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  • On the F1 generation
    Video Wide world Archives Archives Select Month March 2016 1 January 2016 2 December 2015 1 October 2015 1 June 2015 1 February 2015 2 January 2015 1 December 2014 1 October 2014 1 September 2014 1 June 2014 1 April 2014 1 March 2014 2 February 2014 1 January 2014 2 December 2013 1 November 2013 1 October 2013 1 September 2013 2 August 2013 1 July 2013 1 April 2013 1 January 2013 1 December 2012 3 July 2012 1 May 2012 1 March 2012 1 January 2012 1 November 2011 1 October 2011 1 September 2011 1 August 2011 1 July 2011 1 June 2011 2 May 2011 4 April 2011 2 March 2011 2 February 2011 3 January 2011 1 December 2010 2 November 2010 3 October 2010 2 September 2010 3 August 2010 14 July 2010 6 June 2010 4 May 2010 6 April 2010 5 March 2010 3 February 2010 3 January 2010 6 December 2009 5 November 2009 5 October 2009 10 September 2009 14 August 2009 8 Admin Log in Entries RSS Comments RSS WordPress org On the F1 generation December 1st 2009 by Jenny in Uncategorized For those of you who

    Original URL path: http://blogs.lablit.com/2009/12/on-the-f1-generation/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Some of my best friends are evolutionary biologists
    of The Origin of Species Evolution and more specifically the Origin itself is one of the most successful franchises in the history of science Despite their importance the Principia the general theory of relativity and quantum electrodynamics have never found their way into the popular psyche in the same way Relativity probably comes closest but while many people know that e mc 2 a far smaller proportion know what it means or why it matters let alone how to derive it In contrast almost everyone knows that evolution means humans arose from an ape species Indeed humanity still is an ape species albeit one with a highly developed sense of entitlement Darwin is associated with dinosaurs ape men fossils and to his great benefit the peerless David Attenborough You could scarcely wish for a better champion than such an eloquent and accomplished natural historian Nevertheless despite the elevated position of evolution inspired books in the Pop Science bestseller lists public understanding of natural selection is patchy It is difficult to study evolutionary biology especially in the US without being acutely aware that many people find it offensive The reasons for this are many and varied Some object to the repudiation of their creation myths More generally some people feel queasy with the lack of morals in the Origin though why it should be there in a scientific text escapes me They find their experience of love demeaned by the idea that it is a trick played on us by our genes to get reproduced The vision of us as gigantic lumbering robots in the service of our genes probably the most unfortunate metaphor Richard Dawkins ever devised is a turn off Tied together with that sense of entitlement I mentioned earlier this can lead people to feel deeply uncomfortable even insulted After all we re not just animals are we Yes we are I only take issue with just Some of my best friends are animals Others often on the opposite side of the political spectrum are disturbed by the idea that evolution could support features of society which are politically unattractive for example by suggesting a selective rationale for behaviour like rape This is understandably disquieting to say the least When considering such statements it may be useful to take Dobzhansky s famous quote that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution and remind ourselves that it does not necessarily follow that all explanations which cite evolution will make sense Here s a classic example Consider the following quote It is not the strongest of the species that survive nor the most intelligent but the ones most responsive to change which is widespread on the internet and usually attributed to Darwin except he never said it Have a look for it in his published work and correspondence It is instead a platitude invented comparatively recently by management consultants Obviously they discovered people took it so much more seriously as a catchy justification for widespread redundancy

    Original URL path: http://blogs.lablit.com/2009/11/some-of-my-best-friends-are-evolutionary-biologists/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Delayed gratification
    Podcasts Reviews Students Uncategorized Video Wide world Archives Archives Select Month March 2016 1 January 2016 2 December 2015 1 October 2015 1 June 2015 1 February 2015 2 January 2015 1 December 2014 1 October 2014 1 September 2014 1 June 2014 1 April 2014 1 March 2014 2 February 2014 1 January 2014 2 December 2013 1 November 2013 1 October 2013 1 September 2013 2 August 2013 1 July 2013 1 April 2013 1 January 2013 1 December 2012 3 July 2012 1 May 2012 1 March 2012 1 January 2012 1 November 2011 1 October 2011 1 September 2011 1 August 2011 1 July 2011 1 June 2011 2 May 2011 4 April 2011 2 March 2011 2 February 2011 3 January 2011 1 December 2010 2 November 2010 3 October 2010 2 September 2010 3 August 2010 14 July 2010 6 June 2010 4 May 2010 6 April 2010 5 March 2010 3 February 2010 3 January 2010 6 December 2009 5 November 2009 5 October 2009 10 September 2009 14 August 2009 8 Admin Log in Entries RSS Comments RSS WordPress org Delayed gratification November 16th 2009 by Jenny in Uncategorized I ve got

    Original URL path: http://blogs.lablit.com/2009/11/delayed-gratification/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Uncategorized - Lab Literal
    more could you want Christmas escapism searching for CP Snow LabLit chats with Anna Ziegler Summer reading LabLit com will be ten years old on 7 March 2015 Lab Twitterati Links LabLit home Categories Comics Drugs Essays Fiction Films Guest post Lab LabLit Meta Podcasts Reviews Students Uncategorized Video Wide world Archives Archives Select Month March 2016 1 January 2016 2 December 2015 1 October 2015 1 June 2015 1 February 2015 2 January 2015 1 December 2014 1 October 2014 1 September 2014 1 June 2014 1 April 2014 1 March 2014 2 February 2014 1 January 2014 2 December 2013 1 November 2013 1 October 2013 1 September 2013 2 August 2013 1 July 2013 1 April 2013 1 January 2013 1 December 2012 3 July 2012 1 May 2012 1 March 2012 1 January 2012 1 November 2011 1 October 2011 1 September 2011 1 August 2011 1 July 2011 1 June 2011 2 May 2011 4 April 2011 2 March 2011 2 February 2011 3 January 2011 1 December 2010 2 November 2010 3 October 2010 2 September 2010 3 August 2010 14 July 2010 6 June 2010 4 May 2010 6 April 2010 5 March

    Original URL path: http://blogs.lablit.com/category/uncategorized/page/9/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Lab Literal
    remember what the game was but it involved a spaceship as almost all of them did back then You used the mouse to control it and how counterintuitive that was for all of two minutes Then it was obvious I admit that at that point I viewed the mouse as being rather like a sort of crap joystick I also thought hazily that Apple might have something to do with the Beatles who had for some reason begun making computers I know I was all of 19 years old and an ignoramus When I left the lab to return to the UK my boss gave me an old machine that the lab no longer needed I glowed at the thought of bringing it home firing it up and tapping out my professional looking white on blue documents Using the hard earned skills with the idiot software Oh yes this was going to be the start of the new Bill Hanage I would use the computer to write up lecture notes work on a novel write plays In reality I spent the next year of university in a pub induced haze I don t think any liquid that did not contain either alcohol or caffeine passed my lips I bought an expensive transformer to allow me to use my US computer in the UK and never switched it on In the computer labs at the university new machines had appeared They were sort of like the Apple in the US but there were more of them Instead of a single hopeful monster platoons of PCs running Windows and Word had appeared and taken over the campus And I became a PC person I gradually got to grips with the software which even now feels more sensible than the Mac s supposedly uberintuitivergonomic surround sound ponce fest Over time I also became adapted to the shortcuts Now when I try doing something on a Mac I feel slightly disabled as the keys which I normally strike without thinking yield odd results and I keep having to go back and correct things On the other side I could see people I liked and respected using Macs They were evangelical about the benefits I thought they were basically deluded And possibly I still do What has changed Well in the first place there s the iPhone No matter whether or not new touch screen interfaces are superior the iPhone was so clearly better than anything else I had used to date that it has staked an early claim to my affections That was a foot in the door Then there was the peer pressure Over the last two years a whole cohort of people who used to join in with me slagging off Apple and its acolytes have converted One of them bought a Mac to use as he put it as the most expensive Windows machine I have ever owned and has now removed the partition and left Windows behind Finally I bought a new PC desktop and laptop in the last year Both of them supposedly top of the range The laptop is great once it starts The desktop seems to be as slow as any of the PCs I used during my PhD I suspect network issues but none of the fixes have done anything The above mentioned friend came into my office once as I was screaming at it it was taking upward of 5 seconds to respond to clicks and asked why I didn t just buy a Mac So I bit the bullet and here I am So far so fast so good 13 Comments add yours One of those lab lulls April 29th 2010 by Jenny in Uncategorized It happens now and again in research for a variety of reasons the momentum just skitters to a halt In my case it s because I ve just finished one manuscript for publication and am about to embark on compiling data for the next It will be a long grueling and mostly unexciting affair of spreadsheets and bioinformatics so I d like to do a few fun projects on the side to keep me awake for the duration physical projects I mean involving cells and tubes and real wet biology But what to choose There are so many avenues I might explore so many genes I might dabble with and in that grey area between contemplation and action I feel mired in inactivity When you know what you want to do the hours in the lab melt away But when you re undecided the second hand drags away the moments one tick at a time Comments Off on One of those lab lulls Ash Bashing exposes Daily Telegraph DingleBrains April 23rd 2010 by Bill in Uncategorized When it comes to willfully ignorant fuckwittery the Daily Mail has a long and undistinguished record But wednesday s front page in the Daily Telegraph gave it a run for its money Get this quote The Met Office was accused of using a scientific model based on probability rather than fact to forecast the spread of the volcanic ash cloud that made Europe a no fly zone and ruined the plans of more than 2 5 million travellers in and out of Britain My more hip and net savvy chums tell me the response to this is something like facepalm Heaven forfend A model based on probability Now my knowledge of vulcanology is based wholly on the brilliant Volcano Adventure which while a thrilling read and including all manner of excitement is let me be clear a children s book Likewise I know little of aeroplanes other than that they have not been designed to allow anyone taller than a 7 year old to sit comfortably in economy But I do know something about models and probability The Telegraph is here giving a particularly good example of the media s contempt for statistics It s all in that line contrasting probability with fact

    Original URL path: http://blogs.lablit.com/page/10/ (2016-04-26)
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  • More on the Nutt sacking
    3 August 2010 14 July 2010 6 June 2010 4 May 2010 6 April 2010 5 March 2010 3 February 2010 3 January 2010 6 December 2009 5 November 2009 5 October 2009 10 September 2009 14 August 2009 8 Admin Log in Entries RSS Comments RSS WordPress org More on the Nutt sacking November 9th 2009 by Bill in Uncategorized The unfolding story of Alan Johnson s Nutt sacking deserves a little more attention In the first place you should go and check out Hansard to see just how pathetic our elected representatives are when it comes to understanding what science and evidence are Particular gems include the Tory backbencher merrily parping Churchill s quote that scientists should be on tap and not on top and the confusion of Johnson himself when asked to explain why he had sacked the independent adviser for being too independent He apparently does not agree with Nutt on the harm cannabis use represents Johnson doesn t explain how his few months as Home Secretary have apparently gifted him with insights into the effects of drug use which have eluded internationally respected authorities who have devoted their lives to the study of this important issue in society His response to Chris Huhne is as foolish as it is insulting describing the Lib Dem s question as piety and pomposity in equal measure Sorry Home Secretary but I don t think that Mr Huhne is the pompous one here And when it comes to piety I reckon politicians crawling up the backside of the Daily Mail shouldn t er throw stones You know what I mean At this point I should pause to say I hold no particularly strong opinions on drugs I could even make a rational case for the government s policy based on other factors including the wider cost of illegal drug use to society But by sacking Nutt Johnson showed his utter lack of respect for science and in his response to criticism displayed a defensive anti intellectualism which would fit right in to the US House of Representatives By the way all you Tories out there shouldn t take this as support for DC and his mates They re cravenly supporting the government knowing where their support lies on this issue In response the great and the good or something like that of British science have got together to draft a set of guidelines for future scientific advisers which would crucially give advisory committees their own press office for the first time the better to fight the battle in the column inches The Science minister Lord Drayson has broadly supported it Drayson has also defended Nutt in a fashion which is to his credit and which has drawn predictable scorn from the thought police on the other side by the way if you follow that link check out the priceless typo about Alan Johnson s irresponsibilities The thing about science and evidence is that it cleaves to no party and

    Original URL path: http://blogs.lablit.com/2009/11/more-on-the-nutt-sacking/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Monday amnesia
    Films Guest post Lab LabLit Meta Podcasts Reviews Students Uncategorized Video Wide world Archives Archives Select Month March 2016 1 January 2016 2 December 2015 1 October 2015 1 June 2015 1 February 2015 2 January 2015 1 December 2014 1 October 2014 1 September 2014 1 June 2014 1 April 2014 1 March 2014 2 February 2014 1 January 2014 2 December 2013 1 November 2013 1 October 2013 1 September 2013 2 August 2013 1 July 2013 1 April 2013 1 January 2013 1 December 2012 3 July 2012 1 May 2012 1 March 2012 1 January 2012 1 November 2011 1 October 2011 1 September 2011 1 August 2011 1 July 2011 1 June 2011 2 May 2011 4 April 2011 2 March 2011 2 February 2011 3 January 2011 1 December 2010 2 November 2010 3 October 2010 2 September 2010 3 August 2010 14 July 2010 6 June 2010 4 May 2010 6 April 2010 5 March 2010 3 February 2010 3 January 2010 6 December 2009 5 November 2009 5 October 2009 10 September 2009 14 August 2009 8 Admin Log in Entries RSS Comments RSS WordPress org Monday amnesia November 9th 2009 by

    Original URL path: http://blogs.lablit.com/2009/11/monday-amnesia/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Talking in a fibroblast
    Bill in Uncategorized A couple of days ago I crossed London to give a talk at Barts and the London in the Blizard Institute of Cell and Molecular Science I m not sure what I was expecting but it wasn t this The ICMS is in a pair of modern buildings straddling an obscurely empty courtyard area which seems unsure of the reason for its existence Flanking it at one end is an apparently residential terrace and at the other is the fringe of the Royal London Hospital This leads to a pleasing collision between the old and the new because the London is the oldest medical college in England and Wales Its history goes back to the late 18 th century with a prelude of 40 or so years as an early hospital based on Featherstone Street Even now it is clearly cut from some fairly antique cloth which is what makes the ICMS such a surprise In the main research building offices both open plan and closed occupy the 4 exterior walls while in the centre is a vast area in which an open plan lab the largest I have ever seen sits in the basement In the space above this three things are suspended I call them things because I am not quite sure how else to describe them But you can get an idea through this virtual tour One of them is The Heart of the Cell a vaguely nuclear looking brown orange lump It houses an outreach space where teachers can bring kids to learn about cells and see down below them real scientists doing real science Insofar as the nucleus in question looks more atomic than cellular it seems to be a bit confused but it still maintains a nicely organic quality In the

    Original URL path: http://blogs.lablit.com/2009/10/talking-in-a-fibroblast/ (2016-04-26)
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