Posts Under Science Category
(An open letter to Tesco, inspired by, and in support of, this article by Let Toys Be Toys: “Since when were science toys just for boys?“. Update: Tesco’s most recent tweet to me – 9 March 8.33pm BST – read: “@SciDoll In light of this feedback we will be reviewing how toys are categorised online and will be carrying out further research.” Well, we’ll see what happens. In all events, the place you ought to be heading is the Let Toys Be Toys website, to give them your support and catch up on all the latest news.)
I do hope you’ll excuse the impertinence of my writing to you. I have, alas, frivolously wasted time in gaining a PhD in theoretical physics, investigating the mysteries of the universe, and co-founding a biomedical charity to address the suffering caused by the diseases of aging. Regretfully, I have spent woefully little time in the kitchen. If only you had been there, in my early days, to guide me in my life choices: then, perhaps, things would have been very different.
Words fail me. Well, not quite. There are some words left, like “appalling,” “horrendously ill-judged,” “insulting,” “misogynistic,” and so on. You see, there’s this campaign by the European Commission to get more women involved in science and, it must be acknowledged, some of its output aligns with this laudable aim. However, the ‘teaser’ video they produced – to which I cannot bring myself to link – does anything but.
As I Tweeted earlier today, now I’m worried I’ll have to give my PhD back as it’s titled “Black Hole Entropy from Causal Sets” and not “Cupcake Entropy from Rainbows”.
More worthy commentators than I have, er, commented, and so here are a few links, many of which do include the video. (I am not responsible for feelings of nausea and anger arising from the viewing of said video.)
Olga Khazan in the “Washington Post” blog: E.U.’s ‘Science, it’s a girl thing’ campaign sparks a backlash
Carin Bondar in “Scientific American”: Science – It’s a Girl Thing (Insert Facepalm Here)
Frank Swain in “SciencePunk” on “ScienceBlogs”: Science: It’s a girl thing. Excuse me while I die inside.
PZ Myers in “Pharnygula” on “ScienceBlogs”: Science: It’s a Girl Thing!
BakingBiologist’s blog (which, in addition, shows an early draft of the associated Facebook page, using language more closely reflecting the video): Science: It’s a girl thing (or “How to patronise women and alienate your audience”)
Update 1, 23rd June, 2012: Well, I’ll be: they swapped out the video.
The European Commission created a Twitter list of real women in science (which I’m on, apparently. No, it’s too much. Really. I’d like to thank my mother for being such a role model to me, and…).
It is, apparently, World Homeopathy Awareness Week. I’ve written a long, detailed post about homeopathy, which is none-too-favourable, as one might expect coming from any author with even the vaguest inkling of scientific method. Anyway, in the spirit of things, I have diluted my original post repeatedly, removing random characters each time, and banging my computer in what is technically referred to as ‘just the right way’ at regular intervals. The result is a homeopathic post about homeopathy. To you, with an untrained (but oh-so-delightfully blue/green/grey/brown/false*) eye, it may seem like there’s nothing there at all. But! rest assured the pixels of your screen retain the resonances of my well-reasoned arguments, and you will still feel its benefit, and be able to act on its sage advice about the damage homeopathy can do when, amongst other things, it is applied to communicative diseases, replacing medicines which have been shown to work in both double-blind studies and in general use. This post does differ from normal homeopathic offerings, in that you can have it for free: who says you can’t get something diluted to nothing for nothing?
Homeopathic post begins.
Homeopathic post ends.
Thank you for reading. You may also like this piece by Martin Robbins in The Guardian.
*delete as appropriate
Monday will see the end of my role as Executive Vice President of SENS Foundation. I’ll say more about that in a moment, but I think it’s important to understand that the Foundation is a lifetime commitment for me. I’m a co-founder, after all, and I can’t imagine a world in which I’m not extolling the virtues of the organization, its mission, and the wider concept of rejuvenation biotechnology; whatever else I’m doing, or whatever environment surrounds me.
Why am I stepping down? Because I have a personal project which I wish to pursue. And given the criticality of rejuvation biotechnology, you should get a feeling for just how important I consider this next project, but also how hard it has been to reach this decision.
Why can I step down now? Because the team which we’ve built at the Foundation over the past two-and-a-half years is so very, very talented and capable. Under the leadership of Mike Kope the executive team has gone from strength to strength. Tanya Jones joined us and has built an amazing Research Center facility in Mountain View, where our team of researchers continues to expand as we attract top-notch candidates to new positions. Aubrey de Grey’s role as CSO has been augmented by the expertise of those researchers, particularly our principal investigators. At the same time, our outreach activities are starting to fall to a widening circle of Foundation communicators. Our Academic Initiative, now under Daniel Kimbel, looks set to do great things in the coming year, as he builds a scalable framework for our interactions with the student community. Maria Entraigues, in LA, has taken our success at hosting ‘chapter’ meetings in the city and transformed it into a focused fund-raising effort which is growing our presence and supporter-base there, and which looks set to be a model for other locations in the US and beyond.
I could fill a many more paragraphs with similar observations: I haven’t even mentioned the development of our Board, or the expansion in our funding and external collaborations. I urge you to visit the Foundation’s website to see what we’re doing, and meet our team: I couldn’t mention everyone by name here, but they all deserve your time and attention, I assure you.
And on a personal note, I’m going to miss their company, a very great deal.
(There’s a blog post by Mike Kope on this subject, too.)
In which Holmes is excited, your host reflects on physics, and a little nostalgic reverie is shared.
I was awakened by a tugging at my shoulder. It was Holmes. The candle in his hand shone upon his eager, stooping face, and told me at a glance that something was amiss.
“Come, Watson, come!” he cried. The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!”
(The Adventure of the Abbey Grange, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1904)
In science, discovering that a theory is supported by experiment is wonderful. But discovering that it’s wrong is often when the real excitement begins. And more often than not, it involves wearing clothes. I'm dressed and ready to read more.
Shakespeare meets science… So, the Fifth SENS Conference is looming, and I had a tight deadline on an abstract for SENS Foundation‘s CEO talk. My tongue-in-cheek response ended up in the program, so I guess there’s no harm in sharing it here. Let’s call it a gift from me to you, on my birthday. (Extra marks for spotting references to our LysoSENS work on AMD and heart disease, ApoptoSENS, and GlycoSENS.)
Once more unto the bench, dear friends, once more;
Or close the world up with our agèd dead.
In life there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the cast of death falls on our fears,
Then elevate the actions of the soma;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Repair fair nature with hard-won physic;
Then lend the eye a clearèd aspect;
Let spry sight in portage of the head
Be renewed anon; let enzyme o’erwhelm ills
As joyfully as doth a galled vein
O’ercome and hurry his confounded blood,
Swill’d with the lysosomal nostrum.
Now fix the teeth and flex the softened hide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest human.
Whose blood is free from senescent cell-load!
You here that, like so many visionaries,
Have in these walls from morn till even heard
And writ your notes on well-made argument:
Discover now your purpose; now attest
That those whom you call speakers did inform you.
Be copy now to men of other climes,
And teach them what might be. And you, good people,
Arrayed in seats before me, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; come now swear
That we are worth donations; which I doubt not;
For there is none of us so mean and base,
That hath not noble intent in our mind.
You see us stand as scientists in our labs,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘Good for Aubrey, Michael, and SENS Five!’
EXEUNT OMNES, to Agingcourt.
Too much? Now, somewhere I have a half-written script about Hamlet and quantum mechanics…
In one of those moments which life occasionally delivers to the unsuspecting, I found myself in LA on Sunday, sitting on a couch with Edward James Olmos (yes, that one) and Maria Entraigues, watching Mark Wexler’s new film, How to Live Forever. (Thank you, Mark, for having your DP lend us a pre-release copy at such short notice.) Read more about the film.
Midday on Sunday. My left sock, which started the day white, is being darkened by the small trickle of blood running down my leg. There are an awful lot of small lizards in the undergrowth, and the rustles of their darting back and forth is the only sound I can hear. About a mile away, at the other end of the island, there are hundreds of people, but I wouldn’t know it if I hadn’t walked past them about half an hour ago.
More after the break.
SENS Foundation has just made its Research Report from Q4 2010 available on-line, with an accompanying post by our CSO. It’s a great snapshot of our position towards the end of last year. Since then we’ve finished our move to a new Research Center in Mountain View, gained funding for a major project on AGE-breakers, confirmed our 501(c)(3) status as a public charity… The list goes on. Our 2010 Year End Report has been drafted, and we’re just completing the necessary accounting before that becomes public. Watch this space. (And the Foundation’s site, of course.)
One of the Foundation’s achievements last year was our Research Center‘s moving to a larger laboratory space, in Mountain View, California. Earlier this month we held a small opening event. It gave us a chance to thank our Research Operations Manager, Tanya Jones, and her team, for all their work in yet-again increasing the capabilities of the Foundation to pursue its core research interests. Anyway… I took some snapshots during the afternoon, and thought I’d share them. Snapshot slideshow after the break.