World's Fair

Vince LiCata

Dance Your Ph.D. -2011

The “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest is on again for 2011. This unusual and highly interesting experiment in science outreach continues to be shepherded by John Bohannon, and continues to attract new sponsors — this years sponsor is TEDx Brussels. So what is this? Basically: you create an interpretive dance that “explains” your Ph.D. research and…

Even in the small theater where I saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it was clear that this is, to some degree, a father and son movie – there were several father and son pairs in the audience – more than I’ve seen in any other movie. “Yes, son, now you will see…

Reblogitation (pronounced with a “j” sound for the “g”, of course): the blogospheric phenomenon of reposting, and re-reposting, and re-re-reposting the information from the “apparent first” or “most snarky” report (or blog post) about a news item. Mother-post: the “apparent first” or “most snarky” report of an item, that then provides “the facts” for most…

SciArt on the Bayou

The chair of the Theatre Dept. here at LSU and I have begun co-producing a new “SciArt Conversation Series” here at LSU — where we get scientists and artists on stage together at the same time for informal presentations of their work. We are trying to pick combinations that have some sort of real or…

A physicist friend of mine recently lent me a copy of Harry Frankfurt’s “On Bullshit“, which purports to be the only ever philosophical analysis of “bullshit”. This former essay turned teeny tiny hardback book reaches such profound conclusions as: 1) bullshit is sort of like humbug, only more excremental; 2) bullshit is worse than lying,…

Okay, after a long, long gap (on the blogosphere timescale) and/or almost zero elapsed time (by scientific literature standards), we’re going to attempt to wrap up this mini-series on heat capacity effects in biology. Parts 1 and 2 are here and here, respectively. So: How do you know if your reaction has a heat capacity…

I’ve been strangely fascinated by the “arsenic-eating” and maybe “arsenic-utilizing’ bacteria report from NASA researchers and the so-called “backlash” (“arsenic-gate”) in the blogosphere. Many others have posted on this topic. What I’ve found most interesting is that there seem to be several parallel and barely intersecting universes: 1) the scientific literature, 2) the traditional media,…

The laws of thermodynamics are empirical laws – they were not derived from some first principles of the universe: they were derived by doing thousands and thousands of experiments, and then coming up with some relationships that could quantitatively explain all those experiments. In biological thermodynamics, we are at the beginnings of trying to define…

Heat Capacity in Biology 101

Scienceblogs is promoting the writing of “Science 101″ general topic posts all through the “back to school” month of September. So, here is the first in a multi-part series on Heat Capacity in Biology: Heat Capacity in Biology 101: What is it? Heat capacity is basically a proportionality constant. For any substance, the heat capacity…

The Speed of Money

Wow! Either it’s an odd coincidence, or the Latisse marketers are highly vigilant monetizers, because in less than 24 hours after I posted yesterday’s rambling little piece about the eyelash wonder drug, a tasteful little ad for it showed up on the Scienceblogs homepage (cue spooky music now). Robot voice: “Oh yes, I will go…