Archive for: November, 2009

Open Lab Approacheth!

Nov 30 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

Sci hopes that all of you had a truly fantastic Thanksgiving. Sci's family Thanksgiving was awesome as usual, and this year featured FOUR KINDS of pie. None of them your regular pumpkin, because we're CRAZY like that. Sci's contribution this year was a purple sweet potato pie. Really really.
Anyway, Sci has returned! And then spent ALL day today organizing things for the upcoming Open Lab deadline. Oh yes. We're getting close to 700 posts, and the deadline is December 1 at Midnight EST! So submit early, submit often. Submit your own stuff, Sci swears she will not mock you for it in public.
Please don't submit anything that relies wholly on video or pictures that we can't use in dead tree format.

(Click on that one for the submission form)
And so, Sci sends regrets that there will be no post today. There might not be one Wednesday, either, this is taking a pretty insane amount of time and coffee. LOTS of coffee. So forgive the temporary radio silence.
In the meantime, I offer unto the masses this kitten:

And the purple sweet potato pie recipe is below the fold.

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3 responses so far

Friday Weird Science: Let's go at it like rabbits

Nov 27 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science

It was ALL OVER the internet (check out Observations of the Nerd for some particularly good coverage), of course you know I HAD to blog it, right? Sadly, it got taken over in the first week by the Oxytocin weeks of DOOM (oh, it was doom, there were a lot of late nights that week, Sci can't give up her day job, you know).
But here I am. And here it is. And for those media outlets that complained that you couldn't find the paper in the PNAS issue and acted all mysterious, Sci got the paper. Cause Sci's got CONNECTIONS. Connections which involve emailing the PR people who put out the press release. Simple, yet effective! May I recommend it to you sometime.
Chen et al. "Bioengineered corporeal tissue for structural and functional reconstruction of the penis." PNAS, 2009.

(Also, some of the pics are probably NSFW for those of you who have coworkers sensitive to scientific depictions of the anatomy of the penis. You were warned.)

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13 responses so far

Book Review: The Tangled Bank

Nov 25 2009 Published by under Academia, Evolution

A few months ago, Sci had a secret shame. A secret, secret shame. For Sci is a science blogger, and blogs on Scienceblogs and...
...didn't know ANYTHING about evolution.
Ok, perhaps that wasn't exactly true. But Sci's a physiologist, not an evolutionary biologist. I studied neuroanatomy, not HOW that neuroanatomy evolved. In my day to day life, I could care less how it GOT that way, what I'm concerned with is what goes wrong with it, and how I can go about fixing the problems to improve the lives of people. Let's just say they don't force us grad students to take classes in evolution, and while the basic ideas were covered in Bio 101, I hadn't had much exposure to them since. It's not that I don't WANT to know about evolution. But if you're going to give me a choice between, say, a book by Stephen Jay Gould and a book by Oliver Sacks, well...
And Sci's always been a little ashamed of herself over this. I mean, I'm a SCIENTIST! Evolution is one of those things I'm...supposed to know about. For cocktail parties (cause, y'know, grad students go to a LOT of cocktail parties). Like stem cells and vaccines, there are things that people who aren't scientists just kind of expect scientists to be versed in, or at least to have a relatively well-founded opinion on. Sci hates to disappoint.
And so, when, in the deep, dark night of a relatively early Wednesday morning before her first cup of coffee, Sci expressed her shame to Laelaps, Brian immediately had a solution. "Carl Zimmer just wrote a book on it!" quoth Brian, "you should ask to review a copy!"
Hmmm...learning about evolution (check). Learning about it from a blogger I totally respect (check! His tattoo gallery is wicked!). Free book (BONUS!).
I emailed Carl. I was TOTALLY TOTALLY thrilled when I realized he had actually HEARD OF ME!!! *squee!*
And a few days later, I got a TOME in the mail. A tome of SCIENCE!!!
tangled bank.png
(DUDE! Is that Tiktallik on the cover!? SWEET!)

The Tangled Bank: an Introduction to Evolution by Carl Zimmer
Unfortunately, Sci got a galley copy of the book. For those unfamiliar with the publishing world, that means a GIGANTIC PILE of xeroxed pages, as yet unbound. I ended up being very sad about this, which I will get into. SciCat, on the other hand, approves of the galley copy, and is in favor of all books being in this format. She's sitting on it now.

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6 responses so far

Open Lab: Time is Ticking!

Nov 24 2009 Published by under Uncategorized

like a bomb!

(an INTERNET bomb!)
You have only ONE MORE WEEK to submit to Open Lab! Submit yourself, submit your friends. Submit another stupid YouTube video and verily, you shall die. 🙂
We've already got over 500 posts, and they're looking great! And yours could be one! So submit your best stuff, your friend's best stuff, and the best science blogging you see to Open Lab!

(Click on that one for the submission form)

2 responses so far

Book Review: Don't be SUCH a Scientist

Nov 23 2009 Published by under Activism

Sci had a LOT of trouble with this book. It took me a long time to read it. This is mostly because Sci, unlike many people on the internet, actively avoids things that make her mad or negatively impact her blood pressure. I've got plenty of pressure and things in my life that make me unhappy (Sci is, after all, in grad school) without deliberately seeking out things to upset me. And so, when things annoy me or make me incoherently angry, I try not to waste energy on them, close the window, put the book down. And thus it was with this book. The day it arrived on my doorstep, I sat down, and got through about 15 pages before throwing it down in sheer aggravation. I thought maybe it was my mood (frustrating day, you know), and so two days later tried again. Same thing. Then I thought I needed a break, read an awesome book on squid. I finished the book on squid. Then I looked at this book again, and just looking at the cover made me so annoyed that I read an entire textbook on evolutionary theory first (It was great, though!).
So you'd think, well if it annoys me that much, perhaps I should not have read it at all, or reviewed it at all for that matter. Perhaps. But I got the book in mail, and thus I SHALL read it. Also, it was a book I WANTED to like. I wanted very much for it to make good points, I wanted it to make new inroads on scientific communication. I want HELP with how to communicate with people. I want to know how to make people stop believing things that aren't true, and how to help them understand the deep concepts in science that make it so incredibly cool.
And so I kept trying (sporadically). Finally, I sat down to it on the plane ride back from Chicago's SFN meeting. I thought I would be exhausted enough that I wouldn't be able to get annoyed. I was wrong. Within minutes I was scribbling things in the margins. Then I threw it down AGAIN, and only picked it up again this past week when I just felt I had to GET THROUGH IT.
So here's the thing. As you can tell, I completely loathed this book. Absolutely hated it.
The guy has some good points.
Sci would like to begin this with a disclaimer:

I arrived on the blogging scene (by "arrived", I mean started blogging to an audience of about 3) around the time Dr. Olson's movie "Sizzle" came out. As I hadn't seen it, I didn't read the reviews, though I heard there were fights over it. But that's normal. So for the record: I have not seen Sizzle, or Flock of Dodos, and this is my first real exposure to Randy Olson. So I have no pre-existing agenda about loving or hating his work.

Randy Olson's "Don't be SUCH a Scientist"

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21 responses so far

Friday Weird Science: Oxytocin in your Cavernosa

Nov 20 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science

This post brought to you by Ben and Jerry's Dublin Mudslide Ice Cream. Because the Twitter people are like little devils on my shoulder, making me eat the cake...

So Sci was going to do her final oxytocin post on another study in humans for oxytocin levels during male masturbation, but you know, you've seen one, you've seen them all. I know that they were looking at slightly different things, all looked the same: oxytocin measured while a guy is in a room with some porn, measure some other stuff as well, look at the correlations. So Sci started digging around for something a little more unusual.
And when Sci saw this one, her little eyes brightened, and she said "oooooh! THAT ONE!"' much to the surprise of the nice evening janitorial lady in the lab. Because if you thought the LAST Friday Weird Science was one that you wouldn't want to volunteer for... would you like a butterfly needle in your penis? What, that's not stimulating?! Uckert et al. "Oxytocin plasma levels in the systemic and cavernous blood of healthy males during different penile conditions" World Journal of Urology, 2003.
For those not in the know, a butterfly needle looks like this:

Yadda yadda. Photos below NSFW, yadda yadda. It's Friday Weird Science, not like there's going to be puppies and kittens here.

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9 responses so far

Oxytocin: The Love Molecule?

Nov 19 2009 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

And now Sci can finally get down to writing the hefty post in the oxytocin series, what she likes to call the effects on the soft stuff. The emotions, memory, trust, that kind of thing. She didn't know if she'd make it, for verily, this little grad student hath earned her ramen this day in looooooong experiments and time slaving away in the salt mines laboratory. But she is here! Her ramen is eaten! And it is TIME!
Oxytocin: Effects on the State of Love and Trust
aka "The LOVE molecule?"

(Right now, this is Sci's definition of love)
Sigh...Sci has heard so many people call oxytocin "the love molecule". Almost as many people as she has heard call dopamine the "reward molecule", or serotonin the "happy molecule". Based on the previous examples, Sci now officially reserves the right to call norepinephrine the "holy s**t we're going to DIE" molecule.
What do all these have in common? They are all SO MUCH MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT. But for now, we're just going to stick to oxytocin. The "love molecule"?! You don't know the half of it!

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10 responses so far

Oxytocin: Let's hear it for the boys!

Nov 17 2009 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

Sci will be honest. The migraine continues apace. But the oxytocin, it must be blogged. And the migraine medication, it makes Sci loopy! Given what I'll be blogging today, that might not be a bad thing...

I've already gone through some of the basics of oxytocin, and the famous effects that oxytocin has on females. But what most general biology and physiology courses don't tell you is the big role that oxytocin plays in MALES. This molecule isn't just for the ladies.
Let's hear it for the boys:

(Nothing says manly men like high kicks)

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13 responses so far

Oxytocin PSA

Nov 15 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

Sci was totally going to blog the effects of oxytocin in men tonight. Unfortunately, she has recently been stricken by a migraine of rather impressive proportions. Under such conditions, she has no ability to focus on things like brightly lit screens, cannot make herself understand anything more complicated than monosyllabic concepts like "ouch", and is decidedly Un-funny. She will be lying with a pile of frozen veggies on her head and Sci-cat in the illness position on her feet until further notice.
In the meantime, submit to Open Lab. You have only a few more weeks! And Sci wants to see all of your science hotness.

(Click on that one for the submission form)

7 responses so far

Friday Weird Science: Oxytocin and the Big O

Nov 13 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Rounding out Sci's first week of the Great Oxytocin Posting of 2009 (oh yes, there will be two weeks of this, hang tight), we've gotta do something weird. And luckily for everyone, oxytocin does lend itself to the strange types of studies. Like multi-orgasmic studies. Complete with measurements of anal contraction. You know you wanna volunteer for this one.
And luckily for all of you, Sci is the one doing the reading and the retelling of this study. Because reading the methods for this one might cause you to do this: Carmichael et al. "Relationships among cardiovascular, muscular, and oxytocin responses during human sexual activity". Archives of Sexual Behavior, 1994.

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20 responses so far

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