Transcription and Translation

An attempt to reason out loud

The lack of posts has been epic. Sorry life has been just too hectic.

I’ll give you a flavor:

Running around. Setting up experiments. Training young rotation students. Off to Microbiology seminar. Off to Cell Biology talk. Off to Montreal. Where next? Vacation? Need to lengthen those telomeres. Paris, Munich, Reykjavik.

Convoluta Roscoffensis.

Need to get data club speaker. Must find new microscope room. Need to get reagent. Try to find protocol. Must get results!

Time to take a break. Flip journal. APC and mRNA? Strange. Too many people study that protein. It does everything and nothing. It’s one of these proteins that entices … study me I’m mutated in 50% of colon cancers … but do we understand what it does? I’m not so sure. Maybe it’s a sick joke. And mRNA? It’s everywhere. It’s nowhere. It must be somewhere. BUT WHY? We have no clue. Need a new idea.

Back to the lab. Must get results. No time to write. No time to think. Wake up, eat food, walk to the lab. Pipette liquids up and down. Coffee. Passage cells. Snap pictures. Lunch. Pipette more liquids. Type emails. Call thesis advisor. Call long lost friends. Call doctor. Pipette more liquids.

Need a break. Go to pub. Talk about Systems biology one night. All those posers. They don’t know what systems is. All this data, what is it good for? Are we all just number collecting machines? N=200,000 and rising. The result, chaos. No insight. A waste of time. Next night, talk about literature. That Gore Vidal. He’s incredible. And did you hear about the giant hotel. But then the same question comes up. How’s the blog? Not sure. I neglect it. Bye bye readers. My blog must be dead. Have so many ideas. Big ideas. Big science. Little science. Should I continue with it? Euthanasia? Slow quiet death? Apoptois? Autophagy? Entosis. Back to the lab. And It’s 9PM. Pipette more liquids. Split cells. Pipette more liquids. Done (well until tomorrow). Walk back home. Eat food. Try to read. Try to watch Jon Stewart. Forget about elections. Drift to sleep.

My blog. What to do. Maybe I need a change. Maybe audio is the next step. Maybe talk about the little bits of science that I love. How to think about a problem. How we figured out the nature of genetic material. The wonder of subcellular automata. How to think. What is an idea. How we are trapped by our own convenient theories. The tragedy of human mind. We are all trapped by misconstrued ideas. But you meet it head on in a personal way as a scientist. YOU REALY DO. So maybe audio is the way to go. Once a week. So much incredible stuff to talk about, so many great stories. So little available on the net. So much crap on blogs. No wonder the average person is confused and afraid of science. But science can be wonderful. Pondering ideas and how to think about life is so liberating. It gives you a precious and fragile possession, self-knowledge.

I’ll have to think about it …

Now where to. Toronto? Really? Let’s try.


  1. #1 PhilipJ
    May 8, 2008

    Are you coming to U of T to give a talk? I haven’t seen any notices, but I’d definitely like to attend.

  2. #2 MadGenius
    May 9, 2008

    “Talk about Systems biology one night. All those posers. They don’t know what systems is. All this data, what is it good for? Are we all just number collecting machines? N=200,000 and rising. The result, chaos. No insight. A waste of time.”

    Is that some sort of warning to stay away from systems biology?? 😉

  3. #3 Alex Palazzo
    May 9, 2008

    No. I’m slowly being convinced that there is quite a bit of good work by some systems labs, but there is also a ton of brainless data collecting as well but others.

    At the monthly pub night organized by NNB, I had a great discussion with someone from Peter Sorger’s lab – they’re doing great work in understanding how variations in gene expression within a given cell population can lead to a heterogeneity in phenotype. We also talked about how many labs under the banner of “Systems Biology” are just collecting tons of data without seeking a deeper insight into how the system is put together, how it works. Those are the posers. And they give a bad name to systems biology.

    I wanted to write up a post on all this, but I don’t have the time, but thanks for asking … I guess I typed it all out anyway.

  4. #4 dileffante
    May 9, 2008

    Audio? Please, don’t! Or do it, provided that some helpful hand may write down the “weekly transcript”. I love your blog (it’s in the short list of feeds that I check first), but audio may be difficult and tiresome for non-native anglophones!

  5. #5 U
    May 10, 2008

    Woot to Toronto.

    BTW, we’re all posers.

  6. #6 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    May 10, 2008

    Need to lengthen those telomeres. Paris, Munich, Reykjavik.

    Wow, those are mighty lengthy telomeres!

  7. #7 Thom Quinn
    May 10, 2008

    You mentioned Convoluta Roscoffensis; however, it seemed to be part of a thought fragment that you were capturing on your blog. I’m curious: what about it were you pondering about this amazing organism?

  8. #8 Alex Palazzo
    May 11, 2008

    I’ve been reading up on this creature quite a bit. This summer a group of us will be in Brittany and we’ll take a look at it more closely. We’ve wondered whether we can apply some of the new cell manipulation techniques to this endosymbiont to get at some fundamental question concerning how two organisms talk and modify each other’s behaviors.

  9. #9 MadGenius
    May 12, 2008

    Thanks Alex. Got interested in Systems biology as my current job involves quite a bit of data analysis for drug discovery. Want to go to grad school – but haven’t been able to decide whether I should go to systems biology, or a more traditional cell bio/neuroscience course.

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