« April 2006 | Main | June 2006 »

May 20, 2006

GalaxyGoo Cell T-Shirt

Here's a sneak peak at the latest geeky t-shirt from GalaxyGoo. There's something about white ink on black that really appeals to me.

Cell T-Shirt

May 19, 2006

Comments Disabled For Now

We're having some problems with the comments handling in the blog. Unfortunately, this means that I've had to disable all comments, even just displaying them, for the time being.

If you'd like to send me a comment about a post, please use the small contact form on this page (scroll down). Be sure to mention what post the comment refers to. :-)

May 08, 2006

GalaxyGoo Chocolate Bars

It looks like GalaxyGoo may be offering chocolate bars as part of our fundraising strategy. Not just any chocolate, but organic chocolate. Yum!

The idea came from long-time sponsor of GalaxyGoo, Chocolate Covered (on 24th Street, San Francisco). They generously donate chocolate to our events.

Basically, existing bars will be given our packaging. The chocolate will be available by special order.

Protein Sculptures: Life's Building Blocks Inspire Art

Julian Voss-Andreae is giving a talk on Wednesday, here in San Francisco. Julian is amazing scientist-turned-artist. If you were following our Art Intersect Science show last Fall, you may recognize his name from the list of contributing artists.

Artist/Scientist Julian Voss-Andreae will give a slide presentation titled "Protein Sculptures: Life's Building Blocks Inspire Art" at a public meeting of YLEM, a group of artists using science and technology.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006 at 7.30pm

RX Gallery and Bar (21 and over)
132 Eddy St. , San Francisco , CA 94102
Two blocks from Powell St. BART Station. Suggested donation sliding scale $5-10.

Information from the event flyer follows...

YLEM Forum: What’s Hidden in the Molecules?
"Unraveling Collagen" by Julian Voss-Andreae

Wednesday, May 10, 8 pm
7:30 pm "mix and meet"
RX Gallery and Bar
(No one under 21 allowed)
132 Eddy St., San Francisco, CA 94102
Two blocks from Powell St. BART Station
Best nearby parking: Hotel Bijou, Mason St. Between Ellis and Eddy.
(Evening only parking = $10).
Suggested donation sliding scale $5-10
(entirely voluntary - it's to help our friends at the RX Gallery)
Open to the public and wheelchair accessible

Few recent discoveries have the power to inflame our imagination as much as Luca Cavalli-Sforza's work tracing how humans fanned out from a small area of Africa to cover the globe. Tracing both DNA markers and linguistic studies, his lecture will draw a picture for us of human migrations since the very earliest times, which yields many surprises.

Julian Voss-Andreae, a German-born artist originally trained in quantum physics, will present his current sculptures inspired by proteins, the beautiful and bizarre building blocks of life. His sculptures where recently featured in journals such as "Leonardo" and "Science Magazine".


"Tracing Human Migrations"
YLEM is honored to have L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Professor of Genetics emeritus from Stanford Medical School since 1971, speak to us about his work, begun 50 years ago, on population genetics. In 1955-60, he learned to construct trees of genetic variations between 75 villages in Italy using blood types. Much of his later work has been to increase numbers of new genetic markers, such as Y chromosome and DNA markers, and data on populations. His research led to obtaining samples from difficult-to-reach peoples, such as collecting lymphoblastoid cell lines from African Pygmies in 1985. He is currently continuing the study of genetic evolution at the world level using information available from the Human Genome source, promoting interdisciplinary research on human evolution by linking genetic and cultural (e.g. linguis-
tic) evolution. He is a linguist as well as a molecular biologist, and his map of the migrations of languages (if you exclude colonizing nations) fits the genetic markers surprisingly well! The story it paints of how human populations began from a small area in Africa and fanned out across almost the entire earth is breathtaking. This whole area of study eventually reached the public in March of this year with an article in the National Geographic, "The Greatest Journey Ever Told: The Trail of our DNA."

"Protein Sculptures: Life’s Building Blocks Inspire Art"
For Julian Voss-Andreae, it is less important to copy a molecule accurately in all its details than to find a guiding principle and follow it to see whether it yields artistically interesting results. The main idea underlying this body of work is the analogy between the technique of mitered cuts in his sculptural materials and protein folding. Voss-Andreae’s process resembles the algorithmic process of protein biosynthesis in that he uses the computer to calculate the shape of his sculptures from scientific protein data using custom-developed software. Beside this deterministic side of Voss-Andreae’s work, there is an equally strong intuitive and irrational side, where his pieces stop working as scientific models and become pure art objects.

May 04, 2006

SciDev.Net launches a new Bird Flu Dossier

For up to date news and information about the Bird Flu, visit the SciDev.Net Bird Flue Dossier. It's a portal to articles you might not have access to without subscriptions to Science and Nature. The articles range from science research and epidemiology to public policy and education.

For information on confirmed cases of avian influenza: WHO.

7 Newsletter Flaws

This article is aimed at non-profits, but I think there is a lot in here that applies to anyone trying to reach out to an audience. The take-away message I get is that you need to put yourself and your mission into the newsletter, instead of distancing your self from the reader. In a way, it's somewhat like writing a successful blog with a distinct voice behind it.

These Seven Donor Newsletter Flaws Are Killing You

I would argue not to go too far with these issues, though. While you shouldn't just throw statistics and charts into a newsletter, they can be used effectively to communicate important information. They should illustrate a point you're trying to make. But if it's just filler, put in a pretty picture instead.

May 03, 2006

NASA's Earth Observatory up for a Webby

I get to meet some very bright and talented people. Last month, I had the pleasure of speaking at NASA GSFC, and to see some of the work going on at the Earth Observatory. It gave me a much greater appreciation for how much work goes into their website. It's really amazing.

I'm not the only one who appreciates their work. Rob Simmon (of NASA GSFC) just emailed me that they're up for two Webbys. Two! Congratulations!

Science category: NASA Ozone Hole Watch

Education category: NASA's Earth Observatory

They've got some tough competition in their categories (Education and Science). I was especially impressed with the BBC Springwatch for their mobile data collection and use of Flash to display data.

You can add your vote to the Webby Awards: People's Voice

May 02, 2006

What Shape Is Your Data?

I've come to think of data as coming in two basic shapes: linear or globular. Linear data can also be branched, but it can fall into a fairly simple data structure or XML schema. Rendering this data is fairly straightforward and tends to require simple loops (nested or not).

Globular data is more challenging to work with. An example of globular data would be mathematical notation and MathML . Why globular? The term came into my vocabulary in molecular biology classes, when describing protein shapes. When thinking about data, a path through the data bends and folds back on itself just like a strand of globular protein. Rendering this data requires multiple passes through the schema and recursive loops.

I also see data as having fluid mobility, when handled properly. A catch-phrase to describe this would be "client-side logic" for rendering data. Like water, the data takes the shape of the container that holds it. This could be a database, with each data point in it's own little compartment of an ice-cube tray. With a query, I can melt many cubes, use client-side logic, and combine them into a comfortable view for the user interface. The same data set can be used to create many different views and can be collected from many different inputs. Data flows in, data flows out.