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A few posts of interest

The internet is changing... Powerpoint Karaoke
Quantifying the error...

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Misc.

PhD positions at the Max-Planck-Research for Computational Biology and Scientific Computing

The International Max Planck Research School for Computational Biology and Scientific Computing is a joint graduate program of the Free University of Berlin and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin.
Its 3-year PhD program starts in autumn 2006 and is open to students from inside and outside Germany. The deadline for applications is February, 28th.

Powerpoint Karaoke

Delivering random presentations from the internet is an idea I've heard and discussed a couple of times as past time activity at scientific workshops. We never actually went as far as selecting the slide shows and presenting them though. Now, after visiting a public show recently, I realized that Powerpoint Karaoke is both good fun and useful training and recommended activity for retreats or a night with the department's beamer in the seminar room.
Powerpoint Karaoke (by Riesenmaschine.de)
You need to prepare a selection of slide shows (filetype:ppt in Google and a random keyword works for me) but that should be good fun already. Agree on or impose a voting system, the less objective, the better, just to make sure that people don't take it overly seriously.

How to spend the time between bench and keyboard?

Pedro Beltrao wonders how he should distribute his time between bench and computer screen. Interesting discussion in development there.

Not in Kansas?

Many European scientists consider creationism a purely American issue and Kansas (e.g. as described at Pharyngula) won't happen here and there is hardly any need for a campaigning to defend basic scientific principles.

Recently there were several articles in the media (none in English afaics) about the invitiation of a know criticizer of evolution, the munich based microbiologist Siegfried Scherer, by the head of the state of Thüringen.
Our designated minister for education and science, Annette Schavan, studied catholic theology (as well as philosophy and education) and is a member of the "Christian Democratic Union" , the major right wing party (interesting for a laicistic state, eh?). However, few (including me) fear a similar discussion for German class room. I suspect that the issue will come up in near future nonetheless as technology and science are seen critical by the German public and that the discussion won't be easily dismissed.

American trends used to take about months to establish themselves in Germany - now we get both creationists issues and the church of the flying spaghetti monster at about the same time. There is certainly a lot of science criticism across the German political spectrum - christians on the right, a strong technology criticism on the left and with the greens. Our tight stem cell regulations were supported by critics of all parties. I just hope that the latent criticism in the general public stays with reading horoscopes and does not manifest in (more) overregulation. What's worse in the long run: a few creationist wingnuts or established beaurocrats?

[Afterhoughts: Well, substantial cuts in funding is obviously worse. And I am not going to mention that president.]

Shiny translucent enzymes

I've been bad and considered Nature infotainment before. I have to repeat myself and link to this very cool (but practically useless) rendering of RNA interference available from the Nature website. Finally, science looks like in the movies. Now back to my Emacs window.

[Via F&L]

Brains away!

I always wondered how the motto of the German Federal Ministry for Research and Education for the "elite university programme"- Brains Up! - would resonate with somebody whose native tongue is English. Tacky was a good guess, or?

Openwetware

Using Wikis to share information within a research group or in a collaboration becomes more and more frequent, even if many scientists haven't heard much of Wikis beyond the 'pedia. Openwetware is another endeavour by several groups to exchange information on ongoing projects and protocols.
However, it is different in many respects in that there is no formal collaboration between the participating labs, yet all pages are open to everyone under a Creative Common License.

From their current boiler plate:
OpenWetWare is an effort to promote the sharing of information, know-how, and wisdom among researchers and groups who are working in biology. OWW provides a place for labs, individuals, and groups to organize their own information and collaborate with others easily and efficiently. In the process, we hope that OWW will not only lead to greater collaboration between member groups, but also provide a useful information portal to our colleagues, and ultimately the rest of the world.

Most of current members are labs from the MIT and the UT Austin;Bioinformaticians will probably have heard of Chris Burge's lab. Others are invited to join which is as easy as sending an email. As far as I can see, there is no particular focus of research groups, but synthetic biology seems much discussed and technological development is a more of a focus then intricate details of well studied fields of biology. It does not appear that openwetware is widely publicized currently - only the del.icio.us link of a member pointed me to the site. It's bold step to make all the material available, even if concrete research results must cannot be publized yet. Let's hope the site goes well and other groups follow up on making research more transparent.

Tempus fugit

Groucho Marx said: "Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana." He's wrong. Time flies like a banana. It runs out quickly and you return to where you began. Fruit flies probably like arrows too.

[Thoughts when you realize that your blog was vacant for a week. ]

Noodly appendages

Eat this, creationist! Or better start worshipping Him soon.

Nobel prize for medicine 2005

The Nobel Prize in Medicine 2005 is awarded to the Australian scientists J. Robin Warren and Barry J. Marshall for the discovery of Helicobacter pylori.

Marshall infected himself with the bug to prove Koch's postulate, creating a lasting impression on me (and giving me the cramps really). It was also one of the first bacteria that we fully sequenced because there was little known about it 10 years ago. The Helicobacter field received copious amounts of grant money after the initial discovery, making it one of the research fields of bacteriology in the late 90s.

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