frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Zundry - Computer love)
My job is awesome and I am completely loving it.

But, wow, where on earth has all my time gone? I have to sleep and stuff. When am I supposed to LJ?? And write fic???

frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Zundry - bobtail squid)
One exam down. I am very wiped out, but I answered questions, which is a good thing. Send pictures of baby animals and Neal Caffrey.

Because I wouldn't be me if I wasn't geeking out about random bits of biological experiments, this was my favourite question:

"In older experiments aimed at testing the hypothesis that bees estimate distance from energy consumption, worker bees were made to carry small weights. The bees struggled even to gain height when loaded, and overestimated the distance that they had travelled. It was concluded that the bees were using their energy consumption to estimate distance. Provide an alternative explanation of these results."

They put little weights on bees and made them fly around, you guys!! :D Sadly the paper doesn't reference it, so I don't know what the weights were made of...

I don't have an exam tomorrow, and I'm really tired, so I shall now drink wine and pretend that there isn't at least one person I badly want to murder.

frith_in_thorns: An open black umbrella with small red hearts falling out of it (.Love)
Mason placed rats in a Plexiglass pen with two cages: in one was another rat, in the other was a pile of five milk chocolate chips—a favorite snack of these particular rodents. The unrestricted rats could easily have eaten the chocolate themselves before freeing their peers or been so distracted by the sweets that they would neglect their imprisoned friends. Instead, most of the rats opened both cages and shared in the chocolate chip feast.

"In our lab we called it the 'chocolate versus pal' experiment," Mason says. "The rat could have put his butt in the opening of the cage containing chocolate to block the other guy, but he didn't. They were sharing food with their pals. In rat land, that is big—I was shocked." Mason says that free rats typically took the chocolate out of the cage before eating it and that sometimes the free rats placed the chocolate chips in front of or very near their recently sprung peers, "as if delivering it."

- Scientific American
frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Zundry - bobtail squid)
Guess who's got to hand in her extended essay in twelve-and-a-half hours and still has ~3000 words to go? :D

On the plus side, I have way more than 3000 words of notes to use. Apparently Helen and I are able to make each other work by some strange occult magic or something. (Perhaps it's because when I'm working in her room I a. feel guilty if I'm not working and she is (apparently this works in reverse), and b. can't mess around on the internet. Also she is very reassuring when I start panicking. Yay!)

On this topic, here is my next quote-thing for 100things:

Sediment blankets much of the deep-ocean floor and was a source of endless tedium for those lowering dredges and raising mud during the three-year voyage of HMS Challenger in the 1870s. This voyage marked the first systematic look at the biology of the deep sea. Perhaps all that mud contributed to the suicide, two cases of insanity and 61 desertions that are among its lesser known achievements.

- Callum Roberts, "Deep impact: the rising toll of fishing in the deep sea", Trends in Ecol & Evol
GUESS WHAT MY ESSAY'S ON. Well, at least the bobtail squid in my icon is actually relevant for once. Well, more so than the "science is awesome, yay!" that I generally use it for...

(In related news, this is why I'm behind on answering comments. And now my break's over and I must go back to wooooork...)

frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Zundry - bobtail squid)

Saw this on [ profile] leesa_perrie's journal - it sounds fun, and like an excuse to spam everyone with things! My topic is going to 100 small piles of words I come across. So, you know, paragraphs or phrases or lyrics I like on that day.

Here is my first one, from my Viva reading I was doing earlier:

How ants measure distance has remained obscure until recently. Mathias Wittlinger and his collaborators addressed the problem by lengthening the legs with stilts or shortening them by cutting off the tarsi. In this ingenious way, they were able to demonstrate that the ants measure distance by counting steps.

- from "The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies" by Holldobler and Wilson.
ANTS ON STILTS, YOU GUYS. I would love to know the thought process which led to that experiment. At any rate, it massively amused me, although it's not quite as wonderful as bee swarming experiments, where the queen is in a little cage and the swarm forms around her. Then when the swarm reaches a site consensus and starts to fly off, they get a little way and then are all "nuuuuu, where is our queen???? this is terrible :O" and then they go back and swarm because they won't leave her behind and don't understand why she isn't flying with them. Am I alone in finding this adorable and also feeling sad for the poor confused bees? :P

Anyway, that is the sort of strange things I'm signing up to spam you with :D

frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Zundry - Be brave)
This is what you need to build an Isengard:

1 quantity of gingerbread (the sort I use to make gingerbread houses at Christmas)
2 bags of Bassetts jelly babies
1 big box of Cadburys chocolate fingers (three trays of them)
2 packs of Flake bars (4 bars in each pack)
1 packet of Tesco Value 'flake and rasin chocolate clusters'
1 packet of Tesco Value dolly mix
1 paket of Haribo super mix (although we ended up eating this all before we started)
Cocktail sticks
Butter icing
A large table

You also need a friend who's as obsessed with Tolkien as you are, and therefore will back you up in your excellent idea. I used [ profile] unbrokenwings91  (who I shall just call Zanna for the rest of this entry, since it's much quicker to type).

Build Isengard. Then takes lots of photos.  Zanna is much better at taking photos than I am, which is why I am in more of them (I'm the one in the purple t-shirt). Also, none of the blurry ones are hers ;)

A little preview of the finished masterpiece!


Now follow the cut for many more (and better) photos, and commentry :)
Warning: Very, very image heavy! )

on sexism

Jun. 16th, 2010 11:51 pm
frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Amy - brighter)
Today, while revising, I realised that one of the majorly influential scientific papers I've studied (and wrote an essay on last term) was written by a woman.  I'm ashamed to say that my first feeling was one of surprise, because I've come to take it for granted that all the important papers and books in the field tend to be written by men.  My lecturers and tutors are mostly men (they're also all white, fwiw).  I'm rather uncomfortable that I've just been accepting this as the natural order of things.

Also, I was reading some articles in Science this afternoon (it's one of the really influencial journals, in case you didn't know that), and this issue contains several stories about how clinical trials and the like are biased towards using men as the standard test subject -- with ratios in the terms of five or six to one.  It isn't even confined to humans -- the same bias holds true in research on lab animals.  Males are much more likely to be used unless females are specifically required.  This leads to treatment for women being far less evidence-based than treatment for men. 

Pertinant quotes (full text here, but it's subscription-only): "Differences in the physiology of males and females, and in their response to disease, have been recognized for decades in many species — not least Homo sapiens. The literature on these differences now encompasses everything from variations in gene expression between male and female mice, to a higher susceptibility to adverse drug reactions in women compared with men. Moreover, hormones made by the ovaries are known to influence symptoms in human diseases ranging from multiple sclerosis to epilepsy.

Funding agencies and researchers alike should also start thinking seriously about how to deal with the most fundamental sex difference: pregnancy. Pregnant women get ill, and sick women get pregnant. They need therapies, too, even though they are carrying a highly vulnerable fetus and their bodies are undergoing massive changes in hormonal balance, immune function and much else besides. Entering pregnant women in clinical trials is problematic in the extreme, for a host of ethical reasons. But ignoring the problem is not an answer either — the result is that physicians will prescribe drugs whose effects during pregnancy are poorly known."

Several of us at college had a picnic on the lawn this evening, at which I brought up this topic, since it was fresh in my mind.  We were mostly girls.  One of my friends (female) immediately tried to shoot me down, saying that she hated feminists, because "they're just a load of women whinging about imaginary problems".  According to her, we're ~allowed~ to complain in private (mostly in the silence of our heads), but she doesn't see why it's in any way important to actually voice concerns in public, where those we're complaining about can hear us.  All we're doing, as women, is making ourselves look easily offended and whingy.  And everyone knows that women complain too much already!

This girl?  She's a PPEist (politcal).  Actually pretty damn likely to end up in parliment, but doesn't think that the underrepresentation of women is any sort of problem.  To be fair, two of the other girls who backed me up were also PPEists, but still.  The guys all stayed quiet, apart from the guy who's FTM who also agreed with me.

Along similar lines, who else has heard about the fail going on at CBS?  They have a show, Criminal Minds, which has excellent plotlines and an excellent cast, including some of the strongest female characters on television.  The male:female ratio is 4:3.  Now it's just been announced that, to "save costs", one of the women is being outright dumped from the show and another is having her screentime dramatically reduced, so that she will only appear in a fraction of episodes.  Non of the male cast members are being affected by the "cost issues".  Coincidentally, or not, the single surviving woman is the one who is by far the most girly of the three.  The fail here is what I'd call pretty dramatic.


Feb. 24th, 2010 06:03 pm
frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Tesla - grin)
This is just so cool that I couldn't not share.

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