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A place of mostly science, art, writing and occasionally Chewbacca, all lovingly archived by Dave Ng. For recent highlights just scroll down, but also note the handy tag system (for finding that piece of media for your next science talk) just below. Enjoy!

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“Science is awesome, that is all”.

Registration open for next molecular biology workshop. June 15th to 19th, 2015

Via my lab’s website (bioteach.ubc.ca). Note that all revenue from this workshop goes towards our outreach programming.

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MOLECULAR BIOLOGY TECHNIQUES WORKSHOPS (SUMMER 2015 PROGRAM):

Registration is open

To inquire about registration, please contact Dr. David Ng at db@mail.ubc.ca

(1) ONE WEEK VERSION
Dates: June 15th to 19th, 2015 (5 days: Monday to Friday)
Price: CAN$1400 (does not include room or board)


Reviews and testimonies from our last workshop

“Excellent workshop!! Great balance between lecture and lab, and I was very impressed on the volume of content squeezed into the five days. Dave’s delivery was very good, nice amount of light hearted humour mixed in. Highly recommended!”
David Dunn, Head, Chemistry Services Laboratory, Pacific Forestry Centre, NRC

“Great bootcamp format! I enjoyed the vast range of topics and the balance of lecture and practical hands-on techniques”
Robert Kowbel, Scientific Support Technician, Pacific Forestry Centre, NRC

More can be found here.


INSTRUCTOR: Dr. David Ng

DESCRIPTION: This intense 5 day workshop will focus on a myriad of different techniques used in the molecular manipulation of DNA (general cloning, transformation, silica kits, pI kits, PCR, qPCR), RNA (isolation, reverse transcription) and protein (SDS-PAGE, 2D gels), as well as lectures that will describe some high throughput technologies such as SNP analysis, and next generation sequencing. Primarily aimed at researchers who are new to the area, familiar but require a quick updating, or theoretically familiar but lacking in practical bench training.

PHILOSOPHY: Whilst molecular techniques have evolved at a blindingly fast rate over the last few decades, the underlying biochemical principles behind the vast majority of them have actually changed little. This workshop therefore combines opportunities to perform the latest, as well as commonly used older techniques, with particular attention to the chemical nuts and bolts behind them. In all, this allows the researcher to not only gain needed practical hands-on familiarity with the techniques, but also achieve a comfortable theoretical level to allow for both (1) that all important skill of troubleshooting, and (2) the often undervalued skill of judging the utility of “tricks” that aim to speed up, or lower costs of a given methodology.

NOTE: You can also see our Feb 2015 editions of our lecture notes, and lab manual for a frame of reference.

LOCATION:
Located in the heart of the UBC campus, the Michael Smith Laboratories is a testament to the vision of its founding Director, Dr. Michael Smith. Under his leadership, a gifted team of young scientists were recruited. These scientists have gone on to develop internationally renowned programs of research and training. The second and third floors of the new building are dedicated to the research facilities of the former Biotechnology Laboratory. The Stewart and Marilyn Blusson Education Forum is located on the ground floor and is open to the public. The molecular techniques workshops are held in the teaching lab, room 105 of this forum.
(click here for detailed directions)

REGISTRATION DETAILS:
Registration is essentially through first: an email inquiry for space (contact Dr. David Ng at db@mail.ubc.ca), second: a verbal/email commitment and then third via an invoiced payment. Your place is essentially secured with payment, which more or less equates to a first come first serve mechanism. This payment would be a CAN$1400 cheque (or equivalent) payable to “The University of British Columbia” and sent to

Dr. David Ng
Michael Smith Laboratories
301-2185 East Mall,
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC, CANADA V6T 1Z3

Note that we can accommodate a maximum of 16 clients, but on occasion up to half of these spaces are already reserved for predetermined group clients. Therefore, it’s best to put your name down as soon as possible if you are interested in the workshop.

REFUND POLICY
Your spot in the workshop is secured when we receive your payment. The deadline for receipt of payments is 30 days after the invoice date unless otherwise arranged. Note that refunds are made available until 2 weeks prior to the workshop start date – we are unable to issue any refunds after this deadline has passed.

DAY TO DAY SCHEDULING DETAILS:
Workshop will begin each day at 9am sharp and usually end between 4:30pm and 5:30pm. A detailed final schedule and syllabus will be released to clients as the date draws nearer.

MATERIALS:
All paper materials will be provided on the first day of the workshop. Downloadable versions will be available about 3 weeks before the workshop begins. Whilst we do not require the clients to “study” these documents, we do ask that clients take a moment to peruse the first day practical materials. All safety gear (including lab coats) is provided at the workshop.

ACCOMMODATIONS:
Here are some accommodation options that are basically on campus. Costs involved would vary (I think the most budget option would be the Vancouver Youth Hostel which is about a 15minute bus ride away). The closest would be those of Gage through UBC conferences. The others (except for point grey house) are all a relatively short walk away.

International Youth Hostel at Jericho Beach
UBC accomodations (on campus – note there are only 47 available)
St. John’s College (on campus)
Green College (on campus)
St. Andrew’s Hall (summer only)
Point Grey House (off campus, but only 10 minute bus ride away)

Alternatively, Downtown Vancouver offers a variety of accommodation options, but would entail about a 30-40minute bus ride each way. Depends on your preference since the Campus is pretty quiet at night time, whereas other areas would be more interesting. Go to www.expedia.ca, and select:

hotel > near an attraction/vancouver > type in “University of British Columbia”

Usually the out of town clients make use of a little extra time after or before the workshop in visiting some of the sights Vancouver has to offer. I often strongly recommend this since the city and surrounding locale are really quite spectacular. In particular Whistler-Blackcomb is a world famous ski/outdoor resort, and is only a 2 hour drive away. Ski season usually opens in mid November (click here for more info)

Also known as “Phylogenetic Analysis of Magical Creatures.” A Harry Potter themed phylogenomics paper.

Attention to detail is pretty cool. One of my favourite parts (apart from the phylogenetic tree itself) is the post note that says: “Genetic sequences for all genes will be provided upon request. Due to magical laws, we are unable to publish them on GenBank.”

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Holy crap! It’s a photo of a weasel riding on the back of a woodpecker!

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Photo by Martin Le-May (see here for more details) via io9.

Art collaboration between artist and a swarm of bees results in a hive sculpture

“As creative director of the process, the Rotterbam-based artist collaborated with Dutch beekeepers to guide the meticulous insects into filling the metal frame with perfect hexagons of beeswax.”

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By Tomas Libertiny (plus 60,000 bees), via/text My Modern Met.

Dinosaur (and pterosaur) ORIGAMI #beautiful

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By Adam Tram, via Colossal

“We are dead stars looking back up in the sky.” Lovely video on human existence and the pathway of our atoms

From the Atlantic, h/t @experrinment

Yes, there is a dinosaur in my microscope slide. #seriously

dinosaurslide

Via (by?) @aukeappelman

This looks awesome! I just backed “Jill Trent, Science Sleuth #1″ by @superdames.

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The above panels from “The Sinister Smokescreen,” script by Jacqueline Ching, art by Michael R. Hall, colors by Frank Barbara, letters by Declan Fitz.

And here is the comic:

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By superdames.org. Go get a copy at kickstarter.

In a way, this is the scientific method distilled wonderfully in 6 panels.

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By David Malki (Wondermark), hat tip to Matthew Francis.

Where the borders of selected US states literally look like an elf making chicken.

I feel like this needs to be an official scientific thing – you know in terms of climatology trends or a specific biodiversity habitat.

mimal

Via Futility Closet.

Just because: Birds in Elizabethan and Georgian attire by Katrina Rhodes

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By Katrina Rhodes, via Sweet Station

Rachel Ignotofsky’s awesome Women in Science drawings.

Rachel* has really outdone herself this time. This is just all kinds of brilliant.

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janegoodall

valentinater

mariecurie

* Rachel was also involved in the lab’s “Voyage of the Beagle” deck.

Four mellow songs for your mix tape. #song4mixtape

Even though the year has just begun, these already seem like shoo ins for the Year in Review 2015 mix. In any event, sit back, relax, close your eyes, and listen to these four great songs.

1. Every Age – José González*

2. It’s Never Too Late – Ben Gibbard

3. In The Long Run – The Staves

4. Obvious Bicycle – Vampire Weekend

* Note: used this song for our Year in Review family video too!

I love this. Botanical specimens arranged to look like fireworks.

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By Sarah Illenberger, via Colossal.

Super fast and epic summary of the Earth’s evolutionary history.

This is really nicely done*

Crash Course Big History episode with John Green, Hank Green, and Emily Graslie (link).

* I caught one small error during the lifting weights bit.

Lego birds, designed by Thomas Poulsom, now on sale.

These, apparently, are going very quickly. Click here to purchase.

legobirds

Via Colossal. More on Thomas’ work here.

Ng Family Year in Review Mix Tape 2014

Once more, here is our Year in Review mix tape collecting our songs of 2014. These were played often in a way that (for my family) “informed” the year. As per usual, many of the songs on this mix are somewhere on this blog somewhere, and I’ve tried to provide links accordingly. Take a peek, click, listen and hope you enjoy. Hope you have a great holidays and a Happy New Year!

- – -

YIR2014front

- – -

01. Recluse | Neil Finn
02. Wide Eyes | The New Pornographers*
03. I Want You Back | Lake Street Dive*
04. Lonsdale Line | Streets of Laredo*
05. Girls Chase Boys | Ingrid Michaelson*
06. This Is How I Let You Down | The Franklin Electric*
07. Get You Back | Meaghan Smith
08. All About That Bass (feat. Kate Davis) | Scott Bradlee
& Postmodern Jukebox*
09. Hot Tonight | Tokyo Police Club*
10. Just One of the Guys | Jenny Lewis*
11. I Wanna Get Better | Bleachers*
12. Moving On | James
13. Heart’s Content | Brandi Carlile*
14. Holding On for Life | Broken Bells*
15. Lotus Flower | Radiohead
16. Stay Alive | José González*

– In which Ben is now fully en francais.
– In which Hannah is now in High School land.
– In which Kate now has her new kitchen (mostly)
– In which Dave has accidently stumbled upon being an academic on games.
– In which the house happily adds 2 cats (plus several decapitated mice).

- – -

(previous mixes: 2013 | 2012 (includes the origin story and gist of these mixes)

Einstein to Curie: “don’t read that hogwash, but rather leave it to the reptile for whom it has been fabricated.” #awesome

In which we see correspondence between Albert Einstein and Marie Curie, essentially telling her that she’s awesome and that she should “ignore the trolls” (or in this case, the “reptiles” – no offence to my herpetologist friends).

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From The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein (Princeton).

Now hiring: “Women in Science” Game Content Designer. Looking for applicants! Please share within your #UBC networks.

Msl

JOB INFORMATION

Employee: AMBL, Michael Smith Laboratories, UBC (link)

Contract/Term Duration: ~12 weeks (January to March)

Hours Per Week: ~9

Job Title: Women in Science Game Content Designer

Job Sector: Education, Training and Teaching

Job Location: University of British Columbia, Vancouver campus.

Job Description: These positions will require hires to research and design content towards the production of a playable card game that explicitly embeds a variety of important learning objectives around the subject of women in science and engineering.

We have funds to hire a team of 2 senior undergraduate or graduate students who will work part time with the lab (wage at approximately $15.91/hour over a one semester timeline), and using existing resources and game mechanics from another science card game project (http://phylogame.org).

Specifically, this team will be given the following objectives: (1) to research, evaluate and design the content presented on the cards; (2) to determine whether modification of existing game mechanics is required; (3) to produce a playable and playtested beta card game; and (4) to create a number of prototype lesson plans that can be used with the resource in light of existing provincially determined IRP requirements.

Job qualifications: Upper undergraduate or graduate students with knowledge or background around science culture and gender issues are preferred. Being a game enthusiast is also a plus, though not required in this case.

Website: http://popperfont.net/2014/11/27/the-women-in-science-and-engineering-card-game-grant-for-your-reading-pleasure/

Please send cover letter and resume to David Ng at db@mail.ubc.ca by January 6th, 2015.

A Few Words From the Scientist Who Invented Wonder Women’s Invisible Jet.

By DAVID NG

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First of all, I totally get it. You’re watching Super Friends or reading some Justice League of America comic book, and what do you see? Wonder Woman floating in mid air, in what is apparently an “invisible jet.” And for some reason, the fact that you know that it’s an invisible jet (because someone has gone to the trouble of outlining the jet with white phantom lines), is supposedly meant to make this OK.

Except that it doesn’t. You know this and I know this, and well, everybody knows this. Because the truth is: Wonder Woman looks kind of stupid floating in mid air. I mean, seriously, what is the point of having an invisible jet if the pilot—and a pilot wearing bright sparkly superhero colors—is so… well… visible?

So I get all the hate, I totally do.

But listen: I invented that invisible jet! That invisible jet is my research. It’s my baby.

And the reality is that the invisible jet was never meant to hide the pilot. It was just meant to be invisible on its own. If you don’t believe me, then by all means, look it up—my doctoral dissertation and my research publications are quite clear about this.

Wonder Woman totally got this. Actually, she was pretty amazing about it. She was like, “whoa… invisible jet… that’s pretty cool.” And then I was all like, “Yeah, but you know that it’s only the jet that goes invisible right? You know that you won’t be invisible when you sit inside it, right?” And she was like, “Yeah, I get it, but that’s OK, because well… invisible-freaking-jet!

She basically said that it was totally fine to spend a whole bunch of her money on it because (a), it was a good way to support interesting science, and (b), well… it was just awesome.

Unfortunately, her Super Friends buddies were all idiots about it. They were all like, “Diana… you know we can still see you?” And Superman was prone to flying in a seated position and making steering motions and going, “look at me,.. who am I?” Meanwhile, Batman was all like “my utility belt is way cooler.”

But she knew what was going on. She knew that the reality was this: that the jet is a goddamn SCIENTIFIC MARVEL! Something that should be admired—because ingenuity, years of hard work, and significant research funds was all involved to develop that piece of technology.

Now, do I want to continue my research so that things entering the jet also become invisible? Sure—because that would also be pretty awesome. And maybe, one day, I will work on that research goal, and if I do, Wonder Woman is totally going to get first dibs on that piece of hardware.

Because listen, folks: this is how science works, one small step at a time. It’s not fast (like a speeding bullet), or able to make progress (in single bounds). It’s not about gimmicky quick fixes (like the kind you pack in a utility belt), and it takes serious investment (we’re not all caped billionaires with money for caves and batmobiles). This discovery stuff is slow and incremental, and that my friends, is the honest to goodness Lasso of Truth.

(Originally published at McSweeney’s)

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