November 2014
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MOVED - please update your feeds

I noticed that quite a number of people are still subscribed to this feed, but there’s nothing new here. You should subscribe to the blog on the main domain, at easternblot.net (here’s a link directly to the RSS feed)
That’s where all my other blogs now live. There have been quite a number of posts lately, so you have a lot to catch up on!

(In fact, I might figure out how to redirect the feed. I’m sure that’s possible.)

Info Post

I’m probably slowly going to stop this blog, but because the URL on all my Moo Cards points here, I should just add a placeholder post.

My main blog at the moment is Expression Patterns (I moved Etsy Wednesday to there, so bookmark it if you’re a fan of science-themed crafts)

I’m also doing science/music stuff over here.

and I’m on Twitter, which is where you will find out about any other projects I’m involved in.

What’s in a name?

If you get your hands on this month’s Chemistry World, and flip to the back section – the “Last Retort” – you can read about the kinds of reactions I’ve had on the name of this blog. I’ve been using easternblot as online handle for several years now, and it has led to some interesting conversations. I list all the different meanings I’ve come across for the phrase, and why I think it will never catch on as name for a new biochemical technique.

I haven’t picked up a chemistry magazine since I studied chemistry in undergrad in the previous millennium, so I’m rather pleased with my author copy of CW. Yay, chemistry!

Etsy Wednesday – Recommendation

Etsy user beanforest recommends the scientific method.

Five

This blog turned five years old on February 1st, and I completely failed to acknowledge that. My excuses were (in order of appearance): moved across the Atlantic, started a new job, was looking for a place to live, went to a conference, had my own birthday (older than five) and then didn’t have internet at home until earlier this week. I think I’m off the hook.

Nonetheless, here is a picture I painted a few months ago, that is somewhat related to aging and science, so it’s appropriate:

As I mentioned, I moved across the Atlantic, for the 4th time in my life, in fact. I now live in Cambridge (UK), and work for Development. I can’t yet say exactly what I’ll be doing, because the project isn’t up and running yet, but it will be fun and interesting. The one thing I did do so far was make sure that the journal is on Twitter, so we have an outlet for news that doesn’t directly go into the journal itself (eg. conference notes or retweeting things that others post that is of interest to the readers). It’s a lot more scientific than my own personal Twitter, so have a look if you like biology.

As you can maybe guess by the fact that I got the journal on Twitter in my first week, I got the job in part because I’m very familiar with the online science community, and that in turn is a result of starting this blog five years ago. No, blogging isn’t for everyone, and many scientists would rather focus on the experiments they need to do to secure their next paper/grant/thesis, but if you find yourself in a lab and realize that you would much rather talk or read about science than spend the rest of your life doing it, then by all means, start a blog! I’m not the only one for who this turned out to be an accidental, yet good, career move. I don’t know how long I can still maintain this blog in particular (I have two others) but I’m very grateful for what I got out of it. I just wanted a bit of an outlet for the cool science stories I had to tell, and it grew into so much more!

Happy birthday, easternblot.net, and sorry I forgot your birthday, but it’s also kind of your fault that I had other things going on this month…

Scientists in Avatar

I saw Avatar last week. IMAX screen, 3D – the way it was meant to be seen. Many reviews online and offline criticized the movie for being unoriginal, and this brilliant observation on FAILblog definitely hits the nail on the head: it’s Pocahontas in space. But that should not stop you from seeing it. First of all, why does everything need to be original? I also saw Sherlock Holmes on the big screen last month, and enjoyed knowing that he would find a reasonable explanation behind all the “black magic” nonsense. I also enjoyed knowing that everything would end up all right in Avatar.

But what should really have you rushing to the theatre is that, while the science in Avatar may be fiction, the scientists are scarily real.

Over the years, Hollywood has taught us that scientists are the brains behind the destructive machinery, the egomaniacs out to grab what they want to further their own knowledge. In Avatar, the scientists are the good guys. In particular, Sigourney Weaver’s character Grace may be one of the most realistic scientists I have ever seen in a fictional story. She initially only cares about her research, but then revolts against her only funding source to protect the planet she’s gotten to know through her work. She’s a compassionate human character, devoted to and interested in her research subject, and using empiric knowledge to make a balanced decision. A far cry from the mad scientists you usually see on screen.

So maybe it’s like Pocahontas, but it’s Pocahontas in space, in 3D, and with proper scientists.

More on Avatar’s scientists from Sheril at The Intersection.
Interesting post about real “Avatar”-like studies at Stanford: Beyond Sigourney Weaver’s tank top

Moving

I saw Avatar today. I didn’t read much about it beforehand, and only listened to people telling me I needed to see it on IMAX 3D, so I was surprised to see that scientists play an important role in the story. I especially liked the research leader, Grace. The two thoughts that went through my head were: “I need to blog about this for easternblot” and “It would be cool to be Grace’s avatar for Halloween next year”. Then I remembered that I hadn’t blogged on easternblot in months, and that I probably won’t have Halloween at all next year because I’m moving to England. And *then* I remembered I hadn’t blogged on easternblot about moving to England, so maybe I needed to do two separate posts. This is the first one, and it’s not about Avatar, it’s about moving.

As of February, I will be employed in Cambridge, to do something interesting related to publishing and biology and people. I’ll give more details once the thing I’ll be working on is live, but for now all you need to know is: I’m leaving Toronto, I’m moving to the UK in two weeks, and I’m keeping the blog – but don’t know yet how often I’ll update it and with what.

I’m also on very limited bandwidth right now with easternblot.net, so I’m purposely keeping content down a bit until I’m settled enough to upgrade my hosting plan.

This weekend I’ll churn out some blog posts, though, and line them up for publishing later.

Of course I’m starting to be productive just now that I sold my desk…