Saturday, January 31, 2009

More on Pretty

Pretty in Pink - Eppendork loved the movie the first time round and every single time after that! So running with the pretty theme she has changed the very staid and sciencey theme to a more pretty friendly pink.  It may stay or it may not stay but for the moment I am feeling verrrry pretty! 

In the words of Duckie somewhat revised "(That Eppendork) is a really volcanic ensemble you're wearing, it's really marvelous!".  

Marvelous chooks Marvelous!


PS: Blog roll has disappeared - will have to fix that after I get back from my Welcome to the lab dinner!

Friday, January 30, 2009

I feel pretty oh so pretty...

That's right folks - I feel pretty, oh so pretty.  Well in Eppendork's lalalala land of sleep deprivedness and inserting herself into a new time zone kinda way she is preeetty!   Anywho I spent this week learning more about the city and lab I have plonked myself into and there is good news afoot (notice pretty sparkly shoe to distract from dark circles under well defined baby blues).  

Figure 1: OMG did you see those shoes Mr Isis was wearing???    Kidding!! Minus the rollers and Eppendork swears it could've been the mirror she was looking at yesterday.

I like my new lab - it has lots of really good equipment and anything we don't have we are to add it to the list of things to sort out - although I cant see anything we really, really need at the moment.  I like the people in my office and the people in my lab(s).   I am adjusting to my new supervisors way of dealing with things and have figured out in short order that Eppendork has to have her shit together (well together) before she asks questions and or for help.  Eppendork sat quietly (because I'm new and it's always good to observe the lay of the land before sticking your neck too far) while he toastly grilled someone until they were golden on the outside (not quite but you get the idea) for not doing something which she shouldve done and tbh what he was saying was correct and I would have made that call but not quite the way he did so.  Having said that he is a star in the field and I can get on with him and learn from him.   

Eppendork now has a list of things to do longer than her arm (she has short arm syndrome) that I have to work through in the next six months or so - am set just have to press go!  In the mean time I shall enjoy my somewhat quiet time and go in search of a few glasses of the good stuff as reward for having survived her first week in her new lab - which she has given the moniker of ILA - International Lab A - not too creative but seriously that Eppendork can string words together is a good sign at this stage anyway.


PS: There are no shoes in this blog - I forgot to put them in here - and didn't notice until now - suspect sleep may be the answer.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

OMG it's cold

Let us just review the past 48 hours or so - Eppendork packed her bags (forgetting her raincoat grrrr - just stupid) and hopped on the first of four planes to get to her new home town for the foreseeable future.   I have made a few observations about travel and the new country so far:
  1. Eppendork has the demeanour and face of a nefarious person.  To count I was wanded four times during the trip and for want of a better word "felt up" by an overenthusiastic female guard at Airport 4 of the five airports I visited.  I also had a delightful conversation with another customs lady at Airport 2 who engaged me by enquiring about what I was doing on my travels and then we talked about my upcoming Phizzle Dizzle - during which time she wanded me and swiped both of my bags for drug residues all with a smile on her face.  Mental note: baby steps maketh the evil scientist. 
  2. Two empty seats on plane B = sleep budget business class styles.  One seat squished next to strange man = one hour of sleep because you are so so tired that it is impossible for you to stay awake and 11 hours of watching movies and tv of varying quality.  Eppendork can now officially say that she can fall asleep at the drop of a hat - after much sleep deprivation.
  3. Airline food is not always good - worse when one meal is good and the next is very bad.
  4. When people tell you it is cold where you are going - believe them and remember your raincoat.  Standing in the pouring, driving ran (when the sun has started to disappear at 3 pm) for twenty minutes huddled in the doorway of a hairdresser who looked at you funny when you rock up bags in hand and asks if she minds if you use her phone and stand in her doorway, is not fun.  Landlord eventually arrived but not before I got very cold and somewhat wet.
  5. Rain will stop when you purchase the umbrella you didn't have last night.

Eppendork starts her Phizzle Dizzle tomorrow - wish me luck!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Possibly Procrastinating Now

Figure 1: I shall call him Bob - wait we arent meant to name them are we?

So Eppendork is procrastinating just a little, just enough to cast her purtty blues over the online New York Times when I came across this little gem of an article.   It amused Eppendork greatly - although if she was being serious then using your offspring as test subjects may well be ethically dodgey - but look at that picture - how cute is that kid????   It sparked off a bit of debate in the readers comments but I personally think its about where the lines are drawn if I just video tape my kid unobtrusively for the first year of his/her life and they dont know about it - how is that harming the child?  I don't think it is - when you take them out of the home setting doing MRI's etc on them that's when it steps over the line for me.  What do you think?


I cannae doit any morrrr captin!

Eppendork believes she may well be turning into bare-arsed bluebottle with amount crap she has been sorting out and taking care of.  I mean really how much stuff (which may include one large forest plantation - non native of course) can one person accumulate in the space of a year (which is the amount of time since last large clean out)?  Lots and lots and lots apparently, and not much of it could i actually throw out in the recycling either so a lot of it became fuel for a fire that burned nicely.   Moving to another country will do that for ya - woot! Seriously last move it was five car loads, stacked to the eyeballs - and quite frankly am surprised I didnt get stopped by any one for a traffic violation.  Today it was one partially full car - it helps to have a friend look after a couple of boxes for me - but the majority of stuff I am keeping came with me.

Figure 1: Eppendork is pleasantly surprised by how much stuff she can fit into her decrepit little people mover.

I am pleasantly surprised, LB believes it is his no nonsense, only bare essentials, minimalistic style of living is rubbing off on me.  I hate to shatter his unfounded belief - I will invariably start collecting crap as soon as I land on non-native tarmac, which will occur in four days.  Four days - arggggghhhh!  I still have way too much to do - sigh, back to doing stuff.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I love Science - fullstop

I love bacteria! And this always makes me feel good.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Very cool

Eppendork has a very large tattoo on her back - it is beautiful and it hurt lots - especially over the spine.  However, I don't have one of my science and now I am thinking I want one - where should I start methinks?  I do believe it will require much thought - the last one took around 10 years to happen. What made Eppendork think about this?  I was reading Carl Zimmer blog "The Loom" and I came across this - the Science Tattoo Emporium and it's tre cool.  I also love Carl Zimmer's Parasite Rex - a very rocking parasite book - it's still on my bookshelf.  You should read it.

Check out those fangs! How cool is the very ordinary tapeworm?!  Click on the picture it will take you to Parasite Rex.


PS:  Did anyone see that House episode where they pulled the twenty foot tapeworm from inside someone who couldn't feel pain - awesome!                   

In which Eppendork gets punKd so to speak...

Eppendork, I don't understand your fear. Just how easy do you think it would be for one to isolate some anthrax from the soil and then grow it in a way that it could be "released or weaponized", that is, if one didn't expose oneself to the agent during the process? These Chicken Little posts about mere possibilities have to have more substance than the usual "no, i'm scared, its bad" that is floating around the blogaspheres. Would you enlighten me?

Figure 1: Eppendork doesnt think GMO is wrong or evil or bad - there is a time and place

Biopunk raised an interesting viewpoint about whether the previous post was just good old fashioned scaremongering which in Biopunk’s words is “floating around various blogospheres”. Eppendork will enlighten you Biopunk – she is good like that. The availability and viability of any bacteria is a moot point – microbes are everywhere – you the backdoor/garage scientist just has to know where to look and have a basic knowledge of how to use the internet. Now Eppendork loves the internet as much as the next person – information at her gorgeously manicured fingertips both delights me and disturbs me.  However, a little information can be a dangerous thing – and to be honest I think that is a fair call. I mean look how easy it is to get a recipe for bomb making – Wikipedia god love them (I really wouldn’t trust them either about being a accurate source of information, however the BioPunk article was interesting) – has pages dedicated to all manner of microbes and their growth conditions. Just type in Anthrax, Media and growth conditions and see what pops up – you don’t even have to use the correct species name. I imagine safety gear is just as easy to acquire. A piece of information, a recipe or a formula taken out of context and given to a lay person who may or may not consider the wider consequences of their actions disturbs Eppendork. To be honest with you Biopunk I like freedom of speech and I like the availability of the information but I do think there are limits to where it is a good thing. That is why public debate both within the blogosphere and without is an excellent idea and I fully support that.

The following is just my personal opinion as a Molecular Microbiologist and is actually what I was thinking about when I composed the previous blog. I personally don’t think GMO bacteria should be created or released outside of a PC2 Lab. At the end of the day bacteria are just big fat dirty ho bags who will, given half a chance either willingly share their plasmids with each other and/or their chromosomal dna. If you give a colony a particular plasmid and you let it go say “go free – multiply my pretties” they will do just that and then they will add their own spesh additions on to the dna plasmid or not that you have given them. Whether it be plain old recombination or just simple normal everyday synonymous base substitutions, it will happen. Bacteria scavenge dna just as a normal everyday occurrence, it will happen. My field loves those little changes a lot – they excite me when I see them – because they tell me a lot. Natural selection will always occur in all living species – it just happens and you can see it happening very quickly with bacteria - the acquistion of new dna happens to help it survive long enough for it to pass it on to the next generation - gotta love it. The problem I have with using or creating GM bacteria outside of a controlled lab is that you just cant control what those cells will do in terms of sharing dna or modifying the dna you have given them. To be honest you can’t really control it in the lab either but you can contain it and destroy it easily.

I think that if you cannot predict or at least compensate for the potentially negative outcomes you should not be doing the experiment, and unless you have a PC2 lab and are following tight governing authority guidelines at home you should not be doing GMO experiments, least of all in your wardrobe. I don’t think that creating GMO’s at home is being responsible as a scientist – and it falls on our shoulders as scientists to be responsible for the creation and disposal of all GMO organisms. Responsible, ethical science is really important whether your particular GMO be an E.coli you have generated, Dolly the sheep or a reverse engineered virus. Don’t you agree BioPunk?

So to recap:
  1. The evolution of microbes is happening as we speak - not a damn thing you can do to stop and why would you want to? Eppendorks science would fall over and that would be a sad, sad day in her book. However, human intervention and creation of GMO's will push the evolution of these organisms in possibly a completely different direction to that which they would have gone naturally. The release of these organisms in to the wild will either mean they die (and we have dodged part of a bullet, as the dna may yet be taken up) or they will survive and share willi nilly their fabulous dna with other bacteria who dont give a rats where it came from - think natural selection it just happens people. Release of these human generated organisms into the environment accidental or not shouldn't happen.

  2. I applaud you and your BioPunk kin rocking out in a scientific way - becauses let's face it Science is da bomb. However, there are rules and regulations and committees for a reason - it is necessary to follow these regulations so that we can be responsible, ethical scientists as well as human beings. This article gives an overview of biosafety measures - it's readable you should read it.

  3. My main concern is about control and disposal of the GMO's you create because I know how promiscuous bacteria are - bacteria have no ethics and dont give a rats about anything else because the only thing they are programmed to do is survive and pass on their genes to the next generation.  I realise natural GM of organisms has been going on for billions of years - its's why we are here today - but that GM is unlikely to have turned rabbits fluorescent or given tomatoes mamalian genes or archael genes to E. coli via plasmids (although you never know with that one), and it is a lot easier to control a transgenic animal or plant than it is to control bacteria. The point is if you can't control the organism and dispose of it responsibly you shouldn't be doing it (that goes for any transgenic experiment).


PS: Eppendork realises she anthropomorphised a lot during this discussion but thinks it worked anyway.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Science as Spectator Sport

Now Eppendork loves her science and is quite willing to admit to anyone this fact. I have also been known to extol the virtues at home and abroad about my science. However, my science has a time (all the time) and a place (in the lab or lab office) not, I repeat not (because I just feel strongly about this) at home. That's right people not at home, not in your wardrobe, not in your bathroom, not in the garage and definitely not in the kitchen. What brought this particular rant to the fore I hear you say? This article in the New Scientist that Eppendork stumbled across today. My favourite quote comes from Katherine Aull, Ms Aull decided to make a GMO in her closet (her wardrobe!) - the story opens with "Down here I have a thermocycler I bought on eBay...for 59 bucks....the rest is just home brew". Eppendork's mouth may have dropped open when she read on further in the article about people "tinkering" with DNA as their hobby.

Figure 1: My face may have looked a bit like this

Now I realise everyone needs a hobby but it disturbs Eppendork greatly when she thinks about the hoops she has to jump through for her science. There are rules and regulations for a reason - bacteria are quite frankly promiscuous they don't need any help to take up any new and "interesting" genes. Who the fk is monitoring these backyard geniuses? No one - who is going to admit to tinkering with Ebola or E. coli OH157? Or Anthrax? admittedly Ebola maybe harder to get hold of but seriously what do you think you are doing?

The final straw was Ms Aull saying that she thought the warnings of danger were overblown. Ms Aull I am sure you will make a brilliant scientist - go to school get yourself an MSc or a PhD and practice your science in the lab - where science that involves GMO belongs. Eppendork's rant may now be over.

That is all.


PS: I just re read the article (Eppendork may have missed the following point about Ms Aull) - she is already a scientist a "synthetic biologist" (presumably with a PhD or similar) - should this mean she should already know better than to fiddle with GMO stuff at home? I mean this screams containment issues for me - any thoughts on this one?

Monday, January 5, 2009

I wanna work in Dita's Lab

Dr Isis - I do believe she out does you on the shoes this time!


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Karma's a bitch

Eppendork is not full of vim and atem today - I am tired and am thoroughly over Christmas holidays.  I love my family but sometimes I wonder what sort of person I must have been in a past life to be surrounded by these ones in this life.  Sometimes famdamnly are hard work and require much bubbly.  Give me a week I will be back to level soon.