Can the teardrops that fall after reading bad science writing generate renewable electricity? Yes, they can. 1. The puzzle of power from raindrops The usually excellent Marginal Revolution blog features daily “Assorted Links” that point to interesting articles on an exceptionally wide variety of topics, most often related to economics or sociology. Monday’s included a … Continue reading Can the teardrops that fall after reading bad science writing generate renewable electricity? Yes, they can.
About a new paper from my lab  on how membranes flow through water, featuring our shortest title ever! For many years I’ve been interested in the physical properties of cell membranes, properties determined in large part by the underlying lipid bilayer. Bilayers are remarkable materials, and my research group has measured characteristics such as … Continue reading Watching membranes do nothing
Synopsis: I investigate a mystery about rising conference costs and reach a different conclusion than expected. A few days ago I was registering for the American Physical Society (APS) March Meeting, the major yearly gathering of Physicists, and noticed that the registration fee is quite a bit higher than it was last year. I made … Continue reading The Case of the Rising Conference Registration Fee
Once again, a post about notable books I read last year, some great, some awful. (Past years’ lists: 2018 , 2017, 2016, and 2015.) Fiction This was the year of long books, at least more so than most years. I finally read all 963 pages of Anna Karenina, which was wonderful — sprawling, fast-moving, and … Continue reading The Year in Books, 2019
There are now no bookstores around the University of Oregon (UO) campus. Until recently, there were two. The two did not, however, go out of business — at least not in a straightforward way. One of the stores is the University bookstore. At least since I moved to Eugene, 13 years ago, the uppermost of … Continue reading A bookstore-free university neighborhood
Synopsis: In a recent paper from my lab , we report on watching gut bacteria get pummeled by low doses of antibiotics. The antibiotics induce changes in the spatial organization of the microbes, with major consequences for their ability to persist in the gut. Motivations At high enough doses, antibiotic drugs will kill bacteria, or at … Continue reading An intestinal amplifier for antibiotics
Synopsis: I describe a short activity for high school students on visualizing protein structures and etching them in wood. Challenge: If you’re familiar with proteins, you might like to ask yourself before you get to Part 2: If you were to show non-scientists a few protein structures, which structures would you pick? 1. Background: SAIL … Continue reading Etching proteins — SAIL recap, 2019