Boring for science.

As a research scientist it’s easy to forget just how esoteric your work can appear to the rest of the world. Today for instance, I Tweeted about a 'fascinating' article demonstrating DNA repair was coupled to the swarming mechanism in Salmonella. Can’t for the life of me understand it, but the simple joys of battling pathogenic bugs via their DNA processing mechanisms isn't high on everyone’s agenda. Who’d have thought that!? It elicited a swift response by email from a fellow ‘scientist’, an intelligent human being with a keen general science interest, “I didn’t know you could break it! ;-)”. It surprised me a little. Jestful? Yes, partly, though a series of pertinent questions assured me a basic misapprehension was in need of some attention, and no, I wasn’t the subject of a urinary extraction exercise.


Bacteria save the world!

Ok, it's a rather dramatic tabloid-style headline, but as Mark has already pointed out we have a great deal to be thankful to bacteria for. If to 'save the world' means allow it to be habitable for human life, then we already owe bacteria many times over. However, rather than the natural development of ecosystems, which has been going on for millennia (no matter what those Young Earthers are saying) what I'm referring to here is much more recent: the intentional use of live microbes as an army of ingenious chemists to help solve current human problems in a sustainable way. This is one of those interesting ideas that occupies my mind now and then, on the drive home from work, or even while at work when I'm supposed to be doing something else...

Getting IAS therapy?

Bloody Hell!
Someone should have warned me, pushed me, forced me out of my ivory towered lair sooner!
Boy, these IAS2010 kids are making me think! It’s driving me nuts! Every time I start to feel comfortable with the questions Bam! another one lands (or another 50?!), right between the eyes, ‘Oh good grief, never thought of this...damn!...or that either...what time is it? where’s Google...my prrrreciousss?!!’


Addition to previous post

Just a quick addition to the previous post.

Many congratulations to Brian on his OBE in the Queen's New Year's honours list.
I'm sure his family in Oldham, Gia and offspring are thoroughly chuffed.

Well done mate! Time for a celebratory curry and beer?



Science as a spectator sport?

Engerlaaand, Engerlaaand, Engerland Engerland Engerlaaand! With that that of the way, a reminder that the the serious competition begins on June 14th, IAS2010 that is (See June 1st Post). Many people are genuinely perplexed as to why I would want to take part. As mentioned previously, “Great idea... engaging with young people... communication of science.... etc, etc.”, all genuine motivations, but I have to say, the spirit of competition was not an insignificant stimulus.



We all want to feel good – ideally without having to do anything for it. This provides great opportunities for manufacturers of health products. Homeopaths do particularly well in this field. But despite these charlatans can we really condemn all the products that claim to make us feel better? Well, of course we can’t, but we need scientific experiments, especially clinical trials, to find out what’s quackery and what’s not.

X-ray Crystallography at Diamond

Recently some particularly keen crystallographers at Diamond filmed their visit to the beamline and posted it on youtube. Maybe not as amusing as the LHC's resident rapper, but this does give a brief glimpse into data collection practicalities for the modern structural biologist.


I'm an idiot, but an excited one!

A first post

I'm a Scientist - Get me out of here

What on Earth am I letting myself in for?
A few weeks ago I was rash enough to respond to an email and apply to take part in “I’m a Scientist Get Me Out of Here”, (IAS2010) later this month (June 14th - 25th 2010).