Distracted Biologist
Not a science blog, just a scientist's blog.


*snaps fingers in a dragon formation*

I have a weakness for Thai commercials

é  0  û    —    1:00pm

via xkcd


youre gonna look so godamn cool

Starting my 6th and hopefully my last lab notebook (in this lab) #gradschool #tryintograduate



Meet The 14-Year-Old Girl Who Developed A Low-Cost Water Purification System | FastCompany
The next generation of scientists is already hard at work solving our biggest problems. Take Deepika Kurup, a 14-year-old high school student from Nashua, New Hampshire. After seeing children in India drinking dirty water from a stagnant pool, she decided, in her words, “to find a solution to the global water crisis.” And then she actually made some progress towards that goal, developing a solar-powered water purification system.

She is the future

Ever notice how it’s always brilliant teenagers making stuff that will actually solve the world’s worst problems, like what do adults even do?

This just goes to show, as long as you have the drive and motivation to do something you believe in, you can achieve anything. Power to this girl! 
Lettuce See the Future: Japanese Farmer Builds High-Tech Indoor Veggie Factory



Humans have spent the last 10,000 years mastering agriculture. But a freak summer storm or bad drought can still mar many a well-planted harvest. Not anymore, says Japanese plant physiologist Shigeharu Shimamura, who has moved industrial-scale farming under the roof.

Working in Miyagi Prefecture in eastern Japan, which was badly hit by powerful earthquake and tsunamis in 2011, Shimamura turned a former Sony Corporation semiconductor factory into the world’s largest indoor farm illuminated by LEDs. The special LED fixtures were developed by GE and emit light at wavelengths optimal for plant growth. 

The farm is nearly half the size of a football field (25,000 square feet). It opened on July and it is already producing 10,000 heads of lettuce per day. “I knew how to grow good vegetables biologically and I wanted to integrate that knowledge with hardware to make things happen,” Shimamura says.


The farm uses 17,500 LED lights spread over 18 cultivation racks reaching 15 levels high.

The LED lights are a key part of the farm’s magic. They allow Shimamura to control the night-and-day cycle and accelerate growth. “What we need to do is not just setting up more days and nights,” he says. “We want to achieve the best combination of photosynthesis during the day and breathing at night by controlling the lighting and the environment.”

Shimamura says that the systems allows him to grow lettuce full of vitamins and minerals two-and-a-half times faster than an outdoor farm. He is also able to cut discarded produce from 50 percent to just 10 percent of the harvest, compared to a conventional farm. As a result, the farms productivity per square foot is up 100-fold, he says.

By controlling temperature, humidity and irrigation, the farm can also cut its water usage to just 1 percent of the amount needed by outdoor fields.


Shimamura got the idea for his indoor farm as a teenager, when he visited a “vegetable factory” at the Expo ’85 world’s fair in Tsukuba, Japan. He went on to study plant physiology at the Tokyo University of Agriculture, and in 2004 started an indoor farming company called Mirai, which in Japanese means “future.”

The concept took off in 2011, when GE approached Shimamura with an idea for using advanced LED lights to illuminate the farm. The LEDs last longer and consume 40 percent less power than fluorescent lights. The companies started testing the technology in March 2012 and came up with the final design a year later.


The farm is producing 10,000 heads of lettuce per day.

GE engineers used proprietary technology to make the lights thin enough to fit inside the stacks, provide uniform light and endure the high humidity inside. “That way, we can put in more growing racks and increase productivity dramatically,” says Tomoaki Kimura, country manager for GE Lighting Japan.

The GE Japan team believes that indoor farms like the one in the Miyagi Prefecture could be a key to solving food shortages in the world. Mirai and GE are already working on “plant factories” in Hong Kong and the Far East of Russia. Says Shimamura: “Finally, we are about to start the real agricultural industrialization.”


Shigeharu Shimamura shows his produce.

I wonder if they also deal with significantly less pests, eliminating the need for pesticides?

é  1395  û    —    1:01pm


why the fuck does everyone in the purge movies want to kill people if crime was legal i’d find a way to erase my student debt and also probably steal a bunch of new clothes

é  218160  û    —    2:00pm



Young Scientists Say They’re Sexually Abused In The Field (NPR)

In a survey of scientists engaged in field research, the majority — 64 percent — said they had personally experienced sexual harassment while at a field site, and 22 percent reported being the victim of sexual assault.
Most of the people reporting harassment or assault were women, and the vast majority were still students or postdocs.
And for female victims, the perpetrator was more likely to be a superior, not a peer. “This is happening to them when they are trainees, when they are most vulnerable within the academic hierarchy,” says evolutionary biologist Katie Hinde , an author on the study in PLOS ONE. Hinde and her colleagues say this could be a factor in the large number of women who enter scientific fields but don’t continue.

Students work at an archaeological dig near Silchester, England.

In/outside and on/off the field, this is utterly disturbing and unacceptable.

Respect women, respect your students. They are scientists.
Guess who finally reached enlightenment? #me #peaceout #pogonip (at University of California Santa Cruz Colleges)
  • SARAH: Daddy, were you in the shower?
  • DAD: Yes, I was in the shower.
  • SARAH: Why?
  • DAD: I was dirty. The shower gets me clean.
  • SARAH: Why?
  • DAD: Why does the shower get me clean?
  • SARAH: Yes.
  • DAD: Because the water washes the dirt away when I use soap.
  • SARAH: Why?
  • DAD: Why do I use soap?
  • SARAH: Yes.
  • DAD: Because the soap grabs the dirt and lets the water wash it off.
  • SARAH: Why?
  • DAD: Why does the soap grab the dirt?
  • SARAH: Yes.
  • DAD: Because soap is a surfactant.
  • SARAH: Why?
  • DAD: Why is soap a surfactant?
  • SARAH: Yes.
  • DAD: That is an EXCELLENT question. Soap is a surfactant because it forms water-soluble micelles that trap the otherwise insoluble dirt and oil particles.
  • SARAH: Why?
  • DAD: Why does soap form micelles?
  • SARAH: Yes.
  • DAD: Soap molecules are long chains with a polar, hydrophilic head and a non-polar, hydrophobic tail. Can you say ‘hydrophilic’?
  • SARAH: Aidrofawwic
  • DAD: And can you say ‘hydrophobic’?
  • SARAH: Aidrofawwic
  • DAD: Excellent! The word ‘hydrophobic’ means that it avoids water.
  • SARAH: Why?
  • DAD: Why does it mean that?
  • SARAH: Yes.
  • DAD: It’s Greek! ‘Hydro’ means water and ‘phobic’ means ‘fear of’. ‘Phobos’ is fear. So ‘hydrophobic’ means ‘afraid of water’.
  • SARAH: Like a monster?
  • DAD: You mean, like being afraid of a monster?
  • SARAH: Yes.
  • DAD: A scary monster, sure. If you were afraid of a monster, a Greek person would say you were gorgophobic.
  • (pause)
  • SARAH: (rolls her eyes) I thought we were talking about soap.
  • DAD: We are talking about soap.
  • (longish pause)
  • SARAH: Why?
  • DAD: Why do the molecules have a hydrophilic head and a hydrophobic tail?
  • SARAH: Yes.
  • DAD: Because the C-O bonds in the head are highly polar, and the C-H bonds in the tail are effectively non-polar.
  • SARAH: Why?
  • DAD: Because while carbon and hydrogen have almost the same electronegativity, oxygen is far more electronegative, thereby polarizing the C-O bonds.
  • SARAH: Why?
  • DAD: Why is oxygen more electronegative than carbon and hydrogen?
  • SARAH: Yes.
  • DAD: That’s complicated. There are different answers to that question, depending on whether you’re talking about the Pauling or Mulliken electronegativity scales. The Pauling scale is based on homo- versus heteronuclear bond strength differences, while the Mulliken scale is based on the atomic properties of electron affinity and ionization energy. But it really all comes down to effective nuclear charge. The valence electrons in an oxygen atom have a lower energy than those of a carbon atom, and electrons shared between them are held more tightly to the oxygen, because electrons in an oxygen atom experience a greater nuclear charge and therefore a stronger attraction to the atomic nucleus! Cool, huh?
  • (pause)
  • SARAH: I don’t get it.
  • DAD: That’s OK. Neither do most of my students.
  • (The Dad is Stephen McNeil, "an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of British Columbia Okanagan in Kelowna, British Columbia.")
  • Sounds like my childhood.
Just a little something to help keep our sanity #fridaysinlab #gradschool #teaway  (at Hensill Hall)

Fuck Yeah Women of Color



Posted by Quotes Sayings

Good ones