Archive for May 17th, 2007

Shish-Kebab makes it to science

May 17, 2007

This is what Wiki has to say about Shish-Kebab’s in India:

Ibn Battuta records that shish kebab was served in the royal houses of India since at least the Sultanate period, and even commoners would enjoy it for breakfast with naan.

Though, personally I am a veg. kebab man, I have seen my friends enjoying this dish. Now, here is an article in the latest issue of science that talks about the molecular basis of the shish-Kebab morphology in polymer crystallization:

In the rich and long-standing literature on the flow-induced formation of oriented precursors to polymer crystallization, it is often asserted that the longest, most extended chains are the dominant molecular species in the “shish” of the “shish-kebab” formation. We performed a critical examination of this widely held view, using deuterium labeling to distinguish different chain lengths within an overall distribution. Small-angle neutron-scattering patterns of the differently labeled materials showed that long chains are not overrepresented in the shish relative to their concentration in the material as a whole. We observed that the longest chains play a catalytic role, recruiting other chains adjacent to them into formation of the shish.

Interesting–that is the first time I saw shish and SANS in a single sentence–not to mention kebab, polymer and crystallization 😀

HowTo: Write consistently boring scientific literature

May 17, 2007

Kaj Sand-Jensen has some advice (Point 10 is my favourite):

  1. Avoid focus;
  2. Avoid originality and personality;
  3. Write long contributions;
  4. Remove most implications and every speculation;
  5. Leave out illustrations, particularly good ones;
  6. Omit necessary steps of reasoning;
  7. Use many abbreviations and technical terms;
  8. Suppress humour and flowery language;
  9. Degrade species and biology to statistical elements; and,
  10. Quote numerous papers for self-evident statements.

Via Improbable Research, which also links to How to make a scientific lecture unbearable (Yeah, right–I need lots of pointers on that one 🙂

Modelling and quality of data

May 17, 2007

…Theoretical modelling exercises will generate bad results if the input data are flawed, says Drummond Rennie, deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association…

From this Nature  News piece.

Transcribing DNA into music: Carnatic edition

May 17, 2007

Prof. D Balasubramanian, in the Hindu, catches up on the musical transcription of DNA story; what is more, he even has a project in mind for a Carnatic musician with scientific bent. Take a look!

PS: The Aruna Sairam–Gregorian chant CD sounds wonderful (especially since, recently I borrowed some Gregorian chants from the library and liked it a lot); I have to look for it during my next visit to the music shop.

Science Journalism? Good idea!

May 17, 2007

In the Science and Technology edition of Hindu, I saw a piece by “Our bureau” titled X-ray holograms reveal secret magnetism; trying to find more resources on the subject, I ended up on the Science Daily page–and my first thought was that the Hindu report is plagiarised from the Science Daily report. However, I saw a small note at the bottom of the Science Daily report:

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University College London.

So, it was not difficult to locate the original source.

All this reminds me of a story about Gandhi; apparently, when he was asked about what he thought of western civilization, he replied “Good idea”. Same goes for Indian science journalism, I guess.

Why can’t Hindu put a note at the bottom indicating the source of their report? All I can say is that it was a respectable (some would even say, venerable) newspaper once 😦