“Stir-Fried Stochasticity” podcast: pilot episode

Cornelia the Happy Mutt with a tennis ballI’m still not sure I know why I have a desire to push recordings of my voice onto a more or less innocent worldwide population, but I do. And now I have a real theme to wrap an attempt at a podcast (or as I prefer – “oggcast”) around: scientific papers.

I finally got annoyed at press-release-based science stories one too many times, and thought to myself “why does almost nobody who does these stories at least cite the dang thing so I can go look it up and see what’s really in it, if they can’t be bothered to actually read and report on it themselves rather than just the press-release?” The story in question was the recent one about how babies understand dog-language (or something like that). Since I consider the dog to be a philosophical role-model, I wanted to read the actual paper and see if it was as silly as the headlines made it sound or (as I suspected) less flashy but more solid…but even “Science Daily” didn’t cite it.

Finally talking myself out of putting off doing audio recording, I tracked down the original paper, read it, and whipped out a rough show discussing what I found in the paper. I had fun doing it, so I’d like to turn it into a series.

I’ve put up a utilitarian page at http://bigroom.org/stirfry with both a built-in <audio> tag interface and direct-download links for both Ogg Vorbis and MP3 versions.

I’m still deciding exactly how I’m going to decide on the papers to cover – should I pick obscure, forgotten ones that almost nobody else would ever read again without me stumbling on them and talking about them? Classic papers? Papers related to recent news stories like this one? All of the above? Depending on how long I end up trying to make the episodes, perhaps starting with some kind of scientific question and then reporting on a selection of papers I dig up to address the question, or just a selection of papers on the same subject? I’ve already gotten a request for an episode on the theme of prokaryotic extracellular polysaccharides…

The rate at which I can convince myself to try to crank these out (and improve their quality) is directly proportional to how much interest there might be out there in them, so please don’t hesitate to let me know if you think this might be interesting. Please don’t let me slack off! Also, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong about anything I mention in the show or the attached show notes.

If you don’t want to comment here, you can also email me at epicanis at bigroom.org.

Thank you, and good night…

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The Author is (currently) an autodidactic student of Industrial and Environmental microbiology, who is sick of people assuming all microbiology should be medical in nature, and who would really like to be allowed to go to graduate school one of these days now that he's finished his BS in Microbiology (with a bonus AS in Chemistry). He also enjoys exploring the Big Room (the one with the really high blue ceiling and big light that tracks from one side to the other every day) and looking at its contents from unusual mental angles.

5 thoughts on ““Stir-Fried Stochasticity” podcast: pilot episode”

  1. You’re insane. 🙂

    You presented the information well – if your poor science-ignorant sister can understand it, then you did a good job, and I did indeed understand it.

    Oh, and if you ever pose in the described outfit, I shall have to do bodily injury to you. Once I’m done yelling at my shoes. 🙂

  2. I prefer the term “barking at the ants” (over “yelling at one’s shoes”) but whatever.

    I did say it was a LAB COAT, though – it’d be useless as a lab coat if it did not provide substantial bodily coverage, so if you were picturing a skimpy comic-book outfit, have no fear.

    At least, not of that.

  3. If you’re going to do a classic paper, something from Jacob and Monod should be on the list! I think it was these two who got me the job I’m currently in. During my interview we got to talking about classes and I started talking about journal club where I presented their famous lac operon paper. The research leader knew what I was talking about, and seemed very excited to discuss it. Everyone else in the room (most were engineers and soil scientists) had no idea so the RL and I talked for a good 15 minutes on it just between us. He seemed thrilled to discuss such a classic paper. I can only think it left him with a good impression of me.

  4. You prefer any term that has the phrase “barking” in it. 🙂

    I can find a lab coat pattern, in that case. Does this mean I know what to send you for Christmas? (I wonder if I could put the Doggy Roger on the back of the lab coat…)

  5. Ah! I’m guessing you’re referring to:
    Jacob F, Monod J:”Genetic regulatory mechanisms in the synthesis of proteins.”;J Mol Biol. 1961 Jun;3:318-56.

    That actually wouldn’t be a bad subject – and it looks like the campus library has a copy of the Dead Tree edition of that particular issue of that journal, too. I’ll have to add this one to the queue, though I probably won’t be able to get to the library to pick it up until next week.

    Only a couple of people at most seem to have listened so far, but I have to keep at it in the face of obscurity at least until April of 2010 – I’ve already picked out which paper to present for April 1st, assuming I decide that I can make proper sense of it to present it the way I want to. (A REAL paper, not a joke one. A classic one, too.)

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