NOTICE: Posting schedule is irregular. I hope to get back to a regular schedule as the day-job allows.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Science Fun [Full link to blog for email clients.]

OK, since I haven't had enough things to do with my time, I'm going to clue readers in to some of the most fun to be had with Science.

First, I have mentioned Derek Lowe's "Things I won't work with" blog.  He has a new entry "Azidoazide Azides" that is every bit as hair raising (and erasing) as his previous entries.  If you haven't encountered "Things I Won't Work With" before - go, now.  I'll wait.

I love Derek's way with words. I also love his descriptions of some of the more ... "energetic" ... compounds that arise in chemistry:
"To me, that structure is a flashing red warning sign on a dead-end road, but then, I suffer from a lack of vision in these matters."
"The most alarming of them has two carbons, fourteen nitrogens, and no hydrogens at all, a formula that even Klapƶtke himself, who clearly has refined sensibilities when it comes to hellishly unstable chemicals, calls "exciting". Trust me, you don't want to be around when someone who works with azidotetrazoles comes across something "exciting"."

"...the X-ray crystal structure shows some rather strange bond distances, which indicate that there's a lot of charge separation - the azides are somewhat positive, and the tetrazole ring somewhat negative, which is a further sign that the whole thing is trembling on the verge of not existing at all."
Go read this, it's his latest entry.  Then follow the category tag to read the rest of the list of Things I Wont Work With .

On a totally different tack - in the last couple of days, a new Twitter hashtag has arisen.  Now, mind you, I don't tweet.  Sorry, it's a character failing, I know, but frankly have not had the time.  But... if anything would tempt me into the Twitterverse, it's:


 Ever read a scientific paper and wonder if that's really how it worked in the lab?  Wonder no more.  #OverlyhonestMethods is the hashtag for revealing those deep dark lab secrets like: 
Stirring speeds varied wildly depending on ambient music. Tech with dubstep predisposition banned after 4th breakage. #OverlyhonestMethods (@BadPhysics)
The experiment was randomised because I realised I had forgotten to label anything halfway through #OverlyHonestMethods (@lemniscatic)
The article was written in passive voice because the PI went through and changed all the active back to passive. #overlyhonestmethods (@scicurious)
Been there, done that - yes, evil professor that I am, I had to edit a student's thesis to remove active voice and colloquialisms.  [By the way, I know Sci Curious, and her blog is another place to check out weird science news and explanations of science.  She also won an award for her blogging this past year.  The award was from a prestigious, professional scientific society, so popular science blogs are definitely gaining ground.]

I used students as subjects because rats are expensive and you get too attached to them #overlyhonestmethods (@profserious)
Oh yes, I like that one. Especially LabRats (tm).

The list goes on, and reminds me of jokes from back when I was a student.  We had our own list:  "typical data" ("the best we could find"), "mean response" ("the average after we threw out the ones we didn't like"), "significant results" ("we ran statistical tests until we got the result the Professor wanted") and "a very interesting project" ("we did it only because we couldn't get funding to do what we really wanted").

If you Tweet, check out the hashtag.  If you don't there's plenty of website that will show you the most recent or top tweets.