Monday, May 18, 2009


I began watching Carl Sagan's public television series "COSMOS" a while back, and from the very first episode, I loved it. The series broadcasted for the first time in 1980, yet almost every bit of it is known to be as accurate today as it was then. COSMOS is inspiring and does a great job at reinvigorating a great sense of awe for the universe and appreciation of what we can know from science. Carl Sagan himself was an astronomer, but he dedicated much of his time as a scientist to the public understanding of science, which really endears him to me. Once it hits you that the magnificent things Sagan is telling you about are actually happening all around you all of the time, and once you get an idea of just how vastly large and vastly small we are in the universe and how elegantly connected we are to processes of the universe, you'll be absolutely hooked. I get an amazing feeling of wonder and mystery just by reflecting on reality. There are thirteen episodes in the COSMOS series, and each one is about an hour long. Best of all, you can view them all FOR FREE on

Ten years after it's introduction in 1980, Carl Sagan recorded some short update monologs to followup some of the original episodes. In the updates, he talks a bit about what has been discovered in the 10 year since the series was first made. I wish he could have been around to produce another 10-year update to COSMOS for 2000, but unfortunately Carl Sagan died in 1996 due to complications of a blood disease. Even though I never knew him before he died, I sure do I miss that man.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Obama: Clairvoyant?

This last election was one of the most interesting I've ever been a part of due in no small part to the fact that it's the first one I've ever actually been a part of, and I'm proud to say my first vote was cast for Barack Obama. My pride wells up not only because he and his team made an awesome government website that I visit about five times day or because he personally delvers weekly video addresses to the public to keep us interested in Washington or even because of that wonderful, wonderful handsome multiracial face of his; though, frankly, I'm proud of all those things.
However, the one thing that's really got my chest puffed is the very real possibility that we are governed by the first clairvoyant president in history. The future is no mystery to Barack Obama. Take as evidence this response given by the President to NBC’s Matt Lauer in an interview before the this year's Super Bowl:
LAUER: Give me a score –- what’s the score going to be in this game?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, it’s tough to predict, but I think the Steelers are going to eke it out in a close one.
The outcome of the game? Steelers--27. Cardinals--23. Less than a touchdown.

So is Barak Obama a soothsayer? Only the next four to eight years will tell. I understand you may require more evidence of this, but it's certainly enough for me.

PS: To all those who wish to point out that Obama in fact incorrectly predicted the outcome of 2007's superbowl, just remember how the office changes people. Into prognosticators.

My first Vote!!!

The Lauer Interview

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

First Rotation: CHECK!

For the past three months, I've been working in Dr. Zayzafoon's Lab investigating S100A4 protein and it's effect on the prostate cancer cell line C4-2B. It was a great ride, with of all the scientific drama you should expect from a budding scientist in the room with a bunch of expensive equipment. I screwed up many western blots (a technique we use to look at protein levels), learned a lot about the scientific process, made some excellent new friends, and maybe did one or two successful western blots. :)

I have a lot of people to thank for making my rotation a success.
  • Dr. Majd Zayzafoon for taking me into his lab and being an enlightening, caring mentor
  • Min-Kyung for letting me use her reagents, data, and other information and giving cell lines on multiple occasions and also for adding sunshine to the lab!
  • Jennifer for being a fun and entertaining benchmate, and for answering more question than I can shake a stick at.
  • Kayiu for being full of humor, and lending us all the benefit of his experience because we were constantly asking him things.
  • Niroop, who became one of my best friends in Birmingham, for being a all around great help the lab and friend in and outside the lab.
  • Laurel, also a good friend, for teaching techniques without me even asking her and answering all kinds a questions while also encouraging me in the dark ages of western blotting.
  • Vishnu, who wasn't even in my lab, but was almost like a second mentor. I owe him a lot for the information he was willing to give me and all the advice as well.
Now that I've completed my first rotation, I'm very glad to be starting my next one January 7th with Dr. Joanne Murphy-Ullrich. I'll be working on extracellular matrix proteins and cell death due to a lack of adhesion. Does the sound of that make you as excited as it makes me?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Entering the Scientific Life

Soon, it will be the end of my third week of graduate school, and something that I've been looking forward to for a long time is about to happen. I'm going to be entering my first lab rotation!

This Monday, I start doing real rubber-gloved scientific work in an honest-to-god laboratory doing actual straight up science--not just technician work, but my own mini-project. And, as if that weren't incredible enough, if my data is usable strong and I learn the entire project and write my own article on what I found, my professor will name me as a co-author on the actual paper for the whole project! As in: A real scientific journal, suckas! Unbelievable!

I was incredibly lucky to find a rotation like this, and for those who don't know, a lab rotation is like dating a laboratory for three months to gain experience to see how you like the work. If you're on track, you do three of these before you start on your thesis, at which point you choose a lab to stay in for good. So this is going to be my first foray into real scientific work. It's all about to start, so find your helmets and review your evac plans!