Category Archives: Science

Penguin Poop!

I saw this on CNN and just could not stop laughing.

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Firstly, I know it’s a very serious research, relying on a very clever idea of using a reliable marker to trace a signal source but still when you put in CNN’s language, it sounds hilarious. It seems as if scientists have nothing better to do. Its like first we go to space in a superfast rocket (with hyperdrive capability), play a game of poker there, then dust off our books, and wonder, gee what to do now? And among this fit of indecisiveness, somebody comes up with an idea that’s lets find penguin poop.

Secondly, I find word ‘Penguin Poop’ funny. There is some poetic rhythm to it. Try saying ‘Penguin Poop’, out loud like 10 times in a row. Penguin poop Penguinpoop PenguinpoopPenguinpoopPenguinpoop PenguinpoopPenguinpoop ……. ha ha ha

(And frankly, I think, my toothache remedy has something in it, which is making me do all this crazy stuff. I might a bit high right now.)

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No Arguments

[family talk]

My dad calls me up this morning and says, “See, That’s why I did not let you become a sailor. If you had your way that day, you would have been hostage on some pirate ship on coasts of Slovenia today,…”

“Dad!!!” I said, adding “Its not Slovenia, its Somalia.”

“Whatever. No arguments! You kids never get the point.”

*****

[occupational hazard]

“I am an evolutionary biologist, and I live in Pennsylvania. Taken together, it means that as soon as I am outside the peripheries of my campus, I am known as ‘Satan’s Son’

******

[religion]

8.30 AM Phone rings

Me: hello…HELLOOO!

Some women on other end starts speaking.

Some Woman (SW) : Mumble Mumble mumble from __________faith church. I would like to read a chapter of Bible to you. Can I start now?

Me: What?

SW: I would like to read a chapter….

Me: NO! I think I understood you the first time…

SW: So, can I start now?

Me: NOOO !!! Ehm…(I realize I am sounding very rude)…hmmm…I am in middle of something right now…so I think its not a good idea right now.

SW: Sir, in that case, can I call you some other time?

Me: ahh…NO!

SW: Mumble ‘French sounding Mumble’ Thank you sir. Thak!

Thak

I throw my cell phone on bed, and start wondering, what if, this is exactly what happens when you die -you get a call, somebody tells you your crime/sin stats, and then somebody starts narrating you chapters of Bible -that too, on phone.

8.1 seconds! Shit! I nearly fell in love…

My friend called me up yesterday morning and said, “Did you see today’s newspaper?” Usually this statement/question means, “I don’t care what your answer is, I am anyways going to tell you the most worthless piece of news from the bottom corner of lifestyle or celebrity gossip section”. So, I go with my standard reply to such situations, “Nay! Was too busy with work. Did not get chance to look at it till now. What is it?”

“Oh! It is this article about this research that men take 8.2 seconds of gazing at women to fall in love. What do you think about it?”[Read the article here]

“What paper is this and where did it get published?”

“Hold on…yeah the article says it is in Archives of Sexual Behavior. Comm’on tell me what do you think about it?”

“First I need to check the article, but from top of my head, I think it simplifies things for women a lot, you just have to carry a stop watch with you to find your options and secondly, I am surprised it was 8.2 seconds; I always thought that it would be like 2 seconds or something.”

“Seriously, tell me what you think about the research?” and then she adds, “Seriously!”

“What do you mean, seriously? The article was in Archives of Sexual Behavior for heaven’s sake. I don’t have access to that journal. Normal scientists don’t subscribe to such journals. But I will check that out and let you know.”

“Okay! Bye”

I keep the receiver down and start thinking with a half asleep brain. 8.2 seconds! Shit! I think I need to rework my ‘Women-I-Love-list’. Lot of addition or subtractions required. Frankly, I am surprised that the calculations showed 8.2 seconds, I was expecting it to be much less. Eight point Two seconds! Its even less than the 100m sprint record. It is less than…

Phone Rings…Rings again…Rings again again…

“Hello!”

“HEYY! Me again! I was wondering that it would be really interesting to calculate the time required to ‘fall out’ of love.”

“eh…hmmm….”

Biol 413: Project Runway meets Survivor

 

There are people who believe in self-study, and there are people who believe in lecture type classes. I, however, am totally different, as I believe in learning from hieroglyphics. Am kidding! Cave paintings are hard to understand. Anyhow, last Friday, I had the opportunity to attend this extraordinarily amazing Biol 413 class at Penn State, which is so unlike those other lecture type-boring-to-hell type classes where the only natural reaction that brain elicits is to shut itself down. The class is an amalgam of concepts of cell biology in a format that is a mix between Survivors and Project Runway. Intriguing, Right??

The class has been divided into 6 different tribes; Regulators, Alhazen, Nerds, Green Fluorescent Squirrels (funny name if you imagine the picture of one), Mutants and Killer Ladybugs (my favorite tribe name. Its outrageously hilarious!). In each class, tribes are given a task, which is mostly grounded in science of cell and molecular biology, and the tribe that wins gets immunity against a vote-out to the mutant island. Yes, there is vote out at the end of each task and besides all the fun in class, final scores that are earned from this task will lead to bonus grade points at the end of semester. Besides this there are bonus safety cards, extra immunity points for taking pictures of Immunity Idol in different locales in State College, …and lot of  strategy strategy strategy!! 

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Last Friday, I was the guest judge for this class and had an amazing fun filled experience. The task that day was called ‘Project Runway-Biol 413 Evening Gown Challenge” and task involved reading a scientific paper titled, “The Coupling of Cyclic GMP and Photopolarization of Pelvetia Zygotes” and tribes were asked to come up with a descriptive model and some future experiments to test ideas they proposed. I would have preferred a scientific paper title like ‘The coupling of Mars landing and Evolution of Skunks’ (kidding!!), but on a slightly serious note, I have never seen students more excited in class! NEVER EVER! All the tribes came up with such amazing ideas and I would be lying if I say that I was not surprised.  But after all the judges had tallied their scores, The Regulators were a unanimous winner as they had presented a very comprehensive model, with Mutants being a close second for their well controlled proposed experiments. As I had promised, the winner gets a cover on the The Antisense Strand, here it is the winning model and winner teams logo. (Yeah I can see the sarcasm when you say, “Yeah what a prize! Cover on some random humor blog that hardly anybody reads!)

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With a pea-sized brain like me, I know, I should be the last one to express my opinion on such things but I believe science can be so much fun. I can however say for sure that classes like these definitely make studying science a fun and intellectually enriching exercise. Thanks to Randen and Damian for implementing such an idea and inviting me to be a part of it, and I so much wish that I was a part of such a class when I was an undergrad. I would have named my tribe Prot Surfers, T4 Terminators, or The Wingdings. Then we would have won the first task and tried to get the best person out of mutants in our…. Strategy Strategy!! Think Think!!

A Doctor for Everything

 

Action star (lets say James Bond or one of his brothers) wakes up in room with flawless green and white draping. The only red exists as a small round spot in the otherwise white netted bandage on his forehead. And is if only purpose of this conversation is to deride a normal researcher, here is the conversation that ensues.

 

JB (trying to pull out a gun from his hospital uniform): Where am I? Who are you? Why am I here?

Doctor: Hello James! Calm down! I am Dr. Oglivyscteninet. (James never understands the name but it sounds like word Omniscient). You were shot 123 times by some extremists belonging to a country called Aslo, while you were in mission to get information about another extremist group in a small town of Chapalistan. I was able to take out 121 bullets out.

JB: How do you know about my mission? And did you say 121? 121 out of 123?

Doctor: While you were asleep, I ran your brain scans through a memory recreator, and thus could get the imprints of all the information in your brain. Once I had recreated the faces of all your assailants, I ran then through a facial skin pattern recognition software and matched it to 4 people belonging to same clan in Aslo. With all due modesty, I can say both memory recreator and facial skin pattern recognization software are two of my amazing inventions.

            Regarding 121 bullets out of 123, yeah, 1 bullet actually just passed straight through your body making a big gaping hole. I filled that hole with my own discovery, a tissue simulating seaweed. Regarding the other one that was struck in your brain and too risky to take out, I have designed an electromagnetic sytems with a magnets spread all across this earth. So no matter wherever you go in this world, the magnet change their strength accordingly and your bullet remains at the same position in your brain. No need to worry!

JB: What are you doctor? Is all this real or am I being punke’d by that Kutcher guy?

Doctor: Oh! Its all real! It indeed is! But its perfectly natural for you to believe that a genius like me can’t exist. But I am real. Its just due to my eclectic tastes that I am a MD in more than a couple fields of medicine.

JB: Oh well! That’s great! But can you arrange for my return trip to my majesty’s service?

Doctor: Sure! Sure! I already arranged for it. You see, I don’t like company of outside world for too long. So I already built a car for you, so that, no offence meant, but you can leave as soon as you wake up.

            The car is fitted with all modern day weaponry and besides  has a self defense mechanism that starts digging a bunker and hide underground in case of holocaust. You see my eclectic tastes spill over to mechanical design, arms and ammunitions too.

JB: Wow! But don’t tell me that it can fly too!

Doctor: Of course it can! All flysters designed by me come fitted with a normal flying and space launch modes.

JB: Sir, you are truly a genius. Can I have a pair of tuxedos, so that I can leave.

Doctor: Oh! No! I have designed a special suit for you out of liquefied platinum mixed with a carbon nanotube coating underneath. It should evade any 123 shot occurrences later in your life.

JB: Wow! Wht are you, doctor? You are a medical doctor, you can make cars that fly, design bombs, make amazing suits of whatever amazing stuff that you mix up. How come you are still one of us?

Doctor: No No! Here you are mistaken! This is not real me! Its just a part of me in a body suit. The real me is right now 125 light years away, helping people at planet Qyusheeba, devising a plan for their survival from water rains that is corroding the unprotected skulls of those people.

JB: I know for sure now, either I had a blow on head or I am definitely being punke’d.

James Watson Absurdity

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I named my blog after one of the two strands of DNA but when the co-founder of that double helical structure, Dr. James Watson makes such racist comments, then I have to write this blog condemning those comments. For all those who don’t know what happened here is the story.

Dr. James Watson, Nobel laureate(1962), was supposed to give a presentation at London Science Museum, where he made this comments to The Sunday Times about African prospects:

“all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”

He went on to add:

“people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true”

Well as expected, this led to wide spread condemnation from scientific community and Dr. Watson’s talk at Science Museum was cancelled.

Coming from a person who is in a profession that is expected to work for benefit of people (a point which is itself debatable in present world), these comments defy all the norms of scientific behavior. I believe this incident calls for more serious actions on Dr. Watson. You can say that “more awards come with more responsibility”. So if one wins a Nobel Prize then he can’t be allowed to make such absurd comments and then mask them as a scientific fact when we all know that there is no scientific basis to that statement.

To summarize I stand with another great scientist Dr. Craig Venter’s comments on the issue:

 

“Skin colour as a surrogate for race is a social concept not a scientific one, There is no basis in scientific fact or in the human genetic code for the notion that skin colour will be predictive of intelligence”

For news stories on issue, click here.