Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Tennessee-Georgia War of 2013.

Well, Georgia is at it again.

They are again outrageously claiming that an 1818 federal survey erroneously marked the state border one mile south of its intended location, putting it in TN rather than GA, whereas we have written extensive legal documentation stating exactly the opposite

They say that the surveyors in 1818 were using antiquated equipment, whereas we know it was Georgia that supplied this equipment in the first place. Hah!

They say they're being generous with the offer to redraw (sorry, correct) the state line by asking only that Tennessee merely return a small part of the 'misappropriated' land, not the whole lot, but we don't see what's in it for us to give any of it back at all thank you very much.  

They claim that all they are doing is innocently correcting history, but we know what they really want is access to the Tennessee River to siphon off our beautiful water at the dead of night, and anyway it's not as if it's called the Georgia River is it?

They say they have a crippling drought whereas we say they have done diddly squat to encourage conservation or rein in growth of their polluted Atlantan megopolis, and their blatant land-grab would unceremoniously dump 30,000 upstanding Tennesseans into their grubby little clutches.

They are claiming that we are not taking this issue seriously enough. Last time they tried this prank they claimed we were responding with catcalls and whistles because we didn't have any legitimate arguments to make, whereas we know this is just because they are incapable of having fun with anything.

No quarter shall be given to Georgia, especially if they keep whooping us in the SEC.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Sad Truth about Scientists

It was "Pi day" in the USA last week (3.14). (Not in Europe, of course, where it was 14.3 day). Now,  in 2005 Lu Chao, a 24-year-old graduate student in Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University in Shaanxi Province, China,  successfully recited 67,890 digits of pi in 24 hours and 4 minutes with an error at the 67,891st digit, saying it was a "5", when it was actually a "0".  He had started learning to recite pi in 2004 and spent more than 10 hours memorizing and practicing everyday during his summer college vacation.

Officials with Lu's university perceptively said that he had a very good memory.

What's the truth about these guys? Well, an American  won the memorizing pi competition some years previously, but his wife revealed  that, well may he be able to remember thousands of digits of pi but  he could never remember where he put his glasses or keys. Now THAT'S the harsh, bitter reality. They're not superhuman after all.  They resemble Jeremy Smith these guys, who when HE was 24 walked his mother to his car in France,  found his key didn't turn in the ignition,  phoned a mechanic to start the car,  drove off then noticed there was a teddy bear hanging from the rear view mirror that he didn't remember putting there.  And the Jeremy Smith who in 1985 dreamily got on the wrong ferry in Dover, UK, ended up in Boulogne, France instead of Calais, without his backpack, and was sent back penniless to the UK on the last ferry. And the Jeremy Smith who was in Tony Mezzacappa's office last week fiddling with his blackberry. He'd had it for two years but  when Mezzacappa asked if it was a touch screen phone, Jeremy didn't know.  

I think I'd better get back to memorizing Pi. I've heard mnemonics are good. Here's one for the first few digits:  How I wish I could recollect pi easily today!  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Reasons to be Cheerful, Part IV

Photo: Thomas Splettstoesser,

Troy Wymore: appears to have found out something surprising concerning sarin ....Hmm...
Demian Riccardi: has found out why mercury binds thiol groups. The traditional explanation was not correct.
Jerome Baudry and Xiaolin Chemg: are publishing all sorts of stuff at a rate of knots.
Hong Guo: has cemented the Shanghai relationship.
Loukas Petridis: has simulations of biomass pretreatment that agree remarkably with experiment
Tongye Shen and Hanna Qi: understand peptide folds in solution.
Derek Cashman and Pavan Gatty: gave great talks last week.
John Eblen: looks like he has a new deal sorted out.
Dennis Glass and Benjamin Lindner: graduated!
Hao-Bo Guo: figured out excited states for benzoic aromatic compounds.
Liang Hong: got his third PRL here published.
Amandeep Sangha: has a theory for lignin control.
Sally Ellingson: has an Autodock manuscript written.
Jason Harris: has a Biochemistry paper and more on the way
Xiaohu Hu: appears to be working for his girlfriend now?
Quentin Johnson and Ricky Nellas: have peptide results together.
Roland Schulz: as a Gromacs megadeveloper, has a paper that is sure to be cited thousands of times.
Jing Zhou: quickly got initial results on her cobalamine project.
Emal Alekozai: has found a curious dipole effect in cellulose:cellulase interactions
Jerry Parks and Alex Johs: Figured out how bacteria methylate mercury. You can find the paper describing the work in Science here, and  news reports here and here. For me, this brings home a lesson -  that genomes as lists of letters are listless.  Only when transformed into  three-dimensional molecular architectures with chemical duties can gene function, and thus genomes, really be understood.