Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Directed Panspermia Doesn't Belong In Schools (and Probably Never Will)

Opening to the Ideas section of the Boston Globe this past Sunday, I was immediately faced with a grotesque site.  Nothing to do with the appalling terrorism of fifteen years ago, but instead the Globe putting front-and-center in the section a truly awful idea, which the subhead trumpeted "Creationism can have a basis in science - if aliens are involved".

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Portrait Of A Genomics Instrumentation Impresario

Veteran biotech reporter Luke Timmerman's new book, Hood: A Trailblazer of the Genomics Age, is a valuable exploration of one of the leading figures in the early development of genomics and proteomics.  This in depth look at a key scientist covers not only his achievements and glories, but also his less than stellar moments and tendencies. Timmerman has combined his own interviews and research with nuggets pulled from prior news articles and oral histories of scientists who crossed paths (and sometimes figurative swords) with Hood.  While the book has issues, I would recommend it to anyone interested in the history of biotechnology.  For the full review, including numerous spoilers, read on.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Four Things You Might Be Surprised Can't Be Done On An iPhone or iPad

In well under a year, I've been sucked into Apple's mobile ecosystem.  Partly this was due to lobbying from TNG (he fervently denies receiving any commissions, but I'm still suspicious).  Partly it was due to the Android world not really locking me in; there were just too many things that weren't quite right.  First, the family caught me ogling an iPad Pro and talked me into getting one.  Once I had that, there was confusion over which text channel messages had been sent and getting an iPhone to consolidate them (since iMessage would go to both devices) started making sense.  Plus my Samsung phone was chewing through batteries; that is one area where Apple seems to have a huge lead.  Also the problem of periodically forgetting which device I was on and using a gesture from the wrong operating system.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Wikipedia, and other non-evil things

Tommorrow, TNG will head off for his penultimate first day of grade school.  And unfortunately, that almost certainly means another attempt to indoctrinate him in a catechism I find both depressing and infuriating.  It goes something like this: "Wikipedia is not a reliable source. Wikipedia is not citable. Don't use Wikipedia".

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Where the bleep did my pores go??

Another afternoon spent this week in the lab, and another awful MinION run.  I figured that the last run was eminently beatable, given that I ended up with exactly one read aligning to my reference (though perversely, re-calling the data via Metrichor ended up with two reads in the pass folder -- one of which had zero bases in it -- I guess it is a passing null read).  But no, despite coming close to being botch-free on the routine lab stuff, dark clouds came early and the experiment yielded not a single usable read.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Sometimes It's More About the (1D) Journey

I will confess that I had a post planned in advance of which this post is but a faint echo. A grand scheme was going to yield a triumph worthy of brass bands.  But instead, it's barely kazoo territory, but sometimes even a small victory must be celebrated, if only in moderation.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Math Toys, Much Enjoyed!

Last week, I attended a free public talk at the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) here in Boston.  This is a wonderful public outreach concept which too few conferences sport.  The speaker, Tadashi Tokieda of University of Cambridge, illustrated a number of fascinating phenomena which can be demonstrated with simple toys or household objects.  Tokieda didn't lecture from a bunch of slides; most of the talk was in the form of live demonstrations -- and demonstrations made with overt glee!  There's a Storify of the entire meeting, in which mine and others of the Tokieda talk can be found.