Category Archives: Uncategorized

Yoshiki Sasai and the deadly consequences of science misconduct witchhunts

People who know me or read my blog will know that, in 1987, my father, a scientist at the NIH, killed himself after a member of his lab committed scientific fraud and he got caught up in the investigation. So I found the news this morning that Yoshiki Sasai, a Japanese stem cell scientist, committed suicide […]

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Let’s make 2013 the year of legislative access on open access

Yesterday a bi-partisan group of legislatures – Rep. Doyle (D-PA), Rep. Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Yoder (R-KS), Sen. Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) – introduced legislation that would require federal agencies that fund scientific and medical research to make works they fund available to the public. This bill – known as the Fair Access to […]

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My father, Aaron Swartz, and assigning blame for suicide

Twenty-six years ago, on February 7th, 1987, my father killed himself, and this day is always a complicated one for me. It is something I have never talked or written about in public. But I am moved to say something this year because of the suicide of Aaron Swartz. My brother had the same reaction, and wrote […]

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Blog’s back

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Notebook S1: Scientific publishing awesomeness

Greg Lang and David Botstein have a paper in PLoS One this week probing the consequences of disrupting the cluster of GAL genes in the yeast genome. The paper is cool. But the supplemental material is awesome. This description in the text says it all: Notebook S1. The complete laboratory notebook detailing the strain constructions […]

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Mystery in a children’s classic: Who is the 12th girl at dinner while Madeline is in the hospital?

Nearly everyone is familiar with Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans’ classic 1939 children’s tale of the girls in a Parisian boarding school. You will recall that there are 12 of them, and they go about their days in two nice little lines. Always 12 of them, whether they are out and about. Or eating, washing up or […]

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Science Magazine really, really, really doesn’t get it

Bruce Alberts has an editorial in this weeks science in which he proposes the idea of “Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Merit Badges” – a set of “100 different challenges to choose from at each level of schooling” – to engage students, patents and teachers in science. Whether you think this is a good […]

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I know something that Nature does not know… DNA is not lefthanded

I’ve written before about Nature’s tendency to publish biologically inaccurate covers. But this one really caught my attention. This is a cover about DNA sequencing, but the structure of the DNA molecule they show is wrong – in a crucial way. DNA is a chiral molecule – meaning it can occur in forms that differ […]

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WOW! Junk DNA as a metaphor! We have arrived!

In an article in The New Republic about how Republicans are being disingenous by opposing the health care bill on account of its length, Harold Pollack writes: Most of the junk DNA of the Senate bill is the usual block-and-tackle of complicated legislation, and is of no particular ideological or partisan concern. Many of the […]

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Thoughts on the Berkeley protests

I’ve made no secret of my opposition to this week’s protests at Berkeley and other UC campuses. The tactics were stale, the targets were wrong, and the rhetoric was ineffective. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t think what’s going on at UC doesn’t completely suck. The immediate cause of the protests was the 32% […]

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