Tag Archives: Science

What I Do

Our college is big on producing these promotional videos. Our media team is pretty darn good at it, too. I’ve successfully dodged them until recently when my luck apparently ran out.

So for all of you who have wondered and asked what I do for a living and get a blank stare from me as I attempt to find words to describe what I do do for a living, here is a wonderful educational and informational video.

We took a vote in the lab and decided we should win some sort of award for awesomeness.

“And the Oscar for the Best Short Film, Category: Research, goes to…”

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BioTechniques – The Invisible Mouse

Every so often, doing science professionally gets dull and mundane. The daily grind of developing and implementing molecular diagnostic assays often overshadows just how cool the stuff I get to do for a living really is. It turns into a “can’t see the forest through the trees” kind of a thing.  I always seem to fall into this rut and, inevitably,  I run across an article or report that just blows me out of the water and gets the science juices flowing again.

Here is an article from BioTechniques last week which reports the use of one of the most common laboratory chemicals to scatter light, act as a tissue clearing agent and make the tissue appear “invisible”.

Kind of gets the old imagination brewing now, doesn’t it?

Click the link below to read the original article:

BioTechniques – The Invisible Mouse.

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Need Another Reason to Love Science?

Connecticut Mountain Lion Likely Came From The Black Hills by Wright Bryan

from All Things Considered

You got to read this link above and listen to the story from NPR. So cool. Using DNA typing technology and database analysis, a cougar killed in a car collision in Connecticut in summer of 2011 was determined to be closely related to a group of mountain lions in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  This animal was also genetically typed to one unknown individual in the database from which genetic analysis was performed on scat, hair and blood samples collected in 2009 from eastern Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2010.  That is some serious ground to cover. Too bad such an awesome animal died an unfortunate death.

Molecular biology is so dang cool! You gotta love it.

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The Streetlight Effect

Rest Day Read (SR-59)

by David H. Freedman from Discover Magazine, July-August 2010

“Many, and possibly most, scientists spend their careers looking for answers where the light is better rather than where the truth is more likely to lie. They don’t always have much choice. It is often extremely difficult or even impossible to cleanly measure what is really important, so scientists instead cleanly measure what they can, hoping it turns out to be relevant. After all, we expect scientists to quantify their observations precisely. As Lord Kelvin put it more than a century ago, “When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it.” There is just one little problem. While these surrogate measurements yield clean numbers, they frequently throw off the results, sometimes dramatically so. This “streetlight effect,” as I call it in my new book, Wrong (Little, Brown), turns up in every field of science, filling research journals with experiments and studies that directly contradict previously published work.”

“The results? We get heavily hyped drugs like Avastin, which shrank tumors without adding significant time to cancer patients’ lives (and increased the incidence of heart failure and blood clots to boot); Avandia, which lowered blood sugar in diabetics but raised the average risk of heart attack by 43 percent; torcetrapib, which raised both good cholesterol and death rates; and Flurizan, which reduced brain plaque but failed to slow the cognitive ravages of Alzheimer’s disease before trials were finally halted in 2008.”

This article was hard to read, hard to admit the truth behind it.  I can’t wait to read Freedman’s book, WRONG.  But it is true, science has gone a bit off course.  When we should be about truth, we have become driven by gain.  We have let the truth be molded by what we (or our sources of funding) want to prove rather than the facts. And ladies and gentlemen, that is a slippery slope we tread upon.  Dangerous and treacherous to all of us.

Being a scientist, I especially would like to put absolute faith is everything science produces.  But more and more, I am afraid we must go with the old adage “Don’t believe everything you hear”.  Ever heard that one?  Maybe from your parents, perhaps?  Be wary, dig deeper and search for the truth.

Note: If you are looking for some awesome, informative reading to have around your household, why not try a subscription to Discover Magazine?  (Non-compensated, non-celebrity endorsement)

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“Tell me, what do you do with witches?”

Rest Day Read (SR-19)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Scene 5

Who are you who are so wise in the ways of science?”

Scene 5. Man alive this is so funny. Being a scientist by profession, this is so much more funny for me. Not because it is such an outrageous spoof of ancient, backward scientific logic and thought, but because it is such a mimic of scientific logic and thought and their relationship to the knowledge base of a historical place in time.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I absolutely love this movie. I have watched it at least 50 times. At least. Way back in 1981 or 82, I won a free video disk player from Doc’s Video, one of the first stores in the KCK dealing in the new technology of home video. Doc let me pick one disk from his rental collection as an addition to the prize. I went to the rack and there it was…The Holy Grail! I could sense Doc’s mortal fear at having to part with the disk, but I did not feel one bit of guilt or regret. Besides, Doc still had the Beta and VHS copies. I hauled that dinosaur of electronics back and forth to friends houses, college and beyond just to watch The Holy Grail. Eventually, early in the 21st century, the disk lost its magic and became non-operational soon followed by the failure of the video disk player’s motor. I now assume the soul of the device could no longer stand the separation from The Holy Grail disk and died of deep and utter despair. I now watch the DVD. My progeny, the faithful HaysKids, also love the movie. We often share the secret language of Holy Grail quotes within casual conversation or dinner time. Scene 5 is one of our favorites.

And by the way, does anyone know the air speed velocity of a laden swallow?

Scene 5 from YouTube

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