All great stuff – Sunday reading

By Grant Jacobs 20/11/2011

A subset of the best of a what I’ve run into lately for my readers on lazy grey Sunday.

Stunning photographs – Veering off science for a moment take break to look at the 45 images The Atlantic is showing, taken from this year’s National Geographic photo contest.


One criteria for me, personally, is if the image can tell it’s own story without needing a caption. Taken with the caption, all shown tell great stories.

I’d present a few of these in my post, but the copyright thingy looks off-putting. Those I had a mind to use, with some connection to the natural world as an excuse of keeping this somewhat related to science, where images 3, 8, 17, 24 and 25.

Chase those sources to the ground – I’ve written elsewhere on this blog that wikipedia is best viewed as a started point, from which you then want to verify. xkcd seems to think much the same, illustrating something found in a recent popular science book with this cartoon (xkcd’s rollover text is in the legend):


Not very surprisingly this as left several in the science writing community trying to guess what the book was. (I’m not even going to try.)

Popular science for Christmas? – it’s that time of year for Christmas shopping lists–unless you’ve already done your shopping! Over at i09, Annalee Newitz offers a list of popular science reading to consider. It’s good to see Holly Tucker’s Blood Work heading the list.

The value of university education – in a blog post Nat Torkington shares some thoughts on the value of a university education, in particular for those intending to go on to work computer programming. I’ve several minds about his article. I think it’s more than that you go on to do computer programming, but rather what you intend to do with that programming. Different types of applications have different needs. Developing new algorithms for computational biology needs a solid background in algorithms and data structures (along with a solid biology background, too); developing a consumer application has quite different needs. In that sense, perhaps computer programming classes at universities are best though of as matched to, or allied with, some other discipline, rather than ‘just’ programming – ? (I wrote some thoughts on universities as an ‘advice’ post – see the list at the end of this article.)

For a tiny wasp, most neurons lack nuclei – ScienceShot, from Science magazine, offers a single-paragraph piece reporting a study the found that 95% of the neurons in an adult fairy wasp lacked nuclei. (Nuclei, the plural of nucleus, are the organelles that contain a copy of the cell’s genes, it’s genome.)

Other articles on Code for life:

Advice for students heading to university

Describe your fantasy institute

Aww, crap.

Bioinformatics – QC, reproducible, statistical and sequence-oriented

Loops to tie a knot in proteins?