Saturday, November 12, 2011

SfN!

I'm in the Washington Convention Center right now! No time to write a blog post (who knows when there will be...?!) but I'm tweeting up a storm, which is unusual for me but has been fun so far. Stay strong, laptop battery!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More nerdy podcasts for you!

Way back in 2009, I wrote a post about my favorite science podcasts. Since then I spend less time on the cryostat, so my listening habits have changed. But I still love a good radio story, so I thought I'd share an updated list with you.

Radiolab: Probably everyone already knows about Radiolab. If you're not already listening, you should. It takes a while to get used to the unorthodox audio production style, but I think it's worth sticking it out even if you're initially annoyed by it. The episode entitled Limits of Science was a particular favorite of mine, but they're all pretty interesting. And Jad Abumrad won a MacArthur this year for his work on the show!

The Story Collider: This is my newest discovery, so I haven't listened to that many episodes yet, but it seems promising. It's basically The Moth for science-themed stories. (And if you're not already listening to The Moth, you should be. Certain Moth stories have reduced me to tears on the shuttle bus, they're so powerful.)

Planet Money: OK, this one isn't technically about science. But as a scientist, I find that I often get a "Tell me something I don't know!" kind of attitude when I'm listening to popular science stories. Planet Money takes topics that I don't know much about (economics / finance) and explains them really well. I always come away feeling like I've learned something, even if I don't necessarily agree with their analysis. They work closely with the best radio show ever, aka This American Life. And their blog is fun, too.

Just for fun...

In the run-up to SfN, things are getting pretty stressful. I'm frantically trying to get those last tidbits of data together for my poster. I'm preparing myself for the onslaught of massive amounts of neuroscience. And, I'm beefing up my immune system with a flu shot (scientists aren't invulnerable to Con Crud!).

During this hectic time, it's nice to have a labmate who is willing to inject some whimsy into the most tedious experiments. We're currently immortalizing mouse embryonic fibroblast cells. These are skin cells taken from mouse embryos that we use for a lot of different cell culture based experiments in our lab. The problem is, primary cells (i.e., cells harvested from a donor animal) don't keep growing forever, so eventually you have to go back and collect more from new mice. In "immortalizing" the cells, we're selecting for cancer-like cells that will keep on dividing and dividing and dividing indefinitely, making our lives easier and requiring the use of fewer mouse embryos in the future.

So, naturally, my labmate and I gave this experiment a Mortal Kombat theme, and named each dish of cells after a different character from the video game. Which line of cells will be the champion?!

immortal_small.jpg

I'm personally rooting for Goro. Look at that dude! Talk about an interesting model system.