Big Biology Podcast

Big Biology logoI listened to the first couple of episodes of the Big Biology podcast this weekend, and it’s quite good. Marty Martin from the University of South Florida and Art Woods from the University of Montana interview scientists about cool topics. In the first two episodes, they talk to Robert Dudley about why primates like alcohol and Denis Noble about the role(s) of stochasticity in biology.

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ZX81

I can usually one-up most anybody when it comes to my first computer (anybody except my mom, that is…more on that later). Around 1981 or 1982, I got a Sinclair ZX81, probably for Christmas or my 11th or 12th birthday. My dad says that ‘we’ assembled it from a kit, which undoubtedly means he assembled it from a kit and I watched as long as my 11-year-old attention span allowed.

The ZX81 rocked a Zilog Z80 8-bit CPU at 3.25 MHz. For those of you who grew up in the 90’s and never saw an ‘M’ in front of the ‘Hz’, that’s three and a quarter megahertz, just about 11000 the speed of today’s PCs (if a cycle got the same amount of work done, which it certainly didn’t). The operating system was BASIC, and programming was accomplished using the pressure-sensitive membrane keyboard (sort of like the pin pad of an ATM or gas pump). The keyboard was only about six inches wide, so typing was strictly a hunt-and-peck affair; even my 11-year-old fingers wouldn’t fit on ASDF JKL;.

Sinclair ZX81 with 16 kb RAM pack and thermal printer. By Carlos Pérez RuizFlickr: ZX81 + rampack + ZX Printer, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

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Research Features: seems sketchy to me

I see that it’s been nearly three weeks since I posted, maybe the longest gap since I started this. It wasn’t a conscious decision, just a combination of deadlines and life in general.

Research Features

Back in April, I got an email out of the blue from a ‘Project Manager’ at Research Features, a digital magazine “…born from a passion to break down barriers that exist in the dissemination life cycle from researcher to the mass audience.”

Dear Dr. Herron

I would like to speak with you concerning your work with the Collaborative Research: De Novo Evolution of Multicellularity in a Unicellular Volvocine Alga study.

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Another failed prediction

Poison the well much?

In a post that calls participants in the March for Science “spoiled brats,” “full-time complainers,” and “crybullies,” David Klinghoffer stopped just short of predicting that the March would become a riot:

The March for Science website includes a “Statement on Peaceful Assembly and Nonviolence,” …Why the need for a statement that you don’t “condone violence” if you’re not concerned that participants in your event will get violent?…

The crybullies, as [Daniel Greenfield] calls them, specialize in anger. Like small children throwing fits, they are liable to lash out physically, as recent incidents on college campuses have shown.

If violence occurs on April 22 on the National Mall, or hundreds of satellite protests elsewhere, that’s where it will come from.

I witnessed the rage myself, and it wasn’t pretty. [Warning: this gets pretty graphic below the fold]

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Surviving Trump

For a firsthand account of how it feels to be a Mexican scientist in Trump’s America, check out Surviving Trump, a new blog by María Rebolleda Gómez. This is just an excerpt; the whole thing is worth a read:

Of all of the crazy things these week, the refugee crisis ban has been one of the most painful. Restrictions on immigration feel personal. I was raised by an amazing community of refugees: my grandparents left Spain during the civil war as kids, they found refuge in Mexico and for that they deeply loved the country. Friends of the family ran away from persecution during the Chilean and Argentinian dictatorships: These are professors in high schools and public universities, doctors, artists and journalists. They have deeply contributed to Mexico’s city life and society and keep giving their hearts and work to the country that opened its doors for them. In Minneapolis, I lived in a neighborhood with a majority of Somali refugees. Kind neighbors, and a lovely community to be part of. The ban on refugees (on holocaust remembrance day!!!!!) is harmful for the the people that thought they had a home, and the country as a whole.