Basic Science and the Human Condition

Haven’t you wondered what scientists learn from fruit flies?

Explorations Scientific

Sperm from lines of red flour beetles genetically engineered to produce red or green "glow in the dark" sperm. Sperm from lines of red flour beetles genetically engineered to produce red or green “glow in the dark” sperm. I use these lines in my dissertation work on mate choice.

How does my research on mate choice impact the human experience? I run into some form of this question at least once a year in the feedback I get following the annual talk that I give to fellow students. This repeated question seems to ask why I engage in what’s known as basic science. The fact of the matter is that basic science can lead to huge advancements in solving applied problems. I also don’t believe that all research should be expected to directly impact the human condition, but more on that thought later.

Scientific research can be divided in many ways, one of which is by bifurcating it into the categories of “basic” or “applied”. Applied science, as the name suggests, is…

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Double Majors Have More Fun

The best theatrical taxidermy story by a biologist!

Explorations Scientific

Bank_vole Bank vole. Photo Credit: Soebe

Shit. I had just inadvertently ripped the tail off the little rodent I was stuffing for my final project in Mammology. In this lab course I was introduced to an interesting group of scientists, who like plenty of other biologists I met, loved animals, but with one important difference: mammologists also loved stuffing them.

I was in the middle of extracting the tail vertebrae from a tiny vole, which is like a rounder version of a mouse, when the accident happened. The thing was, I had been given this particular vole from a collection of rodents trapped as part of a research project, but supplies had run out. If I wanted a vole with an attached tail, I’d either need to go find myself another live one, or draw on the sewing skills from my second major.

In addition to my biology major, which had…

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17th-century cats who don’t have time for this shit

A marvelous collection of literary 17th century cats!

The Social Historian

‘Asses are made to bear, and so are you.’

‘I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.’

Cat11

‘I find my familiarity with thee has bred contempt.’

‘You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!’

‘Sit there, clod-pate!’

Cat6

‘There is in human nature generally more of the fool than of the wise.’

Cat7

‘What goes up, must come down’.

Cat8

‘Don’t I have a reason to be angry, you disobedient hags?’

Cat9

‘All human evil comes from a single cause, man’s inability to sit still in a room.’

A Musical Gathering of Cats (oil on canvas)

‘Silence is the virtue of a fool!’

Cat12

‘I begin to smell a rat.’

Cat14

‘They say everything in the world is good for something.’

Jan_Steen_Kinderu_Katze

‘Be frustrate all ye…

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Depression – a coming out story (6 November 2015)

Mental illness affects someone you know. Talking about it is the first step to normalization. This is the first in a series about my daughter’s experience.

Metathesis

Fig1

Chandelier II, a sculpture from my art show, “The Strength in Our Scars”

Two years ago I came out: not with a revelation about my sexuality, rather an announcement about my mental health. At the point I came forward, I had been struggling with major depressive disorder for roughly a year, but things had recently gotten bad. Cutting myself bad. Fantasizing about suicide bad. In need of hospitalization bad. At that point I needed to let loose the secret I had so closely guarded.

I don’t want to abscond with the language developed by the LGBT community and simply coopt the description of the brave announcement of their true selves, but I see useful overlap in the two experiences. It is the overlap of stigmatization and fear of consequences in both processes that leads me to respectfully borrow the term.

As much support as mental illness sufferers may get from…

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The Web is Your Oyster: Where to Find Free-to-Use Images

When I need an image for a blog post I can never remember where to get them. Perhaps now I can remember that I reposted this list.:-)

The Daily Post

For many of you, images are an integral part of your site. But sometimes, you might not have the right photograph to use for a post. As we’ve mentioned before, you can use the Creative Commons to search for images you need across the web, from Flickr to Wikimedia Commons, and source and attribute images that you find.

This spring, WordPress.com announced embed support for Getty Images, which means you can also access and share photos from Getty’s extensive library for non-commercial use.

We’ve recently noticed other sites that compile great images that are free to use for your personal projects — like your blog — or commercial work. Let’s take a peek.

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Healing with the Lavender Cabbage

When Liz was going through a period of major depression on good days she was afraid to say that she was getting better. The up and down nature of recovery caused her to fear that just talking about feeling better would jinx her progress. So she came up with the code word cabbage instead.photo-original

Exploring different avenues of healing she tried visualizing colors and scents to describe her moods. Lavender was the color that provided the most comfort.

Art creation was a big part of her recovery. Now that life is much closer to normal she is putting on her second art show in Syracuse in May. ‘The Strength in Our Scars’ – a multi-media art show visually exploring elements of depression and self-harm, as well as the beauty of true healing.

Check out the video showing her multimedia works. If you have a couple of bucks to contribute to Mental Health Advocacy and the Arts her Kickstarter campaign would appreciate it.

You could even get your own healing Lavender Cabbage.