Published August 29, 2011
I haven’t decided yet if this is a good thing or a gross under-representation of what it’s like to write a thesis. Sixty-nine thousand plus words, seven chapters, two hundred and forty nine pages, eighty-nine figures, thirteen tables, and a brain aneurism summarised into a word cloud.
But the idea for this came to me when a while back I was congratulating a friend of mine on completing her thesis. She mentioned to me that her favourite word in it was “vitiate” (to impair or weaken the effectiveness of). Odd, I thought to myself. To be quite specific in that way. Then I thought to myself what is my favourite word from my thesis. After coming up blank the first time, the second time I thought of my favourtie word that wasn’t in my thesis. Mainly because my examiner thought it was funny I described certain effects of RNAi “abhorent” (causing repugnance; detestable; loathsome) instead of “aberrant” (departing from the right, normal, or usual course). For a lot of the experiments that didn’t work, I stand by my original phrasing.
Despite not coming up with a favourite word from my thesis, I do have a favourite sentence — mine spans the last two pages, after appendix, references and all:
“ma voix est faible…”
“…et même, un peu profane.”
Published August 24, 2011
And the next capital of the world is…? London!
Another reason why traditional media can no longer be trusted to communicate science…
Published August 22, 2011
The Guardian has an interesting piece up on the intersection between Art and Science. These types of collaborations garner a lot of column inches. The Wellcome Trust funds many projects along the same lines.
As interesting as the piece is, especially the one on speech, it all felt slightly odd. Trite and tame for some reason. Until I read John Hawks Weblog and understood why. The sense I got was that it was all very forced. A one way street. In none of the cases is the art used to better the science. Art simply takes the science and runs wild with it.
Which led me to think, instead of trying to marry two worlds, how about looking for the art in science. Primo Levi, writer of the greatest piece of science literature out there (The Periodic Table), beautifully found the art in his science — chemistry. Never had chemistry seemed more poetic, and for no other reason than because chemistry is poetic. The human experience told through the elements, or the elements explained through the human experience. I’m sure there are many more examples of art within science.