clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
I really enjoyed being on this one. Partly because my screwups were a bit better covered, but mostly because our guest was awesome - Dr. Mick Vagg, a pain specialist who's smart as a tack, interesting, and who talked about RANGAS! And I might have mentioned Scrubs. Twice.

Direct link to the mp3 file, 50:02

Apart from Scrubs,we talked about using synthetic cannabinoids as analgesics in cancer patients, prehistoric hawk-sized insects, mosquitoes are bastards who are not defeated by water, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its effect on microbial communities, using fruit flies to study insulin resistance and human diabetes, and the genetic sequencing (however imperfectly done) on an unborn foetus without invasive procedures.
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
Night shift struck again, so my dulcet tones were not donated to this episode. My amateurish attempts will be there for al to hear in the next one. This one had Pen, Lucas, and the return of Jo Benhamu.

Direct link to the mp3 file; 1:02:14...and haven't listened to this one yet either...

But apparently it was damn good (they spoke for over a fucking hour, after all...) - smelly old people, giving paralysed rats some movement back through robotics, a genetic link to restless legs syndrome, Mars meteorites that DON'T show life (nice change from the usual astrobiological bullcrap), vision loss in astronauts, creepy people (again), the new (114th and 116th) elements, the Mediterranean diet and how it can apparently bolster mental and physical health, and a mathematical model that predicts a new level of AI.


And for something completely random and non-scientific: the first season trailer to one of the most intriguing shows ever made, Carnivàle.

Eva and I first saw this show a few years ago when it was being shown on channel 2, but for some reason we never saw the second season (THAT'S RIGHT I HAVEN'T SEEN IT SO IF ANY OF YOU BUGGERS SPOIL IT FOR ME I'LL EVISCERATE YOU). We both loved it, but promptly forgot it. And then, a couple of days ago we saw both seasons on sale for a steal - NABBED. And now I have to stop myself from watching them obsessively. Two episodes in and I'm remembering just how compelling it was. It's such a shame that they cancelled it after two seasons.
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
Yet another late profile of the last few SoT episodes, up 'til the end of May and at the start of June.

Under the cut )
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
This last SoT just passed, Ed and I interviewed someone rather than crap on about science news. It was a nice change, and it was very informative!

Direct link to mp3 file, around half an hour (can't remember and Ed didn't put up the time).

The interviewee was Dr. Rob Morrison, who's a bit of an Aussie science legend - he was one of the hosts of The Curiosity Show which introduced a whole generation of kids to science and, I think, was instrumental as a precursor to critical thinking for a lot of people. He's also the co-founder of Friends of Science in Medicine, a group which since its recent inception has been pushing hard to get "alternative medicine" courses out of Australian Universities, at least in their current incarnation, where they're being taught as viable alternatives along with orthodox medicince. We had a very interesting chat about these issues, and it's well worth a listen. I was worried it would become a polemic, but I thought, after the interview, that FSM are handling the issue very well.

(Oh my god. They have the same acronym as the Flying Spaghetti Monster. That is FREAKING BRILLIANT...)
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
Yeah, again, I suck at updating my Science on Top entries. So here are the last three:

clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
Another one I missed out on which looked awesome. I haven't listened to it yet, but I plan to.


Pen and Ed were joined by Dr. Maia Sauren, who recently completed a PhD looking at the effect of mobile phones on your braaaain.

They talked about James Cameron and his mad dash to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the saving of the Australian Synchrotron, Australian megafauna and its collapse, how some crazy kids flew a ginormous paper airplane, a new peanut intolerance test that might not give the potential sufferer anaphylaxis, quantam interference (not going into much detail here because I'm a bit flummoxed!), and the satisfaction one gets from telling a scorching lie.


And this is sort of, very tangentially, related to science...I'm going to pimp a band my mate Ben is a member of called High Tea, who play spacey sort of instrumental...well, shoegaze, I suppose you'd call it. They're actually strongly influenced by the cosmos and Carl Sagan, which somes across more in their studio stuff which you can listen to or download here on their Bandcamp page. As far as this sort of music goes, they're excellent, and far outshine their contemporaries in the local hipster scene who have the chops but not the delivery.

I saw them perform at a local pub on Friday night, and they utterly killed.

Ben's the long-haired stoner looking dude with the guitar. The drummer was in a previous band of his called Baseball on vocals and violin (yes, I wrote that correctly) and they played sort of amped-up Pixies-influenced hard rock with Middle Eastern tones. Yes, they have eclectic tastes...
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
This episode was a week late, as fate and events outside our control forced us to abandon recording last week. But we soldiered on this last Thursday just passed, sansLucas, who'll be taking an extended break from the show. The old crew one again!


We talked about male fruit flies turning to booze in the face of sexual rejection (yes, it actually happens), a pre-Cambrian fossil found with a skeleton, how the Russians want to dominate space (again), astronauts going blind, a new salt-tolerant strain of wheat, and why giant squids likely have such bloody enormous eyes.


clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
The latest SoT was another sausage fest - Me, Lucas Randall and the inimitable host, Ed Brown.


We talked about the "woman in the red dress" study (and I use the term "study" loosely...), bacteriophages (viruses that attack bacteria), the frozen Copper Age man and his various maladies, fatarses in offices, CO2-capture and bacteria, daydreaming and social skills, how testosterone messes up teamwork (as if there were ever any doubt), stem cells in human ovarian tissue, and the solar flare that hadn't hit at the time we were recording, but has by now, and as far as I'm aware, didn't actually do anything bad...

And for something completely random and unrelated, have a youtube link of the lead track Rise, Vulcan Spectre, the best thrash album of the year (yes I'm making that call now) by Norway's Nekromantheon. This album's even better than their brilliant 2010 effort Divinity of Death. You can keep your modern thrash, both the revivalists and the old bastards trying to remain relevant - this band tears your goddamn face off and then pisses in the gaping wound with acid. I especially like throwing this on when I need to wake the hell up before going to work at an ungodly hour.
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
I missed this episode due to work. And, as usual, I don't actually think it suffered from my absence. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Download here.

This week, the gang were joined by Sumen Rai, a former science communicator and now an industry analyst for defence and aerospace.

The subjects discussed were: meat grown in the lab, atom-sized transistors, seismic activity on the moon, robot fish and water worlds. I especially loved the discussion about lab-grown meat, the ethical questions that were raised, as well as the ecological and "humanist" issues. Good stuff.


And because I care, have this picture:
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
Holy crap, I've been meaning to do this since....well, September last year. And obviously I've been negligent in my duties of obsessively documenting every Science on Top podcast that's been released, but I'm going to make up for it from now on!

So, for newbies to my Elgay, I'm involved in a weekly podcast called Science On Top (named after Prez Obama's declaration that we should put "science back on top of the agenda"), where we discuss the latest in science news that strikes our fancy. I'm not on every podcast due to night shift some weeks, but the stalwart is the Ed Brown, he of the Deep Radio Voice and the guy who conceived the show idea, and holds the whole thing together, so massive Sciencey Props to him (he took a couple of weeks off for the episodes early on in this update, so Lucas Randall, another stalwart, amateur astronomer and lover of all things space chaired those ones. Large Science Props to him, too!)

Anyway, the list! I won't be writing these up in as much detail as I used to, as I think that's what stopped me from posting them in the first place. Laziness is a virtue, damn it.

If you're interested, click the square with our ugly mugs to listen to the episode, check out the links accompanying the topics, and leave abuse constructive criticism in the comments section or write a review on iTunes etc etc.

The Episodes )

....yes, I'm bored at work, why do you ask?
clappamungus: (Lab Rats)
So, I've sucked at writing up the last few Science on Top episodes. Mostly because I missed episode 19 and, because I wasn't actually in it, just forgot about writing it up. And then each episode just kept piling up and it became a know how it is. "I'll do it! Really I will! I'll...ah bugger it. Mañana. And obviously, mañana turned into many mañanas. Yes, I'm aware that that's not the plural form of mañana.

Anyway, update dump:

Science on Top 19 - Piece By Piece )

Science on Top 20 - Smooshed )

Science on Top 21 - Don Who )

Science on Top 22 - Some Wrongness In There )

Science on Top 23: Open-Cut Mines are Scenic )

PHEW! Remind me to never delay writing up SoT again...
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: (Default)

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