That Science Blog Meme Thing Going Around

Something broke out of the picket-fence surrounding Nature Networks Blogs. I’ve never participated in a blog meme … but this one appealed to me simply because I liked the questions. I haven’t read anyone else’s answers yet, to avoid biasing my own.

1. What is your blog about?

I often ask myself this question. Being a scientist, I always feel like it should be about science, and the various biological systems I work with. I reality, it is about programming, bioinformatics, the web with the tiniest bit of structural biology thrown in. I used to blog about Linux related things occasionally, but I split that off into another blog (which gets 10 times more traffic :)).

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If pipettes could talk, oh the tales they could tell !

Occasionally impoverished University labs and early career researchers go looking for bargain priced lab equipment on Ebay … sometimes hard to get but still very useful equipment also comes up. A colleague of mine found this entertaining auction for a P20 Gilson Pipette, much of it written from the pipettes perspective. Here’s a quote:

For the purposes of full disclosure, this pipette has NOT resulted in data that has made it into Nature or Science (and in hindsight then the Cell paper may be considered to be a fluke). However, we choose to believe that that is the fault of both the editorial staff of these journals, and many a short-sighted peer-reviewer, rather than the pipette itself. Nonetheless, you may want to calibrate the pipette upon its arrival.

Fluke or not, a sentient pipette that produces Cell papers has got to be worth more than the mere $48 it’s currently sitting at ! Sadly (or maybe happily for them), it looks like the seller is leaving bench science and selling up their gear. I’ve no idea who it is, but they live in the same suburb as me, so there’s a good chance this is a fairly well-published senior scientist that I’ve crossed paths with at some stage. Also, don’t miss the (*) footnote at the bottom of the auction info about impact factors …

Snow day

So, the reason I haven’t posted in a while is that I’ve had infrequent Internet access since I’ve made a temporary move to Washington DC for three months. I’m visiting the laboratory of a collaborator at the NIH, learning some techniques in membrane protein purification, refolding and crystallography.

Federal Government employees in Washington DC, like those at the NIH, seem to get a pretty good deal. If more than just a dusting of snow falls, then much of the Federal Government ‘closes’ … So this afternoon I got to go home early, since they called a “snow day” at 2 PM.

Normally this would be great … a free afternoon off … except with laboratory work of course it means that by dropping everything and leaving, my mornings work was for naught, and I’ll need to start again fresh tomorrow. I could have stayed to finish things off, but I was told there was no guarantee that the Metro (trains/buses) was going to stay open.

Ah well .. tomorrow is another day … (on which I can optionally come in to the lab two hours late … due to snow 🙂 )

I submitted my PhD thesis, and all I got was this crappy balloon

Well, it’s not really all that crappy … the balloon is a nice happy gesture to mark the occasion. I even got to pick the colour. It took me far too long to write and submit this thing, it’s a relief to not have to look at it for a few months. My thesis, entitled “The structure of outer mitochondrial protein import receptors”, may well be the first Creative Commons Licensed thesis submitted in Australia (although I doubt it) . Once it’s been examined (hopefully I pass), I’ll release it online and allow everyone to poke holes and rip it to shreds (or they can poke at the associated peer reviewed publication instead .. unfortunately it’s probably not Open Access).

Afterthought: One thing that slowed down the final submission was the bloody Latex typesetting. I’m a Latex novice, and while I really like the final result, Latex is an abomination (much like Perl).

Update, 15th October, 2007.

I’ve finally got around to submitting the final post-examination version of my thesis to the University of Melbourne ePrints server. You can get a PDF copy of my thesis here. I used the xmpincl Latex macro to embed XMP Creative Commons licensing data into the final PDF version generated by pdflatex. I probably didn’t get the format of the licensing XML exactly right, but I’m sure it will be good enough that search engines can (or will one day) determine the correct licensing for the work.