If I keep writing, maybe this post will become significant

   There’s been an flurry of papers and essays in the past few years on scientific studies being wrong, arguing that the number of incorrect conclusions is disturbingly large, and symptomatic of poor practice, misplaced incentives, and other factors. Perhaps the most widely seen views on this theme graced the cover of The Economist a … Continue reading If I keep writing, maybe this post will become significant

DUKTalks + Fish Guts

Earlier this Fall, I was part of the University’s “DUKTalks” event — rather like TED talks but (i) featuring speakers from UO, and (ii) without the vast audience. It was a fun and interesting program, with fifteen minute talks on medieval runes, Facebook, and more. My talk, “The Physics of Life,” was about (unsurprisingly) biophysics. … Continue reading DUKTalks + Fish Guts

Twitter, cat pictures, and other wonders of the internet age

One of the recent meetings of our Systems Biology center was devoted to social media and related things, about half of which dealt with Twitter. I’ve generally been confused by twitter — I can’t see why anyone would want to drown in a flood of short, superficial messages, or why anyone would expect an audience … Continue reading Twitter, cat pictures, and other wonders of the internet age

Growing STEMs

There’s no shortage these days of articles on the shortage of STEM*-major students. Not quite as common, but arguably more important, are articles critically assessing whether such a shortage exists. The Chronicle of Higher Education a few days ago featured a nice essay in the latter category, The STEM Crisis: Reality or Myth? *Science, Technology, … Continue reading Growing STEMs

Readings in Biophysics, part II (Readings not in Biophysics)

I’ll continue writing on useful or interesting readings in biophysics — Part I, a few weeks ago, dealt with textbooks.  There are many technical or scientific books that either aren’t actually about biophysics, or that are about a narrow aspect of biophysics, that are nonetheless particularly useful or stimulating. Here are some that come to … Continue reading Readings in Biophysics, part II (Readings not in Biophysics)

(Another) bad graph

I like graphs. At their best they are useful, elegant, and thought-provoking. At their worst, they’re infuriating. Modern systems-ish biology seems to have an abundance of awful graphs, even in good papers (as noted earlier, for example), perhaps because the complex statistical procedures it often uses are hard to make sense of. There’s no excuse … Continue reading (Another) bad graph

I think of the ones I consider my favorites / I think of the people that are working for me

I finished a stint on a National Science Foundation grant review panel this afternoon — my eighth, I think, and the second in which I was a “virtual panelist,” joining by videoconference a panel physically held in Washington, D.C. Thinking of the pros and cons of being a virtual panelist brings up the broader questions … Continue reading I think of the ones I consider my favorites / I think of the people that are working for me