Category Archives: journal club

Agnostic Isomers?

The other day I was skimming through my RSS feed looking for interesting journal articles when I found a funny paper in Angewandte Chemie, the journal whose name I really can’t properly say. It’s better than one of my previous journal club assignments: Applied Surface Science. Mike would always ask if there was anything interesting in the “ASS” journal. And sadly, there never was.

Okay, so it’s not that funny of a paper, but the title is funny: “Isolation of Two Agostic Isomers of an Organometallic Cation: Different Structures and Colors.” Well, it’s not really so much the title that is funny, but the fact that I misread the title as “agnostic isomers.” I thought it meant that they were molecules who couldn’t decide what shape to take (or what to believe in). It turns out that agnostic means a weak interaction where a transition metal interacts with a carbon-hydrogen bond. Less interesting than agnostic isomers in my opinion.


Journal Club: New Scientist, February 2-8, 2008 (among others)

This week I finished the Scientific American journal I was reading, and read a Science News and the New Scientist.  In Scientific American, I read about the next collider after the LHC, which will be a linear collider for electrons and positrons.  This is especially interesting to me, because I am thinking about going into particle physics, and a lot of new data to make new theories will start coming out in the next couple of years, so it should be a really interesting time in physics.

There was also an article about how the arctic ice sheets are melting off really fast, but they are not exactly melting.  They are just sliding off due to underwater lakes that decrease the friction.  It is kind of one of those chaos theory things where a really small change in the temperature leads to changes that make the temperature even warmer really fast.  Just goes to show how little we really know about our world.  I also learned that 2007-2009 is the fourth International Polar Year(s).

In Science News there was an article about how adult stem cells are being used on performance horses to repair tendons and other common leg injuries.  But they talk about how it is difficult to do blind studies, because horse owners don’t want to take the chance that their horse will not get the stem cells.  Money tends to get in the way of scientific research, but it also stimulates research as well.

Another article was about how during pregnancy cells from mothers can pass to the fetus and vice-versa.  These “foreign” cells are normally destroyed, but sometimes they stick around and turn into other cells that can cause diseases.  A lot more women than men get autoimmune disorders, especially women who have had children, so it is thought that some autoimmune disorders are triggered by the foreign cells.  But it is also possible that the child’s stem cells can cure some diseases, such as cancer or diabetes.  Really interesting stuff, but kind of gives you the creeps if you think about having children.

The last article I read was about how there may be genes for being liberal or conservative.  This was especially interesting to me at the time, because the night before a (very liberal) friend and I were having a conversation about politics and views with two very conservative friends.  It’s funny because although we can have very civil conversations and discuss why we believe the things that we believe, none of us will probably change our viewpoints.  Kind of interesting if you think about it.  I don’t know if it’s a subset of personality that makes you that way or what, but it’s also interesting that conservatives are against birth control, gay marriage, and abortion, which may tend to increase their population growth.  Maybe it is an evolutionary thing after all, and liberals are dying out, but you never know.

In other news, I got accepted to the University of Texas-Austin as well, and have made plans to visit both schools.  Saturday morning I took Reeju out driving (she’s from Nepal, but she needs to learn how to drive soon, because she’s going to grad school in the U.S. next year).  It was okay, but I accidentally drove with the parking brake on, which was really ditzy.  And I forgot how totally scary it is when you first start driving, but other than that it went okay.  Then I went on a high ropes course with Dr. Sheldon’s IST 107 class, which was totally fun!!!!  We did a climbing wall, and then we did this leap of life thing, where you climb up a tree, walk across a beam, and jump into the air.  So awesome!!!!  A lot of people were kind of scared, but I really wasn’t.  I think my fear of heights part of me is really missing, because I had no normal trepidation at all.  It was really fun though, and everyone did really well.  But now my head is rather orange from my helmet, and I can’t make it go away.  Kind of funny.

Well, see you next week.

Journal Club: Scientific American, February 2008

This week I read most of the February edition of Scientific American.  It’s funny, because I remember trying to read it when I was a kid and not understanding most of it.  I read some interesting articles about a new university in Saudi Arabia, a scientific city in Brazil, and the possible “benefits” of Huntington’s disease.  I was most fascinated by the article about the Large Hadron Collider that will hopefully be coming online this summer.  It will hopefully detect the Higg’s boson which according to the theory gives mass to the other gauge bosons.  I really like particle physics, but I think I am more interested in the theoretical formulations of the different theories than the practical discovering of the particles and the construction of colliders, though it is really cool.  And through my electronics lab this semester, I also realized how important it is to understand what your machines are telling you and how they do it, because then you obtain a deeper understanding of what is going on around you.

 In other news… I found out I got into Washington University in St. Louis yesterday.  Woohoo!!!  It’s the first grad school that I was accepted to, and I am planning to visit in February.  I just feel so hyper and excited about it that I can’t really sit still right now.  I feel like the next stage of my life is starting, and while that is a little bit scary, it’s also really exciting too.  I can’t wait to go to grad school and continue learning, because there is so much that I still want to know.

Journal Club: Academe January-February 2008

For some reason I decided to start a journal club, but I know that no one else would want to do it with me, so I’ve decided to do it through my blog.  Every Saturday morning I go to the library from 10-11 am (brunch is at 11) and read some articles from periodicals.  So if anyone feels like commenting (that is if anyone is even reading this which I highly doubt), then fire away.

This morning I read the January-February 2008 issue of Adaceme, the Bulletin of the AAUP.  I read some articles about mission statements, because it is relevant to the committee that I am on this semester.  Our gen-ed committee is discussing assessment and what the mission of our school is (especially now that we are supposed to be global honors or global and honors or something like that).  It talked about how a mission statement can be used to guide assessment choices, but that mission statements do not result in “specific student learning outcomes.”  Another article argued counter to the mission statement fetish that we are trying to quantitatively measure things that cannot really be measured quantitatively and that our mission statements shouldn’t be so important or so scientific.  There was also a fun satire about how one school decided to create a mission statement and all the funny (and rather sad) controversy that ensued.  Overall I’m not sure how I feel about mission statements.  It seems like in general a good idea, but ours seems more like a litany of general education requirements rather than a cohesive program.  That’s kind of my school in general sometimes though.  I just feel like no one really knows what they are doing, so they just do a lot of things to try and make up for it.

I really enjoyed the interview with Ms. Mentor, though it was kind of scary in some ways.  She talked about how the biggest problem in academia is still the two-body problem, and that it is hard for women to have it all.  Very few women can do it, but I don’t know how they manage it.  She mentioned how once she had a letter from a woman who really like her job, but the husband hated it and wanted to leave.  Ms. Mentor was saying that sometimes it is harder to find a job than a husband, so you should keep the job.  I really want to be a professor someday, and sometimes I think I’m just resigning myself to being single and not having kids, because it is more important to me to find a job and research that I love than to find a partner.  I don’t know if that’s the right answer or not, but for now it is okay with me.  Her other advice was about how you should only go to graduate school if you are really passionate about your subject, and I think I am that passionate about physics.  I love it so much, but I’m also a little scared that I’m not going to be good enough to continue.  I just have to remember to work really hard and keep working toward my goal.  She also gave the advice that grad students shouldn’t only hang out with each other, because it results in a really depressed view of life.  I think I have to remember that I have to keep involved in some activities outside of graduate school, like frisbee and riding and other stuff that I like to keep from going completely crazy.

I guess this was a successful first week of journal club… see you again next week.