Archive for: April, 2010

Friday Sprog Blogging: first contact with extraterrestrial life.

Apr 30 2010 Published by under Critters, Kids and science

Despite the crush of the closing weeks of the semester, I found a little time to follow the conversation about whether Earthicans ought to welcome a meeting with whatever extraterrestrial life might be out there to meet us, or whether we'd be better off hiding under the bed.
Although the Free-Ride offspring have not followed the point and counterpoint on the best alien life action plan, they're generally more enthusiastic futurists than I am. So, I asked them to dig deep into their imaginations and give us their visions of first contact.
It should surprise no one that the elder and younger Free-Ride offspring have very different visions of this event.
Before they started drawing, they brainstormed a bit about what forms extraterrestrial life might take. Maybe you'd find your classic Star Trek humanoids, or comic book little green men. But why couldn't alien life be mostly plants, or fungi?
Maybe we'll be negotiating intergalactic treaties with microbes? (I'm thinking people might be less cavalier about skipping vaccinations if that's how things play out.)
In any case, here are the pictures of first contact they came up with.

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9 responses so far

The corresponding question for the science PIs: graduate student work hours.

From the last poll you probably guessed that this one was coming.

I expect my graduate students to be working:Market Research

I'll be interested to see whether there's any correspondence between the hours demanded by PIs who read this blog and the hours demanded of graduate students who read this blog.
Once again, feel free to discuss the issue of appropriate student workload and/or humane management of graduate students in the comments.

6 responses so far

A quick question for the science graduate students: work hours.

The issue came up in my "Ethics in Science" class today, so I figured it was worth mounting a quick (and obviously unscientific) poll:

My graduate advisor expects or requires me to work:survey software

Feel free to discuss in the comments.

17 responses so far

Question for the hivemind: where in the blogosphere do you find mentoring?

Yesterday in my "Ethics in Science" class, we were discussing mentoring. Near the end of the class meeting, I noted that scientists in training have a resource nowadays that just wasn't available during my misspent scientific youth (back in the last millennium): the blogosphere.
What does the blogosphere have to do with mentoring?

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9 responses so far

From the annals of plagiarism: with friends like these ...

As we creep toward the end of the spring semester, I noticed a story at Inside Higher Ed about a commencement address gone wrong:

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12 responses so far

A worrisome plan to make the earth move.

Apr 26 2010 Published by under Geology, Passing thoughts, Technical issues

It has come to my attention that a number of people are risking catastrophic seismic activity today by exposing n00bs.
This so-called "n00bquake" frightens me, and not just because I live in earthquake country.

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4 responses so far

Friday Sprog Blogging: dreaming of snakes.

Apr 23 2010 Published by under Critters, Kids and science

Dr. Free-Ride: So, you know how sometimes you have nightmares?
Younger Offspring: Yeah.
Dr. Free-Ride: I had a nightmare the other night.*
Younger Offspring: What was it?
Dr. Free-Ride: Well, I was supposed to be picking up snakes with two sticks and moving them from one place to another.
Younger Offspring: Why?

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6 responses so far

Activities compatible with one's academic job.

I really don't know what to say about this news item, except that it had better mean that the California State University presumptively* views blogging on one's own time and bandwidth as fully compatible with a professorial appointment, regardless of the subject matter on which the blog is focused or the views expressed by the academic doing the blogging.
Otherwise, there is a pretty messed up double-standard in place.
*Obviously, violating FERPA, HIPAA, or other laws or regulations would count against that presumption.

4 responses so far

A possibility for those recruiting postdocs and junior faculty to consider.

In recent days, there have been discussions of conditions for postdoctoral fellows, and about the ways that these conditions might make it challenging to tackle the problem of the "leaky pipeline" for women in science.
For example, in comments at DrugMonkey's blog, bsci opines:

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8 responses so far

Earth Day 2010: change I can believe in.

Apr 22 2010 Published by under Current events, Environment, Personal

First, let me refer you to Sharon Astyk's excellent post on what has become of Earth Day. If I had the time or energy to pay much attention to Earth Day as a particular day of observance, I think I'd share Sharon's grumpiness.
After all, paying attention to our impacts on our shared environment just one day out of 365 is not likely to make much of a difference, and buying stuff as a strategy to deal with our over-consumption of resources (and the pollution that follows upon the manufacture and transport of that stuff) seems pretty perverse.
That said, I'm going to take this Earth Day as an opportunity to notice some sustainable changes in the direction of treading more lightly that I've made in the past year. This isn't quite rising to the level of Mike Dunford's Earth Day resolutions meme, in which the sprogs and I participated last year. Resolutions are good, but sometimes when you set a goal and then fail to live up to it, you throw your hands up and kind of give up.
Giving up, I'd argue, doesn't do much to help. On the other hand, noticing places where you imagined change would be painful and it turned out not to be might actually help motivate more change.
Here are the changes that have stuck since last Earth Day:

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2 responses so far

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