The Nutshell
We Came, We Saw, We Computed
Jeff Perkel | Sep 16, 2005
I never thought I'd say this, but I participated in a flash mob last night (Sept. 15). We didn?t congregate on a street corner and start chanting or anything like that. Instead, we solved a molecular dynamics problem. ?Flash mob computing?, the brainchild of Patrick J. Miller, of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, is a way to build ad hoc supercomputers from unused desktop and laptop computers. Arrayed in the M. Carey Thomas Library at Bryn Mawr College were nine "slave" laptops under
The I of the Storm
Brendan Maher | Sep 16, 2005
I was talking Katrina aftermath with a yeast scientist, George Santangelo, at the University of Southern Miss in Hattiesburg. Things were ?a little nasty? he said, even that far inland -- he?s roughly 50 miles from the Gulf. But he ?obviously has no complaints relative to folks further south.? The gulf coast campus apparently suffered significant damage. In Hattiesburg things fared rather well, but it will take until the next rainfall to see if roof repair holds up. It?s nice, Santangelo said, t
16 days and counting
Zeev Rosenzweig | Sep 15, 2005
Many colleagues, friends and former co-workers have contacted me following my last two blog entries to express sympathy and offer help. These days scientists from New Orleans who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina have many options. I, for example, could relocate my group to a hosting institution anywhere from California to New York. Universities and government laboratories are helping out. Sometimes the conditions in the hosting institution are so great that it is likely that our displaced fac
Passion of the Penguins
Alison McCook | Sep 14, 2005
The Science Times section of the New York Times ran a story yesterday describing how the increasingly popular documentary ?March of the Penguins? is being used by conservatives to justify their positions on abortion, monogamy and intelligent design. One conservative film critic is calling the film ?Passion of the Penguins.? Huh? I?ve seen this movie, and what are these people talking about? Here?s the evidence the article presents:A writer for World Magazine, a Christian publication,
The Human Interactome: Published, but not Complete
Jeff Perkel | Sep 13, 2005
It has been said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Functional genomicists took that proverbial step earlier this month when a group led by Erich Wanker, of Berlin?s Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine, reported the first yeast two-hybrid-derived human interactome (or protein-protein interaction) network in the September 1 online issue of Cell.Wanker was one of three researchers working on a first draft human interactome identified by Alison McCook in our
After Katrina: Temporary relocation
Zeev Rosenzweig | Sep 10, 2005
Since my last entry, all the faculty members of the chemistry department at University of New Orleans (UNO) have been found. The department established an alternative e-mail network to deliver information to faculty and students about UNO issues. Our associate chair, Ray Sweany, and Scott Whittenburg, who recently assumed a position in the UNO administration, have been working in Baton Rouge in the effort to rebuild the university. Both are exhibiting extraordinary leadership under very difficul
Katrina and the University of New Orleans chemistry department
Zeev Rosenzweig | Sep 8, 2005
Like the entire city of New Orleans, the University of New Orleans chemistry department -- of which I am a member -- was blown away by Hurricane Katrina. Most of the faculty and students evacuated the city ahead of the storm. This is a routine for most New Orleans residents during hurricane season. Some of the faculty, particularly the more senior ones, became complacent over the years and decided to ride out the storm. The local media has a lot to do with this irrational decision. I neve
?Big pharmaceuticals are up there with arms dealers?
Richard Gallagher | Sep 1, 2005
So says a leading character in the just-released movie ?The Constant Gardener.? Having seen the film, I can tell you that he means big pharmaceutical companies, not very large pills. The message that pharma is evil is drilled home repeatedly, like a new type of cramming video for some high school social sciences exam. It?s even the focal point of the television trailer. But that?s not what I took from the movie at all. I enjoyed The Constant Gardener as a piece of escapism. It is centered
Science and Ethics at NIH--and FDA
Tabitha M. Powledge | Aug 29, 2005
Many of the headlines suggested that the proposed ethics rules for NIH employees have been relaxed. But that's not quite true, as Ted Agres pointed out here. The rules on stock ownership have loosened, yes. But the most important restriction remains. That's the one forbidding those who labor at NIH to do outside consulting for businesses with a stake in NIH's labor.These decisions are a smart move for NIH director Elias A. Zerhouni. The previous proposed stock ownership rules were needl
Phi Zappa Quakka
Brendan Maher | Aug 24, 2005
It?s nice to see a Frank Zappa fan working in the Nature press office. A recent release extolling the current issue?s report on space dust from meteorites was titled: ?Who you jivin? with that cosmik debris?? The line is pulled from a 1974 classic railing against quackery from the same jester who had hypothesized that there?s more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe (and that stupidity has a longer shelf life). And to the list of Zappa quotes unintentionally relevant to the sciences I offe