Archive for: July, 2010

Grad School Encouragement

Jul 20 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

A few months ago, I'm running with my running partner. I miss her rather terribly. At this time, she was kind of down on herself in the middle of her third year slump. I was trying to lift her spirits, and the conversation went like this:

Her: Grad school is shit! Why do I always feel like I'm such SHIT at this stuff?!
Me: Grad school is shit, and to the grad school, you ARE shit. But the key to grad school is being the floater in the bowl. No matter how much they try to flush you down, you are THERE.
Her: (gasping with laughter because it's really hard to laugh when you're running) That's hilarious and really awesome.
Me: Take it from me! I am the floater in the bowl of life!

(We spend a few minutes triumphantly whooping and hollering as we run down the street)

...a few minutes later...

Her: I think that was the best therapy session I ever had.

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Depression and Glia

Jul 19 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Sadly, Sci's home laptop died another little death last night. While Le Petit Mort might indeed feel great to my laptop, the sudden loss of function was pretty rough on Sci. While Mr. S attempts to work his super magic on the issue, Sci's post for today comes to you via Ruby, Sci's intrepid little netbook. Everyone wave hello to Ruby, and hope she can keep herself together long enough to get this thing written.

What this also means is that Sci will be unable to provide any interesting pictures until she is capable of getting to her other computer in the AM. She will do her best to paint a picture of this for you in your mind.

First...allow Sci into your mind.


*takes shower*

Ok, let's just try and paint a picture instead. Banasr and Duman. "Glial loss in the prefrontal cortex is sufficient to induce depressive-like behaviors" Biological Psychiatry, 2008.

Now picture a rat. One very sad, depressed little rat. Now look at it's brain. What do you think you see?

Do you see glial loss? Well yes, do.

EDIT: Now with PICTURES!!! So you can forget all that stuff up there. Also it's free on Pubmed so you can find the pics anyway.

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Analysis of behavioral economics and motivation, with whiteboard

Jul 18 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Sci saw this over at Grrl Scientists's place yesterday. She's right, it's fantastic. I mean, it's partially great to watch the dude draw (obviously it's sped up, but the way the synched it is cool), but the conveyance of how motivation works (and more importantly, how much we still don't understand).

Also, Grrl's very right that it says a lot about why we BLOG. Sci wants to talk about science autonomously, she wants to obtain mastery over her writing, and she wants to MAKE A CONTRIBUTION.

But it does make me wonder why I spend so much time doing it for free...

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Get Ready for Awesome Giant's Shoulders!

Jul 17 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

First up, are you all aware that the latest edition of the Giant's Shoulders is out! And Sci is in it! It's up at The Dispersal of Darwin. There's some great stuff there this month!



Sci is very excited, she's never hosted a blog carnival before, but might have to do it in verse. Or, since it's history, in old English. Which would be hilarious.

Anyway, the THEME for this Carnival is going to be “fools, failures, and frauds”, wherein we encourage ye all to submit here the oldest thing the science that screwed up, failed massively, was just plain wrong, or was unintentionally hilarious. Of course all older science is encouraged, but Sci wants to read some historical WTF this month! Submit via email or via the Blog Carnival website!

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The mouse your mouse could SMELL like

Jul 16 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Sci just realized that that should have been the alternate title of her Friday Weird Science post "if you're happy and you know it, smell some pee". Because, well, it involves sniffing. And Sci loves anything that involves this guy:

Ah, Old Spice Man, how I do adore thee. Take me away from all this, and verily I shall titter charmingly at your gentle witticisms whilst I grate fresh Parmesan cheese on your abdominals into a bowl of fresh pasta you just made from scratch in our charming cottage you build by hand in the Tuscan heights.

Though I guess it would be a better title if male mice tried to emulate the pee of other, more successful male mice! Hmmm...I bet there's a paper on that in some species.

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Friday Weird Science: If you're happy and you know it, smell some pee!

Jul 16 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Sci actually considered blogging this paper as just a regular, run of the mill weekday paper...but it's got urine sniffing. And the idea of making up a song to a paper is one that Sci can never resist.

So first, the paper. And then, the song! Malkesman, et al. "The Female Urine Sniffing Test: A Novel Approach for Assessing Reward-Seeking Behavior in Rodents" Biological Psychiatry, 2010.


Ok, that was kind of unrelated. Sci found it hilarious anyway.

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Aging, Cancer, and p53

Jul 14 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Sci has recently did a post on p53. She finds it to be a fascinating little guy, and it might just become her new obsession. It appears to be everywhere, the little protein behind the scenes making things happen.

(Awww, look at it, all hugging the DNA like that. What a cutie!)

And one of the things that it's involved in is cancer. And Sci will explain part of why that is in a moment. Feng et al. "Declining p53 function in the aging process: a possible mechanism for the increased tumor incidence in older populations" PNAS, 2007.

Before we start, Sci would like to note that PNAS papers are often GREAT for blogging. Good work, interesting ideas, and in nice, digestable chunks of data. No major monoliths. Sci's not saying one should always use the least publishable unit, but when it comes to blogging, a simple elegant story is often the one Sci will pick.

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For Stress Resiliance, thank DeltaFosB

Jul 12 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Sci's not gonna lie, the past several days have been, to say the least, incredibly stressful. I have no idea when blogging went from something that was fun and interesting to something that took up my entire life, but WHOA DUDES. The end result is stress, and Sci has been eating junk food, not sleeping, and getting decidedly snappish. Mr. SiT requests your sympathies.

And Sci is having another stress response. Because she likes this paper and wants to blog it. But it's REALLY complicated. As a side note, one of the things about blogging and trying to explain things to people outside of your field is that you often need to pick the more simple papers. This one is THICK and it's chock full of STUFF. But. She's going to try this anyway, and is going to stick with the first half. Because the finding is cool, and it has implications. So here we go.

So Sci has what is probably the normal reaction to stress. But there's not REALLY a normal reaction to stress. people who are under stress (which would be a lot of us) show really widely differing responses. Some people make it through times of extreme stress relatively unscathed, while others develop depression or PTSD, and right now, we're still not sure what makes the difference.

Some people have thought that the brain's reward circuits could play as role of how we adapt to stress, by influencing things like self-esteem and optimism (Sci's not so sure what she thinks of the psychological ideas that underlie this theory, but it's what the paper is based on, so we're going with it for now, and the science backing up the role of the reward system in things like depression is some very good stuff). And so this paper investigates the way changes in certain parts of the mesolimbic dopamine system, a system connected with the rewarding and reinforcing properties of stuff, like drugs, is affected by stress, and what that means in terms of behavior. Vialou et al (et al is right, there's like 20 authors on this thing!) "DeltaFosB in brain reward circuits mediates resilience to stress and antidepressant responses" Nature Neuroscience, 2010.


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All right, I know you all wanted to know

Jul 10 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Sci has not been well these past few days.  The issues inherent in PepsiCo blogs and everything else have been a really rough strain.  Even more of a strain has been watching everyone ELSE react to the mess.  Sci has seen rationalizations and justifications for leaving, for staying, for doing absolutely nothing, and for judging the people who did any of the above.  It all makes her teeth hurt (the candy she's been eating over the past few days might also have had something to do with that).

So I'm not going to analyze or judge anyone.  I cannot say whether what I did was right for anyone but me.  I can tell you (to a limited extent) the reasons which, to ME, were salient enough to make me leave (OMG, I just used "salient" in a non-science context!  I'm so proud of me!).  These issues may overlap with some, they may not apply to others.  In total, they turned out to be important to me.

So here we go.

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I might be a Climate Change Denier*

Jul 10 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

So Mr. SiT and I were sitting around the dinner table last night.  A lot of funny things happen when Mr. S is around.  This is mostly because Mr. S is extremely humorous and witty.  Sci is witty too.  We often have explosions of hilarity and wittiness the like of which were commonly seen in upper class pubs in the UK in the late 19th century.

And we were talking about pirates.  We were talking about how you've been seeing a lot more pirates in the news lately.  There never really were a lot of pirates around to begin with, but those that were and are around consistently got and get a lot of press.  So basically, it seems that there were extremely low numbers of pirates before, and higher numbers of pirates now.

And then we thought, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GRAPH?!

Which graph, you say?

This one:


(Originally from, which appears to no longer be there.  What gives?)

In the graph above, you can see the number of pirates plotted against the average global temperature.  You can see that the global temperature goes UP as the number of pirates goes DOWN.

But, if the number of pirates are going UP...

This can only mean one of three things.

1) The Flying Spaghetti Monster, in his infinite noodlyness, has put more pirates on this earth to save us all from global warming.

2) Global warming is NOT a function of the number of pirates on earth and THEREFORE MUST NOT EXIST.

3) It's been dang hot up in here, clearly we need MOAR PIRATZ!!!

So become a pirate, you guys.  It's good for the environment.

*For the record and for those who will attempt to take me out of context, Sci thinks climate change is a seriously important issue which DOES exist and which is caused in great part by the idiocies of the human species.

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