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Author: Brian Krueger, PhD | Views: 6700 | Comments: 0
It's been a long run and we have a strong readership of the press releases but sadly I no longer have the time or the interest to continue posting press releases on the site.  My additional work commitments here at Duke have really limited the amount of time I can devote to this and grabbing the press releases every night/morning for an hour or two just became tedious.  I'd like to spend my free time doing more creative things so hopefully I'll give my neglected blog some attention over the next few months.

To those who have been loyal followers of the press releases: Thanks for your devotion and continued support.  It does pain me to stop posting the press releases knowing they are served to nearly a million visitors a month, but I just do not have the time or desire to continue these activities.  I will, however, continue to post/link to mainstream news stories and blog posts I find interesting, so keep an eye on twitter and the right hand column here on the blogs.  I'll be adding a "from the web section" shortly.

The blogs will still be here for anyone that would like to use them as an outlet.  Just send me an email or contact me on twitter!

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Author: JaySeeDub | Views: 4331 | Comments: 3
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Aug 15, 2012, 4:25pm
Science is facts; just as houses are made of stones, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not necessarily science.

~~ Henri Poincare

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.

~~ Immanuel Kant

The sciences are not like Minerva, who sprang fully armed from the brain of Jupiter; they are the daughters of time, and take shape very gradually, at first by the assembling of methods developed through experience, and then later by the discovery of principles which have been deduced from the combining of these methods.

~~ Brillat-Savarin

Julia Child was my babysitter. Ok, not really. But after school, I’d turn on the TV and do homework with GI Joe and Transformers on. And then the news would start, so I’d change the channel - straight to channel 9 where Julia was. Sometimes it was reruns of her classic “The French Chef,” sometimes it was her and some chef I had not heard of until he’d popped up on the television with her. I’ll be honest; I didn’t watch the show for the cooking. Not at first. I thought her voice was just incredibly amusing. I didn’t find it funny. I thought it was just this incredibly warm and refined way of speaking – v . . . More
Author: Nick Fahrenkopf | Views: 5690 | Comments: 7
Last by Nick Fahrenkopf on Nov 27, 2012, 9:34am
Standard deviation. Error bars. Significance. Confidence interval. No matter what you call it, or how you calculate it, science is about more than numerical results. It’s about context. What do those numbers MEAN? (Statistics pun intended.)

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Author: Brian Krueger, PhD | Views: 2363 | Comments: 0

GFAJ-1 Credit: Wolfe-Simon et al
Almost a year and a half ago, NASA ignited a media firestorm after it announced the discovery of a new organism with alien implications. The whole fiasco began when a scientist found a new bacteria in Mono Lake that could grow in the presence of high concentrations of toxic compounds. These types of bacteria are not uncommon on earth. Life seems to find a way to thrive at all extremes and a salty lake in California is no exception to this rule. Researchers have discovered a diversity of life in hot springs, at undersea volcanic vents, and on the cold arctic sea floor. The discovery of this new bacteria; however, was remarkable because the researchers believed that it could use arsenic in the place of phosphate. To the general public, this may sound trivial, but many of the biochemical reactions that provide life require phosphates. The reason why arsenic is so toxic to humans is that it injects itself into all of the processes that use phosphate and prevents those processes from working properly. For example, the molecular backbone that keeps our DNA together is composed of phosphate; the energetic molecules that are produced by the power factories in our cells are composed of phosphate; the specific addition of phosphate to some proteins turns them on or off. Phosphate and its derivatives are essential for life, so to find a bacteria that could function without phosphate and use arsenic in its place was an amazing discovery.

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Author: JaySeeDub | Views: 1915 | Comments: 4
Last by JaySeeDub on Apr 02, 2012, 9:20pm
I love this weather. The sharp, cold Bay Area rain. The rain that turns gutters into miniature rivers of brown, and city streets slick. The pavement at the Embarcadero Center shines just a little bit more in the rain. The windows overlooking Parnassus sheet with water and are refreshingly cool to the touch in the middle of a shift. The crisp, clean air that makes a walk through the Mt. Sutro Reserve a treat. The canopies of trees shielding you from the rain, but not that smell of fresh damp. After a "winter" with temps upwards of 70F (20C), the rain has been glorious. It never lasts long enough. And I dread the allergies to come. Still, the rain is welcome. Sharp. Cool. Clean.

The one pain I've had with the rain is that I've had dinner reservations most of this week. And there's just no classy way to pull off the "got splashed by a taxi and now the right pantleg is soaked with gutter water" look. The plus side is that school is reimbursing me for dinner at some nice places. After all those dinners, though, I've been craving something a little less...fussy. And I can't think of anything more un-fussy than a bowl of pho. The rich, savory broth. That slurp of noodle. The sharp freshness of basil. The heat of chili sauce. All of these things togethe . . . More
Author: Thomas Joseph | Views: 1615 | Comments: 1
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Feb 03, 2012, 3:18pm
... have only been slightly exaggerated. Life certainly has been busy lately, but I have been keeping note of some items that I definitely wanted to blog on. In particular, my efforts to go fully-electronic in my lab/office dwelling. So, I'll be back soon to blog on those efforts as well as review some of the software/apps as well as hardware that have helped me progress my lab forward. . . . More
Author: Brian Krueger, PhD | Views: 3883 | Comments: 7
Last by Martin J Sallberg on Feb 15, 2013, 6:18am
Open science is a wonderful concept, but what happens when reporters start writing stories on data that has not been properly reviewed and vetted by the scientific establishment? Before this week, I had never really considered this question. Open science at its core is a wonderful utopian idea where scientists do their work in the open and publish their notebooks in real time on the web for everyone to see. The idea is that with this kind of transparency, better science will be done and scientists can collaborate more easily. Because all of the data will be on the internet and searchable, more scientists will be able to benefit from the open resource. Of course, there are numerous criticisms of open science. One being that it will be extremely easy for researchers in highly competitive fields to be scooped by competitors who have bigger labs or more resources at their disposal. However, it didn't occur to me until I saw stories popping up that open science could be abused by the media.

Almost a year ago, NASA held a press conference touting that it had found "alien" life. A group of researchers reported that they had found a bacteria (GFAJ-1) in Mono Lake that incorporated arsenic in place of phosphate in its DNA backbone. This press conference and the sub . . . More
Author: JaySeeDub | Views: 673 | Comments: 0

Sorry. Had to get that out.

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Author: JaySeeDub | Views: 609 | Comments: 0
Apparently some of the French have decided that restaurant menus should note when items have been prepared from frozen, processed and canned goods versus fresh. A very interesting, and curious concept. I'm pretty sure if something similar were proposed in the US, chain restaurants would be up in arms as so very little of their products are prepared fresh and on site. This is to keep costs down and maintain equivalent quality. But there are also very good preserved foods that come out of jars (and some cans) - sardines and olives for example. For the non-Francophones in the audience, a translation can be found here.

If you haven't heard, the FDA decided first to not regulate antibiotics use in the meat packing industry. They then reversed their position and decided to regulate an entirely small group of antibiotics used in animal agriculture. M . . . More
Author: Nick Fahrenkopf | Views: 1096 | Comments: 1
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Jan 03, 2012, 7:54am
With 2012 officially here we're all making resolutions. I've pledged to eat breakfest out less (bagel and cream cheese is so good!) and to blog at least once a month (sorry I've been scarce!) I think now is also a great time to make some New Year's Resolutions for the lab too. Here's what I have planned, if you have some more in mind leave them in the comments!


Safety First! With the recent news out of UCLA bringing up the tradgedy a few years ago, safety is on my mind again. We had an accident a few months back in our lab too- luckily nothing nearly as bad- so it can happen to anyone. I'm taking this time to reaffrim my policy of safety goggles and gloves any time I'm in any lab or clean room. In addition, any time I'm in a wet lab I'll wear my lab coat. It doesn't matter how quick I'll be in and out, or how trivial something is, you never know when something can go wrong, and unforunately you never know what someone else in the lab is doing, or how safe they are. I also want to be more proactive and ask everyone else around me to wear the same PPE so hopefully they get in the habit too. Finally, whenever I'm doing science outreach I want to make sure I'm setting a good example to the kids, no matter how not dangerous the demonstration might be.

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Author: JaySeeDub | Views: 1643 | Comments: 7
Last by SonicThreat on Jan 23, 2012, 1:32am
I have quite a few friends graduating this Winter. Some in teaching credential programs. Some in undergrad. Some from Grad School. And hey, that's awesome. I'm looking forward to quite a few parties this Winter.

And some people I know are graduated from Chiropractic school. And have started to call themselves "Doctor." All three people I know who went to Chiropractic did not make it into a med school. They weren't quite competitive with their grades. And one scored less than 20 on the MCAT, out of a possible 45. But now she gets to stick "Dr." in front of her name.

I am just so , so mad right now. So mad. I want to bang my head against a wall now.

Or maybe just hit things with a billy club.

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Author: JaySeeDub | Views: 856 | Comments: 0
It has been 33 years since San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk was shot and killed in his office in San Francisco City Hall, along with then Mayor George Moscone. Harvey was elected in 1976, to represent the Castro District, and in 2 years he helped focus and change San Francisco and California politics. Most famously, in 1978 he fought against the Briggs Initiative. The Briggs Initiative would have made it mandatory to fire any gay teachers or any public officials who supported gay rights. The initiative went on to pick up opposition from then Governor Jerry Brown, President Jimmy Carter and future President, and former Governor, Ronald Reagan. The latter opposing the Briggs Initiative because it may infringe upon individual rights. In a year where gay rights in the US lost ground, the Briggs Initiative lost by more than a million votes in the state of California.

And what few remember is how much Harvey fought for the individual neighborhoods in San Francisco. He felt each neighborhood was its own community. And should offer the same services and opportunities. He fought against closing an elementary school, even though the majority of his district were gay men without any children. He helped pass an ordinance that required dog owners to pick up after their dogs. He w . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 763 | Comments: 0

The UQ Skeptics Present

Skepticomp 2011

What untapped market of woo would you develop to dupe the masses? Create a pseudo-tech or woo-powered product, describe it, and win! WIN! WIN!

Skepticomp 2011 is open to anyone, anywhere.

The Prize

A $20 iTunes voucher to the iTunes of your choice

(Or alternative prize of equivalent value)

and meeting with Deepak Chopra (Disclaimer: not strictly true).

Entries must be submitted by Sunday, the 11th of December to

Subject line: Skepticomp11 yourname

Submission can be in any format (but please, don't make it too exotic). A bare-bones text-based example follows. If you choose to submit and image/advertisement of your product, please ensure to include in text a clear description of what your product is (see point 1). Points 2 and 3 can be addressed however you see fit.

Maximum 1 entry per person. Please keep your entry confidential and avoid posting on the FB wall (if you have acess to it) or otherwise including it in comments, etc.

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Author: Nick Fahrenkopf | Views: 1261 | Comments: 1
Last by yannisguerra on Nov 23, 2011, 12:28am
I’ve unfortunately had to sit through some very rough presentations lately, so in everyone’s best interests, here is my second volume of things to think about when giving a presentation (see: Ten Tips to Give Great Thesis Defense). In this case we won’t be looking so much at the presentation, but instead the experiment and how small oversights can blow up in your face during a presentation. I could go on forever about these kinds of things, so for now I’ll focus on four things.

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Author: Brian Krueger, PhD | Views: 2444 | Comments: 2
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Oct 17, 2011, 11:55am
AARP put out a commercial a few months ago deriding wasteful spending in Washington. Unfortunately, the soundbytes don't accurately represent the full story behind the spending. Have a watch before continuing.

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Author: Brian Krueger, PhD | Views: 594 | Comments: 0
Wow! Mrs. Irish has posted pictures of her students using the microscope, slides and workbooks that we helped purchase for her classroom. This is exactly why we work so hard to try to bring in donations through the DonorsChoose program.

There are still 60 or so unfunded projects on our giving page, sp please stop by and help in any way you can.

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Author: | Views: 1868 | Comments: 0
Well, it's that time of year again. It's the annual Donor's Choose drive to promote scientific literacy in grade school classrooms. The LabSpaces crew has once again teamed up to select a variety of projects to to fund to help bring new materials into classrooms to enrich students and their scientific education. Yesterday, we gave $60 to a project in Naples, FL to obtain microscopes and slides for an underpriviliged grade school classroom. The email message from the teacher was exceedingly heartwarming:

Dear Brian, Shanna Hodgson, Lauren Ledesma and CenturyLink,

I cannot thank you enough for your generous donation to my classroom! I can't wait to see the looks on my student's faces when I tell them what is on the way to our classroom! My students will be so excited to use this microscope! You just opened their eyes to science. We can't wait to get these great resources and put them to work in our classroom. Your genorosity means so much to my students and myself! Once again, thank you so much for opening up your hearts to my classroom. Words cannot express how grateful we are!

With gratitude,
Mrs. I

Giving to Donor's Choose is simple and every little bit helps. I ask you to please visit our giving page where we have selected 70 projects to highlight and hopefully get funded by the end of the month. I will be spotlighting my favorites over the coming weeks and working hard to bring science into these children's lives. Please help me by donating and forwarding this link to as many people as you can. It's for science :)

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Author: JaySeeDub | Views: 598 | Comments: 1
Last by Aish on Nov 16, 2011, 4:52am
The military's odious Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy was repealed as of 11:59pm 9/19/11. Finally. I don't have much to say on this. I'll leave it to those service members who are coming out to share their stories, but I saw this video and couldn't help but to share it.

That was an incredible video. And one badass dad. Period.

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Author: JaySeeDub | Views: 435 | Comments: 0
School lunch was something that left my mom exasperated. My younger brother loved school lunches. The cardboard squares of "french bread pizza." The gormless chicken nuggets. The "doesn't taste like beef" hamburgers. Overly salted and overcooked french fries and tater tots. He still misses those flavors, and tries to recapture them every chance he gets. Usually by buying microwavable french bread pizzas, hamburgers at AM/PM and tater tots at Sonic. Needless to say, we have very different tastes.

I wasn't a fan of school lunches. They either had no taste or tasted like crap. I preferred bringing my lunch from home. Whether it was a cold sandwich, some chips and a piece of fruit or leftovers. Leftovers were actually my favorite. My mom would get up even earlier to throw rice in the electric rice cooker ubiquitous of Asian and South Asian families throughout the Bay Area. I would then get leftover adobo, a vinegary Filipino stew which usually featured pork or chicken, or tenola, another type of chicken stew that had a thinner, clearer broth and more vegetables. My favorite was pancit. Thin, cellophane rice noodles tossed with soy sauce, fish sauce, tamarind juice, prawns, thin sliced chicken and a variety of vegetables all stir-fried together. Kids who brought a l . . . More
Author: JaniceF | Views: 614 | Comments: 3
Last by JaySeeDub on Sep 14, 2011, 2:16pm
Well I'm finally heading home after a very productive time at BigEasternU.  I gave lab meeting on Monday and yesterday ElectricPotential and I met to discuss where we're at on the project.  He feels I've collected enough to write up a manuscript.  I've been extremely productive but even better is my renewed excitement about science and my research.  It's wicked. 

Now comes the hard part.  Writing up the manuscript. 

In the meantime, I have a fellowship application to complete and (while I think it's probably about a year premature), I will be applying for jobs this year.  So it means I'll have to move on revising my Research and Teaching Statement. You just never know...

Wish me luck!

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