Of Schemes and Memes Blog

The Best of Nature Network: 7-13 August 2010


Another new blogger joined the Nature Network ranks this week. Jim Caryl is a microbiologist from the University of Leeds, UK. His rather unusual project (and blog name) involves subjecting his bacteria to a ‘Gene Gym’. Jim explains the workout in his introductory post:

As I’m working towards understanding bacterial fitness, I will be making a variety of gyms and assault courses for some rather unfortunate and flabby opportunistic pathogens, so I can better understand which assault courses result in the bugs bending double and sucking for air before dying out, and which result in the bugs overcoming their initial stitch and come out the other side laughing. I will in due course be moving on to the staphylococcal equivalent of Royal Marines, to determine what gym tricks they used to become such hard-asses. The Gene Gymwill be an attempt by me to fuse the subject of my research with the subject matter of my blog, to share with you all some of my insight into this, my most favourite of research areas.

Supervising two high-school students for a week prompted Jennifer Rohn to reflect on her own experiences of feeling overwhelmed

in a biomedical lab, or ‘revisiting my inner newbie’, as she put it:

All scientists probably remember their first day in a real lab. Not the pretend lab of a high school or university, with its staged classroom practicals and fait accompli outcomes presided over by harried teaching assistants – but a living, breathing, grown-up lab full of actual scientists and genuine experiments-in-progress. You may have aced that pop quiz on gel electrophoresis or been the best of class at identifying mitotic figures under the microscope, but in the brave new world of biomedical research, you suddenly felt completely out of your depth.

Two posts tackled the use of web tools for science communication. Martin Fenner provided a eulogy of Google Wave, the much touted collaboration tool, soon to be retired by Google. As Martin points out, though, many of its features will live on in other projects. Bob O’Hara, meanwhile, laid out some thoughts on good and bad comment moderation policies for blogs. His post is a must-read for anyone who regularly writes or comments on a blog.

Other good posts include Aysman Sen on how to spot alien life by looking for non-random movement, and Jo Scott on a novel science funding initiative


Space at the Science Online London conference is now very limited, so sign up quick if you want to go. For those who have signed up, two fringe events – a rooftop open debate called Fringe Frivolous and a trip to the Diamond Light Source – are now taking reservations and you can find details over on the Science Online London forum. You can also use this space to make any comments or suggestions about the meeting.

On a related theme, the Science Blogging forum is all a-go at the moment, with discussions on the future of science networks, the dearth of women in physics and the question of who you are writing for when you blog.

And Finally…

Eva Amsen discovered this jolly cartoon on cell culture:


  1. Report this comment

    Stephen Curry said:


    Just goes to show how easy it is to miss good stuff on Nature Network… 😉

  2. Report this comment

    Matt Brown said:

    Quite right, Stephen. I should have included your post. It fell into the interstitial site after (but on the same day as) last week’s roundup, but before the date range of this week’s roundup. So the moral of the story is not to post things late on a Friday afternoon. (Or else M@ should take greater care when browsing through the week’s archive.)

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    Heather Etchevers said:

    All-in-all, a good week. Thanks for the sum-up.

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