What’s your current science related desktop image?

Desktop background images are important parts of people’s everyday lives in terms of unintended staring time. Usually they are picked up for the eyes (sg spectacular & cool and/or sexy) and hearts (family members), but why not use them for information uptake and learning? So I’d like to ask: What’s your current science related desktop image, if there’s any and how can you utilize it? Here is my current desktop image with the source;

Bonnet et al.:
A Mitochondria-K+ Channel Axis Is Suppressed in Cancer and Its Normalization Promotes Apoptosis and Inhibits Cancer Growth Cancer Cell Volume 11, Issue 1, January 2007, Pages 37-51

Figure 1. A Reversible Metabolic-Electrical Remodeling in Cancer Contributes to Resistance to Apoptosis and Reveals Several Potential Therapeutic Targets

36 Life extension idea killers: mental practice for the pros!

Today’s meditation is for serious healthy life extension supporters to consider the following 36 – general and sometimes corporate – idea killers concerning our little project:

1. We tried that already
2. We’ve never done anything like that before.
3. Has anyone ever done anything like that before?
4. That never works
5. You’re fired
6. We will actively work against you
7. Laughter
8. Not in our budget
9. Not an interesting problem
10. We don’t have time/We’ll never find the time to do it. (I specially liked this one.)
11. Execs will never go for it
12. Out of scope/Not in our business
13. But its the law
14. Too blue sky / Holy grail
15. Wont make enough $$
16. That isn’t what people want
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Life extension people are happy: keep living, please!

I found this picture of Aubrey de Grey with his book Ending Aging on his head at the BIL conference in Quinn Norton‘s Flickr Stream. Quinn Norton is a bodyhacker technophiliac journalist photographer. Robust, healthy lifespan extension can easily be interpreted as an extreme body-, life- and biohack so no wonder that more and more geeks are turning their attention to this little, unsolved hack. Maybe with time they will learn not just how to write the names properly but how to set up a private lab and isolate DNA and stem cells, at home. (blogging pictures = not enough time to write posts)


Working without a personal assistant on the top of the big G…is fun!


I’m on my way to a Friday comprehensive exam from stem cell and mitochondrial biology which gives me no time to immerse into blogging this week. I mostly think of big holes in my knowledge like mitochondria and Ca2+ signalling. That’s why I can only offer soft things like the following quote from a fresh New Yorker article by Ken Auletta called The Search Party on Google:

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The iPhone case: the hackers may have the law on their side!

I’ve activated my iPhone in a prepaid mode exactly for the reason of being flexible and switch to another network provider ASAP. So I do not have a 2 year contract with AT&T and I am happy to say that. The AT&T network and coverage is almost non exisiting in the 2 crucial places of my current life in New Orleans, United States: a., at home and b., at work. At home I must go to the street if I want to make a valid phone call with my iPhone, at work I must go to a special corridor at the edge of the building for the same reason. Next week I am going to England and it would be good to use my iPhone as a phone there. Nevertheless my iPhone is an integrated, hacked and essential part of my life. So what shall I do? Well, there are options it seems.

Something really new and interesting is happening, please read the links:

Wikipedia: George Hotz

Business Week: Why Apple Can’t Stop iPhone Hackers

Wired: Legal or Not, iPhone Hacks Might Spur Revolution

Slashdot (the comments): Can Apple + AT&T Shut Down iPhone Unlockers?

iPhone as a SciFoone: a perfect tourist device except the battery

scifoobatteryOn my SciFoo California trip I eventually have had enough time to test my iPhone as a tourist device. The following tasks have been regularly done by my iPhone while walking in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Berkeley and at the Googleplex:

- extensive Google Maps usage (Google Maps is the poor man’s GPS as I’ve read somewhere), finding complicated places (Curtis Pickering, thanks for the ride) on the top of the hill during a cloudy night. There was no need to use paper maps.

- making photos with the iPhone camera (for instance the one on the right)

- sending those photos to my wife and family one by one (you cannot attach more than one photo at once)

- reading, deleting emails (why there isn’t any “add star” function?)

- answering emails (max 2 sentences during a walking tourist mode)

- listening music and podcasts

- watching videocasts on public transportation tools, like the good BART system

- scanning through my Google Reader feeds

- browsing web sites

- checking the SciFoo wiki

- showing some science related photos to other SciFoo campers, i.e. making little 1-2 slide presentations Continue reading

Science on the iPhone, is it a good SciPhone? Aspects for a test series

SciPhonetestI like Google and Apple products, but my expectations are focusing on how these products can help and facilitate me as a scientist, especially as a biomedical research scientist. With the Science on the iPhone test series I’d like to examine in details how proper and user friendly is the iPhone as an ultimate portable, mobile, convergent handheld gadget (or at least the first version of that line) for scientific purposes based on real experience. Briefly: can we use it as a SciPhone?

Amongst others I’ll concentrate on the following: the passive, science consuming opportunities like text reading, photo, presentation and science video watching and the active, science-making issues like writing texts, making photos and giving presentations.

Also I’d like to take a look on how the iPhone fits into the frame of the present scientific web, and how good is for scientific communication. (Photo: my bench this afternoon.) Continue reading

How to read PDF files on iPhone via Safari instead of lame email attachments

dataProp71 The 2 main drawbacks to reading PDFs on the iPhone are the must-send-it in email in order to store and open “solution” and the user-unfriendly, landscapeless left-right scrolling reading mode. Not anymore. Both problems can easily be overcome with the help of a Safari browser hack using the almost forgotten data: URI schemes. From now on you can store and open your PDF files (and many others) in the iPhone’s Safari browser even in the Wi-Fi- and EDGE-less airplane mode and you can read PDFs in a landscape mode with only 1 one pich (that fits a column) and significantly less left-right scrolling in a much more satisfying, although not yet perfectly manner.

Here I show you in 4 steps how to do so.

1. Convert your source PDF file (by encoding an uploaded file from your folders or from URL) to a valid data: URI format with the help of a converter. I used the online The data: URI kitchen encoder but others are available too, you can even use a Perl script (and run it with Terminal under Mac OS X, thanks Mike). This will generate a very long and ugly URI line. (Sample PDF: Proposition 71 of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine)

2. Copy/paste the long and ugly URI code into Safari and add it to your Bookmark Bar.

3. Sync your iPhone’s bookmarks with your Mac’s Safari bookmarks via iTunes, with that you can create a direct link for the PDF on your iPhone’s Safari bookmarks.

4. You’re ready, open the PDF file from the bookmarks and read it with a 1 pich landscape mode.

The same algorithm with screenshots: Continue reading

Content of Ending Aging, Aubrey de Grey’s coming life extension book

You can now pre-order Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Biotechnologies That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime at Amazon written by Aubrey de Grey and Michael Rae which is the most detailed, although popular exposition of the SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) plan to defeat aging.

Aubrey was kind enough to mail me the content of the book, so you can find out which SENS point is fitted with the chapters of Part II (little help: Edmonton Aging Symposium: full video, audio and presentation access)


Aubrey’s first big move in science was a monograph on mitochondria called The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging.

Life extension: body hack and/or life hack?

memento life hackIn recent culture, technological life extension is considered to be a form of hacking, as 2Dolphins says a “hacker is someone who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations — someone who makes things work beyond perceived limits through unconventional means or skills.” In hacking there is also a DIY element too.
There are now 2 broader hacking terms applied for physical life extension technologies: body hacking and life hacking. For first, see my previous post about Bodies in the Making book which handles a diverse range of practices that aren’t usually linked: tattooing, cosmetic surgery, body-building, life extension technologies, self-cutting as exemplars of the body hacking concept. Body hack in that context is something extreme, something very experimental. How extreme form it will take, that depends on the chosen technology. In the old school permalink-free blog Notes from Classy’s Kitchen it is said for instance in the November 26, 2005 post: “What Aubrey de Grey was proposing was the ultimate bodyhack, engineered immortality (or 1000 year life span at least).” Body hack also includes a form a DIY, for instance Nikolaj Nyholm of O’Reilly Radar blogged on the “protocol for “isolat[ing] stem cells from your baby’s placenta in a rent lab or at home” for the upcoming EuroOSCON Make Fest, which also plays well with one emerging theme at this year’s FOO Camp, body hacking — engineers and copper wire paired with doctors, psychologists and neurologists.”

On the other hand there is the emerging life hack movement popularized by blogs as Lifehacker or 43 Folders or Lifehack.org. According to Wikipedia “the term life hack refers to productivity tricks that programmers devise and employ to cut through information overload and organize their data.” And it is also Nikolaj Nyholm, who calls Aubrey de Grey an extraordinary life-hacker concerning his SENS-esque plan to defeat aging. Why life extension counts as a life hack? Long story short: it’s all about hacking time. The narrowest bottleneck of productivity is time, and indefinite life extension’s main ambition is to abandon this final limiting factor, to make time pressure out of time. But can indefinite or maximum life extension (and especially the here supported continuous regeneration treatment through systemic regenerative medicine called Pimm) really be interpreted as a life hack? I think yes. Indefinite life extension is the biggest scale life hack as it amplifies human capacities indefinitely, because it is the only possibility for a human and mortal individual to fully explore his/her own individuality, to develop his/her own abilities let it be mental, physical, or moral.

There is also the term biohacking, which refers mostly to synthetic biology or creating public awareness of human genetic information and in this context biohacker is a synonym for biopunk, and the term is not applied recently to life extension, although in the future it could considering the broad semantic field of the bio prefix.

To sum up: life extension is a form of extreme body hack which is the most extended life hack, although a body hack is rarely a life hack and vice versa. (In the movie Memento Guy Pearce (picture), who lacks short-term memory, uses tattoos on his body as fact memos, which is also a body and life hack, although most tattoos are just ornamental.)

How to filter and read PubMed articles through RSS feeds?

How many people out of you, life scientists, are regularly updating their PubMed searches through RSS feeds? According to the Read/Write Read Blog “While 2006 can’t be seen as the breakthrough year for RSS in the mainstream, we will probably see RSS bloom in 2007″. It’s January, 2007, so let’s upgrade a little bit.

PubMed is despite all its problems and oldschoolness is the major information source of peer review articles in the field of life sciences. You can make it a little more fresher if you create and save your PubMed searches as RSS feeds. With that users can retrieve new items of their saved PubMed searches since the last time they were connected to their RSS reader. There are numerous RSS readers to choose from, many available for free: Google Reader, NetNewsWire Lite, even web browsers, like Safari, Firefox have built-in readers. Here is the text&screenshot tale of how to activate this useful option:

1. Run a search in PubMed. Say you’re hungry for the novel articles and reviews to the search term “skeletal muscle stem cells” (as I am now), because you are writing an article draft.


2. Choose RSS Feed from the Send to pull-down menu in order to create a feed for that concrete search.


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Biosingularity’s Derya Unutmaz: a T cell expert on life extension

deryaAs many other heavyweight bloggers Derya Unutmaz has an A life and a B life. His A life is focusing on the molecular machinery of T cell activation, differentiation, survival and its explotation by HIV as he is an Associate Professor at Department of Microbiology at New York School of Medicine. Briefly, he is an immunologist researcher. In his B life he edits Biosingularity, which – according to the subtitle – is a weblog on advances in biological systems. It gives an uptodate and detailed review of the current biological research from a very broad range on a quality level rare in the blogosphere. As in the case of lucky science bloggers, Unutmaz’s A life motivates his B life and vice versa. I am now pleased to report that he was kind enough to answer some life extension questions as he is really supportive of that topic (emphasis added by me). Fortunately the degrees of freedom in the blog genre is higher than in mainstream journalism, so although I realized that my old questions (they were sent in last October) are not enough, the answers were so deep, that I publish them now, and set some other questions later. I am really happy to share my point of view with Professor Unutmaz concerning the role of systemic regenerative medicine in indefinite or big-scale life extension. I’d like offer his words for every life extensionist:The most important thing to remember though is to filter the hype from truth and solid science while both raising the awareness about the possibility of human life extension and also brain storming about the ideas on how to do this best.”

1. What is the story of your life extension commitment? The story of my commitment to life extension began as I became passionate about biology and science while I was still a kid. I realized then, (about 25-30 years ago) the technology was going to keep advancing and started to think why we could not come to a point when we have the knowledge to treat all diseases, and then why not stop aging? During medical school as I learned more about the physiology and pathology I realized the complexity of biological systems. It seemed intractable but at the same time biology followed rules, it wasn’t something magical that we can not conquer. I decided my life long commitment was going to be try to figure out how biological systems worked and how we can eventually master them to a point where we can reprogram our biology.

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Smart comments on the home placenta stem cell project

I collected some critical comments worth considering on the home placenta stem cell project from Make readers. Thanks for all.

“Um hello..how many people have a whole lab set up in their home?”20+ years ago — that sentiment would be — “How many people can afford a whole computing set up in their home? (and have space)” If there’s a demand — there will be a whole lot of companies explaining why their equipment is not only cost effective, but better than their competitors :P

Posted by: trebuchet03 on January 23, 2007 at 03:21 PM

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What is bioDIY?

I republish here my “manifesto” like article on biotech DIY, which I wrote in April, 2006 on Newsvine in order to see the thoughts behind the placenta stem cell project.

Would you like to sequence your genome in your garage? To grow your stem cells in the kitchen-lab? To hunt for point mutations just for your own sake? Welcome to the coming world of personal biotech.
All you need is a short course in biotech basics, a few thousands of bucks, some tinkering capability, and enough spare time. The beautiful retro idea of tinkering with digital devices in a garage, conveyed by the Make magazine, can be extended to biotech too.
The know-how of hacking seemingly complicated electronic devices has been made accessible to non-pros. The needs were fuelled by the idea of personal fabrication. However, needs are constantly changing, and biotech is gaining more and more ground in everyday life.

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How to isolate amniotic stem cells from the placenta, at home!

/Thanks for spreading the idea of biotech diy: Make, Pharyngula, kottke.org, Scientific American Blog, BoingBoing, Digital Bio, Clock among others…/

The placenta is a very valuable and scarce human tissue, although the proper recycling of it is not placentophagy, but the isolation of stem cells from its amnion layer, and storing them for later regenerative purposes for the whole family. Human amniotic epithelial cells (HAECs) from the placenta are alternative replacements of human embryonic stem cells, and have the potential to differentiate to all three germ layers in vitro. These cells are very close to those earlier and broadly multipotent amniotic fluid-derived stem cells, which made the big buzz lately on the web, published by De Coppi, Atala et al. in Nature Biotechnology. Here I would like to show, although I do not provide any warranty and can not give any guarantee, that isolating stem cells from the placenta is not more difficult than making a steak, and with proper preparation, investment and timing you can do it even at home or in a rent lab. The process is ethically non-controversial since the placenta is usually discarded after birth. Today, stem cell therapy is just a promising possibility, but in the not so distant future, self-aware citizens may manage their own stem cells, grow them in the garage, and store them in the fridge. If so, it could be a form of autonomous medical self-insurance. We are at the dawn of the bioDIY movement backed by open source science for anybody. I used Make magazine’s Backyard Biology issue as a reference, because it invented the basic language of bioDIY or home or garage biotech. Here is the algorithm at the cartoon and below are the detailed, although not self-including textual protocol. More details will come later, if asked.


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Lifehacks: Switching to Google Reader from NetNewsWireLite

I like RSS feeds since with the help of feeds and readers I can see the updated contents of hundreds of website on one surface. Now I’ve completed my desertion to Google Reader as my new basic feedreader from NetNewsWireLite. In order to import your subsriptions from NetNews you have to export it in an OPML format and upload it to Google Reader. From now on I can reach all my feeds with a new tab in Firefox. (I don’t understand why the Reader is unable to recognize the duplicate feeds.)