Archive for: March, 2009

What Makes a Scientist?

Mar 18 2009 Published by under Academia

Since I posted a while ago on "why I am a scientist", I've been thinking of what makes a scientist. This has been partially inspired by a post that Laelaps wrote a while ago, on whether to consider himself a scientist, and also brought to the front of Sci's head by a post over at the Intersection, where someone started contesting whether or not Sheril is a scientist. My answer to both of you? HELLZ YEAH.

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Tuesday Happenings

Mar 17 2009 Published by under Blog Carnivals

First, a reminder to everyone to please take the condom breakage survey! Click Here to take survey. I will try to post results at the end of the week.

Second, the latest edition of Giant's Shoulders is out over at the Evilutionary Biologist. And we're in it, for the post on Death that proved I have never read Frankenstein. So you should read. 🙂
Not only that, the latest edition of Encephalon is out over at Ionian Enchantment! And Neurotopia is in it for the series of depression posts that have been eating my life.
And there's a ton of great stuff that's been going around on the blogs, especially related to academia, and to those of us working our way through grad school purgatory.
Over at I Love Science, Really, there's a great post on keeping up with the scientific literature. I just discovered I Love Science, Really (can I abbreviate it something like "ILSR"?) and she's got a great tone. Check it out! And to second her point: junior grad students, start reading. NOW. I am not kidding. Take copious notes on your readings, organize them obsessively, and know exactly where they are. You will thank us later.
Dr. Jekyll & Mrs. Hyde has a post up on the fear of scooping. Despite how we all like to talk about science being an open and happy environment, the fact is that there's a lot of politics, and everyone lives in the fear of being...scooped. I now have moments of panic whenever anything comes out that even remotely resembles my thesis topic, because, though you COULD publish the least publishable unit and get it all out there ASAP, there's something to be said for fleshing it out and publishing a lovely story. But only as long as no one does it before you do.
And in the vein of politics in science, Youngfemalescientist has a post up asking what happened to scientific discourse. It made me very worried, because I know a lot of what she's talking about. Check it out.
And Finally, leigh has posted a GREAT post on opioid pharmacology. I'm now super pissed at her because she beat me to it. I planned to do that next week, leigh!!! But in the end, it's all right, as she probably did the better job. 🙂

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Mar 16 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Sorry guys, my "nonprofessional" subscription to SurveyMonkey was apparently not enough for the power of the hordes. 🙂 And I'm totally thrilled that so many people want to take the survey!!! So Dave Munger of Cognitive Daily has been gracious enough to host my survey on his professional-type SurveyMonkey.
Please do try again if it was closed the last time you tried! Together we can do science!* And now we can handle the high n's, and high n's are always better! Please share with your friends! And in the comments on the survey, please try to keep it clinical. My cat reads over my shoulder sometimes.
*Of course all information entered will be completely confidential. I will be using this survey exclusively for the purposes of enlightening the internet, and possibly enlightening the people who take it when they see the results. There is no obligation to take the survey and you may exit at any time.
The new survey can be found here: Click Here to take survey
Same questions, so if you've taken it before, you don't need to do it again.

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Depression Post 5: The Genetics of Depression

Mar 16 2009 Published by under Neuroscience

This is post 5 in my ongoing, now-approaching-behemoth-size series of posts on depression. I've got other posts available on the etiology of depression, the current pharmacotherapies, studying depression in the lab, and the serotonin theory of depression, which of course you can read and refer to if you're curious.
This post will be on what we currently know about the genetics of depression, the latest candidate genes, and what it means when scientists talk about genetic vulnerabilities and predisposition for disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.

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17 responses so far

Condom Breakage Survey: Let's do some SCIENCE!

Mar 15 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Coturnix pointed out that many people may feel too shy to just put their condom breakage experiences in the comments, but Sci is extremely curious to find out why condoms in general break in the population. So she made a SURVEY!* Please do take it, and I'll graph up the results in a few days.
*Of course all information entered will be completely confidential. I will be using this survey exclusively for the purposes of enlightening the internet, and possibly enlightening the people who take it when they see the results. There is no obligation to take the survey and you may exit at any time.
Also, please let me know if there are any major questions I may have missed on the survey. Sci has never made a survey before, and if her first job is shoddy, she would really like to improve in the future.
The survey can be found here: Click Here to take survey
High n's are always better! Please share with your friends! And in the comments on the survey, please try to keep it clinical. My cat reads over my shoulder sometimes.

17 responses so far


Mar 15 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

First of all, I hope everyone had a fantastic Pi day! Everyone should have eaten pie together at 1:59pm (or am, depending on preference). Mine was pi-tastic.
There's a new blog afoot at Scienceblogs! And this one, involves LIQUID HOT MAGMA!

Sadly, Erik does not look like Dr. Evil. But he's pretty cool nonetheless. So check out Eruptions, a blog with awesome volcanos and a name that could be an interesting double entendre.

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Friday Weird Science: Condoms and 'Blunt Puncture'

Mar 13 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science

This is actually a Friday Weird Science repost from the old blog. I've had a few requests to do something on condom breakage, though, in the words of Dr. Pal "I think a lot of the time when "the condom broke" they really mean it was in the dresser drawer." It's true, I've never actually heard of a condom busting WIDE OPEN in the middle of sexual intercourse. Condom slippage, I've heard of.
But condoms do break, the question is: why? White, Hill, Bodemeier. "Male condoms that break in use do so mostly by a "blunt puncture" mechanism" Contraception 77,2008 360-365.
The best thing about this study by far? Showing it to the other people in the lab. I especially recommend showing the "coital simulator" around.

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30 responses so far

On the Nature of Death, 1834

Mar 12 2009 Published by under Neuroscience

This historical science comes at you courtesy of gg over at SkullsintheStars, a true history buff and an awesome physicist. He handed me this paper the other day, figuring it would be right up my alley, and it is, but it's also a HUGE can of worms. Because, let's be honest, it's not easy to talk about death. And it's even harder when you're trying to talk about ideas written by a guy in 1834, who's prose is, at the very least...convoluted. An example:

The sensorial functions constitute the sensitive system,-that by which we perceive and act,- and consequently are connected with the world which surrounds us. The nervous and muscular, the vital system, that by which we are maintained. From the same experiments it appears, that what is called death consists in the loss of the first of these classes of functions, the sensorial, the nervous and muscular functions still continuing...

Yeah. Aren't you glad now that Sci is reading this FOR you and you're getting the Cliff's Notes?
Philip, APW. "On the nature of death" Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1834.

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11 responses so far

Announcing the Guest Editor for Open Lab 2009!

Mar 12 2009 Published by under Blog Carnivals

And the winner is....

Yup! Scicurious will be the guest editor of Open Lab 2009! I'm super thrilled to be involved, and it's a big honor to be asked to do something like this, especially because it means I'll be buried typing-fingers deep in the best science blogging to be found!
For those not in the know, Open Lab is a yearly, printed-on-the-flesh-and-blood-of-real-trees version of the best that science blogging has to offer. All submissions will be evaluated by a jury of fellow science bloggers, and the top 50 will be selected for publication. The end result is a wonderful compilation of the greats in science blogging, and is a rare note of permanence in internet world, where nothing last more than about 15 minutes. If you are curious to see, Sci recommends that you check out the new and shiny Open Lab 2008, because she's in it.
And so, I hereby open up for 2009 submissions! To submit a post for Open Lab, please go to this submission form. You can nominate as many posts as you wish, and Sci encourages you to have no shame about nominating yourself. But keep in mind that posts must date no earlier than Dec. 1, 2008.
So start submitting! And also...just in case...Sci would like to point out that she is not judging, and so if you wanted to submit anything of HERS...just sayin'.

20 responses so far

The Value of Stupidity: are we doing it right?

Mar 11 2009 Published by under Academia

Apparently this essay came out in the Journal of Cell Science last year, and I guess Sci just didn't hear about it. I finally DID hear about it, however, when I discovered The Faculty of 100 Biology. It's freakin' BRILLIANT. It basically gathers together over 2000 well-respected scientists from around the world, and asks for their comments on papers, as well as their rankings of the papers. Unfortunately, Sci's library sux, and does not have a subscription to this. I think I might have to beg. I signed up for a three-week trial, but I'm still unable to get to the best part: the comments. Comments by renowned scientists on what is important and why. I would kill for this insight, and reading the comments can do a lot to hone your own critical reading skills. So check it out, and if your library has access, join!
So even though Sci doesn't have access, there are still links to the papers in Pubmed, and Sci DOES have pubmed. And in the section of the Faculty 1000 known as "hidden jewels", I found this: Martin A. Scwartz "The importance of stupidity in scientific research". Journal of Cell Science, 2008.
For anyone going into grad school, it's a must-read. Hell, it's a must-read for anyone IN grad school, mentoring grad students, or being a research scientist in general.

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20 responses so far

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