Archive for: April, 2010

Now May I Introduce To You...

Apr 12 2010 Published by under Academia

(aka Dr. Sci, Dr. Curious, TOTES AWESOME PHD)

(Thank you, I'll be here all week. Try the veal.)
That is right, these past few weeks when Sci's blogging has been...a bit light, have not been due to a much needed vacation to some far away island filled with mai-tais (though that would have been very nice). Rather, these weeks have been devoted to...THE DISSERTATION. But now it is done, and Sci is a PhD. For something that Sci has spent a good six years of her life feels very unreal. Sci keeps looking around and wondering where the "Doctor" is. It is rather more of a first step on the huge journey of my scicurious career, one that Sci imagines is not going to be straight or very normal. But it's still exciting.
It's so exciting, Sci could SING!!

(I'm doing SCIENCE and I'm still alive)
Now, as some of you may be aware if you've written a thesis (dissertation, whatever) before, there's a section at the beginning titled "acknowledgments". This is where the student thanks the Academy, their PI, and all the people who helped them get where they are today. Ok, they thank some of them. There's no limit, but it is not generally "done" to be informal or funny or in any way overly personal in one's acknowledgments at my Uni.
And Sci doesn't think this is sufficient. She thanked a few important people, but didn't really get to do the kind of acknowledgments section that she wanted.
But that's why Sci has a blog, now isn't it.
And here is Sci's REAL acknowledgment section.

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109 responses so far

Friday Weird Science: The Sunny Sneeze

Apr 09 2010 Published by under Friday Weird Science, Neuroscience

This time of year is a rough one is the Southeast. It's a time of angiosperm related hyprocrisy. It's so pretty outside that it cries out for Easter egg hunts, picnics, and other outside activities.

Unfortunately, once the weather is warm for a few days, it looks like this.

(Sci's car this morning, only it was worse than that. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES.)
As you might be able to imagine, this sort of thing means that the sneezing rate in the south has a remarkable uptick in the spring (though there's no data on this, and compared to fall and summer allergies and winter colds, Sci might indeed just be spouting off lies right now).
But did you know that there are some people who will sneeze on a bright, sunny day, regardless of the pollen count? Did you know WHY?! Langer et al. "When the Sun Prickles Your Nose: An EEG Study Identifying Neural Bases of Photic Sneezing" PLoS ONE, 2010.
And the best part of this study, what do you CALL the "photic sneeze reflex"?
ACHOO (Autosomal Cholinergic Helio-Ophtalmologic Outburst) syndrome. Some grad students who came up with this were probably giggling hysterically over their beers for this one.

(Sci would like to note that she sneezed no less than about 5 times during this write-up, though probably not due to sunlight)

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33 responses so far

Rally in support of biomedical science today!!!

Apr 08 2010 Published by under Activism

This will be the second year that UCLA will hold a rally in support of biomedical science and in support of well-regulated welfare-based animal research. The first one was held last year, and attracted over 700 people! Sci was (and is) unfortunately not in that region, but she remembered last year how excited she was for the people able to participate. She hopes that even more people will come out this year in support, and if you can't, please lend your support by commenting over at the website!

And as another point of business, Sciencebase has posted his review of Open Lab, 2009!

The blogs represented are written by scientists, science students, science writers and science journalists. Some of them are deadly earnest. Others more light-hearted. Some are seriously interesting. All are fascinating in their own way and many fields of science are covered within the pages of The Open Laboratory 2009.

And now you can submit for this year!!! Let's make sure that this year's editor, Ben Landis, has even MORE posts to deal with than I did. Hehehehehe...

One response so far

A Letter to a Grad Student

Apr 07 2010 Published by under Academia

Sci was racing through the corridors of her MRU the other day, taking piles of papers hither and yon, and generally taking care of business. She was on her way out when she saw a girl (she was young and tiny, though probably over 21) come flying out of the bathroom and take up a position in a corner near the stairwell, where it can look like you're just looking out of the window in an idle way. She had a tissue in her hand, and was steadfastly NOT looking at Sci, in fact looking the other way as hard as she knew how.
She was a grad student. And I think (ok, I know) she was crying. I wanted to stop, and I wanted to ask what was wrong, but she was turned away so violently I don't think she wanted anyone to ask. So I did the antisocial thing and tried to salvage some of the girl's pride by not looking.
But little grad student, I did see, and I did want to ask what was wrong. And this is for you.

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15 responses so far

In which Sci is Famous!

Apr 05 2010 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

Blogging has truly made Sci famous this day! Her parents have been waiting for it for years. Every time Sci says "Hey Sci-Mom, I won an award", or "Hey Sci-Mom, I got a link in the NY Times" or "Hey Sci-Mom, Sci is awesome!!!", Sci-Mom will sigh and say, "yes, dear, but is it in PRINT?"
(Note: Sci-Mom, despite her insistence that things be in print to make you really famous, is totally awesome, and has copies of Open Lab, so she's truly convinced that Sci is famous, she just likes to tease her)
But yes, Sci got an interview in Charlotte, North Carolina with DeLene of Wild Muse! In her daily life, DeLene is also a completely awesome freelance writer, who managed to convince the Charlotte Observer that pseuds were ok-type people inside. And so Sci is famous! Thanks, DeLene, it was a fun interview!
And so Sci wonders, what does it take to get into Wikipedia? Sci wants to be TOTES famous and in Wikipedia. Apparently some rules ask for a print source. BOOM, BABY! (Well, ok, also this. And this. Sci's totally famous enough to be in Wikipedia, right? Right?!!?!?)
Ok, maybe not famous enough. People like Amelia Earhart and the Balloon Boy are in there...

3 responses so far

An Open Letter: Pubmed

Apr 05 2010 Published by under Academia, Synaptic Misfires

My Dearest Pubmed,
You and I have always had our ups and downs, like that time when you were down for 24 hours for NO REASON AT ALL, and the times when you return me hilarious responses to my admittedly rather silly searches (like the time I puts "peeps" into pubmed. Try it sometime).
But today I would like to offer up my thanks, dearest pubmed, for this truly awesome thing you've done with your open access posts. Observe:
pubmed open letter.png
What you will observe above is an exerpt from this previous Friday Weird Science's post on bees and coke. Sorry, Sci had to make it tiny to fit. You can see the text on the left, and on the can see the CITATIONS!!! Not all of them (only the ones that are open access, I think), but some of them are THERE!! WITH LINKS!!! Perfect for tabbed browsing, you can hop on over to check each citation as you come across it, read up, and snap it up. I LOVE IT. Used to be, you would click on a link in the text, and it would hop you down to the citation in the bibliography (this does happen, and it's REALLY annoying), and sometimes, you just had to go through the dang numbers and look it up yourself.
But this, these little links. Pubmed, these are freakin' GOLD and I LOVE YOU FOR IT. That's my ever faithful little science butler.

(The adorable little butler from Clone High. If you haven't seen it, you REALLY should.)
So thank you, Pubmed. Do carry on. The day you put ALL those links in the margin is the day when Sci is a very very happy little scientist.
<3 always,

5 responses so far

Friday Weird Science: Coke Bees.

Apr 02 2010 Published by under Friday Weird Science, Physiology/Pharmacology

Sci was going to try and stick with the sex this week, but this paper reminded her SO much of this article in the New Yorker, which then reminded her SO much of that awesome YouTube video, and the next thing you knew Sci had to blog bees on crack. It's how I roll.
But first, let's get in the mood:

(Nice web, crack spider)
And from the New Yorker:

There's that fat kid again. I'm going to sting this whole family! "Aah!" They're running! I'm buzzing, I'm buzzing, I'm buzzing, this is incredible. I'm in the car! I'm in the car. I'm in the car! Everyone's screaming and flailing and . . .

And let's go. Barron et al, 2009. "Effects of cocaine on honey bee dance behaviour" Journal of Experimental Biology, 2009.
(The authors are Australian. I wonder very much if they deliberately put "behavior" in the title so they could spell it like that and get us Americans all ornery. 🙂 )

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6 responses so far

Dopamine and Obesity: The D2 Receptor

Apr 01 2010 Published by under Addiction, Behavioral Neuro

Sci would like to note that today's entry is being written on the adorably tiny screen of her netbook, which is named Ruby. Everyone say hi to Ruby!
Unfortunately, this is because her wireless on her normal computer suddenly decided that it was too good for her modem. Perhaps it's an April Fool's Day joke. This is not a good time for this to happen, but of course the not good times ARE the times when this happens, as we all know. And so, until that gets fixed, we are stuck on the netbook, which may mean increased typos and various other things that happen when Sci's hands are confined to a 10" space.
A few days ago Sci looked at a recent study which has come out on dopamine and obesity, which showed changes in reward-related behaviors and changes in the dopamine D2 receptor after rats got really fat. This paper (which apparently some people decided to interpret as "food is just like heroin", which is just silly) was based on the hypothesis that severe chronic overeating results in some changes in the brain which are similar to those seen in drug addiction.
Sci hasn't really looked into this before, but this really began to interest her. She decided to dig in a little, and take a look at some of the clinical literature, in particular some of the human stuff.
And so here we go. Wang et al. "Brain dopamine and obesity" The Lancet, 2001.

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6 responses so far

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