30 November, 2007

Tales of the Anti-Chicken

Once upon a time ago in a land not far away but farther than a snail will go for doughnuts there lived The Anti-Chicken. The Anti-Chicken had been borne of a goat and an interleukin, and as such the Anti-Chicken was very confused and clingy. It would roam the country-side in its Chicken-Head-Goat Hat and slink among the shadows. It knew that there was something wrong about it, for whenever it appeared in the daylight and among decent folk, they'd always scream and run away in fearful terrorness and screaming screaming. So the Anti-Chicken was very sad. It even tried to pass itself off as a normal chicken, but unfortunately failed (seems that explosions would occur whenever it ran into a Chicken) and was subsequently run out into the Cold Forest.

So now The Anti-Chicken roams the Cold Forest by night, looking for the Anti-Goat. One day, they may find each other, and when they do it will be the worse for everyone. Or they'll be happy and blissful together and leave everyone alone.

27 November, 2007


This is an odd photograph of bacon. Bacon usually looks much more appealing than this particular piece. It's as if this one was soaked in extra grease and barely done, like it's still all wobbly. That isn't how I like my bacon.

For approximately 3 years, I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian, induced not so much by ethical concerns as health concerns over dorm food as well as the price of meat. I stopped vegetarianism for 3 reasons (importance increasing with list decreasing):

1) Kept losing weight. At one point I found that I had a BMI of 17.1, which is apparently really bad. Now, about a year later, I'm up to a BMI of 19.6.

2) Missed fried fish.

3) Missed bacon.

At first I just started back up with the fish. And then it progressed to white meat (pork is not white meat), thus: turkey bacon! When I first had bacon again after all those long years, it was as if a long-suffering void within was suddenly filled and I became instantly happier.

So it set off the question:

What is it about bacon that makes one happier?

Is it the lipid soaked protein?

Is it the burnt crunchiness? Yes, I like my bacon slightly burnt.

Is it the salt?

It is probably a combination of all of the above. Nonetheless, bacon got me thinking a bit about how it influences science. No bacon results in crankiness and feeblemindedness. As such:

The Scientific Bacon:

1) James D. Watson - clearly his bacon consumption fell off over his lifetime. It must have been at its highest when he "co-discovered" the structure of DNA, and clearly has recently reached record lows.

2) Dr. Hwang Woo-suk - clearly a conspicuous lack of bacon led him to falsify his research results for the greater honor of South Korean science.

3) These people clearly weren't getting enough bacon.

4) This person seems to be eating bacon daily (hint: he can read his own genome).

25 November, 2007

Fundamental Paradigm

Paradigms are difficult. We live so easily within them, but then sometimes they get challenged and we have a hard time talking our way out of them. I was at a party last night talking to a chemist when a child overheard us and asked what an element is (I know, a lame kind of party). How do you explain what an element is? It’s something that has been so fundamental and easy for me for so long that I was taken aback by the question. But between the chemist and I, we managed to explain it. We explained that everything around us was made up of matter, and that that matter is made up of tiny little pieces, like little miniscule balls. And then we went on that each ball has a color, and that different colors are like different elements, because a ball of a different color acts differently than another ball of another color.

20 November, 2007

Idea Hat

This would be absolutely brilliant. To be in a class where I could participate collectively in giving the professor instant learning feedback would be truly great. Or to teach such a class. To know instantly when the "Eureka!" moment strikes, or when confusion is, would be of great advantage. A colleague of mine laughed at me and told me that the same thing can be done by reading facial expressions. She is stupid.

LEDs are cooler.

I now need to convince someone to try this.


Looking back at my last post, I can see how it may have been misconstrued that I am a cat. However, I assure that that is very much not the case. In fact, I don't much like cats, kittens, tabbies, felines, or other cat-like creatures. I prefer the canine varieties, simply because they are better. And cooler. And much, much less bitchy.

16 November, 2007

Smrt gas

Oh yeah, that's me: SMRT.

Today in the lab I was trying to turn on a Bunsen burner. I turned on the wrong side of the gas tap and vented a big old stinky stream of natural gas in the laboratory. As if that wasn't stupid enough, I wanted to know immediately if the amount of gas I'd put in the air was dangerous, so I grabbed a sparker and sparked it around me. Nothing happened. Kind of disappointed, I proceeded to correctly light the Bunsen burner, right by where I'd vented the gas, and walk away. That was stupid too.

01 November, 2007

Not-quite-right-in-the-head Syndrome (NQRITHS)

So I think I might be not quite right. In the head. In fact, I may indeed be afflicted with NQRITHS, an increasingly common disorder among scientists the world over. The symptoms:

1) Found this news story about an E. Coli breakout in frozen pizza pepperoni. My first reaction wasn't "Oh, how terrible, people are going to get sick!". No, my first reaction was "Cool! What strain? What strain!?". It was O157:H7, Biohazard Safety Level 2+. Not only does O157:H7 have cool tir ligands that lead to inflammatory effacement of the gastrointestinal epitelia (tir is secreted by a Type III secretion system [bacterial nail gun] and causes actin realignment in the cell that it effaces), but it also is an STEC, which means that it produces Shiga toxin. Shiga toxin, very deadly, has been implicated in the renal pathology (makes your kidney cells bleed) of severe E. Coli infections.

2) That I know all of the information above off the top of my head.

3) Shiny = happy.

4) That things like lactose and (1>3)-beta-D-glucan really piss me off, but for very different reasons.