clappamungus: (Stewie dance)
It's been too long since I did a proper update other than the Science on Top listings, and I haven't even done those for a while. And I obviously haven't been reading much of my flist either, so sorry about that.

All I can do is make an oft-repeated promise (mostly to myself) to start using this more often.

I'll leave you with two things:

a) I'm a little late on this, but this blog ( is well worth a look if you know nothing about it already. Basically, it's an Aussie writer who happens to edit some literary magazine and "dabbles" in writing. Apart from that....well, it's kind of scary how much his views and my views just mesh. Right down to our mutual dislike of the Left as much as the Right, but without being one of those (you know who I mean - people who relate to this piece of shit masquerading as a human being). Amongst random posts, he tackles some fairly weighty issues. And he does it in a way that makes me realise you can be angry, vitriolic, and still a damn good writer. He's the sort of writer I'd like to be one day.

b) Picture this. Last night on the tram, coming home from work, packed like the proverbial can of smelly marine life in oil. It's been raining all fucking day, and has been cold and miserable. And still more people are boarding the tram, as though they just HAVE TO GET INTO THAT LAST LITTLE BIT OF SPACE...

All of a sudden I hear the microphone being switched on, and I figure it's going to be the frustrated driver saying "please move into the tram so people can board" or something like that. Instead, like an excited kid, the driver exclaims: "can everyone see that rainbow?"

And sure enough, out of the window, the sun's come out and has produced one of the most vivid rainbows I've ever seen. It was beautiful...and hilarious, as pretty much everyone on the tram went "ooooohhhh!!!!", and then laughed nervously at the audacity/naivety of the driver.

It was one of those moments that made me realise that taking life too seriously is probably a bit of a mistake, or that, at the very least, you should stop every now and then to laugh at something absurd, or occasionally laugh in the stodgy face of certain social taboos.
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
This week's SoT was cut short by a technical difficulty - Lucas' connection cut out momentarily and that stopped the ercording. We did not notice and kept talking...which sucks. Pen lost her entire segment on volcanos and mass extinctions, but the links to the stories are below.


Our guest was Belinda Nicholson, Twatterer [>;)], blogger and astrophysicist, who is also involved in the Young Asutralian Skeptics podcast. Ed talked to her about her scholarship at the Gemini Observatory in Chile. From there:

*The US government might kill off th James Webb telescope project due to, well, the US economy imploding like a neutron star;
*Hybridisation between two distinct species of mouse confers resistance to Warfarin;
*Changes in a receptor sub-unit changes the nature of the running muscles in mice;
*There's stuff in tea that is not - gasp - tea!;
(...and here's where we lose transmission....)
*Did dinosaurs die because of toxic greenhouse gases?; well as other creatures.

clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
This was a fairly monstrous episode (in a good way) - several people, competing voices (not necessarily opinions!), and plenty of ground covered. Download here.

Lucas was on board again, as was Dr Krystal Evans (yes, I just linked you to a Twatter. I feel dirty), who is a researcher at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute working on a live malaria vaccine, a panelist on radio station RRR's science program Einstein a Go Go (which, as Ed points out, is a terrible name...) and was a strong presence in the program that we referred to in an earlier episode, Discoveries Need Dollars. She's the kind of scientist I would have liked to be - dedicated to the point of wanting to actively engage, erudite and with a passion for science that will hold her in good stead for any shit that's thrown in any career scientist's path. The sort of stuff that I couldn't get over as a scientist. I realised, listening to her, that I'm way out of the loop, and a big part of me is very sad about that.

Anyway, enough rumination. Topics:

Search engines changing the way memory works;
Forests as carbon sinks, and why planting trees won't necessarily work as the only means of offsetting emissions;
- Conversely, cities as carbon sinks;
Ethnic disparities in Genome Wide Association Studies;
The other side of GM - Round Up Ready turf grass and the potential for selection of resistant weeds;
More on Greenpeace's act of GM vandalism;
The genomes of the potato and coral sequenced.

clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
Last week, another SoT, but the special guest didn't show as she had a last-minute emergency (or, she had an exam the next day. That's an emergency). So it was just the regular crew.

Download here

Topics covered:

End of an era - final launch of the Space Shuttle Program (youtube);
I brought up space elevators, because I'm contrary like that;
Australian eruptions overdue......but also why it's probably not all that likely to be much of a problem in the near future;
The Irish ancestry of polar bears;
NASA borrows from Dune - the first accessories for drinking your own waste in space!;
Setting the record straight is almost impossible - the effects of misinformaiton on memory;
and finally, one that later caused a bit of controversy from someone I know: Greenpeace protesters destroy a GM wheat trial.

On the final one, my views on GM food are complicated. I don't think they're the great evil as every greenie on the planet seems to think, but I think the technology is a bit too dangerous to be put into the hands of greedy multinationals. Moreover, I don't buy that "GM will feed the world" line. The problem, as it's always been, is distribution, not nutritional value of the food or ease of growth. And on that, more food will lead to exploding populations, which will cause more problems of food shortages. It's...fucking complicated, and an emotional issue.

That being said, I have no problem with using GM technology to fiddle with plants to make them more profitable, provided that potential harm to the environment around these crops can be shown to be minimal or non-existent. I certainly have no problem with eating GM-derived foodstuffs, as they've almost overwhelmingly been shown to be harmless. Just don't get me started on Monsanto...

Also on that, I hate Greenpeace. I hate their narrow-minded, black-and-white view of the world. I hate the fact that they can somehow get away with wholesale damage like this and not be held to account. People's research money, and students' research projects, were no doubt affected by this act of idiocy.

Anyway, /soapbox.

Also, Penny was in Western Australia last week, and got some cool pictures of thrombolites (which we may have referred to as "stromatolites" in the podcast, which are similar but not the same) from Lake Clifton, near Bunbury

This week, we're recording on Wednesday, and have another special guest. Who will turn up. Hopefully.


Jul. 14th, 2011 04:45 am
clappamungus: (Stewie dance)
[ profile] veilingofthesun and [ profile] chudames are both generous lasses.

They both gifted me....LJ user heads made of virtual chocolate.

Thanks girls!

Now a question...what the hell do I do with them?


On things totally unrelated, I am very behind in my reading for SoT and I'm on night shift.
clappamungus: (Default)
So, we were a week late with this one. The planets aligned in a way that fucked everything up the previous week - I was incapacitated from lack of sleep, and Lucas had an emergency no show, so Pen and Ed decided to give it a miss. So we came back with a mixture of the previous and that week's news.

I'll be honest - I was less than impressed with the way I performed. This job's really taking it out of me...

Download here.


Should pregnant women sleep on a particular side to avoid miscarriage?;
End of the sunspot cycle? A new Maunder Minimum? Will it offset global warming?;
Geysers on Enceladus , Saturn's icy moon, demonstrate that there must be a salty ocean beneath the ice;
How humans guided the evolution of dogs barking;
A new method for delaying the effects of snake bites;
A new group of people in Brazil who have never seen other humans. Whoa...;
Optogenetics - the use of light to switch on gene expression;

And finally, the space-bound orb-weaving spiders and their attempts to weave webs in almost zero gravity.


Next week we are sansPenny as she's out of the state - lucky thing. We have a special guest, but it's gonna be a sausage fest...but there are some cool topics coming up!
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
....the title of this week's SoT comes from the mouth of yours truly. The rambling, tired, WTF mouth of yours truly. EEEEDJIT...

Download here.

We were hoping to get Lucas on for this one but he had to pull out because his sons gave him the plague.

Ecologists argue against the status quo position of 'ecological purity within environments';
Certain meteorites could have provided our planet with necessary life precursors;
The Dawn voyage to Vetsa, the protoplanet-slash-asteroid;
Regrowing nerves with a tamarind-derived biomolecule;
Caffeine makes you hallucinate?

I, for one, don't care if caffeine makes me hallucinate. I wouldn't give it up for anything. Anything....
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
Another week, another ramble about science in the news. This week we had a different special guest, Simon Taylor, who writes for local entertainment mag Beat and is a magician and comedian. He's also working on a comic strip called Flim-Flam which he hopes to get up and running soon. His fascination with psychology and the mind was very useful in the last two topics.

Here be it

Update on the German E.coli (EHEC) outbreak - sequencing reveals some of its evolutionary history;
The Emperor Penguin Shuffle - keeping warm in ball-bitingly cold places;
Devil Worms From The Deep!;
MORE PSEUDOSCIENCE! Mobile phones and the cancer scare (thanks, WHO);
Questions of morality - hypothetical situations regarding killing to save lives;
The racism - or otherwise - of babies.


And, just because, some dude's done some breathtaking digital animations of flyovers of certain terrains of Mars.

I'd embed the youtube link but for some reason I can't find any more embed options on any youtube page. It's very strange....
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
I forgot to update about last week's SoT, so I'm doing the double whammy here.

Science on Top 10 - Bee Skeptical was, obviously, our tenth, and probably most astronomy-oriented episode. Lucas really got into these topics! Download here.

Exoplanets that don't have stars.
** Are we in danger of being hit by one?;
Malaria infection can prevent further superinfection;
Dark energy confirmed
**NASA Gravity Probe Confirms Two Einstein Theories;
OH NOES MOBILE PHONES ARE KILLING BEES! How an inaccurate meme spread
**Still no link...
**A rant about bad science reporting


Science on Top 11 - If it doesn’t have wings, it shouldn’t fly was very enjoyable for me, mostly because it talked about bacteria! I miss those little critters. Download here.

(Now I feel like an arsehole for enjoying this episode...)The EHEC epidemic in Europe
**The latest;
A new theory about Hawaii's volcanic activity;
Bacteria may create more hailstones than dust particles do;
Stomach ulcer-causing bacterium might have a role in Parkinson's diesease;
Did the Sun cause the mini Ice age? Or, the intersection of geology and politics;
VAle Spirit the Mars Rover, now officially deemed dead.

'Til next week!
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
Last Thursday's episode: here.

It was another short one. I for one was so tired I could barely keep my bloody eyes open... and it was not one of our best. But the topics were still interesting:

Nematodes and life longevity;
New HIV vaccine (strictly speaking, an SIV vaccine) shows promise;
A genetic link to depression found;
Sitting on one's behind for long periods increases one's chance of getting bowel cancer. Yay.

Next week (well, this Thursday) is our...TENTH EPISODE!!!! Lucas is coming back on, and we'll be doing a big astronomy focus.

Finally, just because...have a picture of the coolest concept car ever:

The 1958 Ford Nucleon, a concept that never even made it to prototype. For a good reason, really... Still, I would've driven it.
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
SoT # 8. Another short one - it was a slow news week.



Scientists drill into a tectonic plate to investigate earthquake precursors;
Birds babysit for personal gain, aka Dawkins Love;
The old Aboriginal legends about how Port Philip Bay was formed might have some truth to them;
A single faulty protein may stop sperm from finding egg.

Got off night shift about 8 hours ago and am still farkarked. Bugger this, I'm going back to bed....
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
Another week, another podcast (on Thursday) - download here.

I felt more prepared for this one than I ever have before. Which is why it was a bit more relaxed and freeform - especially from my end!


Fire ants are not only evil - they can float!;
Using lasers (yes, I imagine it with a Dr Evil inflection EVERY TIME) to sample hair in forensics to create timelines;
The contraceptive pill and bloodclots;
A sociological experiment designed to mimic long-term space travel and its implications:
Theoretical="Respected scientist-turned-homeopath thinks bacteria can possibly produce radio signals;
And finally, a rant about homeopathy (I'm sorry to direct you to a Today Tonight segment, but a) Ed did it first and b) it's actually not a bad segment. For Today Tonight, anyway.

(I seriously still can't get over homeopathy and how fucking stupid it is....and how stupid people are for believing it...)

Oh, and I also rag on PETA in this episode, and possibly vegans...I don't actually have a problem with vegans unless they're the militant type (which unfortunately seems to be most of them) but I cannot stand PETA. Apologies if this offends you. Sort of.

RL update coming soon. I know I keep promising this, but eventually it will happen!
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
The fifth episode of Science on Top, recorded last on Thursday, is here.

We talked about (well, I deliriously tried to keep up with):

Old people's inability to multitask;
Modelling schizophrenia by inducing cell culture of neurones from biopsied schizophrenics;
The mallards duck and its antibacterial sperm;
A new perspective on the sense of smell in the ancestors of birds;
A new model for the the Earth's crust

Apparently, last week we had the biggest download figures ever, which was definitely helped by having Lucas on. So we're having him on again next week, as he's awesome. And, you know, publicity and all....


Oh, and sorry to all those whose LJs I've been reading but not commenting on. I will get around to it.
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
Ed just keeps getting better at choosing the right title for these things....

This week, we had a fourth member - Lucas Randall, a critical thinker, blogger and skeptic (not a climate change skeptic moron - but rather these guys). He was a pleasure to have on the show as he's extremely switched on, knows his stuff and has a natural curiosity that's infectious.

His blog is Codenix (I can't bring myself to link to his Twatter...)

Anyway, our episode 4 is here. This one was a monster - almost an hour.

Topics covered:

* A galaxy 3 billion light years away is home to the biggest blast seen in the universe due to a supermassive black hole eating a fucking awesome is that??
* An observation about weight and dementia
* On our way to growing a full eye in the lab
* Using magnets to improve rehabilitation for patients with brain degenerative diseases and conditions
* Viriophages, or ....sigh... "cannibal" viruses in Antarctica
* Pimping Discoveries Need Dollars
* The first known instance of an insect-borne disease being transmitted sexually

And Jezebel decided to bark at the end... idiot dog...
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
The update about SoT3 is way overdue....

Last Thursday, we did it all again.

Topics covered:

* Endosymbiosis between salamanders and algae
* Searching for exoplanets around dead stars
* Wasps are ornery bastards who physically throw their competitors away
* Ed once again pimps Yuri's night
* A mouth bacterium that helps prevents plaque
* The oldest full flying insect fossil found

This week we have a treat - a special guest! Because fair enough if you're sick of the sounds of our voice.

I have to go read a shitload of articles....
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
Our science podcast continues! We have a few followers on Faecesbook and Twatter, and we've received very positive responses.

This week's podcast: download here. Again, around 40 minutes, and unfortunately there's an annoying crackle that Ed couldn't get rid of.... I was also very tired (whacked in fact) so I don't actually talk much, and when I do I don't seem to make much sense, and I made a couple of mistakes. Oh well...Penny and Ed did a great job!

Topics covered:

Spatial sorting and cane toads - breaking the rules of evolution?
Using cortisol to assist in phobia therapy
Yuri's Night pimped once again
Pics of Mercury! (see last week's podcast)
Drilling down to the Earth's mantle
Microbial fossils....probably aren't fossils
Girls fear the HPV/cervical cancer vaccine, and a rant against the anti-vaccine lobby

Stay tuned for next week! We were planning for it to be a bit shorter, but that didn't eventuate...
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
I've started doing a podcast that deals with science news, facts and mythbusting with a couple of friends, Penny and Ed. (One is kind of on LJ, the other used to be but is no longer, so there's no point linking LJ handles) The idea behind this is to get science out into the open a bit, and to talk about science news that is important in terms that the general public will understand and, we hope, even find interesting.

We had our unofficial start last week, where we proceeded to bite off more than we could chew by talking about the Japanese earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Halfway through we realised we'd messed up in a way so we basically cut it short and Ed posted up the intros where we talked about what inspired us to become interested in science (I have not listened to it because I hate the sound of my own voice). We also decided from this that we'd try to stick to defined, smaller topics.

This week it went off a bit smoother, and Ed posted the whole thing for download on our spiffy new website Science On Top. I welcome everyone to download it and have a listen if you're interested (again, I have not listened to it - it's probably about 40 minutes). Constructive criticism would be more than welcomed!

The topics we covered were:

The Supermoon;
The New Horizons craft passing by Uranus' orbit on its way to Pluto (and yes, Penny had a bit of a chuckle);
The MESSENGER craft finally makes it into orbit around Mercury;
The hyperactivation of sperm by progesterone, and how this may one day lead to a male contraceptive
Yuri's Night, an annual celebration of the very first manned flight into space by Yuri Gagarin in 1961;
The Miller-Urey experiments of the 50s on the origins of life (with a rant against creationists thrown in for good measure);
Large dinosaurs and their potential vaccum-cleaner attributes;
And finally,
How sex can kill

There are still a few kinks to be ironed out, and I probably talk too fast and use a bit too much jargon, and it might be a little too dumbed down in places, but it's a good start and I'm very proud of us.

I'm going to make it a habit to post the new updates on this LJ, in this format, to keep a record and to pimp it a little.

Now to go and have a Victory SleepTM
clappamungus: (Default)
....but it's a meme.

La Musica )

I want to actually use this LJ more than I have been. But I want to use it as a real writing outlet rather than just a forum for me to air grievances about my boring life. I'm looking at a career change which (maybe) involves more creative writing, so I'll need all the practice I can get. And that means more than Having A WhingeTM, or not updating because all I want to do is Have A WhingeTM.

That being said, update on life in general coming soon. Probably.


clappamungus: (Default)

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