Have I mentioned before just how much I love zombies?
In other news, I've been listening to The Psychedelic Furs an awful lot when at home and The Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique when at work. It's an interesting combination, but not for everyone. Possibly not even for me.
Today was truly a fantastic day. Please pardon me while I geek out with a story.
I've been working to solve the structure of one particular protein since May. Before that, three separate rotation students and a postdoc put three years of manpower into the project.
As you may remember from my last post, I spent midnight to 6am at the Advanced Light Source collecting data on the umpteenth heavy-metal soaks for these crystals. After halfway processing most of the data from Monday's synchrotron trip, I was mighty discouraged, since none of the data looked promising. However, I started one more computing job before heading home to get some sleep.
Today I went into the lab thinking dark thoughts and trying to plan the next set of experiments. I was actually halfway through making up some solutions for an entirely new set of gold and platinum derivatizations when someone asked me how the data looked. Suddenly, I was reminded of the computational experiment I had set running before I left. I didn't really think it had worked, but the guy I was talking to wanted to take a look, so I trudged out to the computer room with him. The first thing we brought up was the initial electron density map from the last-minute job.
SHAZAM. A perfect alpha helix strared back at us.
Over the last several months my project has become infamous as the structure that (inexplicably) couldn't be solved. Take that, Laue!
Saw Matrix Revolutions this weekend with the Berger Lab crew and Friends. I wasn't a fan. Ate far too much delicious Thai food afterwards. I was a fan.
Instead of being home in my nice warm bed with Dianna, I'm at the ALS getting shafted by my crystals. The damn things diffract well, but I can't get any goddamn metals to bind with high occupancy. Someone shut off the jury-rigged pencil-bot, too, so there's not even mechanical hijiinks to keep me awake.
Oops. Almost time to get the next crystal ready for the beam. 45 minutes until someone comes to replace me on this shift. I'm counting every second.
Today I had a rather surreal experience. I decided to go get some coffee at a local cafe, and as I stepped outside I glanced at the sky and drenched trees I mused, "Wow....Berkeley looks a lot like Seattle when it's wet". No sooner had I thought this, than I noticed twenty people wearing the purple and gold of the University of Washington Huskies walking up the sidewalk. After about ten seconds of shock and bewilderment at my abilities to transport Seattle into Northern California, I realized that today's football game is Cal vs UW. I'm a little disappointed in my lack of superhuman mental powers, but I think I'll get over it.
Scientist uses loaded words, biased reporting, and outright falsehoods to misrepresent the truth. No one is surprised.
Gene recently linked to a Harper's article titled, "Unraveling the DNA myth: the spurious foundation of genetic engineering". In short, the article is absolute crap. Complete and utter nonsense. Which is inexcusable, because the author, Barry Commoner, is a biologist.
The article itself is 10 pages long, and it would take a similar amount of space for me to point out everything that is wrong with it. But let me summarize:
I think that's all I'll say about this. Everyone has probably already lost interest, anyway. But please, if you think GMOs are a bad idea, don't quote Barry Commons to support your position. There are several reasons you might oppose genetic engineering. But outright falsehoods are not good reasons.
Today the mailman gifted me with something wonderful: Camper Van Beethoven's Cigarettes and Carrot Juice box set. This has got to be the best musical deal in existence. Five (5) full-albums for thirty (30) dollars. That's six (8) dollars an album. It really doesn't get any better than that.
Dianna's not so excited, though. She's especially unexcited about the bizarre screechiness featured during "9 of Disks" or "Payed Vacation: Greece".
My kitten hasn't moved in three (18) hours. I think she's asleep. But it's also possible that she's turned into a very fuzzy (2) statue.
This morning (the day after Halloween) was surreally peaceful. I woke up at 6 a.m. to go to the Advanced Light Source and shoot some crystals, and discovered an empty Berkeley. The streets were almost completely empty, as if half of the Bay Area had suddenly disappeared in the night. Then again, I haven't heard anything about the Castro Halloween mobs yet, so maybe they have disappeared.
My morning was made even more surreal by the latest contraption the beamline scientists have come up with. As I set my bag down in front of the control computers, I noticed some movement out of the corner of my eye. It seems those wacky techies have built an articulated robot arm to automate crystal handling. Except, in true beamline style, part of the robot is made of #2 pencils. There are experiments in other areas of the synchrotron that seem to be made entirely out of tinfoil. I find something intensely satisfying about coming into such an ultra-cool sci-fi environment and finding it held together by chewing gum.