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Archive for the ‘Biology’ Category

Starstuff Pondering the Stars

Posted by Doug on March 22, 2009

I did not know that the Cosmos miniseries—in which the late, great Carl Sagan explains a number of scientific subjects ranging from astrophysics to cellular biology—had a samurai battle in it.

“Those afraid of the universe as it really is, those who pretend to nonexistent knowledge and envision a Cosmos centered on human beings will prefer the fleeting comforts of superstition.  They avoid rather than confront the world.  But those with the courage to explore the weave and structure of the Cosmos, even where it differs profoundly from their wishes and prejudices, will penetrate its deepest mysteries.” —Carl Sagan, Cosmos

In junior high, the school library had a hardcover edition of the book version of Cosmos, which was intended to accompany the TV miniseries.  I must have checked that book out over nine th a hundred times.  I had always been interested in sciency stuff like this, but rather than have my appetite sated in the many science classes I took, I was cursed with an endless succession of lousy teachers, who believed that “science” meant “answers to questions they will give you on that standardized test at the end of the year that you have to do good on so we keep get a raise” (and I actually recall one of my teachers stating that rather bluntly one day, dattebayo).

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Waste Time Online…For Science!

Posted by Doug on October 9, 2008

Foldit is an online game where you engage in protein-folding simulations.  It is believed that humans’ intuitive puzzle-solving capabilities might be able to solve exceedingly complex biology problems of this sort faster and cheaper than, say, a supercomputer crunching through the possibilities brute-force style could.

The game is free to play and easy enough to learn—drag with your mouse to pull the protein segments around, click the middle button to lock a piece in place, use the Shake and Wiggle tools to automate certain basic functions.  There are a lot of other bells and whistles that I haven’t had time to mess with yet.

Foldit Foldit

It’s an interesting idea—turn a problem that defies modern science into a video game some twelve-year-old in Burkina Faso can play.

The Internet: it’s not just for porn anymore.

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