Archive for: April, 2009

"Look at me on the lily?! Is that not, is that not so weird?"

Apr 30 2009 Published by under Addiction

Awesome blog friend JLK just sent me this link. I can't be more amused. The life of a bee on cocaine. Does it get any better?

And Ed (yes, you, ED) has beaten me to the Friday Weird Science! He's got an awesome article on the traumatic insemination practices of spiders. Ya'll probably read him already (cause he's awesome), but if you don't, you should.

One response so far

Spring 2009: We have come o far, yet still have so far to go

Apr 29 2009 Published by under Academia

It was only today that Sci realized that May Scientiae goes Or at least it's due tonight. Sci has never before submitted to Scientiae, though she reads every issue like clockwork, but she found the prompt this month raised some thoughts in her little experimental brain.

I'd like to propose "A Snapshot" as a theme. Create a blog time capsule for yourself that will say Spring 2009 when you look back on it in a couple of years.

A snapshot of Sci, April 2009:

So this will be a more personal picture of Sci. At least, as personal as you can get when you're trying to relate to one frazzled-as-hell-siamese.

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7 responses so far

Bornean Frogs: Feelin' Ultrasonic

Apr 29 2009 Published by under Natural Sciences

So we b0rked the blog last night, but the wearing of sackcloth and ashes and the libations we have placed on the altar of the Overlords have gotten it fixed! I am eternally grateful.
And now, on to the science. Let's all feel supersonic together:

(oh yeah, Sci went there. Let's all be moody and wear our fake Beatles' glasses together, shall we)
Now let us all pause for a moment and be glad that there is no species that uses Oasis songs as its mating calls. Ok, there was a brief period in the 90's where the human species almost fell, but we hoisted ourselves back up again.
No, I can't think of any species that uses "Supersonic". But there ARE lots of species that use ULTRASONIC. Until now, interestingly, those species of animals using ultrasonic communication didn't include frogs, really. Until now. Arch et al. "Pure ultrasonic communication in an endemic Bornean Frog." PLoS ONE, 2009.

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2 responses so far

Experiencing technical difficulties

Apr 27 2009 Published by under Uncategorized

I think I hit the wrong thing when trying to install a rotating blogroll, so Neurotopia may look like base model Movable Type template for a while. My apologies...

2 responses so far

Sci Returns, complete with Swine Flu!

Apr 27 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

Sci's been away for a few days. Life has been stressful, and Sci has been more than usually unmotivated. It ain't pretty. Sci is still in the lab. She is very hungry. But she will pick herself up. Nose to the grindstone, and all that. Sci is BACK on the INTERNETS! And she brought you some swine flu! Delicious.

Sci will admit that she was afraid until this afternoon to look at her Google Reader. Well she should be. 400 posts unread. I whimpered in fear, but attacked it nonetheless. And there is a PILE. Most particularly, a pile of pigs. Sci will admit she knows very little about swine flu, but here is a list of the links she will be reading:

Effect Measure
, where the fantastic revere has been posting like mad on swine flu. Always well written and clear.
Aetiology, where the excellent Tara is posting about swine flu. She's an expert in epidemiology, she knows what she's talkin' bout. I recommend this one in particular if you want an introduction.
White Coat Underground, where Dr. Pal has been discussing the healthcare end of the situation. Though really, Dr. Pal, your tweets (twits? twitters?), are scaring me.
And the Corpus Callosum, which has a great explanation of what pandemic alert levels mean.
And now, for something completely different:In the realm of getting PhDs and what people are doing with them, Sciencewoman posted something good (though frightening to one who will soon be kicked out of the Ivory tower on her little scientist-butt) on the fact of PhDs, while Leigh has formulated revolutionary new ideas about the physics of getting your professors to meet with you.
While the physics explanation is reasonable, I personally think that all tenure-track faculty receive invisibility cloaks with their appointments. When their office appears empty, they might BE THERE, merrily doing something other than talking to you.
Alternatively, I think that I would try the Heisenberg faculty principle, meaning that you cannot know both whether the faculty member can meet with you and how soon they will come up with a conflict for an already-scheduled meeting.'s back to work for Sci. These chemicals, they don't make themselves. But she is sooooooo hungry...

2 responses so far

UCLA Pro-Test Rally: Hundreds Showed Support!

Apr 23 2009 Published by under Activism

You may have heard by now that there was a rally yesterday at UCLA for Pro-Test, where scientists and the public in support of responsible animal research gathered to protest the violence and threats that have plagued the UCLA scientific community. The rally featured Dr. David Jentsch, a scientist who's car recently was firebombed by animal rights activists.
Sci was so excited that the UCLA scientists were standing up for themselves (unfortunately she had to be there in spirit and over the internet), but will admit that she was following the Pro-Test anxiously on Twitter (@dosmonos) all day. With it being "Animal Liberation Week" and with all the violence that has occurred there before, I was terrified that something would happen. In a way, the people who showed up at the rally have put their safety on the line. Many groups will not hesitate to threaten your work, your property, and your life. So Sci was first incredibly happy that every got through safe and sound, and that no rocks were thrown, and in fact, there were only about 30 ARAs that even showed up.
But then she got the really good news. Over 700 people showed up at the rally in support of responsible animal research! Not only that, there's a petition, with over 165 signatures from scientists and others stating that:

1. That animal research has contributed and continues to contribute to major advances in the length and quality of our lives. It remains vital to understanding basic biological processes and for the development of new treatments and therapies such as antibiotics, vaccines, organ transplants, and cancer medicines.
2. That animal research is morally justifiable provided animal welfare remains a high priority and no valid non-animal alternatives are available.
3. That violence, intimidation and harassment of scientists and others involved in animal research is neither a legitimate means of protest, nor morally justified.

If you would like to sign the petition, you can do so here. There's some more coverage of the rally over at DrugMonkey, complete with video coverage from CNN.
For all you who showed up yesterday, thank you. You made a difference yesterday. No more fear.

9 responses so far

Heppy Urf Dai!

Apr 22 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.

Anyway, today is Earth Day. Sci is spending it in grad student fashion: in the lab. But she has some resolutions to make. not that I was TAGGED, Mike. *sniff* MIKE DOESN"T CARE ABOUT SCI!!!!

Anyway, Sci would like to make some resolutions. It helps that nothing is working in the lab today, and so Sci has time to implement at least one of her plans.
Small: Sci will remember to keep her cloth grocery bags in the car, so she won't forget them and have to get plastic bags from the store.
Bigger: Sci wants to start walking to work in the summer, while it's warm. It's about a 30 minute walk either way, but there's less going on in the summer and Sci feels she can swing it.
Better: Sci is a printer. She likes to print LOTS of papers and data files and stuff. These are big and bulky, and really serve no purpose except to make Sci feel she's getting work done. Sci is going (relatively) paperless! She's getting rid of her huge numbers of printouts, and will not print more than she has to, to save space and trees.
And this is a MEME! You know you wanna:
Dr. Isis
the Sciencewomen
And finally, just in time for Earth Day, there's a new blog at Scienceblogs! Welcome Guilty Planet, a new blog devoted to the not-at-all simple task of saving the planet from us.

6 responses so far

The elegant logic of dopamine

Apr 22 2009 Published by under Neuroscience

First of all, you all should know that there is a new blog for all you quitters out there. And by quitters, I mean those who have quit smoking, those who want to, and those who work with them. It's run by the insightful DuWayne, a soon-to-be-ex-smoker, and sounds like a great idea. He's looking for people who want to join the quitters, or people who are already quitters. So if you're a quitter, or want to be one, saunter on over and check it out.
Secondly, Sci has found a paper. She got it through the kind offices of PhysioProf, who reads the Tables of Contents from Nature about 20 minutes before Sci does, every single time. I DO read them, I swear!!!
Anyway, this paper. It's elegant, it's beautiful, and I love it. It's some intense stuff, but I'm going to do my best, because this paper explains so much about how the dopamine system works. It's a piece, if it takes off and is replicated, that is going to change the way we think about things, and give us new targets to combat dopamine disorders such as Parkinson's. In other words, it's HOT. Flames and Hobert "Gene regulatory logic of dopamine neuron differentiation" Nature, 2009.

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17 responses so far

Midas, the Golden King of Beer

Apr 20 2009 Published by under Natural Sciences

A few weeks ago, Sci and Mr. SiT met up with some friends we don't see often enough. One of these friends has what I personally think is the BEST JOB EVER. He works for a microbrewery. This means that, not only does he get a wicked discount on some amazingly tasty microbrews, he also knows more about microbrews in general than anyone else I've met. This is awesome, because he can then educate Sci! Sci loves a good beer (she takes recommendations), and it's always better if its got a fabulous name/label (I have the same requirement for wine. The more amusing the label, the more likely I am to give it a try). And on this particular weekend, Sci's friends showed her a really interesting label.

When my friend showed me this beer, she swore to me that it was really based on beer that King Midas himself drank. Assuming King Midas to be entirely fictional, and thus that this was a myth, I scoffed at her claim. But this is no ordinary lady, and she sent me the reference the very next day. And it's ALL TRUE. And so Sci has to relate this awesome feat of combined archeology, biochemistry, and paleobotany to you. And then she has to find a way to taste this beer.
McGovern, PE "Ancient Wine" Princeton University Press, 2003.

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15 responses so far

In which Sci provides linkage

Apr 20 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

Some of you may be aware that this week is World Laboratory Animal Liberation week. For those of us working with animal models, it's tense, surrounded with heightened security, and a time in which we probably don't feel like talking. But Dr. Free-Ride has stepped, once more, into the breach, which a series of awesome posts on what exactly is impeding discussions on animal research right now. I highly recommend.
Sci is still sick today. She now has chicken soup and her quality of life has increased accordingly. Placebo effects are delicious.

14 responses so far

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