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Book Review: Flatland, by Edwin A. Abbott

Finishing Flatland, a novella published by British mathematician and teacher Edwin Abbott a good 20 years before Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and the growth of quantum mechanics, leaves the reader wondering what Abbott could possibly have known about these later figures and events. But the book’s very existence underscores just how fundamental those 20th…

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How to Save Our Science—a Case Study

Mentioning the abbreviation “GMO” yields one of two reactions: fascination with the biotechnology of creating food and other organisms that thrive despite pests or bad weather, or horror at the idea of creating an unknown, dangerous monster in the laboratory. Rothamsted Research, in Harpenden, England, was yet another biotechnology lab faced with the latter reaction…

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Book Review: “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”, by Thomas Kuhn

I found Thomas Kuhn’s book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” quite a challenge to get through. Normally, if a book doesn’t keep my attention, or I find it difficult to read after the first few pages, I give up. However, I was determined to persevere with this book, especially given that the Times Literary supplement…

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Book Review: Time, by Eva Hoffman

If there is one certainty in life, it is that time has always been there, and will always remain. But although it is a basic fact of our existence, most people don’t tend to reflect much on the characteristics and implications of time. Neither do I, as I realised when I read Eva Hoffman’s book…

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“What You Should Know About Science” — A Book Review of ‘The Golem’

I first read “The Golem: What You Should Know about Science” as an undergraduate student for an introduction to the sociology of scientific knowledge. I feel it’s an important book for anyone who wants to understand how science works. Ten years later, I still find myself revisiting it. Read on to find out why… In…

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How Much Information is Stored in the Human Genome?

The other day I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who had some background in computer science. The conversation shifted towards my research and the following question came up: What is the amount of digital information stored in a human genome? I started searching in the deep dark corners of my brain,…

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What Memories Are Made Of

It’s not even noon and you’ve already misplaced your car keys, snuck a peak at the molarity conversion figures you wrote on a sticky note on your lab bench, and reminded yourself to button your lab coat before working under the hood. All of these activities are the work of memory, and each of them…

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Book Review: Marking the Mind

Marking the Mind is a history of scientific ideas about memory – such as the introduction of recall tasks in the 1880s, the discovery of synaptic plasticity, and debates about false memories in the 1980s and 90s. It’s the sort of book I wish existed when I first got interested in biology of memory over…

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Human Genome Project – 10 years since the first draft

  On the 15th February 2001 a draft version of the complete human genome was completed. [1] This draft version was far from perfect but was still a major milestone in the biological world.  So, what has come from this?  What have we learned so far and what is yet to come?   Background The…

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The Treatment

Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Outliers, has posted a piece on his website that he wrote for The New Yorker called “The Treatment”. In this article he follows the trials and tribulations of Synta Pharmaceuticals as they take one of their potential cancer drugs, elesclomol, from discovery through phase three clinical trials. Along the way…

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Scientists. Do You Believe in God?

Perhaps at no other time of year like the winter solstice is the mixture of religious beliefs and daily life more intertwined.  Most people, regardless of race and country of origin, come from a faith that believes in God or a Higher Power. As scientists, it is a widely held belief that we do not…

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The Amazing Race: Pathogen Detection and Quantification

Each winter, the flu season peaks in January as new strains of virus emerge and spread among school age children, elderly and immunocompromised members of the population. Diagnosis of flu, and other infectious diseases, puts serious strain on public health labs.  But the intense pressure to handle more samples faster is driving development of new innovative…

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Why do YOU do Science?

Most people that do scientific research for a living seem to have mixed feelings about their job. Many that I know are routinely day dreaming of quitting. This contrasts with the well-established, romantic image of the dedicated scientist who loves his/her work above anything else. So what is the real story? Do scientists really like,…

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Book Review: The Emperor Of Scent

Getting hooked on a non-fiction book isn’t something that happens often with me. Non-fiction plods and trudges. However, ‘The Emperor Of Scent‘ by Chandler Burr is breathtakingly unique. It gallops. It has all the elements of a quintessential page turner. And it’s about science too. It got me so electrified that I repeatedly found myself…

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Book Review: On Growth and Form

Unlike most naturalists and biologists before and since, who were only satisfied if they could understand a particular form by the configuration of its immediate precedents, D’Arcy Thompson was quite satisfied with a mathematical description or a physical analogy. He truly viewed the variety of biological forms that he looked at with the eyes of…

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Reasons to be a Scientist Part II

Scientists often complain about the job, and here on Bitesize Bio we are no different. For an example, take a look at my rant about why not to be a scientist – written about a year ago after a particularly frustrating couple of weeks in the lab. Very recently, I decided to leave bench science,…

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Selfish Genes and Gene-Centered Evolution

But despite Dawkins’ notoriety, maybe there are some readers here who haven’t read The Selfish Gene – I didn’t until two years ago, actually. So, what specifically is The Selfish Gene about?

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Science as Progress, and More on the Philosophy of Science

Following up on my recent post about The Nature of Scientific Observation, I left two-thirds of Chalmers’ book What is This Thing Called Science untouched, including discussions on Bayes’ theorem and the New Experimentalism.

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