Feb 072017
 
Ugly face completely bandaged

YOU LOOK FABULOUS DARLING! And a little bit like an android…

Bandaged faces and leaky wounds are one side effect of facial cosmetic surgery. Now researchers from Australia (Oi, Oi, Oi) have found one side effect that doesn’t make your friends throw up in their mouths – increased job satisfaction.

Fear not you ugly fuckers. This week, researchers from the University of Melbourne have found that, following facial surgery, ugly-in-the-face-region people had more self esteem and experienced higher levels of job satisfaction, both in the short and long term.

The world we live in is a horrible place. We judge people on their looks and we shout across the street to them: “Hey, you! You look like a melted bag of used waxing strips!”

As people grow old, wrinkly and see-through, they may start to feel down about how they look. Whilst others have always looked like they fell out of the ugly tree and hit all the branches on the way down.

Confidence is an important part of attacking the day with your head held high and is the boost you need to high five a barista like in an advert made by a shit advertising company.

Researchers analysed responses from 121 adults who had recently undergone facial surgery. Unfortunately, because some people didn’t answer the questions properly the study ended up with a sample size of 106.

Proving that people can be both stupid and ugly simultaneously.

Not only did the results show that people were more satisfied in their jobs after surgery, there was also a negative correlation with respect to job burnout (that’s a good thing).

Researchers Alicia Kalus and Christina Cregan, from the Faculty of Business and Economics, said “some of the participants looked surprised” and they were unsure whether that was due to the surgery.

In the future, researchers hope that objective processes for selection and promotion will help break the attractiveness bias found in the study.

“If workplaces reward talent and effort, women and girls may come to rely less on the traditional emphasis on beauty as a basis for self-esteem.” Ms Kalus says.

 

References

  1. Kalus, A. R. and Cregan, C. (2017), Cosmetic facial surgery: the influence of self-esteem on job satisfaction and burnout. Asia Pac J Hum Resour. doi:10.1111/1744-7941.12137

 

 

Jan 102017
 
Fancy New Labs

One thing that I’ve noticed during my 10 years in a moderately productive scientific career is that, over time, the laboratories have become less busy. I remember times, early in my PhD, having to elbow-fight for lab space on 1960’s style wooden benches. The labs looked like how an escape room business would furnish a murder mystery theme. The benches would be stained with decades worth of chemical spills and scorches from hot glassware. Each discolored ring telling the story of an experiment that could have gone a little better.

Nowadays, researchers regularly receive a call to action, flaccidly ejaculated from the supervisor’s omnipresent email account: “I have visitors/photographers/collaborators visiting this morning, please make the lab look busy by scheduling your experiments for this time.”




Here are some of my favorite pictures of academics holding things:

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A never ending battle is fought between research leaders over scientific territory. Once the territory is won, they need the troops to fill it, and sometimes they just don’t have the numbers. Instead of giving up some space to a larger group, academics will fiercely defend space by marking it with their expensive equipment and not-so-expensive urine. Gone are the days of finding out the door code from a drunk lab member. Should you want swipe card access to their lab, you’ll have to go through an extensive process of chasing the elusive academic around the various campuses of the university.  Should you trap them, this will be followed by *another* lab induction from a dead-eyed lab manager, come post-doc, who will un-enthusiastically gesture towards the first-aid kit and chemical manifests before asking you to kill them under their breath.

An overly excited OH&S representative will easily dash any hopes you have of entering the lab this week. I once wanted to dissolve magnesium sulfate in water for one of my experiments. It sounds scary, but it is most commonly found in bath salts. In order for my carbon nanotubes to take a relaxing bath, I was required to fill out a 24 page form, print off three copies, take them to my supervisor to be signed, place one in the tray in the office, take one to the OH&a;akkjnasljhvci[‘ae9qw[ewfj – what a fucking huge waste of time. To the best of my knowledge, the chemical is still sat in the store room waiting to be picked up. Every OH&S manager should have to shadow an active researcher so that they can see the effect one simple form can have on the productivity of a scientist.

Maybe, just maybe, the labs have always been this empty. The desire for senior management in a university to “show an active research environment” has seen the installation of scientist goldfish bowls and may have backfired. Big windows with inspirational quotes such as, “I will do myself proud” and “fuck yeah, science”, adorn the echoey glass science cage and researchers are forever on show. They cannot pick their noses, pick out their wedgies or scream-swear at the computer without the potential of being watched by a visiting member of parliament.

Surely, if Australia is to become an innovation nation the first thing to do is to remove the reasons for clever people to not be in the lab. That way, they are actually doing science. Give them the freedom to try new things without the burden of excessive paperwork. Allow them access to fancy new equipment without the invisible borders that dissect the research institute’s battleground. And get rid of those creativity killing glass cages of despair.





Nov 222016
 
Naked Burglar

The Australian police have been called all sorts of things – sweaty rule-keeping bastards, koala-chasing law wankers, useless BBQ-eating fun spoilers, to list only three of the common ones. But this week, they have really shown their worth by solving an elaborate crime in Wodonga (definitely not a made up place).

The koala-chasing law wankers investigated a robbery at the Wodonga community hall, in southeast Australia (near the not so hot bit). But, instead of fingerprints, police found the offenders had left a big arse mark on a glass door.

One of the sweaty rule-keeping bastards said:

“It’s a big arse, mate. We used $100 dollars worth of that dusty shit, mate. We can, fair dinkum, pinpoint the age and sex of the offender by looking for evidence of hemorrhoids and skid marks”

Arse print on a door

To help the residents of Wodonga overcome their fear of pantless break-ins, they could be provided with a recent therapy created by researchers at a university everyone says they want to go to, but only a few can actually be arsed to work “that hard” – Oxford Cambridge University.

These tea sipping researchers have discovered a way to remove specific fears from the brain, using a combination of artificial intelligence and brain scanning technology.

Currently, one of the most common approaches to help with fears is aversion therapy. This is where a sweaty-palmed individual confronts their fear by being exposed to it while someone says “see it’s not scary”. I’m sure this is just as effective as telling a miserable sibling to “cheer up”.

The new technique is called ‘Decoded Neurofeedback’. It uses brain scanning to monitor activity in the brain and identify complex patterns of activity which resemble a specific fear memory. Even when the volunteers are simply resting, there are moments when the pattern of fluctuating brain activity has partial features of the specific fear memory, even though the volunteers aren’t consciously aware of it. Once the patient’s brain starts to show the same activity as a fear memory the researchers simply reward the patient with something nice, such as money or a kiss from a virgin.

Although this will help the residents of Wodonga with the fear of a naked break-in. It will not help with the fact they live in Wodonga whose Wikipedia page is so dull it will make you want to get nude, high on ice, and rob a community hall just so there’d be something mildly interesting on it.

 

References:

  1. Ai Koizumi, Kaoru Amano, Aurelio Cortese, Kazuhisa Shibata, Wako Yoshida, Ben Seymour, Mitsuo Kawato, Hakwan Lau. Fear reduction without fear through reinforcement of neural activity that bypasses conscious exposure. Nature Human Behaviour, 2016; 1: 0006 DOI: 10.1038/s41562-016-0006
  2. http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/reconditioning-the-brain-to-overcome-fear

In other news, this week I’m curating the @iamscicomm twitter handle

Come and join in the sweary fun!

 

Jul 052016
 
full time part time road sign

Have you ever sat in work, looked out the window and thought “I wish I didn’t have basic human desires, like eating, mating and bitching about Ken in accounts, so I could just do my jobs 24 hours a day”? we’ve all been there. If the answer is no that’s mental, read on…

The typical scientific working week comprises at least 5 days (or 40 hours) worth of work. Although, many academics and scientists work as if their success depends on not seeing or interacting with another human being – unless it’s through email. That work can consist of hands-on research, writing for angry reviewers or the physical pantomime of productivity whilst not actually getting anything done. For those that aren’t strict with their time, the pressures of an academic appointment can start eating its way into weekends, holidays and time sat watching Netflix, drinking wine, multi-screen Facebook stalking and taking pictures of your dog or cat in adorable positions.

For the past 2 years, I have been a part-time scientist and this is why you should consider it too:

  • People get jealous of your “every weekend is a long weekend” lifestyle.
  • I have been using Fridays to do the things I really enjoy, which includes being in my underwear for large parts of the day, pretending I’m a pirate and also editing for the best podcast on earth (yet to be recognised as such) Publish, Perish or Podcast.
  • I am learning new things (video editing, a new language and how to convince my partner I did NOT eat most of the chocolate), although not directly related to my day job, they’ve all been used in my job at some point…

The strange thing is, despite my extra underwear time I feel just as good at my job, more creative while I’m in work and Mondays now feel like a Tuesday, Tuesdays feel like a Wednesday, Wednesdays feel like a Wednesday and Thursday feels like a Wednesday. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are rolled into an orgy of cafes, beer and writing shit for the internet and invited contributions to things (yes, despite this blog people still invite me to write stuff – I don’t understand either).

When I first asked to go part-time in my previous job my boss looked worried. Supportive, but worried. That is, until I said that the day would be used to follow my science communication desires. So, if you are going to ask your boss if you can go part-time, make up something that sounds productive. That way they feel good about the decision even if you are planning to stay at home and see how many clothes pegs you can cram onto your genitalia before passing out.


Back to blogs

Congratulate me for putting the peg image into your mind:
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Apr 052016
 

Everyone has a big wet hole on their face and apparently we can’t help but stuff it with food. Sure, if you are going through a rough break up or are drunk, there should be no limits to what you can put in your face and masticate. But that mid-morning run to good ol’ maccas is doing us all harm. Like they say “a moment on the lips, a lifetime telling people you are big-boned”. 

A recent Lancet report looks at a family-sized-meal-with-extra-sides amount of data and finds that the global age-standardized mean body mass index (BMI) increased from 21·7 kg/m² in 1975 to 24·2 kg/m²  in 2014 in men, and from 22·1 kg/m² in 1975 to 24·4 kg/m² in 2014 in women. That correlates nicely with the introduction of drive-throughs, reinforced toilet seats and deep-fried things on sticks which, allow you waddle around while eating delicious calorie dense food.

The report is good news for all big beautiful women (BBW) lovers. Morbid obesity has reached a global value of 1.6%, so there will be more, much more woman to go around.

CD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC), Trends in adult body-mass index in 200 countries from 1975 to 2014: a pooled analysis of 1698 population-based measurement studies with 19·2 million participants, The Lancet, Volume 387, Issue 10026, 2–8 April 2016, Pages 1377-1396

Apr 042016
 

These worksheets are designed for undergraduate students who want practice questions that are much more interesting than the ones in the text book.

DO NOT CONTINUE READING IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED!

1.  Write the equilibrium expression (keq) for the following reaction:

2SHITe + CoCK → (SHITe)2CoCK

2. Consider the following endothermic reaction

FUCK + YOU → FUCKYOU

Predict the effect on the equilibrium position of

(a) increasing the amont of [FUCK]s you give

(b) increasing [FUCKYOU]

(c) Turning up the heat on your insults

(d) increasing the size of the flask that you keep your fucks in

3. During an acid trip, Ben asks you if life is in equilibrium with the world. Using examples from chemical equilibrium, provide an answer to blow his mind. Also, what is the best way to freak him out?

4. The Haber process is used to produce ammonia which is used to create fertilizer. This keeps food plentiful and allows people to literally eat themselves to death. Is it an endo- or exothermic process? If a person was to eat loads of KFC and fart in the reaction vessel what would happen to the equilibrium position? What is appropriate PPE for a fart based experiment?

N2 + 3 H2 → 2 NH3   (ΔH = −92.4 kJ·mol−1)

5. An alcoholic lecturer asks you: “an equilibrium constant with a value K > 1 means what?” How do you respond? and what do you buy  to bribe him to pass you in his subject even though you have no idea what he has said all semester?

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Apr 012016
 

It was a sweltering day in the lab and sweat was beading on her velvet skin. Sarah was excited mixed also with a little apprehension, because she knew that the task ahead of her had the potential to make her sticky all over. Sarah’s previous experiment had been a failure, but as she slipped on the latex gloves she felt a hot rush of determination; this time she was willing to take things to the next level.

Sarah obtained the nubile starting ester, γ-stearyl-R-Lglutamate (SLG), by a teasingly slow and kinky esterification of L-glutamic acid with the dominant stearyl alcohol (1-octadecanol) in an orgy of liquids including tert-butyl alcohol a hot and heavy reflux using sulfuric acid as a little catalyst BDSM play.

The corresponding hunk, carboxy anhydride, γ-stearyl-R-L-glutamate N-carboxy anhydride (SLG-NCA), was synthesized by reacting the blushing velvet core SLG with triphosgene (i.e., hexachlorodimethyl carbonate) in tetrahydrofuran (THF)

All PSLG samples were spanked like the naughty boys that they are by anionic polymerization of SLG-NCA in THF (approximately 10% monomer concentration) initiated by amines (N,N-diethyltrimethylsilylamine was obtained from Dr. Magic hands). The slow and hot reaction took a pounding throughout the 3-4 days at room temperature depending on the initiator used. The molecular weight was tied up and controlled by the ratio between the NCA and the initiator used.

 

Adapted from the materials section of:

Thermoreversible Gelation of Isotropic and Liquid Crystalline Solutions of a “Sticky” Rodlike Polymer Macromolecules, 2000, 33 (12), 4427-4432

Mar 292016
 

My nameRita-Colon-Urban-Old Westbury-Biology-Professor is Dr Nettles. I have a PhD in Biomolecular Science and an undergraduate degree in Biology and Literature. My mum said that I needed to do a “real degree” so I choose biology even though my true passions are roller derbies and Cornetto™ ice cream. I chose literature as a double degree since it distracted me enough to avoid impure thoughts about boys. That is a rule that I impose on myself and doesn’t originate from a position of religious indoctrination. As I always tell my students: “one cannot become a professor whilst constantly thinking about thick muscular fingers”.

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