Category Archives: Humor

Things we find funny

Favorite Links for Week 49 2019

“Water-in-salt” electrolyte enables high-voltage aqueous lithium-ion chemistries

Wow. OK, this is a tour de force. Some of the experiments are pretty typical battery research (voltammetry, discharge curves, etc.). This group went farther and did molecular dynamics and density functional theory analysis of the chemistry happening during the charging process. They do 17O NMR to look at the electrolyte and water. They do XPS and etch and do XPS again to look at the depth profile of the chemistry. If you want to know what’s happening in a battery, here’s how to do it.

OK, stuff that’s not really science below.

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Fitbit can tell when I’m stressed

Fitbit can look at your resting heart rate over time. Minor complaint: I couldn’t download my resting heartbeat data into Excel, though. It’s hard to look back at resting heart rate history. I had to click back through the “date” function in the Dashboard and take screenshots of the graph every ~30 clicks/days. Google bought FitBit recently, and now the high-resolution heart rate data are available to Calico, I expect. That could be a big deal.

2019-11-27 13_27_25-_2019-11-27 10_31_29-Fitbit Dashboard.xcf-1.0 (RGB color, 7 layers) 984x390 – GI

On my graph, you can see the rise preceding major grant deadlines. So that’s… cool? Cool. Cooool.

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Favorite Links for Week 47 2019

Baddy One Shoe – Dear Hank & John podcast

“I’m just there to try and make the other people on Twitter feel better. I know how rough it is out there. I’m trying to help.” Said Hank Green, famous person on the internet. He said this on his podcast, Dear Hank and John, which I have recently discovered. I know I’m late to the party on this one, but it’s fun. The quote reminded me of Jack Torrence from The Shining (re-watched in preparation for Doctor Sleep, which I liked a lot more than Kubrik’s film).

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Favorite Links for Week 45 2019

What is the real, mathematical dog-year calculation?

Ok, so we all knew dog-years can’t be a linear translation to human years. So what is the real translation between human and dog age? There’s an “epigenetic clock” discovered by Steve Horvath. Basically, DNA gets little chemical modifications that help turn genes on and off. It turns out that some of those modifications accumulate with age. And this biochemical signature tracks age better than just about anything else. So is it the same in dogs? And can we use it to correlate dog-years to human-years? Yes. Tina Wang et al. figured it out (bioRxiv).

Personalized predictions of blood sugar based on poop bacteria

This 2019 paper, “Personalized Approach to Predicting Postprandial Glycemic Responses,” showed a predictive model for blood sugar spikes after meals. The composition of the food (carbohydrate content and calorie content) did not predict blood sugar spikes very well. On the other hand, food information PLUS information about a specific person’s gut microbiome did a very good job. So if you knew your gut microbiome, you could make better food choices.

Failure Found to be an “Essential Prerequisite” For Success

These folks used the NIH database of applications for grants to see what differentiates people who eventually succeeded from those who didn’t. The average was two failures before a successful grant application. I wish I could convey how incredibly hard it is to put together a proposal that gets rejected.

Philip Pullman on Children’s Literature and the Critics Who Disdain It

I read this essay a few days ago and loved it. It came up in conversation, too. The premise is that good literature is not accessible literature. That a book is something children enjoy just means that it is clear and accessible, not that it is simplistic. Generally, children don’t like simplistic. And if a book is enjoyable for children and has depth, it will be equally enjoyable for adults.

Atomic Force Microscope was used to look at single molecules and resolve details

The article, “Revisiting Kekulene: Synthesis and Single-Molecule Imaging,” is amazing. First, what a crazy molecule. Second, what an amazing technique to look at its structure and properties.

Little Things:

Can snakes use doorknobs? Wait for it to find out


Starting work at 4am is a mixed bag

Step 1: Wake up at 3AM

You remember your youth? Going to bed at 3AM after having a lot of fun? Maybe playing video games or drinking at a bar? It felt a little rebellious and irresponsible to be up that late (it’s almost early #LOL). Maybe if you had a late class or a flexible work schedule, you did these shenanigans on a weekday! Those were fun times. This is the exact opposite of that. Try to go to sleep at 7, but fail. Go to sleep at 9 instead and wake up barely able to function.

Step 2: Protein

Cereal over the age of thirty is a bad idea. Even bran cereal. That’s just sugar, and sugar wants to take up squatter’s residence on your belly. It’s harder to evict than your derelict former roommate, Martin, who ate your eggs, but doesn’t feel bad about it because they are not free range and factory farm cruelty excuses theft, apparently. Cook an egg for breakfast because you are a grownup.

Step 3: Coffee

Using a clean coffee maker, brew up 8 to 10 cups of Walmart’s Great Value Medium Roast. It’s a great value! There are no calories in a cup of black coffee but there are 100 milligrams of caffeine (It is by will alone I set my mind in motion). Drink a cup (or three!) to get you started and put the rest in an insulated container to nurse over the rest of the morning. Coffee kept hot on a hot plate will taste like death in less than an hour.

Step 4: Go to work

To start the day, read a nice think piece about your work. There’s no need to jump right in to the real work of the day. You’re in at 4AM. If you read for an hour to get your head on straight, you’re still ahead of the game. For God’s sake, don’t read the news. Not even as a joke. Block that on your own computer if you have to, like NetNanny for adults. Yes, there is an app for that.

Step 5: Panic at 6AM

Holy crap, have you  been at work for 2 hours? What have you accomplished? It’s the equivalent of 11 AM for anyone on a non-insane schedule. Have you written anything? A blog post, at least? Part of a paper? Code? What’s the point of getting up before dawn? You could have “slept in” until 6AM. That’s a statement that is absurd on its face. Maybe you should meditate or something.

Do you prefer your morning routine parodies in video form? Here you go: