Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sciencey claptrap generator...

Just came across this webpage on FB. Here's mine:
"My work explores the relationship between multiculturalism and counter-terrorism.With influences as diverse as Derrida and Joni Mitchell, new insights are manufactured from both simple and complex textures.Ever since I was a teenager I have been fascinated by the unrelenting divergence of the moment. What starts out as yearning soon becomes debased into a hegemony of defeat, leaving only a sense of decadence and the prospect of a new understanding.As spatial phenomena become reconfigured through boundaried and personal practice, the viewer is left with a clue to the possibilities of our condition."
Clearly no use for a grant proposal biosketch in its present form... but perhaps with a few minor modifications...
"My work explores the relationship between Ca2+ homeostasis and the structural mechanistic underpinnings of gating and ion selection through ligand-gated cation channels. With functional roles as diverse as secretion, contraction, proliferation, differentiation and cell death, new insights into function continue to be realized from both the simple and complex structural architecture of this family of plasma membrane proteins. Ever since I was a graduate student I have been fascinated by the phenomenon of dynamic selection and flux. What starts out as pore selectively permeable to small monovalent ions soon becomes debased into a non-selective polyatomic ion permeable pore, leading to widespread changes in membrane potential and macromolecular flux into and out of the cell. This spatiotemporal phenomenon appears to be due to reconfiguration of the energy barriers within the electrical field of the bilayer, leaving open the prospect of a new understanding with regard to pain, neurodegenerative disease, and cancer."


Thursday, March 06, 2014

Wee boy watching telly in his wellies...

Correction 1: those are his big sister's old wellies.

Correction 2: Technically, they aren't wellies.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Optic Nerve? Optic Perv, more like...

This is the funniest thing I've read on the internet in the whole of today.

"Unfortunately there are issues with undesirable images in the data. It would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person"

British intelligence discovers that there's a whole lot of teh nekkidness going down webside. 

Good work 007, have another martini.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

MIT News: "Closing the ‘free will’ loophole"

I can't decide whether I am confused, was confused, or will have going to have been confused by this article. Or, indeed, whether my anticipation of said confusion may have in some manner adversely impacted the quantum probability of my being confused in the future having read this article, or whether I will subsist in simultaneous states of both confusion and non-confusion at the same time and point in space, regardless.

Or not.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Brings tears to the eyes... of hysterical laughter, or sadness?

Figure 1. A graph representing the essential calamity that is the
human condition
Ye gads. A while ago former NIGMS director, Jeremy Berg, posted this dispiriting article which included a graph showing the correlation between the proposal score of funded NIGMS RO1 applications and the impact of the subsequent research conducted by the investigators (Figure 1).

Well, with a h/t to Drugmonkey, I was made aware of this new similar study from Danthi et al (2014) looking at the same correlation for the NHLBI. See Figure 2 and weep. I mean, at least the NIGMS one shows a general, if noise-obscured, trend indicating that there is some ("A wee dram, madam! A perceptible sniff!) of a correlation between score and impact, but for the NHLBI? If it wasn't for that slightly bizarre dip around the 15%ile mark (what's with that?) the relationship would be as flat as a Kansas skyline.

Figure 2. More weirdness.
One can only wonder what the data would look like in a hypothetical universe in which every application submitted was funded. Presumably there must be a threshold at which impact drops to nothing with increased score, but where would it occur? The NHLBI data is no help judging by any extrapolations applied to those figures.

The bottom line is that these data do not make for compelling evidence that the peer review process, which is an expensive, labor intensive and time-consuming business, is actually doing a whole lot to identify and support the hot science from the not-so-hot science.

Ladies and gentleman, I put it to you that the future of peer review is black.

Jet black.

And spherical.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Late night at the rig...

It's my favourite time to tap into the animal electric and patch me some cells. And for some reason*, tonight I'm rolling to my "You weren't there, man!" Spotify station, which started off with just the right tone:

* actually, yesterday I was looking - and failing to find - my old well-thumbed copy of Michael Herr's Dispatches in order to pull a quote, so maybe that was what it?

Friday, February 07, 2014

The private lives of P2X receptors...

... EXPOSED!... in a series of reviews published in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience. See below the fold. This isn't all of them, I think there are some more in press, including ours.

I do like the Frontiers interweb bits for authors, I have to say. It's a full on stat-narcissist's heaven. It gives you the down low on pretty much every aspect of your visitors, hits and download activity: Location, scientific field, gender, colour and material of elbow pads, it's all there. There's no "Like" button, though, so they should work that in for the next update.

[UPDATE: I woz wrong, there IS a Like function! w00t! But we don't have any yet. Not so w00t.]

Why honoring anonymity in scientific communication is important...

This is just tragic. All due to a selfish and spiteful lapse in professionalism on the part of an individual with a prestigious position at a prestigious journal who should have known better.

Dr. Isis writes,
"I’ve always gotten sporadic hate mail as random people find me, but this sent up the bat signal and brought a level of vitriol to my email box, blog comments, and even phone that was far more personal and in excess of anything I’ve ever received. And, of course, the way to silence a woman is to intimate or threaten her with a particular type of violence."

This is just tragic. It's tragic because being anybody intimidated into silence is tragic. It's tragic because the individuals doing the intimidating are not likely from among the usual trolling detritus of the internet - unshaven, undesired, and angry - but among us, the professional community of scientific researchers, health professionals, educators and communicators (outside of this community, science bloggers have few followers).  Finally, it's tragic because you can be damned sure that the individuals exploiting the outing of an anonymous blogger's identity in this callous manner are hurling their threats of rape and murder from behind the safe, warm security of their own anonymity.

[Also see...]