Category Archives: Science and Politics

Come use your head: Brain Awareness Week NYC

big_brainy_pngThe people in charge are exercising their brains this year all around New York City. In an effort I feel is very much worth while, universities, museums and cultural groups (read: the arts) are taking a moment to involve the general public in a fun-filled educational program.  BraiNY will build upon a worldwide Brain Awarness Week initiative to bring the complexities of the human brain to the forefront in a series of programs that can be digested by children and adults with and without a scientific background.

Universities, museums, and cultural groups are joining efforts to showcase the wonders and mysteries of the brain to people of all ages. The events of braiNY build on Brain Awareness Week, an annual campaign of the Dana Foundation, which includes events in over 25 countries.

This year, for the first time, the coordinated efforts of the braiNY partners will connect New Yorkers to over a dozen events, lectures, exhibits, and demonstrations showcasing the wonder of the brain and the richness of New York’s scientific and cultural resources.

Check out braiNY for a calendar of events and come out to express your support and curiosity. You might just leave with a little more crammed inbetween your ears.

What’s in a Title?

journal.pntd.0001969.g001I’m not going to spend any time arguing the merits of a recent article published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, but with the title “An In-Depth Analysis of a Piece of Shit: Distribution of Schistosoma mansoni and Hookworm Eggs in Human Stool“, I feel it warrants some attention.  And given the blatant departure from some level of professionalism, including the first panel of the first figure (shown), my guess is that attention is exactly what PLOS is trying to arouse.

But maybe PLOS is onto something; as far as I can tell, this sort of ballsy, first time move was enough to make a science paper go viral, which is the first time I can imagine something like that happening.  Before long, shit will be trending and PLOS will be a first stop for scientists looking to publish something non-conventional or risque. PLOS could even make a name for itself within the lay population, becoming synonymous with ‘science results made fun’. Or shit.

Stem cells, now in 3D.

scientists-3d-print-embryonic-stem-cellsHave you seen this article demonstrating a 3D printing technique for laying down stem cells? It’s pretty cool, but sweet Christ, is it misunderstood. First, they are not making stem cells!! This is something the journalists are doing a really horrible job of explaining and it’s creating a confusion that is being exacerbated in online comments. Second, they are not arranging cells into 3D human hearts or lungs in the same way conventional 3D printers can build models from plastics – that is the eventual goal, but we’re not there yet. If you’re interested in knowing what the real breakthrough is, read on.

The Benefits of Being Fundable

Yesterday I received a letter from Prudential life insurance. ‘Dear Mr. Wells’, it read, ‘We have recently been notified that you are no longer eligible for your group term life insurance coverage.’ This came only hours after receiving an email from the NYU benefits office stating that ‘[due to a change in employment code] there are no further benefits [beyond medical and dental] to which you are entitled, including participation in the NYU Retirement Plan.’ This email, though it failed to mention it, also formerly strips me of vision care and benefits allowing NYU employees to receive tuition remission for audited classes.

Believe it or not, this is my reward for securing my own postdoctoral funding through a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant (thereby relieving my boss from his previous duty to pay me).
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