Computers and software

Worldmapper is a web site with 366 maps of the world. These maps however, are not the kinds of maps you've seen in school, with every country shown by size. These maps are cartograms. It's a bit like seeing a cartoon version of a Thomas Friedman book. These maps present a whole new way of visualizing information about the world. In a cartogram, the size of each country or geographic region is drawn in proportion to some kind of variable. The variable could be population size, number of ... Read more
Part IV. Assembling the details and making the case for a novel paramyxovirus This is the fourth in a five part series on an unexpected discovery of a paramyxovirus in a mosquito. In this part, we take a look at all the evidence we can find and try to figure out how a gene from a virus came to be part of the Aedes aegypti genome.
Part I. The back story from the genome record Together, these five posts describe the discovery of a novel paramyxovirus in the Aedes aegyptii genome and a new method for finding interesting anomalies in GenBank. I. The back story from the genome record II. What do the mumps proteins do? And how do we find out? III. Serendipity strikes when we Blink. IV. ... Read more

This the third part of case study where we see what happens when high school students clone and sequence genomic plant DNA. In this last part, we use the results from an automated comparison program to determine if the students cloned any genes at all and, if so, which genes were cloned. (You can also read part I and part II.) Did they clone or not clone? That is the question. ... Read more

This the second part of three part case study where we see what happens when high school students clone and sequence genomic plant DNA. In this part, we do a bit of forensics to see how well their sequencing worked and to see if we can anything that could help them improve their results the next time they sequence. How well did the sequencing work? Anyone who sequences DNA needs to be aware of two kinds of problems that afflict their results. We can divide these into two ... Read more
In its simplest sense, we imagine that learning occurs through a series of positive and negative rewards. Some actions lead to pleasure, others to pain, and it seems reasonable to expect that people will repeat the actions with pleasurable results and avoid those that ended in pain. Yet, we all know people who aren't deterred by the idea of punishment. We all know people who never seem to learn. Could there be a physical reason, hidden in their genes? In December 2007, Science published a study by Klein et. al. (1) where they asked if a specific genotype at a location ... Read more
Believe it or not, there is the remote possibility that I may get to have some influence in getting a web application built, that I can use in teaching, that will do something that I want. Unfortunately, I know very little about the relative merits of AJAX/JavaScript vs. Flash vs. a custom C++ plug-in, that does something with WX Windows or QT. What do you think?Read more
The University of Virginia does. They survey students every year to find out what they're up to tech-wise. Apparently 99% of their first year students own computers. And, a large majority of those computers are laptops (3058/3113 or 98%). And, what's on those laptops? Let's have a drum roll: 60% have Windows VISTA 26% have Mac OS X 12% have Windows XP and, 2% or less have something else - like Linux. This is why I really, really, want good web-based applications. Just for the record, I don't ... Read more
I've been writing quite a bit this week about my search for a cross platform spread sheet program that would support pivot tables and make pie graphs correctly. This all started because of a bug that my students encountered in Microsoft Excel, on Windows. I'm not personally motivated to look for something new, since Office 2004 on Mac OS 10.5 doesn't seem to have the same bugs that appear on Windows. However, I would like things to work for my students. Since I don't want to have ... Read more
I think all of us; me, the students the OO advocates, a thoughtful group of commenters, some instructors; I think many of us learned some things that we didn't anticipate the other day and got some interesting glimpses into the ways that other people view and interact with their computers. Some of the people who participated in the challenge found out that it was harder than they expected. Lessons learned Okay, what did we learn? 1. The community is the ... Read more

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