Friday, March 23, 2007

Rock and roll science

I'm getting used to this slightly higher frequency posting game. It won't last.

Anyway, in my last post I mused if any (succesful) rock musicians quit the road and hit the lab. But I'd also be interested to hear of any link between rock and roll, and the world of science. So far, other than Dr Bryan May, all i can think of is that guy from the Offspring starting his PhD at UCLA, or the University of Southern California, or some place, but never finished it. Oh, and doesn't the guy from Bad Religion actual have a PhD?
Are there any good rock star scientists out there (other than Bryan May, the man is a legend), or are we stuck with rubbish Californian punk bands? I'll have a think and report back.

I'm also wanting to put together a mix tape of Sciencey tunes; here are a couple to be starting off with.

"Go Tell The Women", Grinderman.
"Lesson 6: The Lecture", Jurrasic 5
"The Scene is Dead", We Are Scientists
"Dr Funkenstein", Parliament

watch this space....

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Heavy Metal Teen Geeks

New Scientist's (boo Reed-Elsevier, boo!) blog rightly points out that research suggesting heavy metal music is listened to by clever kids is a bag of wank (I paraphrase). Actually, the research says they listen to it to cope with the stress of being gifted. Told you, a bag of wank.
The best thing is, if you click back to the Telegraph (I mean, come on, the Telegraph for feck's sake!) article linked in the blog post, you get a picture of Bryan May getting his (honorary) doctorate. Bryan May! How good is that?

Oh my, this is the third post in a week. I feel light headed....

EDIT: I feel a bit bad about this. I did some more digging, and the research was done by one Stuart Cadwallader at Warwick and the NAGTY. He's doing an only MA in psychology, and I assume this is part of his MA dissertation. I'm glad my MSc (yes, MSc, I'm still going to be a twat about this not being science, Ha!) never made the national press, cos ill informed bloggers would tear the bejesus out of that rubbish.
Shit, it seems part of his masters level research is being presented to the British Psychological Society, so really that's mightily impressive. No offence Stuart.

I'm sure NAGTY is a super institution, and the research is top notch. I think I am mostly enraged by the telegraph article. And Bryan May. He left his PhD for rock and roll, can anyone think of someone doing the reverse? A professional popular musician quitting to work in science?

EDIT 2: No, this is a bag of wank. Still, no offence Stuart. It's not your fault that you MA project made it onto the national press.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The invasion of the GM mosquitoes

It's being reported in the Guardian and the Times (though the Times article seems better informed. Imagine that.) that the plan to release genetically modify mosquitoes, which are made to be unable to pass on malaria, is getting closer.

Traditionally, transgenic mosquitoes have been out competed by their wild type chums [1], but the big thing about this latest study, which is to be published in PNAS (but doesn't appear to be released at the time of writing), is that these mossies show in increased fittness, compared with the wild type.

Incidentally, reading the Times and Guardian articles, one gets confused as to who led the research. Is it Mauro Marrelli as the Times says, or, as the Gurniad has it, his colleague at Johns-Hopkins, Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena? I'm too lazy to go find out. That's the job of a journalist.

I suppose that I should say some thing about the controversy of releasing GM animals in to the wild, but you know, I don't think it's a worth while debate. Malaria kills more than a million people a year, most of whom are kids. Won't somebody please think of the children?

You know, just writing this gives me the willies. I have serious issues with mosquitoes. Nasty little fuckers. Almost as bad as daddy long legses. Now there is an evil insect. You know they suck the brains out of babies heads? It's true I tells ya .

[1]Trends Parasitology, 2006. 22(5):197-202 doi:10.1016/

Saturday, March 17, 2007

pretty pictures of a cell

This is a electron tomography generated image of a yeast cell. Nice isn't it?

Researchers at EMBL and the University of Colorado have published this in Developmental Cell, as part of their research into the cytoskeleton.

The image was made by taking electron micrographs through the cell (transmission EM I assume, I'm at home and don't have access to the journal to check. This is blogging by press release, but then I'm feeling lazy), and then making a 3d reconstruction using the stack of images, much as you would when doing CT scans of people. Well, not how you would, unless of course you are a radiographer. Do I mean radiographer, or radiologist? Or both?