Some people, like Imelda Marcos and Dr. Isis have a thing for fancy shoes. I go crazy for gadgets.
For my birthday this year, my family bought me a new iPhone! Yeah! So, I've been killing several hours today filling it with cute little iPhone apps. Who knew one little phone could be so much fun? One app, I enjoy, is called Molecules. Molecules lets you download structure files from the Protein Data Bank (PDB) and play with the structures on your phone!
Masha Gessen was faced with a terrifying choice: cut off her breasts, and possibly save herself from cancer, or use them to feed her child.
It was late at night when I walked back to my empty dorm room at the conference. Shivering, I stood on the narrow bed, quickly shut the windows, tore the blankets off the other bed, and wrapped myself up, trying to get warm. Too cold to sleep, I picked up my copy of Masha Gessen's " ... Read more
One time, I suggested in a list-serve that science teachers make more use of primary scientific literature. Naturally, I learned all the reasons why teachers don't do this-lack of access being one of the biggies- but I also learned something surprising.
One teacher wrote that she re-writes a lot of research articles to make them easier for her students to read. I can understand that notion, in principle. My students struggle with scientific language, too, even those that have bachelor's degrees in biology.
What surprised me was thinking about the amount of time that activity ... Read more
"Did you know," my friend whispered, "that the Humane Society funds terrorists?"
I was stunned. What? That's crazy! I've adopted pets from there. No way! How could those be the same people??
My friend and I were suffering from "brand confusion." In business, this happens when different companies use similar names for their products in order to confuse the marketplace. In the animal rights movement, brand confusion is used to misdirect the funds that would otherwise help groups who do genuine humanitarian work. ... Read more
I got my copy of "A short guide to the human genome" by Stewart Scherer today from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press (2008, ISBN 978-087969791-4). Usually, I would wait until after I've read a book to write a review, but this book doesn't require that kind of study. As soon I skimmed through it and read some of the questions and answers, I knew this would be the kind of quick reference that I would like to have sitting above my desk.
Scherer has compiled a wonderful text that not only answers many of the kinds of questions that I can think to ask about the human ... Read more
Genetics textbooks abound with stories of European royalty and the hazards of having children after you've married one of your cousins. It struck me as an interesting parallel that the lion is such a popular symbol in so many royal coats of arms. Like the royal families of Europe, certain lion populations have also suffered from a few too many copies of certain recessive genes.
I first read about the Florida panthers a few years ago while researching material for a class that I teach on using bioinformatics. It wasn't my first encounter with ... Read more
When purified, it glows with an unearthly light. You can't go "chemical free" and try to escape it. It's part of our bones and it forms the backbone of our DNA. A tool for good, a tool of war, essential for gardening, and infamous as a pesticide; phosphorus is truly an amazing element. Amazing too, are the stories about it's discovery and our history with using it. Many of the stories in ... Read more
Biology as a second-language: the immersion method
Language teachers say the best way to learn a language is by total immersion and even better, spending time in the country where it's spoken conversing with native speakers.
See it, hear it, speak it, use it!
Put yourself in a position where you must do these four things to survive (or at least find the restroom) and you will learn more rapidly than by any other method.
Graduate school serves a similar purpose for scientists. You go from an environment where your fellow ... Read more
Why the ABRF of course!
I spend a fair amount time every summer giving workshops for college and high-school teachers on genomics and bioinformatics. One of the things that always surprises them, is the amount of lab work that's carried out by people working in shared, or core lab facilities. For example, if I was working at a research university and I wanted to sequence some DNA, maybe ... Read more