Thursday, July 31, 2008

punkscience made a boo-boo


That HPLC method I've been working on- the one where I kept destroying columns, yeah? Well I think I've finally managed to work out how to avoid that little problem. However I've spent this week running standards through 'Polly' (for so she is named) and failing to find the nice peak I should be getting. Hrrrrrrmmmmmmm . . . . . ?

I thought I had it the other week before I killed my previous column, however I couldn't repeat it with my new column that I "acquired" from a friendly lecturer at my old Uni. This was particularly vexing and I was up until 0230 on Wednesday morning and 0330 this morning running samples and changing gradients and generally tinkering in an attempt to find my peak of interest. I went to bed last night decidedly downhearted, having failed to do so. So this morning was a miserable experience what with the lack of data, the ticking clock and the fact that I had offered to use this technique- which I couldn't make work- to do some analysis for a student of the aforementioned friendly lecturer as a gesture of thanks. Hence, driven by my usual tenacity when problem-solving, I found myself reading through several of the methods which lead up to the development of the one I am applying. Reading through the derivatisation technique I was struck by a sudden epiphany: I had been using the wrong buffer!

The assay for total and oxidised glutathione requires different preparations for each fraction, the former requiring preparation in simple PBS and the latter in a solution of N-ethylmaleimide to covalently bond to any reduced glutathione present and block it from subsequent detection. The oxidised glutathione is then chemically reduced and the assay continues as with that for the reduced fraction, which needs no special blocking. After the relevant blocking & reduction steps reduced glutathione is derivatised with a thiol-specific fluorescent probe called bromobimane in a buffer of N-ethylmorpholine. This latter reagent sounds rather similar to the thiol- masking one and in preparing my protocol I had inadvertently used the same acronym for both- "NEM"- and didn't notice that they were actually meant to be completely different reagents! The upshot of this simple mistake was two weeks spent adding a compound that specifically masks thiols to a reaction where those same thiols were meant to be fluorescently labelled for subsequent detection!

Having realised and corrected this mistake I ran some freshly prepped standards through Polly today and was overjoyed to produce this:

The peaks on the left of the image are a series of 5mM glutathione standards. The area under the peak is directly proportional to the concentration. Once again, I rule.

Ho hum. We are all human, it seems. Even someone as profoundly awesome as me. Buggering arsewank goatpants, is all I have to say. Now I can proceed with the cutting edge science and then move on to saving the world and becoming its God-Emperor.


commercial production of algal biofuels a reality within 5 years


This is awesome.

at least someone seems to be paying attention


Charles Arthur. Name ring any bells?

No, me neither, but he's spot on with his advice on energy independence and how crucial it is to our children's future wellbeing and the nation's security and stability. Shame the Prime Minister has all the caring for society of a coked-up 80s Wall Street banker on the make. We should definitely pack him- and the rest of the Houses of Lords and Parliament- off to Portugal to plug their ignorance with some wonderful knowledge.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

drugs are good


Word. A wonderful piece of writing.

Iraq- lots and lots of people are still being brutally slaughtered


This girl's parents have just been killed by US soldiers (more images and background to the incident here). The photographer, Chris Hondros, was "disembedded" for publishing this.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

climate change cartoons


A couple of these are quite good.

Oh- I ought to point out that the flag above reads 'INDIFFERENCE' but you can't quite make it out. Poignant.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pure Energy Systems Wiki


If you're as fascinated by renewable generation as I am then you should love this Wiki. I found my way there through their algal biofuels page, which is awesome!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

the CBI is sociopathic


They rather predictably want the government to ignore the unions' demands for flexible working hours for parents and are forecasting doom, gloom and general plagues of frogs if the government gives in. Wankers.

This is a typically one-sided argument from the corporate whores, completely ignoring the benefits to society of parents being able to spend more quality time with their children. Of course the CBI will claim that they don't deal in 'intangibles' such as 'theoretical' benefits. However, evidence exists to demonstrate the benefits of such policy. For example, the Scandinavian countries who already implement such policies have far higher education standards and lower juvenile crime rates. Social studies of parent-child contact also reveal the potential for this policy to provide much benefit to our society.

This seems obvious to me but the corporate whores of the CBI don't seem to realise this or they don't want it made known because its another nail in the coffin of their demands for global corporate slavery. So they are either stupid and have no place commenting on policy or they are deceitful and sociopathic. I wonder which . . . ?

Punkscience: Liquid chromatography God


Further to previous, things are looking up. The peak at 17.2 minutes is reduced glutathione.


FYI, George just proved that the UK government's emissions reductions are a sham


As if we didn't already know that the UK's much trumpeted emissions reduction was all a pack of statistical tricks and political slight-of-hand.

George rules.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Channel 4 funds climate change denying propaganda


Plenty of noise in the news about Channel 4's sociopathic broadcast of Martin Durkin's reprehensible piece of shite, called "The Great Global Warming Swindle". George observes that its just a link in the chain of lies and anti-environmentalist propaganda produced by the broadcasting company in the last decade or more.

A shower of cunts. Especially this one.

Friday, July 18, 2008

once again, in case anyone missed it, both 'safe nuclear generation' and 'the hydrogen economy' suck goat cock


The nuclear bit.

The hydrogen bit.

another step closer to sustainable biofuels


high fuel prices may save the world's fish stocks


High fuel prices are awesome. George knows it too.

I was recently told, in a semi-intoxicated conversation with a Dutch fishermen, that you could walk from the Dutch coast to Scotland on the cod in the North sea. I didn't even try to argue.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Genoa, the G8, torture, fascism


This is one of the most appalling stories I have ever read. So close to home, so brutal and so shameless.

It sounds like a prime candidate for a "crimes against humanity" case against the two politicians who allegedly visited the detention centre where much of the torture took place or the police headquarters on the night of the raid.

"and the people it kills can quite literally just fuck off and die"


This government is lying to everyone by pretending that the 3rd runway at Heathrow is in any way sustainable.

science puts an end to racism


Nice work.

Demonstrating once and for all that racism is purely a product of prejudice, arrogance, bigotry and selfishness.

sodding HPLC . . . .


Punkscience just destroyed another £400 HPLC column.


I'm trying to quantify metallothioneins in my beasties according to a method adapted from these two papers. And its not working.

I can't seem to get a peak from the derivatised metallothionein, no matter what I do. The derivatising agent, 6-IAF, should bind happily to thiols such as those on the MT. I've tried pre-incubating the MT with cadmium to ensure the thiols are saturated, there's EDTA in the labelling mixture too which should pull those metals off and allow the label to bind. I've also tried adding a reducing agent, TCEP, so that the thiols aren't oxidised and unable to bind the metals/label. Still no peak.

I've varied the gradient, I've extended it to silly lengths just in case the MT peak was being masked by one of the other peaks that come out. Still nothing.

I'm using the gradient version of the HPLC protocol with acetonitrile/methanol and water and when I go to clean the columns after a busy day's cocking around and getting no peaks I ramp the organic eluent up to 100% to clean all the crap off the column. The first time I tried this with one of my bitch columns a load of cloudy white stuff came off as I ramped the organic phase back down again. Oh dear. That would be the stationary phase being stripped off the silica particles then. Exit first column.

I then tried using my uber-bad analytical column I bought a couple of years ago for my crab-urine work. This should have improved separation and resolution of any peaks. It didn't. No.

Instead, after taking great care not to ramp the solvents up and down too quickly and to rinse the column with milliQ I ran the wrong gradient program one day and got another nasty little white cloud in my waste bottle, just like before. I almost cried that time.

Then yesterday, using my last column- a random C8 one I 'acquired' nefariously- I switched from the stupid, shitty MT analysis to another piece of work I was planning, which also used an acetonitrile-water gradient and managed to fuck that column too, first time I tried to wash it.

Bastard fuckbollock goat cock. Now I am out of good RP columns and still have no data.

Monday, July 14, 2008

scary, scary stuff


More pictures from the new Bladerunner film here.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

GM could feed the world's poor . . . but it won't


Just as this chap observes. The quotes he includes from various charities slating GM's potential to contribute to alleviating food shortages in developing countries are just . . . so . . . damning!

Nice work. Amusing blog name too.

George can contribute similarly heavyweight arguments to the debate.

this really is very funny indeed


The creator of Conservapedia- the creationist version of Wikipedia- got taken to the cleaners by a scientist whose work he tried to slander. Strong work that man!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Twat-O-Tron


This, too, is awesome.

I'm starting to really like John B.'s blog.

I've pasted a few examples into the comments page. I've also copied a few genuine ones in from the BBC's Have Your Say or from Mad Mel's blog. See if you can tell which are the real twattisms.

Friday, July 11, 2008

this site is awesome!




Here's mine.

what these guys say . . .


John B . . . . sounds like an exponent of the misanthropic principle to me.

"Common sense is the most overrated tool in the box and the cause of most stupid actions; and people have absolutely fuck all idea of what is going on around them. If you trust some random members of the public over the wider body of academic research on any issue, then you’re almost certainly wrong and definitely an idiot. Unfortunately, most people on most issues trust random members of the public over the wider body of academic research, because most people aren’t very bright. Never mind that the conclusions it leads them to are entirely wrong; at least it saves them having to think…"

And Justin McKeating picks up on a fine example of UK political hypocrisy.

"Under the terms of the Thatcherite consensus under which it has been decreed we must live for ever and ever, amen, why is the French state allowed to own a chunk of the British power industry but not the British state?"

Simon Jenkins rules


He takes Hazel "arse-face" Blears apart in the process of comparative criticism of our pseudo-democracy.

"Blears and her colleagues believe that people will not accept any diversity in standards that might result from local taxing powers. But they have allowed such power to Scotland and the mayor in London. Nor does any other country in Europe find this a problem. The concept of equalising locally raised revenue between rich and poor areas is familiar everywhere - as Blears knows well - and was explicit in Britain before rate-capping.

Rich people already purchase private schools, doctors, security and transport. Why should they not be free to decide on their own public services? The only proviso is that the local taxes be subject to redistribution, as are private incomes."

biofuels push by US & EU responsible for 75% of rise in food prices


"the grain required to fill the tank of a sports utility vehicle with ethanol ... could feed one person for a year"

World Bank – World Development Report

The Guardian reveals all.

Such technology is abhorrent but sadly completely expected. US and UK elections are not won by keeping peasants in the developing world fed but rather by keeping their own electorate in cheap fuel.

Note that my recent enthusiasm for biofuels is specifically related to those derived from algae cultures. These are wholly sustainable, can be carried out on marginal land not currently used for productivity and can even be incorporated into wastewater treatment processes.

PS Ruth Kelly is a cockweasel.

Iranian missile test goes off at the click of a mouse


Ha haaaaaa!! Really quite amusing, in a sad and distressing way.

research careers - an exercise in exploitation


Careers in research suck. Not because of the work but because of the nature of the contracts that research is carried out under. Typically these are less than 3 years and often just one. Competition is high and wages often low (a typical "hirers' labour market). Whilst working on one contract it is often near-impossible to set yourself up for another to start immediately after the first has ended. For example, one of my supervisors spent 8 months unemployed between her last position and this one- and that is not an unusual spell. She told me she met a guy at a conference recently who worked in his Dad's hotel for four years before being able to pick up another contract. This isn't to say there isn't work out there- I know people who aren't suitable for the projects they are on but got the job through favouritism or by picking up the reigns from someone who had quit. And who wants to relocate every two years or so just to stay in work? Try maintaining a relationship in those circumstances, or buying a house (not that you'd want to right now).

This Guardian article outlines the situation well.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"The appalling behaviour of British soldiers made us feel disgusted."


Too fucking right.

It only remains to be observed- once again- that our troops shouldn't have been there in the first place. The troops who did the torturing, and had probably seen their comrades die alongside them beforehand, were likely traumatised themselves to the point where they felt no shame in dehumanising their victims so.

Indict Blair. Order a(nother) full investigation. One day these people must be brought to justice.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

algal biofuels


Punkscience is back from Marseille and wants to get into this. Its awesome! Even Chevron are investing in the project, which is something of a miracle for the most ecologically hostile corporation on the planet.

Someone's doing it commercially already and with big expansion plans too. Maybe they are looking for talented young marine biologists . . . ?

Oh- and these guys are doing it in Hawaii, of all places. Which would be nice.

Friday, July 04, 2008

new wave powered generation technology



(PFC = Pretty Fucking Cool).

busy, busy, busy


Punkscience is going to a conference in Marseille so won't be around for a few days. You can rest assured that while I am away I will be working hard to disseminate my cutting-edge worm science to a wider audience and when I'm not doing that I will be working on my thesis. Not swanning around Marseille and getting pissed. No. Not at all. Honest!

Grand Theft Oil


Instead of reparations for the illegal war of aggression and invasion of their country, "Iraq is being forced to sell 75% of its national patrimony to pay the bills for its own illegal invasion and occupation".

Naomi Klein rules.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

New Zealand is shit


Its not really, its a pretty awesome place, actually. I just want to keep the buzz down so the place doesn't get ruined by hordes of peasants emigrating from the Motherland. As punkwiff always says when people ask her how great New Zealand is, "Its ok but Australia's better . . . ".

Geoff Taylor, head of the British Phonographic Industry, is a cockweasel


"There is a phenomenal amount of piracy out there and we believe that the idea that 95% of content on the net is free is not sustainable. We don't believe that society can allow the free consumption of content to persist,"

Plain and simple: A cockweasel. The liberation of media from the hands of the coke-snorting, exploitational record executives and Hollywood is, far and away, one of the best things that has ever happened in human history.

I've ranted about this before.

Music rules.

new page feature


Either of my regular visitors (Hi Rossinisbird and Bryan!) might notice the new page feature on the left. I thought it might feature as a poignant reminder of the utter stupidity of voting for 'grey' parties. The spiralling oil prices, climate change and global strife that they are perpetuating have the potential to ruin the rest of our lives. It doesn't have to be this way.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

sanctions are stoopid


What Simon Jenkins says. Particularly this:

"The only clearcut case of a sanction working was the US's sabotage of sterling during the 1956 Suez crisis. It was effective because Britain was a democracy whose government knew it could not survive a collapsing currency. This is the true paradox: to be susceptible to such pressure a state must have a responsive government, but then such a government should not need sanctioning."

He rules.

PhD blues


I am reaching the end of my PhD and will run out of money in ~3 months time. If I work my arse of for those three months I should end up with almost all of the data that I set out to collect at the start of my PhD. This is not a little impressive, I should point out. As I have been living in Plymouth and working in ~~~~~~ I have been losing three hours a day travelling. To remedy this unproductive situation I decided to buy myself a van, build a bed in the back and sleep up at ~~~~~~ during the week to give myself some highly concentrated and much needed work time Punkwiff is wholly supportive as she's fed up of me being grumpy when I crawl in at 2200, only to have to get up the next day and head back up country.

The upshot of this narrative is that I have the considerable luxury of a whole 16 hours or so of working time available to me. Being human I tend to spend at least a couple of those hours cocking around in t'interweb, which is good news for you lucky blog fiends out there as I get to share more of my fascinating life with you.

Anyhoo, I have spent the last few days quantifying lipid, sugars and protein in polychaete oocytes and preparing my talk for the SEB Annual Conference in Marseille. Consequently, I have some nice data and am going to share it with the world.

I rule.

Chinese public transport


Its an incredible thing to watch. I don't know what I'm appalled by most: The way that people surge forward into the train or the way that the 'porters' manhandle them so that the doors can close. It must be thoroughly degrading to have to subject yourself to such an experience every day. To me, this is a prime example of how humans can become 'desensitised' to their plight. I wonder what the Swiss make of this? If you've ever been on Swiss public transport you would know what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Labour's stealth privatisation of the NHS


And this is a Labour government doing this. Imagine what the Tories would do if we let them get in at the next general election . . .

Vote Green.

"H104. Healthcare is not a commodity to be bought or sold. The National Health Service must provide healthcare, free at the point of need, funded through taxation. It must be a public service funded by, run by and accountable to local and national government and devoid of all privatisation, whether privatised administration, healthcare provision, support services or capital ownership. The NHS is concerned with healthcare provision and should not be subject to market forces either internal or external."

Jeremy Leggett poses the Big Question


Nice quote there:

"Two great drivers are gathering behind renewables markets . . . One is global warming. The other is energy security. You can believe in one, or the other, or both. You are a fool if you believe in neither."

Johann is right, but for the wrong reasons . . .


Equality. Johann explains why its a good thing with his usual eye for telling statistics. Why this otherwise intelligent bloke continues to support the Labour Party I do not know.

""we will remember this Bill in dark times as one of the reasons to fight for a Labour government"

No, Johann, we will not. We will remember- as you yourself observe, that equality in the eyes of the law is a good thing and vote for whoever enforces it. As you noted, this legislation has been effectively castrated by the Labour cabinet. Why you continue to delude yourself that Labour is, somehow, the party of social justice remains beyond my ken. Labour will surely be remembered for failing to address climate change, despite Sir Nicholas Stern's best efforts, for the economic suicide of PFI- for which my unborn children already hate them- and for the genocide of over a million Iraqi civilians.

Vote for a future. Vote Green."

I'm working at my computer today, BTW. Can you tell?

public opinion, solutions to climate change and the governments failure


I just whacked this onto George's latest CiF article:

"Call me a cynic but, considering the weight of evidence that indicates that climate change and ecological degradation resulting from humanity's activities will surely result in megadeaths in the near future, the number of policies such as those advocated here by George that have been successfuly implemented is roughly . . . . one. And Kyoto is- as George observes- crap.In the face of such abject failure to face facts, I do not see how the necessary global cooperation is going to emerge when Western governments remain slaves to the "bottom line". Talking amongst ourselves of potential solutions that make economic sense is pointless- Sir Nicholas Stern has already presented his study showing that tackling climate change, irrespective of the cost, is going to be far more palatable than the consequences of not doing so. Yet- as the Mori poll that George mentions observes- the placid ruminants of the public remain "concerned about climate change but far from convinced about the science or the Government's green agenda". Indeed, the government's misrepresentation of climate change has been so bad that "Many believe leading scientists remain undecided on the exact causes of climate change, and while they want Government to do more they are also cynical, especially around green taxation".

This is where the government is falling down. The public simply don't believe the government (and who could blame them), believeing instead that it is all a conspiracy to raise taxes. I have a solution to this: Gordon Brown, pitiful Prime Minister that he is, should appear on television giving a national address stating unequivocally that climate change is happening. Then he should present a few of the most well supported predictions of consequences and then state that, in order to avoid them we must invest now as opposed to paying a far heavier price later, finishing off with an affirmation of the likelihood of this scenario. The broadcast should go out on all channels simultaneously to avoid the herd switching to less challenging viewing and the information should be posted on a built-for-purpose website, as well as being presented in all town and city-centres across the land on displays that will remain in place for the foreseeable future.That should get their attention."

The Mori poll that has raised my usually boiling ire to superheated point is here.

Rajendra Pachauri's overly optimistic article is here.

Anyone challenging my position on this government's abject failure to implement any meaningful policies to combat climate change just have to read this. "Carbon capture and sequestration"? An excuse to get more coal fired power stations under the green lobby's radar, more like!


Having thought about it, instead of just Brown El Cockweaselio appearing on TV (hardly convincing) the leaders of all the political parties (including the BNP, even!) should appear together. Then there is no room for certain political parties (read 'The New Party') to call it a one-party conspiracy.

Additional Addition:

I have, of course, neglected to point out the screamingly obvious here: That Labour's (and, indeed the Tory's and Lib Dem's) energy and environmental policies are shite and not fit for purpose. The above suggestion would only be of use in converting public opinion if policy was effective in the first place.

Oh- and another point: The Mori poll questions were pretty woolly and poorly worded. Eg.: "Many scientific experts still question if humans are contributing to climate change"

- the question fails to explicitly refer to the opinions of expert climate scientists, as opposed to astronomists, mycologists and bioinformaticians. If this had been explicitly stated I imagine the results would be more encouraging. The abundance of morons like David Bellamy who go wandering miles from their field of expertise to mouth crass denunciations of climate change science is a cause for shame for all scientists. Just because I know a lot about polychaete biology doesn't mean I know any more about climate change than the next man (errrrrrrrrrmmmmm . . . . might have just shot myself in the foot there!).

Final Addition:

Another poll from the Guardian. In contradiction to the first this suggests that public opinion supports prioritising the environment over the economy.

This is a rather stupid conclusion as it implies that the two are mutually exclusive, which they clearly are not. FFS, who designs these stupid polls?!!