Archive for: August, 2009

Friday Weird Science: An Unusual PenPal

Aug 28 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Sci heard of today's Friday Weird Science via the magic of Twitter (follow me if you like. Or don't. Sometimes I tweet haikus). It's actually almost too bad, I was GOING to write something not related to penises, but then this came out, and Sci had no choice. When something this outrageous hits the internet...well someone has to blog it. Forde, et al. "An unusual penpal: case report and literature review of posterior urethral injuries secondary to foreign body insertion" The Canadian Journal of Urology, 2009.
This is a story of what happens when you combine a man, a sexual encounter, a pen, and a complete and thorough ignorance of human anatomy.

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12 responses so far

Book Review: Attachment, Evolution, and the Psychology of Religion

Aug 26 2009 Published by under Uncategorized

First off, Sci should warn you. If you send me books (and some of you do, and for those of you who do, SCI LOVES YOU A LOT), keep in mind they may take a while. Sci IS in grad school after all, and while I'm a happy little book worm when surrounded by books, a lot of times, more than 10 pages a night just isn't going to happen. After all, I've got this whole "science blogging" thing to keep up with as well, and that's a time sink, lemme tell ya. So this means that if you send me a book, it may be a long time before it gets read and a review goes up about it. Sci just finished three books, and there is still a pile of 12 on her little bedside table. So be patient. And send me books anyway. 🙂
That said, the latest book sent to me that I managed to read was via friend of the blog JD, who sent me a book by his Psych prof: "Attachment, Evolution, and the Psychology of Religion" by Lee Kirkpatrick, professor of Psychology at the College of William and Mary.
And when I got the book, Dr. Kirkpatrick had signed it!!! Signed books are even better than unsigned, because they make Sci feel so famous. And I quote:

This is the best book you will ever read, on any topic. No, really. Seriously, not kidding. Enjoy!
-Lee Kirkpatrick

And he promised me my money back if not fully satisfied. 🙂

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29 responses so far

Conference Tips: The Poster Edition

Aug 24 2009 Published by under Academia

Sci did a post last year on posters at SFN, the difference between a good poster, a better poster, and the best posters (I'm talking with regards to styling, not content, if you've got crappy content, Sci simply cannot help you). And this year, fresh back from a really awesome conference, she wants to do it again. And this time, we're trying examples.
So here we go: how to make a decent scientific poster (or at least one that isn't completely terrible). Starring SciC and her cute though minimal skillz with powerpoint.

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17 responses so far

Friday Weird Science Refrigerator Kids: Redux

Aug 22 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Sci received a charming email from reader Monica the other day! Monica was able to get the paper Sci recently blogged on about kids trapped in fridges. But she couldn't find a pdf copy of the paper for all the interesting pics. And now she has it! And for your enlightenment, here are the pictures of adorable 50's children being trapped in an environment resembling a refrigerator:

(The playhouse. The people studying the child inside were behind the curtain looking through video monitors.)

(Kid just out of confinement. You can see that she wasn't all that upset, though the nurse was on-hand in case.)

Here you can see kids inside the box, and the various methods of trying to get out. Top: kids pushing on the door, the little girl top right was able to push the door open. Bottom Left: knocking on the door and asking to be let out. Bottom right: child slapping at the door.

This boy went for the handle he could feel on the inside of the door and successfully let himself out.
You can read the full write up of the article, and WHY exactly, scientists were trapping kids in refrigerators, here.
A big thank you to Monica!!!

One response so far

Friday Weird Science: Smoking away your Semen

Aug 21 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Sci will go ahead and put it out there: she hates smoking (I mean tobacco). It's gross. It smells. You NEVER get that freakin' smell out of your hair. And your teeth get all nasty. Not to mention to horrendous side effects, things like cancer and cardiovascular problems and death...yeah, those are bad, too.

So anyway, I think we all know smoking is bad for you. Addictive, cancer-causing, the addictive part is particularly bad, nicotine has an extremely high number of reinforcers obtained per drug session (you can only take one line of cocaine at a time, really, but a cigarette has you occupied, puffing away for a good few minutes). But now men have ANOTHER reason not to smoke: your little swimmers don't like it. Kumosani, et al. "The influence of smoking on semen quality, seminal microelements, and Ca2+-ATPase activity among infertile and fertile men." Clinical Biochemistry, 2008.

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9 responses so far

Bring on the Data Blitz!

Aug 19 2009 Published by under Academia

At some of the smaller conferences that Sci has been to (which are, by the way, often the best ones) there is a new and improved thing called "the data blitz". Usually, this is where everyone gets one slide to present their poster/talk and to get people interested in it. Usual time is 1 min. 1 minute. Get to the bottom line and get there fast.
Sci will admit that she is not the least verbose person she knows, and that, when this data blitz opportunity first presented itself, she was a little freaked out. But with some guidance and thought, it's actually pretty easy, unless the content of your poster is really THAT complicated, in which case, why would you put all of it on a poster? And so Sci thinks she's pulled off her most recent data blitzes rather well, though improvement is always necessary.
However, it seems that in many people, a data blitz instills more than the usual modicum of fear, resulting in an enormous number of things that just shouldn't happen in a data blitz. And so, in the tradition of things you should never do in a powerpoint presentation, I present: the things you shouldn't do during a data blitz:

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6 responses so far

And Now for Something Cmpletely Different

Aug 18 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

Encephalon is up at Neuronarrative. Sadly, Sci was too lazy/busy/crazy/dumb to submit one of our posts, but there's plenty there to see! Especially a post from the Neurocritic on the clitoral homunculous!!! I really wish I had seen that one first...
Also, the carnival is Monty Python themed. I mean, how great is THAT?!?!
And Giant's Shoulders is up at The Dispersal of Darwin, and I highly recommend it, despite their hideous three-column format (MY EYES, Michael, MY EYES!). We're in it for our post on refrigerator kids.
And finally, there is this. As covered by the Awesome Dynamics of Cats. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will all LOVE the idea of PLoS' online commenting system all the more.
And now Sci is back to her life of pain and toil. But she will be BACK. Oh yes, she will be BACK...
PS: Did anyone see the post from Notorious LTP on Zombies? That thing is great! On a related note, the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is awesome.

2 responses so far

Poem of the Day: #9

Aug 18 2009 Published by under Terrible Poetry

There was a grad student of yore
who had neither office nor door
at his desk in the lab, students gathered to gab
until he could stand it no more.
All this chatting he could not abide
for his writing he wished he could hide
so when no one would leave
he rolled up his sleeves
and soaked them in formaldehyde.

2 responses so far

Best. Modelling Paper. Ever.

Aug 17 2009 Published by under CNS Diseases and Disorders

The abstract says it all:

Zombies are a popular figure in pop culture/entertainment and they are usually portrayed as being brought about through an outbreak or epidemic. Consequently, we model a zombie attack, using biological assumptions based on popular zombie movies. We introduce a basic model for zombie infection, determine equilibria and their stability, and illustrate the outcome with numerical solutions. We then refine the model to introduce a latent period of zombification, whereby humans are infected, but not infectious, before becoming undead. We then modify the model to include the effects of possible quarantine or a cure. Finally, we examine the impact of regular, impulsive reductions in the number of zombies and derive conditions under which eradication can occur. We show that only quick, aggressive attacks can stave off the doomsday scenario: the collapse of society as zombies overtake us all.

They use the mathematical models applied to outbreaks of infectious diseases to show that -- absent a cure or concerted eradication of large proportions of zombies simultaneously -- we are well and truly screwed. This realization should in no way detract from the observation that MATH IS COOL. It will be a damn shame when the zombies eat it out of our brains.
Hat-tip: Marginal Revolution

11 responses so far

And Now, a Powerpoint Presentation, Redux

Aug 17 2009 Published by under Academia

Sci was at a conference last week. It was a REALLY good time. As Sci advances in grad school, I feel I am beginning to come into my own, and it's a good feeling, esp when you can walk around feeling like you have a posse of fellow grad students and post-docs who all want to collaborate.

It's an exciting time, learning the latest stuff, seeing the newest methods, and meeting famous people. It's the craziest thing running into some of these professors. I've read all of their papers, I desperately try to meet all their grad students and postdocs, and my only goal is to see the famous person and say something GENIUS, something that will make them remember me and think that I've got promise. And then I meet them, and I say...I say...oh CRAP. Once in a while, though, the genius does come out, and then I feel that verily, Sci has BLINDED YOU WITH SCIENCE this day.

Last year at a similar conference, I ended up compiling a list of things that one should REALLY try to avoid if at all possible when giving a conference talk. There are more to add, every single time. Behold, the bad, the ugly, and the presentations guaranteed to give your eager listeners a headache:

The 19 things (and counting) you should NEVER do in a powerpoint presentation.

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24 responses so far

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