Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Old Bridge in Heidelberg

Three Governor's Chairs now...

..and welcome to nuclear security expert Howard Hall. The two recent appointments must be allaying concern at ORNL and UT that these chairs were not being filled, which prompted an article in the local press: UT’s Empty Research Chairs
Are the university’s lofty research aspirations rooted in reality?

Patience was rewarded.

Science Races ... parse New Virus.

Monday, April 20, 2009

More things you don't have time to read?

PLoS ONE has now published over 5000 articles in two years of existence.
I see nothing wrong with that although some do.
We'll see which exclusively online open-access journals manage to gain traction.
(One I'm an editor of, PMC Biophysics, from PhysMathCentral, has just started up.)
Of course, the whole open-access experiment may be nipped in the bud if congress kills it, as it is now considering.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Booked for "Ungentlemanly Conduct"

Careful what you eat before a soccer game or this may be your punishment.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Great Salt Lake, Utah

..a home of Halobacterium salinarium, a microorganism containing bacteriorhodopsin, a light-driven proton pump that we have been working on for several years (see all publications in our home page with Nicoleta Bondar as first author).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

They may believe it with passion but....

..Gioacchino Giuliani of the Italian National Institute of Physics, appears to believe erroneously in radon gas as a reliable predictor of earthquakes. Science is full of believers, even (especially?) amongst those with top credentials in getting through peer review. The creative act of imagination in initiating science is difficult to divorce from a desire to see the results follow a certain, vindicating path. But many of us believe too soon in our methods or results, without having performed the full range of controls. Better to get more cool heads working on any promising theme, then wait for the consensus to be established amongst the experts, before admitting belief.

Claims such as those of Giuliani are worthwhile discussing in public, but it is sad when wildly misleading statements, such as the global warming claims of David Bellamy, an influential British former TV broadcaster and botanist, need to be corrected, wasting valuable public debate space.

BTW: Glad to hear that Isabella Daidone, ex postdoc, who is now on the faculty at L'Aquila, was in Rome at the time of the recent quake. And while we're still on the subject of the L'Aquila earthquake, look at this telling donation of $50, 000 by the US government to help the relief effort.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Poet's Corner - WH Auden on Ignorance:

(From The Dog Beneath the Skin)
Happy the hare at morning, for she cannot read
The Hunter’s waking thoughts. Lucky the leaf
Unable to predict the fall. Lucky indeed
The rampant suffering suffocating jelly
Burgeoning in pools, lapping the grits of the desert,
The elementary sensual cures,
The hibernations and the growth of hair assuage:
Or best of all the mineral stars disintegrating quietly into
But what shall man do, who can whistle tunes by heart,
Know to the bar when death shall cut him short, like the cry
of the shearwater?

Saturday, April 4, 2009