Why ‘Failure’ Is Good For Science

Picture this. You’re grinding away at your lab bench or instrument workstation or computer (for those computational folks) for hours trying to come up with some usable data. You’ve spent the last few days trying new approaches to the same problem, to no avail. Maybe you’re sick with a cold. Maybe it’s late in the evening and you’re trying to get home. A notification pops … Continue reading Why ‘Failure’ Is Good For Science

St. Patty’s Post: Beerzymes (Alpha & Beta Amylase)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! EDIT: This was obviously supposed to post on March 17th.  Personally, this is one of my favorite holidays. Cured meats, good beer, and stories of missionaries driving snakes (an obvious metaphor for Irish druidism) from Ireland – what more could you possibly want? In the spirit of the holiday, I’m going to showcase two interesting enzymes (or beerzymes as I whimsically … Continue reading St. Patty’s Post: Beerzymes (Alpha & Beta Amylase)

Science of the Ancients: How Our Distant Predecessors Laid The Groundwork for Our Success

Science is all about observation and contemplation. When you make an observation that the days of the year are becoming shorter as fall turns to winter and think to yourself, Huh – I wonder why that is, you are performing science. Granted, this isn’t the comprehensive, empirical  method put forth by the likes of Francis Bacon, but it’s science in a philosophical sense. Why is the grass … Continue reading Science of the Ancients: How Our Distant Predecessors Laid The Groundwork for Our Success

Scientific Publisher Pay-Walls: an Ethical Nightmare.

Yes. I understand the title of this is relatively inflammatory, but this is a topic that is of particular significance and yet, not-so-surprising, receives very little media coverage. Many don’t know this, but when a researcher publishes an article, the rights of said article, as well as its contents (figures, tables, writing, etc.) are often stripped from the researcher, becoming a property of the publisher. The publisher, or ‘provider’, companies like Elsevier (under the RELX Group, formerly Reed Elsevier), Springer, and Wiley, then bundle the journal, wherein your research is published, with other journals and offer these bundles to libraries on a subscription-basis for outrageous annual feel. To illustrate, in 2003 the University of California – San Francisco boycotted Elsevier after they asked for an annual fee of $90,000 for six Cell Press journals 1. The world of scientific publishing is replete with these instances of price-gouging.

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Continue reading “Scientific Publisher Pay-Walls: an Ethical Nightmare.”

Research Rundown: Mouse study to find link between MT-1 protein and Alzheimer’s-associated factors.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a form of neurodegenerative disease thought to be caused by the formation of brain-lesioning plaques of amyloid-β oligomers and tangles of tau proteins accumlati. For a more in-depth look at this process, visit my summary of Alzheimer’s Disease here.

For tips on reading scientific literature, look at my previous blog post on that topic here. These concepts will be applied in the Research Rundown posts.

Continue reading “Research Rundown: Mouse study to find link between MT-1 protein and Alzheimer’s-associated factors.”

Dissecting a Scientific Journal Article

Let’s face it, reading through a scientific journal article, while enlightening, can be dull. The concise writing is dense and difficult to digest and without the proper training in the subject matter, one can get bogged down by jargon and acronyms and become discouraged and bored. The best written journal articles remain concise but serve to tell the ‘story’ of how a particular result was discovered, but a perfectly drafted ‘story’ takes time which is in such short supply for many researchers. Continue reading “Dissecting a Scientific Journal Article”

Scientific Communication: Why is it Important?

Bioconjugate [noun by-oh-kon-juh-git]: a biological substance containing of a formed stable bond between two separate molecules.

Scientific communication is the transmission of scientific concepts and discoveries to a target audience by means which will be understood by said audience. To be perfectly clear, italics were used in the aforementioned ‘target audience’ to denote that target’ is the key word. The target audience can be anyone from members of the same laboratory listening to a weekly report to viewers of a PBS documentary on space travel to school children learning about gravity for the first time. The word ‘target’ is vastly significant because you would never explain define gravity as being F=Gm1m2/r2 to a 7 year old child, nor would it be fitting to demonstrate the concept of gravity to Stephen Hawking by dropping apples from a balcony. In communicating science to an audience, it is key to do so in a context they can understand. This communication becomes difficult when the language use offers up nothing for the audience to relate to and form an association with. Continue reading “Scientific Communication: Why is it Important?”