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Thursday, April 16, 2009

What is it with bacon?

Theo Gray, author of the book TheoGray's Mad Science, of which I wrote a few days ago, showed me a video that was to appear online the next day in his Gray Matter PopSci column the next day when I visited him to pick up a copy of his book.

He made a thermal lance out of bacon.  Why? To demonstrate the properties required to produce a high heat flame sufficient to cut through iron. Those who are vegan or trying to keep kosher or halal can also make one out of a cucumber as well.

See it here!

When I was a kid, there were not many science magazines available.  Scientific American, Popular Science and Popular Mechanics were the only ones I was aware of at the time.  My dad had the Popular Science and Popular Mechanics, so I would read through those and as I got older, would buy my own copies of Scientific American.  Now there are so many choices!!

Until next time,

Kindly, Joanne

Thu, April 16, 2009 | link 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Oh help! I can't stop watching!

The NEW vid from BIO-RAD!!! I am in geek heaven! If you can't get to the vid from here because of such high trafffic, go straight to the BIO-RAD site HERE!

I've ordered from them for years for my SDS-PAGE supplies.

 



And don't forget the original.  The only problem is I swear they say Polymamases and not polymerases

Wed, April 15, 2009 | link 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I want this book!

Theo Gray's Mad Science: Experiments You Can Do at Home but Probably Shouldn't,

 That's ok, I'll do them in my lab.

Read about it here, at PopSci, where Gray contributes to the Gray Matter column.  If I read it, I will probably review it.  This review may have me doing the experiments....I think it will be required! I may seem like a mild mannered biologist, but there is enough of the fascination with fire, chemical mixing and freezing things with liquid nitrogen in me that needs to be expressed, that it looks like this book is one I will savor!

I am a little disappointed however, that the author of the article, Mike Haney, is not the electrical engineer Mike Haney who runs the Senior Design Projects for us in Bioengineering....oh well. 

But less disappointed now that I found out that Theodore Gray co-founded Wolfram Research based in Champaign and is JUST down the street from me.  I'm going to pick up a copy of the book from him IN PERSON!

Tue, April 14, 2009 | link 

Speaking of Safety

Thank you to mycitytalk who corrected the first sentence of their feature about me, for which I am most grateful. 

David Bradley at his Sciencebase blog has been posting science safety stories, which seems quite timely given the boxes for shoes incident in the lab!!   You can check his stories out here. They are amusing.  And as we know, this can be serious

My safety blunder story happened as an undergraduate in a plant biology/microbiology lab I was working in. (One day I'll share about it--acid rain and bacteria that clean up oil slicks--a lab that cared about the environment!)

We all know that wafting a chemical is important, as is labeling your beakers and bottles. Cleaning copper grids for scanning electron microscopy involves a dip in acetone followed by a dip in each of three beakers of dH2O. The phone rang, I answered it, returned to my task, and, having not labeled the beakers all containing clear liquid,  I couldn’t remember which direction I was working. I picked up a beaker at one end, wafted my hand carefully over the beaker and thought I detected acetone. Certain that this was the acetone beaker, picked up the one on the other side, assuming it was water and put my nose right up to the contents and took a big sniffing inhale. Imagine my shock as my nose immediately began bleeding and didn’t stop for 20 minutes!

Oh, THAT was the acetone beaker! ALWAYS WAFT!!

 Until next time,

Kindly, Joanne

Tue, April 14, 2009 | link 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Of course I don't put boxer shorts on anyone's feet!

This is just a quick response to the kind feature about me presented on mycitytalk, which is an up and coming web news site.  I am flattered they chose to feature me. I truly can't complain because it looks like a good forward thinking site.

I only have one small issue.  A noun in the first sentence. 

kimwipes.JPGIf you look at the April 2 post (You've been Eric-ed!) you will clearly see that I wrote that Eric put boxes, not boxers, on the offending student's feet. I had imagined Kimwipe boxes in my joke, but Eric found some corrugated cardboard boxes that did the trick and apparently decorated them with tape to look like laces.

Although boxer shorts would be quite goofy and humiliating, I'm absolutely certain that I would not have that much forethought to store those in the lab.  And I feel pretty confident that I've never humiliated anyone on purpose, but they have squirmed and blushed when I've caught them doing something they're not supposed to such as texting, chewing gum, or forgetting their shoes.  If they forget their shoes, I usually send them home, or sometimes lend them the shoes in the prep room.

I now imagine the Division of Research Safety is having a fit at this point. Yes, I agree, boxes on feet could be hazardous due to tripping issues (although I expect they were sitting at the biosafety cabinet for most of the time). I take full responsibility even though I wasn't there for the incident because the buck stops here.  We promise (right, Eric?), it will never happen again, because forever and ever, students will know that we mean it when they MUST wear closed toed shoes in the lab.  And that is NEVER a joke. 

 Until next time,

Kindly, Joanne

Mon, April 13, 2009 | link 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mean and Lowly Things

I finally put together another book review.  I had a cold that had decided to nestle into my throat, so was a hindrance. This book, Mean and Lowly Things caught my eye at the library (one of my favorite places) and I picked it up. I think it was because there was this waif of a girl on the cover holding a snake but doing this courageous field work that intrigued me initially. You can check out Dr. Kate Jackson mimicking Medusa on her Whitman college webpage!

Sometimes people ask how I get so much reading done.  First, I read quickly.  Part of this is due to the example set by my mom.  We used to say that she belonged to the "Book of the Hour" Club because she read so quickly.  I recall a time when I was a preteen and I said "Mom, would you like to read this book? It's really good!"  Her reply was "I took it from your nightstand and read it one night while you were asleep!" My other method is to keep several books going at once.  I have one that I usually try to focus on and power through, but then I keep one that I generally read before going to bed and another that I might leave in the car or read at the gym.

Kate Jackson's book was my read before bed every night.  I loved the tone of her book and the idea of what she was doing and looked forward to it every evening until I finished it. I think you will, too!

Switching gears. I am happy to share with you a note from the mother of a young girl I was privileged to talk to a few weeks back.

Hi Joanne -
My daughter (EM) and I had the pleasure of meeting you met when you were speaking with Dr Barbara Oakley at our local book store in Northville, MIchigan.  We were with our Girl Scout troop on Saturday afternoon.
I wanted to tell you that you really impressed E!  She thought you were fascinating and she was very surprised that you could be that excited about science!  Although E does well in all of her classes, she generally prefers writing, reading and creative projects.  And your description of G.A.M.E.S. was so vivid that E went home, jumped on your website and researched more about the Bioengineering Camp.  And today, she submitted her application to attend the camp in August.
I don't know whether E will be accepted or what her ultimate decision about attending will be - but I wanted to thank you for encouraging E to look at science camps in a different way.  Perhaps - we will see you again this Summer but - if not - thanks again for being so enthusiastic and encouraging E (and all of our scouts) to expand their interests.

I was thrilled that the timing of my visit with Barbara Oakley coincided with a bookstore talk and that Barbara asked me to share a little about what I do with the people there, including the girl scouts. I suppose anyone would be happy to know that they have inspired someone.  Even better if it is just from doing what they love.  Nothing could please me more than to know that people can see my enthusiasm for science....I'm glad it shows, because it is the one thing I know is perfectly true about me.

Until next time,

Kindly, Joanne

Sun, April 12, 2009 | link 


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