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My favorite geneticist, Dr. James Watson, is back to his shenanigans.  I think that he should try out for the next season of The Real World.  You know, Dr. Watson, at first I thought that some of your tirades were actually entertaining… like when you suggested that there was some mysterious link between sexual urges and sunlight exposure, and then proceeded to claim that this was the cause for the existence of “Latin Lovers.”  I am pretty sure that these boys would disagree with you, but your claim still made me chuckle.  Yah, I said “chuckle.”  And then there was your proclamation about thin people being more ambitious than overweight people.  And then you had the nerve to make comments about the physical appearance of Dr. Rosalind Franklin… whom a) FYI, Looked better than you any day of the week and b) you more or less stole data from and claimed the Nobel Prize for the work which she predominantly did… hmm…  classy.

And when I thought that it was not possible to get anymore distasteful, you tell the world that black people are intellectually inferior to white people.  Blown.  Away.  I wish your better half, Dr. Crick (I think Dr. Wilkins was shady too >:[), were still alive to keep you in check.  Or at least to tell you when to keep silent.  And after all of this, you come back with your attention-seeking comments again???  This time slamming high school teachers???  We all know that the educational systems has its problems, but what was the last high school science class that you ever taught??

This dude got a Nobel Prize!!  A NOBEL PRIZE!  Is George Bush going to get one next? :/  This makes me so upset that I cannot even discuss it further.  On a happier note, congratulations to the winners of this year’s Intel STS (which SciAm is referring to as “The Baby Nobels,” which I think is cute!)!  A lot of those projects were really cool and advanced.  And thank you to all of the high school teachers out there doing great things and inspiring others to be great; like Nick Ehling and Nodar Jagodnishili, who led the Fels school to win the Pennsylvania chess title!  Susan Polgar even mentions it in her blog.  I am by no means anywhere close to being a serious chess player, but I have been amazed by the Polgar sisters since I was little and I think it is awesome that one of them would recognize the accomplishments of a small inner-city school in Philadelphia.

In honor of the impending witching season (and also of NaNoWriMo 08!), I bring to you a short story.  Although, my use of poetic license and of monikers may be liberal, the majority of the following narrative is still mostly somewhat true.  Or at least partially based on a true story.  Or truly based on a partial story.  Or something… The point is that it did actually kind of happen.  And in 3D.  Enjoy! 😀

One mild yet sunny day, not quite yet in the ides of autumn, a group of scientists were toiling away in their shady basement laboratory.  The lab was so vast, and buried so deep within the university, that soft and numerous drafts were experienced daily by its inhabitants.  It could have passed for a dungeon.  Perhaps it was one.

For weeks, these chemists, biologists, and clinicians had been slaving away.  Food. Water. Pooping. Sleep.  All of these things had become unnecessary.  Luxurious nothings from a former life.  Adaptation? Evolution?  Epigenetics?  Whatever the cause, there was no time to try to pull logic from rapidly fading memories.  From dreams.

8:00 PM.  The Deadline.  And quite literally so.  For in every pseudo-dungeon, there lies a pseudo-dragon.  Perhaps there are places on this earth, tangled within the superstring, where an exception exists and defies this rule.  However, the Cartesian coordinates for such a locale were clearly not the same as those for this one.

As the researchers scurried, much like their mice did in their cages down in the room below, to collect and collate their data, the Dragon skulked out of its opulent chambers and into the harsh sterile glare of the main room.  It sniffed visibly (as if someone had just put an open bottle of beta mercapatoethanol under its nose), thinking of how little the lighting up here did for its Prada clothing.  It’s gold jewelry.  It’s sizable cloud of self-importance.  It thought to itself (and then proceeded to share the thought aloud) that the lighting did almost as little as the peons running about it’s domain.

Accustomed to such helpful commentary, the peons continued with their work, not daring to meet the Dragon’s soulless gaze.  Rather, they kept their eyes on the clock. 4:13. 4:28.  The soft hum of machinery just barely masking the whispered prayers.  Fervent pleas to the gods of science and technology.  Pleas for good results.  Success.  Tenureship.  Escape.  One researcher looked up, perhaps to his deity.  Were those cobwebs he saw? Or just the workmanship of the spiders.  Haphazard algorithms?  Or very deliberate designs?  Like their data.  Like every action which they were performing now.  Working as one seasoned perpetual motion machine.  Dragon observed, offering little physical aid and even less moral support.

5:00 PM.  The final paper.  Compiled.  Reviewed.  Edited.  Corrected.  Consecrated and sent.  A communal sigh.

6:30 PM.  Response Received. “Manuscript Rejected…” Dragon reads aloud calmly, yet shaking with unimaginable fury.  Despite the tendrils of fire escaping its nostrils, the room temperature seems to have become sub-zero.  Everyone tries to play dead.  To make no sudden movements.  To make no movements at all.  But in a room frozen with fear, their warm breath is as visible as liquid nitrogen…

To Be Continued…

If we are still alive later this week… 😀

I’m back!  My apologies for the sporadic posting!  It should be better now that we finally got our router (that story could be an entirely separate post of its own).  I know you guys all missed me from your sweet “Where the hell are you?” and “Hey. Why don’t you update your blog, so I can laugh at you?” messages.  I missed you guys too!  Some of you!  Sometimes.  Before I get into what I have been up to, I have to share this awesomeness with you:

It's Rosie!  The Riveter!

It's Rosie! The Riveter!

Hohohoho!  I never thought that I would see Animal power-washing our fence.  Or anything other than her hair, for that matter.  But look at Rosie go… I am going to print and frame this.  Do not be surprised if you receive a Christmas card from me this year with this photo on the front.  This shot is so classic that I should commission Thomas Kinkade to paint it.  I hope he accepts food stamps as payment.

Moving on… I do not even know where to start.  Perhaps with the shady guy who tried to follow us home from the shore on Labor Day weekend.  Or the story which commenced upon our return that Monday, when we discovered that we were locked out of our house.  Or maybe with the morning we arrived at the station, only to find that none of the trains were running to DC because someone got hit by an Acela… and the awesome traffic that resulted from this, as everyone tried to find an alternate way to get to work that morning.  The word on the street is that it was a suicide, although the media portrays it as otherwise.  People were very angry that someone would so selfishly take himself out in a way which affected thousands of commuters.  Hahahaha:D  Oh, I mean… um… that is not funny.  I would like to note that Jacqueline STILL got to work before me that morning… So whack. >:|

Perhaps I should tell the not-so-humourous story of the 90-minute late train at Union Station last week… the frightfully angry mob which I was stuck in the middle of… and the appearance of the K-9 patrol to settle things down… Or about how excited we were to finally get a new showerhead, only to discover that the old one could not be removed with the Jaws of Life.  I would also tell you about how “We are not Captain Planet,” but you would not understand what I was talking about.  I would also tell you about our UPS adventure, but that would take me about 5 hours.  As would the tales of some horribly awkward lab meetings.  I did my first cervical dislocation and dissection the other day.  It was totally kind of traumatic, and the doctor I was working with laughed at me, because I was so like this —>  :O!!!!

To say that the last 4 weeks have been long would be an incredibly gross oversimplification.  At least I will have some awesome material for NaNoWriMo this year. 😀  If anyone has any advice on removing an old crusty showerhead without breaking the arm from the wall or on Fidelity vs. Vanguard Group or if you would like to buy me a condo in DC or offer me a book deal, please email me! :]  Thanks! Lobu!

I had my first experience with Boltbus this weekend; we went up to NYC for a birthday party.  I was pretty impressed!  The buses were new, clean, quiet, and offered free wi-fi.  That last bit was essential, since about 80% of the passengers were college students and other 20-somethings with laptops and smartphones.  It was a pleasant ride and I even made a new friend!  Although, it was not quite as amusing as our Greyhound trip, Sheelu!! Hahaha!!  You so should have asked that girl for her number!  You two had sooo much in common! >:]  AND My round-trip ride from Philly to NYC was less than $10! Holler!!  Check out Megabus for a similar service.  Anywho, NYC was nice.  Had dinner at Takahachi in Tribeca, then hung out at Emerald Pub.  Afterwards, Chenkay and I had a late-night conversation about a certain pillow and blanket…  >:]

While in NYC, I tested out HopStop.  It surprised me in the following ways: (a) It worked! (b) It was pretty clear and concise!  It reminded me that I left out something in my Don’t Text Me post.  That some texting services are actually very useful.  So that is one more point for texting.  But I still rather receive a text from a bot, than from any of you. :p  Which reminds me, thanks for the 5 billion texts you guys sent me the day I put up that post… You are all so hilarious…  Hmm… So I guess I will tell you my current favorites:

HopStop: Will send you directions via public transportation.  Currently only works for 8 major metropolitan areas, but they will be extending their network.  Philadelphia, Atlanta, and a few others coming soon!  Just text two addresses, separated by the word “to” (ie- 50 Wall St. to Penn Station) to HSTOP (47867).

Google Mobile: Text “Help” to GOOGLE (466453).  Google will then text you back, asking what you want.  To see the things which you can ask for, click here.  It is a pretty wide range.

ChaCha: Text ChaCha (242242) or call 1-800-2CHACHA and ask them pretty much anything!  Admittedly, I have not tried this one out myself yet, but I have heard good things.  You do need to sign up on the website before you can use this service though.

Jott: Jott does a lot.  Too much to paraphrase. I think that I have mentioned it before.  Go check it out. :]

Friday morning I read about the death of Randy Pausch, and I was literally in tears.  Crazy how you can feel so much for people whom you have never met.  I have mentioned him in my blog before and posted the links to his lectures.  Although, I am almost positive that hardly any of you took the time to see what this man was about, because your lives are all so very busy and eternally filled with crucial things to be done.  Well, he certainly inspired me, as well as millions of others.  My heart and prayers go out to his family and to all who knew him.  Especially to his wife and children, who had the rare gift of a truly wonderful husband and father.  May he always be with you.

Many of you either used to text me regularly or still continue to text me regularly (You guys are the slow learners). Either way, you have probably received one or more of the following replies from me at one point or another:

*
*
* >:[
* >:O
* Why are you texting me?
* Stop texting me.

I think that the majority of you have probably received the first option (ie- no response). I think that the only question that I hear more often than “Why aren’t you on Facebook?” is “Why don’t you respond to my texts?!” May I present to you my dissertation.

Even though some of you are ugly, I prefer face-to-face conversation. If this is not a viable option, then there is this awesome thing called the phone. Before it ever sent texts, it made calls. Failing that, there are these other ingenious modes of communication known as email and instant messaging. I know that it may seem odd to some of you for me to be supporting such archaic technologies, seeing as how many of you consider me a bit of a nerd and technophile. However, if you think about what an INFJ I am, it makes more sense.

Relationship = Communication. Thus, I really rather not have any relationship based on “conversations” via text message nor Facebook wall. Have you noticed that the relationships that you have which are mostly comprised of such things are not exactly close/important relationships? I do understand the allure of the text though. It is convenient. You can let people know that you know that they are alive without putting much thought or effort into the action. Personally, I do not want any relationships based on convenience, nor relationships based on empty actions. In a world in which Miley Cyrus is considered an actress and singer, I appreciate substance.

I find that when people take the time to actually pick up the phone or send an email, they put a little more thought into the conversation. Whereas, when responding to a text, one’s attention is usually partially diverted by whatever one was in the midst of doing. Thus, one sends a quick response which lacks a certain amount of reflection. Of course, this may change. When IM first became popular, it was difficult for many to focus on both their IMs and whatever else they were doing on their computers. Now plenty of people are comfortable with multi-tasking with AIM, and many can continue delibrate conversations without skipping a beat. I think those people are in the minority though. I am not half-bad, but I still have friends who get understandably annoyed when I do too much AIM-juggling.

There are uses for such modes of communication which I think are fantastic though. In times when the communication is not about a relationship, but rather, about just getting things done. I think that those of you with Crackberries will understand this. You don’t necessarily want to have an actual conversation, with all the formalities and pleasantries expected when addressing your boss or colleagues. I think that those brief messages are perfect for such situations. Probably more efficient than a phone call, because you are saving time and getting straight to the point. Similarly, I can see this being of use personally when you just need some quick info from a friend (ie- if you forgot what time you were supposed to meet for dinner).

Other situations in which I find it appropriate to text: When you are actually in a place where making a call would be inappropriate and it is URGENT that you get info to someone. So this most likely does not apply to those of you sitting in geometry class and texting (Kwasifer…), because I doubt that whatever junk you are texting is so important that it can not wait until after class or school. Also, when you are in a place where texting is substantially cheaper/more feasible than making a phone call. This applies to all of my friends and family abroad. And lastly, when you just have nothing else to do. As in, you are not in a time nor place where you are supposed to be listening to a teacher and learning, nor doing work for someone who pays you. If you send me a Bored Text though, please make sure that it is partially amusing. You have more of a chance of obtaining a response that way. Or at least an appreciative laugh. I have totally sent Bored Texts before… while I was stuck in a waiting room… or waiting for my souffle to rise… or daydreaming about what I would do if I won the lottery… or when I just had to share a really awesome knock-knock joke…

Anywho, it certainly is not my place to tell you what to do with your ample amounts of free time… But maybe… just maybe… some time soon… You could pick up your expensive Texting Machine with Phone Capabilities… and, oh… I dunno… Call those people who you text and message all of the time. Maybe you can get even crazier and invite them out somewhere! It may seem unfamiliar and awkward at first… but who knows? Maybe you’ll find out that you like each other enough to promote your superficial relationship to a real one!! Stranger things have happened.

It is said that 55-70% of communication is non-verbal, with 7% being verbal and the rest relating to tone of voice. None of the above-mentioned technologies allow for the observation of body language. And goodness knows how many people emphasize their speech with hand gestures (Maybe I should give video chat a try?). And let’s not forget pheromones (I did my 8th grade science fair project on this)! The phone allows for observation in tonal fluctuations. But what about texts? These technologies are only tools. Like a calculator. Sure, it will give you a quick answer. Maybe even the correct one. But without more integral knowledge (obtained through the use of all the senses… well, perhaps not gustatory), a solid foundation will never be built.

Some of you know about the great lengths which I have gone through in order to be misanthropic. Unfortunately for me, it seems that I am only slightly better at being a misanthrope than I am at lying. Despite this fact and all of the laughter at my attempts at the hermetic life (thanks for your encouragement), I still held on to my hope that practice would make perfect. And then I took this stewped test, and my illusion was shattered. Apparently, people are really awful at distinguishing a fake smile from a genuine one. I got 18 out of 20 of the smiles correct, whereas most of the test-takers get about half or less. How am I supposed to hate humankind, if I cannot even be relied upon to not be able to read/understand them????

Oh well. I can still laugh at all the young men out there who are contracting HPV-related oral diseases at an alarmingly increasing rate. Go ahead and tell me about how awful that statement was. I would have more empathy if it were not so ridiculously preventable. I mean… Honestly… Do boys not read? Never had a sex-ed class? Not know that 1 in 4 American girls has an STD (and 80% of women acquire HPV)? Do they think that just because a girl looks like either some model from an Abercrombie ad or like a girl that no man would ever touch, that she must be clean? Please. I am not saying that all you boys who venture down south deserve oral cancer. But if you believe that you can determine your chances of contracting something from a girl just by looking at her (or if the thought never even crosses your mind)… then you definitely have something coming. You have no idea how many perfectly nice-looking, intelligent (using this word only in the academic sense here) female residents I have had who came to me with a “problem.” I hardly believed it myself. 😐

Anywho, my point is that the next time you’re thinking about pleasuring your new lady… Take a moment. Eat a Snickers bar. Watch Hot Fuzz. Masturbate in a frenzy. Anything that will give you some time to think about which of the following is worse: (1) waiting awhile for your girl to get tested and/or get on top of those Gardasil vaccines… or (2) chemotherapy in your mouth. Yum! You decide. I hope some producer reads this and then begs me to do a Public Service Announcement on a major network channel.

I hope that I did not make too many people sad and/or ruin their weekend plans! 🙂 Umm… :::thinks of something happy to add::: Errmm… Marsupial?!

Be One Less 😉

I have found that, since the return of The Tudors, I have spent a lot less time searching for and watching quality porn. Thus, I have had more time to do things of greater degrees of productivity. This phenomenon also occurred back in the good old days when Rome was still on. America’s Best Dance Crew almost had a similar effect. Until Kaba Modern got kicked off before Status Quo (They don’t even have a website:|). That was messed up.

So what are these other things I have been up to? Um… Facebooking. Gardening. Washing my car. Practicing with my dance crew. Playing some Madden. Pumping iron at the gym. Deep conditioning my hair. You know. Things like that. I was also reminded numerous times of how unintelligent the college-educated can be. Starting with the day that I was talking to a PhD candidate and mispronounced microscopy several times. It came out as something along the lines of “mic-scrop-ery.” I would like to say that it was really early in the morning, but it was definitely about 11:00 AM at the time. 😐 I was really tired that day though. So :p!

I felt a little smarter, however, when I was in CVS and overheard a girl talking to her friend about how she hoped that her car would not be towed. Apparently she thought that because she drove a brand new BMW that her dad bought for her, and she had parked it “near” a legal parking space, it would obviously not be towed. And her friend “totally” agreed with her. I just laughed to myself as I imagined the fine employees of the Philadelphia Parking Authority driving away with it at that very moment. Schadenfreude >:]

But here was my favorite. On my way back home on the train:

Girl: So I went to vote before class today at that place near the temple. And there were these people handing out these little flyers, which gave “suggestions” as to who I should vote for!!

Boy: No way! Is that even legal?!

Girl: I don’t know! Ohmigod! I was so mad! As if I don’t have a mind of my own, you know???

Boy: Yah. So who did you vote for?

Girl: Like, ohmigod! That is the part that made me the maddest! Cuz I voted for the people on the flyer. Like, I did not mean to! But it was like a trick, because that flyer was all I could think about while I was voting, you know??

Boy: …

Me:

Thank God for smart high-schoolers from New Jersey and Dean Kamen. I kept walking around Drexel during the regional competition (I still have my FIRST-SME membership card. Jelly? :]), thinking that perhaps Dean would be around, and we would run into each other, and he would fall madly in love with me, give me a diamond-encrusted Segway, and then we’d go live happily ever after on his private island… It could happen :/ RPI’s Business School went from being ranked #40 to #26 this year :o. Gonna be giving Wharton a run for their “Tower of Greed” soon. >:] I like how they put a bunch of black people (and I know 2 of them) in the picture… the wonders of marketing. 😀

Yesterday was PS’s baby shower, hosted (forcibly) by the lovely me. Considering that I found out about this hosting job four days prior to the party, I think it went pretty well. I am so magical! Admittedly, I had no idea what I was doing initially, because this was the first (and hopefully the last for awhile, so the rest of you hoes better keep your legs crossed) baby shower I had ever thrown. But with the help of Auntie Ava, I figured things out. That lady should be a professional party planner, for real. And PS made out like a bandit! I should throw myself a shower too… get me lots of free junk… Anywho, party was long, but lovely. I do not understand why people spend months planning these things… I mean, it is not exactly a biophysics conference… Maybe just so they can whine about how much work they have put into it?

Although, we all have some doubts about PS’s supposedly latent parenting skills, I figure that she cannot possibly worse than mothers such as this one:

Fortunately — unfortunately — society was on her like a leech to get skinny, so I didn’t have to say a word. By 10th grade, she was Kate Moss-thin. I was impressed by her self-control — until her hair began to fall out in clumps. With the help of a therapist, she conquered her eating disorder. But now I was totally confused on what messages to send my kids about food. Of course I wanted Marcy healthy — but damn, she sure had looked good when she was thin. Except for the hair.

If only this was satire… but it is not. Sometimes society makes me want to hit it in the face. Where is this face of society? Someone please inform me, so that I can go knock it out. So infuriating. If only the blame could fairly be placed at one point. It would be so much simpler to handle. Personally, I think that the foundation is built at home, by the family and friends who surround you. But what happens when an individual’s foundation is built weakly due to toxic family and/or friends? Just ask the above woman’s daughter. :/ Add on the pressures of societal standards, media pressures, and endorsements of the medical community… and its a pretty disastrous future.

I use the term “medical community” very loosely. Like Hydroxycut‘s Jon Marshall and and Rapid Slim SX‘s Bryce Swanson. They are both doctors, but the former is currently a radiology resident and the second is an anesthesia resident… Suspicious. Why couldn’t they get some endocrinology/metabolism specialists to endorse their products? Because their products are whack!!! It also annoys me that this is the view of osteopathic medicine which America is seeing. Just when the biases were starting to fade. I have met some really awesome DOs in the last few months. On the other hand, can you blame Dr. Marshall and Dr. Swanson for wanting to get out of the $100,000 debt which medical school probably put them in? :/ I don’t know. I do know that we all need to start implementing some real solutions, rather than questionable shortcuts.

Lady #1: My son called me at work today to tell me that grandpa wanted tea, but we did not have any. I told him to tell grandpa to drink the iced tea. Then my father got on the phone and started *****ing, so I told him I’d buy some after work.

Lady #2: Iced tea causes kidney stones. It’s true! I read it. In the New York Times!

Lady #1: Really? Then I should definitely give the **** some ****ing iced tea…

Being the scientist that I am, I was both intrigued and skeptical (and abashedly alarmed, because I drink iced tea like Hemingway drank Cuban rum) of this supposed iced tea/urinary tract connection. A few days prior, PS (Pregnant Sister) had made a claim while we were swimming at The Riverwinds, that she could float. I had been doubtful about this also, and she had proved me wrong. So, I decided to investigate this iced tea quackery.

The most common type of kidney stone is composed of either calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate. I knew that black teas have a good amount of oxalate (4.68 and 5.11 MG/g tea)… but was it a significant amount compared to, say, the ridiculous amount of phosphates in sodas (Coca-Cola:41 GRAMS of phosphorus/8 oz. soda)? 1 oz. = 28.35 g. Yah… I will save you a lot of reading by telling you what the experts have concluded. If you have a history of kidney stones, you should probably stay away from high-oxalate/phosphate foods all together. If you are not prone to kidney stones, you don’t have much to worry about. Click here if you actually care.

In other psuedo-science news, I was having a conversation with… Actually, I will leave your name out, since you are in medical school, and I do not want to discourage anyone from becoming your patient once you graduate… You’re welcome! So, I was watching tv with *Veronica when one of those Kinoki commercials came on. You know. Those magical foot pads that claim to detoxify you by supposedly drawing out toxins/heavy metals while you sleep… Needless to say, these commercials make me roll my eyes. However, Veronica was pretty captivated.

Unless you are willing to undergo chelation therapy or spend months on a dramatically different diet… you are not going to be ridding yourself of heavy metals. The only things which will be “drawn” to your $20 foot pads are the dirt from your feet, dead skin cells, and sweat. No wonder the things turn brown. I would not be surprised if the pads also contained some sort of iron compound. This would explain the gradual brown coloring of the pad. Nothing more than a reaction with the moisture from your sweat. Like rust. :/ So, you can spend that $20 on a possible placebo effect… or you can do something more worthwhile with that money. Such as giving it to me. I will even send you 2 maxi pads in return. Then you can stick them on your feet. I promise that this will have the same effect as the Kinoki pads. Minus the brown color. I do accept Paypal.

* Not her real name.