two funding opportunities, available worldwide. Read below and visit  www.Agilent.com/lifesciences/emerginginsights for more details and application forms.   Agilent’s eMerging Insights Grant Program Fostering integrated, whole-systems approaches to biological research with two $75K grants for open source data-integration tool development The different omics platforms—genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics—are generating new insights into how biological systems […]

In defense of ‘prokaryotes’

Fine, I get it. “Prokaryotes” is a wrong taxonomic term. It’s wrong to lump bacteria and archaea together. That would be like saying “eutoichic” to lump all bacteria, archaea, plants and fungi together because they have cell walls. (“τοίχος” =wall in Greek. My Google Translate-foo is STRONG!)  Still, there are so many things in common among […]

Crowdsourcing genomics

  Miami University has  joined the National Genomics Research Initiative (NGRI) offered by HHMI Science Education Alliance (SEA) in their Phage Genomics course. The students go directly into the lab, participating in an authentic research experience. In a full-year academic course they: isolate and characterize bacterial viruses from their local soil prepare the viral DNA […]

Psychedelic Monday: Sploosh!

Music: Ozric Tentacles. Featuring marine life. Mix by Bonci. Highlights: 0:33 Dolphin chasing ring bubble 2:02 Humpback(?) tailfin 2:58 Whale shark swimming with dolphins 3:44 & 4:07 Humpback baleen-syncing 4:11 Manta Ray 5:58 Human and dolphin kiss

Bio-Linux. Now available in the Cloud

For some time now, NERC has been providing us with Bio-Linux. If you don’t want to be bothered with installing all the essential bioinformatic software for your Ubuntu box, you can install Bio-Linux, either as a a Linux distro for installation from scratch, or as a set of packages for an already existing Debian or Ubuntu […]

Social media used to track disease outbreak

  There are some interesting developments regarding the February outbreak of Legionelliosis which was traced to the Playboy mansion. Reminder: over 120 delegates of the DOMAINFest in Santa Monica, California came down with symptoms of a respiratory illness. The convention included a trip to the Playboy mansion, which later was suspected as the outbreak source. […]

Shakespeare’s Birthday and Evolution

William Shakespeare was baptized April 26, 1564. His birthday is traditionally commemorated on April 23 (incidentally, that is also the date of his death, in 1616). One interesting connection between Shakespeare and evolution was made by Richard Dawkins in his book The Blind Watchmaker: I am talking about the Weasel program. Weasel is an elegant illustration of the […]

What I learned from teaching a seminar class

I have been teaching a seminar course this semester, and through coaching students I think I learned more about what makes a good presentation than by reading “5 useful tips” type of articles or attending any number of  “Improve Your Speaking Skills” classes. By coaching and watching students give research seminars I became acutely aware […]

Book Review: Small and Packs a Punch

A Planet of Viruses Carl Zimmer The University of Chicago Press 109 pages Interesting things happen when physicists decide to go into biological research. They ask questions that biologists generally won’t. For example, viruses have small genomes, but they also have very small storage space in their capsids. Bacteriophages inject their genetic material into the […]