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Author: David Manly | Views: 402 | Comments: 6
Last by Dr. Girlfriend on Feb 27, 2011, 10:25am
It all began with an email from my thesis supervisor at my undergraduate university advising me on a job posting she saw recently.

The email contained an attachment with lots of details about the job, which did indeed sound perfect for me. It involved travel to exotic locals, adventurous situations and lots and lots of animals. Not only would you be a host of the television show, but you would also interact with the animals and inform the public about the dangers of invasive species!

Naturally, this was right up my alley.

There was one caveat: You needed to make an audition video featuring you and an exotic species. Naturally, I have handled tons of exotic species, from snakes and snapping turtles to tarantuals and chinchilla's. However, I didn't actually have any on me.

I contacted my friends, who were of no help. So, I contacted some pet shops and thankfully, the reptile and amphibian pet store Reptilia, agreed to help and provide me with some animals to use in the audition video. Sadly, they could not let me handle the big animals (despite the fact I was trained, just not by them), as I had hoped to use a crocodile.

But, they agreed to let me use a ball python (as well as a Burmese python, whic . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 1768 | Comments: 5
Last by Alchemystress on Feb 10, 2011, 7:45pm
Think about all of the products you use every day, both at home and at work. Every single thing you use started out as an idea or concept from someone who thought, “If I had something like this, it would make life so much easier.” We all have those ideas. But how does a product go from concept to solid object sitting on a shelf waiting for you to buy it? The process is long and complex and involves many people. Even the simplest more inexpensive item requires the touch of dozens and sometimes hundreds of people.

Most of us never think about how that thing or kit came to existence and what was involved to make it happen.  But if you knew how much work went into every last detail down to the way it looks when you open it and how you heard about it, you would never look at a product the same way again.

Today I am going to tell you how this works.  Naturally this process varies greatly depending on the size of the company and the type of product (for example, software vs a DNA kit, vs a sequencing service are totally different). I am going to describe the process in more general terms. Because the truth is that even in a small company, this process must be followed. The system is in place to make sure mistakes are not made, that lemons are killed before too much t . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 1662 | Comments: 9
Last by Suzy on Mar 06, 2011, 2:45am
Picking up our discussion on the new product development life cycle, we last talked about R&D and before that feasibility. The next department to work on the new product is marketing. The person who will announce to the world the arrival of this new kit is the Product Manager or Marketing Manager.

(If you do not recognize some terms used here, please ask or check the Marketing Dictionary.)

Today's article is a lesson on how to calculate the size of a market and how to estimate how much money one can make in that market.

During feasibility, marketing provided the committee a financial analysis of the product. This is called the "business case". The key concerns are always around the numbers. There are numerous tasks to keep track of in preparation for a product launch and most of the early tasks revolve around market and cost analysis. The later tasks revolve around the creative aspects of marketing the product (design of . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 1814 | Comments: 14
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Mar 09, 2011, 2:08pm
I thought long and hard about the blog topic today because really, when you think about the subject of "what would I be doing now, if I could be doing something else" well, that's a complicated question.

There's the thing you could have been doing if you had chosen a completely different path a long, long time ago. That's totally different from what I would like to be doing now if I could do something different. And the answer would be very different if asked, what would I do if I could do anything in the universe. And the answers to all of these change based on where you are in life too as well as, say, if I hit the lottery tomorrow, what would I do instead of what I do now, if money didn't matter.

So I was thinking about what else I would have liked to study if I could study something else. Still be a scientist but studying something else. And I know what the answer is.

I would make it my life's mission to cure multiple sclerosis. If I could quit my job right now and work for free in any lab I wanted, fully funded, I'd find an MS lab and work on that. Because MS bother me. It bothers me that this disease is still so mysterious and u . . . More
Author: Lady Scientist | Views: 97190 | Comments: 12
Last by americanbiotech on Jan 06, 2011, 9:29am
It’s a new year and a fine new time for me to resume blogging here at LabSpaces. 2010 was a good year for me in more ways than one. I finished my Ph.D. and graduated (I plan on blogging here about my defense). But 2011 promises to be even better.  I started my brand new postdoc yesterday in an entirely different field than my graduate work and that promises to be very cool. 

However, for some reason, it struck me and my PI as a fantastic idea for me to write a fellowship application right as I’m starting the postdoc. As I’m settling in to start writing, I realize how silly of an idea this was.  I’m not kidding when I say that my postdoc is in an entirely different area of research.  The only connection between my graduate work and this is that they both can be defined as in the biochemistry and molecular biology field.

I think switching fields like this is good for me for a couple of reasons.  There’s the not inconsequential reason that I find this area more interesting than my graduate work.  It’s also wide open area to study as there has been very little done to study the molecular biology of this area. So there are a ton of interesting questions that can be asked and investigated.  Also, from what I understand, learning new skills is a . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 2282 | Comments: 20
Last by Pascal Wallisch on Nov 04, 2010, 1:10am


[Wherein our Hero considers the consequences of being Blonde. Notes for femme fatale bank-robbers...]

So this was a topic I received via twitter, or perhaps I was being alerted to a finding via twitter... in any event I've decided to run with it.

The tweet was referencing the degree of eye-contact men make with women who have different coloured hair. Though I couldn't find an article addressing that direct question it seems that the implication is that hair colour influences the perceived attractiveness of women in men. I think the folk wisdom is that, yes, it certainly does; but the bigger question is how might such a difference manifest in the real world. Ok, so men are nicer to women who they find more attractive? There are some good (evolutionary) reasons why this might be the case; and I would also suggest that women are nicer to men they find more attractive.

But again, so what?

Well, apparently there are some pretty big differences. Let's begin with those who receive tips during their work. It seems tips increase with breast size, and hip-to-waist ratio, but start to decline if the ratio is too large or the breasts are too far either side of some 'optimum' t . . . More
Author: Thomas Joseph | Views: 1848 | Comments: 12
Last by Thomas Joseph on Jan 12, 2011, 2:11pm


Coruscant - an ecumenopolis

What are sci-fi movies trying to tell us with images, and themes, like the above? The term ecumenopolis comes from the combination of the two Greek words ecumene and polis -- in other words, a city made of the whole world. It is featured in Star Wars (as an example) as the planet of Coruscant (pictured above). Watching the movie one may note that there is no visible greenery on the planet, no visible water, and even major landscapes are dwarfed or have been wiped out by buildings. It is a theme that has been mentioned numerous times in science fiction, and a listing can be found in Wikipedia. While it seems like a thing of fantasy, the view of North America from space at night suggests otherwise (see below).



An ecumenopolis in the making?

My thoughts turned to such notions as I was reading the following article, which is definitely worthy of a read. The article discusses the issue of mesopredator release, which is when small- to mid-sized predators are released from the pressures of their own predation by large-sized predators. Since they are no longer pre . . . More
Author: Thomas Joseph | Views: 1766 | Comments: 12
Last by Thomas Joseph on Jan 25, 2011, 9:20am
This article got my blood boiling.

Americans overwhelmingly say that in general they prefer cutting government spending to paying higher taxes.

A comforting thought, and a bit of a no-brainer. Problem is, as we will see, that these Americans, who more than likely belong to the Baby Boomer generation, haven't given much thought beyond this sentiment. So, when they're pressed with specifics, they back off.

Yet their preference for spending cuts, even in programs that benefit them, dissolves when they are presented with specific options related to Medicare and Social Security ...

This paragraph, if I read it correctly, is poorly written. What happens is that when specific cuts are proposed, to programs that will benefit them, people back off from the desire of wanting cuts. Who is them? Baby Boomers would be the logical guess. Medicare and Social Security are two programs that Baby Boomers have banked on ... yet they're also the ones who have elected politicians who have routinely expanded those programs which have dwindled their reserves. Of course, the Baby Boomers want to pass the buck and keep those programs intact.

Nearly two-thir . . . More
Author: Thomas Joseph | Views: 379 | Comments: 5
Last by Thomas Joseph on Mar 08, 2011, 10:39am
The following article is a pretty good read, and once you comprehend how embedded this technology is in our lives, and in turn how simple it is to disrupt, it's also pretty scary.

Why would a GPS outage cause such disruption? These satellite signals now do a lot more than inform your car's satnav. GPS has become an "invisible utility" that we rely on without realising. Cellphone companies use GPS time signals to coordinate how your phone talks to their towers. Energy suppliers turn to GPS for synchronising electricity grids when connecting them together. And banks and stock exchanges use the satellites for time-stamps that prevent fraud. Meanwhile, our societies' reliance on GPS navigation is growing by the year.

Not that GPS technology is "new" (the full system has been up and running since 1994), but it's amazing at how many people have glommed onto it and integrated it into systems that GPS was never intended (nor designed) for. All of which reminded me of work, and how we can fall into the trap of leaning too heavily on a single technique for our research endeavors.

When I first arrived at the institution I now . . . More
Author: Thomas Joseph | Views: 1791 | Comments: 4
Last by Alchemystress on May 16, 2011, 9:19am
NOTE: To avoid TL;DR responses, I'm going to break this story into two parts.

I think the experience I am about to relate is far enough passed that I can speak with a little more objectivity than I could have even a couple of weeks ago. I should note that, in the end, things did work out for the better ... for the most part.

The story starts about a year ago when a manuscript of mine was accepted for publication. It appears that the reviewers recommended the manuscript for "Featured Paper of the Issue" which meant that in addition to getting the manuscript published (the major goal), I'd get some press out of it as well. Totally win-win!

I was told that as the article approached the publication date I would be contacted by a member of the journal staff about what I would need to do in regards to the press release. I figured that eventually I would receive a call from a staff science writer who, having read the paper, would ask me some questions to flesh out the final details and proof what they had written.

So I waited. And waited. And waited. And waited some more. Ten days before the issue was to be released I was sent an email that contained a long list of items to consider for writing a press release. I was asked to get back to the . . . More
Author: Brian Krueger, PhD | Views: 644 | Comments: 14
Last by Thomas Joseph on Nov 23, 2010, 12:01pm






I'm back! And here's an early treat from my photographer and good friend, Todd Adamson

. . . More
Author: Brian Krueger, PhD | Views: 12200 | Comments: 0

Image courtesy of Shutterstock
If you’re an avid follower of popular science in today’s news media, you might have noticed a recurring theme. Genomics is everywhere. On an almost weekly basis, the New York Times, the New Yorker, Forbes and a myriad of other outlets are publishing stories with overly optimistic ledes about doctors and gene sequencers being replaced by apps and iPhone accessories. You would be forgiven if you thought genomics was “solved” and we’re 5 years out from creating a Star Trek inspired “tricorder” that near instantly sequences your genome and tells you, without equivocation, what malady is afflicting you and how exactly to overcome said disorder. The fact of the matter is that we’re not there yet, not by a long shot.

. . . More
Author: Neil Losin | Views: 778 | Comments: 7
Last by Dr. Girlfriend on Feb 26, 2011, 7:16am
Albert Einstein will be remembered for many contributions before this one, but this quote has been resonating with me recently:

“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”

Einstein was probably being more self-deprecating than necessary – he knew what he was doing to a greater extent than most scientists of his era, and likely of any era. Perhaps he was just making a joke. Honestly, I haven’t been able to find out much about the origin of this quote – if anyone has more insight, do let me know.

In the absence of additional context, however, I’m going to take Einstein’s words at face value. The obvious interpretation is: we do science because we’re not sure. This is an important thing for science communicators to remember. Scientists may have predictions about how an experiment will turn out, and we think about how various outcomes will support or cast doubt on the hypotheses we’re testing. But we never know for sure what’s going to happen – that’s why we do the experiment!

This uncertainty is part of what makes science exciting, and the thrill of discovery is not an experience that goes unappreciated outside of academia. The best science media give viewers or readers an oppo . . . More
Author: Alchemystress | Views: 6244 | Comments: 12
Last by Alchemystress on Mar 05, 2011, 5:10pm
A lot of people have been very curious about my tattoos, so I thought that I could start my blogging life by explaining one of my biggest and most important tattoos (I have about 8 in all). I am working on a sleeve, which is also very important, but it is a work in progress. Once it is close to finished, I will delve into the explanation and pictures of that one.

I waited to get tattoos until I was about 22 years old. That was on purpose, as I didn’t think I was mature enough before then to know what it was that I wanted. I am so glad that I waited; my ideas at the age of 18 were vastly different than at 22. I am very happy with what I have chosen at this point.

Nature has always played a huge role in my life; I go to the woods or to the sea, or just outside, to collect myself and calm my thoughts. I have always found this solace in nature, even from a very young age. My family has always been the kind that went hiking and explored the outdoors, and I am very grateful for that. Not only did they introduce me to the great outdoors but, before I could even walk, I was taken to almost every sort of museum you could imagine, where I played with Tesla coils and looked at Rembrandts. To this day I have a great appreciation for art and museums. Art holds a special place . . . More
Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 2963 | Comments: 3
Last by Dr. Girlfriend on Aug 09, 2011, 3:45pm
For those of you unfamiliar with me, here is a little bit of my background. I recently graduated in December 2010 with my B.S. in Chemistry. I did undergrad research and worked at an environmental lab after college. After about 5 months, I ended up in academia as an organic geochemistry technician at a very large prominent college in Oklahoma.

In the beginning, I was ecstatic and flattered that all my hard work landed me such an awesome position. As the weeks went on, I struggled trying to find my niche in this odd dynamic of a team. Firstly, I am the only American girl in the lab. I did bond with the other male technician and my lab manager but getting to know the postdocs was a whole other ordeal.

See, we get visiting postdocs every 3 weeks. Right now there are 6 here for their 1 year postdoctoralship. This is unfamiliar territory for me because I’ve never heard of that many in one department. They are all foreign as well. However, this is not a problem. I lived in Italy for 6 months and am very respectful and enamored by other cultures. Slowly but surely I won the hearts of the Brazilian, the Pollack and Frenchie. I want to share with you some things I learned regarding foreign colleagues and how my work environment is so much better now.

10. D . . . More
Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 10318 | Comments: 13
Last by Laura Maaske on Jan 08, 2013, 7:58pm
What comes to mind when you think of a medical and scientific illustrator? Is it a kind of art you admire? How do you respond to highly detailed drawings? Do the fleshy human interiors make you squeamish, which is a remark I have sometimes received from clients regarding medical images in general? Does the precision impress you? Does the stiffness offer you stillness or rigidity, something to explore? Do you love the great masters of the field: Leonardo DaVinci, Andreas Vesalius, Max Brödel, Frank H. Netter, John James Audubon?

As a student medical illustrator, I knew what I wanted to learn. I wanted to wrap my mind around the science and the drawing skills I would require in the future. I already had an undergraduate degree in zoology, and our courses in the Division of Biomedical Communications were to be shared with the medical students at the University of Toronto, so science was heavily on my mind. There were . . . More
Author: Evie | Views: 1663 | Comments: 6
Last by Dov Henis on Feb 05, 2013, 2:46pm
Back in the early 1900's, one of the many cool things Einstein found through his theory of General Relativity, was the theoretical existence of these things called Gravitational Waves.

As their name suggests they are predicted to be ripples, or fluctuations in the curvature of Space-Time, that propagate the way waves would, emanating from a source such as a black hole, neutron star, binary star, or any other ridiculously super massive object.

Apparently, Space-Time itself is curved, and becomes more or less curved depending upon the objects held in it. The more massive the object held in space-time is, the more curvature develops there.

When a highly massive object moves or gets accelerated, it affects that Space-Time significantly enough to cause these ripples or waves. The energy the waves carry and transport is called Gravitational Radiation, which travels at the speed of light and loses strength as it propagates, but never stops or even slows down.

Although there has yet to be direct observation of these waves, there is plenty of data to support their existence in the form of indirect observation. Like the observations of orbits of binary pulsars, that seem to be losing orbital energy at the exact rate that General Relativity predicted they w . . . More
Author: Jeffrey Martz | Views: 11100 | Comments: 5
Last by Bill Rabara on Nov 13, 2012, 9:35am
In the last blog, I discussed the Law of Superposition. Layers of sedimentary rocks, or strata, are stacked in vertical sequences, with the oldest layers being on the bottom, and getting younger as we go up through the layers. Remember that the study of the sequence of layers of strata is called lithostratigraphy, and the study of the sequence of fossils in these same layers is called biostratigraphy. Both of these studies were pioneered in the early 19th century by a British geologist named William Smith, who was one of the very first to figure out that you could identify the same sequences of rocks and fossils in different parts of England (an excellent book about Smith and his life is The Map That Changed the World by Simon Winchester). Smith was primarily interested in the economic benefits of these observations, and was able to use his knowledge of the sequence of rocks and fossils, and how they were distributed across England, to inform land owners whether or not they could find coal or building stone on their property. What Smith did not fully appreciate during his lifetime was that he had also figured out the primary methods that . . . More
Author: Brian Krueger, PhD | Views: 6044 | Comments: 1
Last by Evie on Dec 18, 2010, 11:17am
Yesterday there was some buzz over at Huffington Post about a stem cell cure for HIV. I first ran across the article via a link a friend of mine had posted on Facebook. The HuffPo piece is scant on details, so I’ll provide a quick run down on what’s going on here. But first, a lesson in HIV virology…

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was first discovered in the 1980’s when gay men and IV drug users started turning up in hospitals with very odd opportunistic infections like Kaposi’s Sarcoma Herpes virus. These individuals had severely compromised immune systems and the original name given to the condition was gay related immunodeficiency disorder (GRID). The discovery of a viral cause of the disease came in 1983 from the labs of Luc Montagnier (recently won the Nobel Prize for this work) and Robert Gallo (recently didn’t win the Nobel Prize and is kind of pissed about it).

Genetic tests have shown that HIV originated in African monkeys and is related to a similar condition in monkeys called Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV). It is thought that the virus was passed on to humans through the consumption of “bush meat” in sub-saharan . . . More
Author: Angry Scientist | Views: 5901 | Comments: 12
Last by Carniwhore_hater on Apr 02, 2013, 4:11pm
Vegans, please STFU. I'm sick of you preaching to me about what I should and should not eat. I evolved canines for a reason and will eat anything that I damn well please.

. . . More
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