Bench Top Roundup: Nobel Edition

by Carol Torgan, Ph.D. on October 9, 2009

Dr. Marshall Nirenburg in his office with chalkboard and molecular models. He shared the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on deciphering the genetic code. (I had the honor of working in the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics at the National Institutes of Health, where Marshall is laboratory chief.) Photo courtesy of National Library of Medicine Profiles in Science.

Dr. Marshall Nirenburg in his office with molecular models. He shared the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on deciphering the genetic code. (I had the honor of working in the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics at the National Institutes of Health, where Marshall is laboratory chief.) Photo courtesy of National Library of Medicine Profiles in Science.

Here’s a roundup of recent thought-provoking, amazing, and/or just plain cool items that are worth a look. In this week’s Nobel edition we celebrate the awarding of the 2009 Nobel Prizes.

Can you hear me now?
Hello, you’ve won the Nobel.” A chat with Gunnar Öquist, the man who makes The Phone Call. From Seed Magazine.
Then, the phone really started ringing. It was a reporter from The A.P. who said she was in front of our apartment and wanted to get a picture of me. I said, ‘I’m in my pajamas.’ She said, ‘That’s exactly the photo I want.’ I said, ‘But you’re not going to get it.’”  A brilliant interview with Martin Chalfie, 2008 winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, who slept through The Phone Call. From The New York Times.

Sidewiki
Are you familiar with Sidewiki? If not, brush up with these thought-provoking posts.
Been Avoiding Social Media? It Just Kicked In Your Door, The Scholarly Kitchen
Google SideWiki: How to Brace Yourself for a Communications Bitch Slap, Phil Bauman
A Google colonial sideswipe, Andrew Keen of the UK Telegraph
Martin Frank, Executive Director of the American Physiological Society, points out via Twitter that Sidewiki could allow for commentary along side research articles. (@ExecDirectorAPS)
Make sure to watch the demo video and ponder the implications. What are your thoughts?

Stick figures
Watching life unfold as a social network where every link is a human relationship and every circle is a waistline. “The Buddy System: How Medical Data Revealed Secret to Health and Happiness,” from Wired. Includes stunning data visualizations.

4 billion served
More than 4 billion [cell phones] are now in use worldwide, three-quarters of them in the developing world.” From The Economist special report on “The power of mobile money.”
4.1 billion SMS messages are sent daily, according to the latest Semi-Annual Wireless Industry Survey results from CTIA-The Wireless Association®

Art imitating life
Anatomical illustrations by Fernando Vicente that merge science and art and add a dash of fashion. They are reminiscent of Andreas Vesalius’s classic 1543 De Humani Corporis Fabrica (this link is to an amazing ‘touch and turn’ version of the book.)

Fat body = skinny wallet
NPR interview with Safeway Inc. CEO Steve Burd, about the company’s wellness incentive program. Employees receive a discount on their health insurance if their body mass index is below 30, the number over which people are considered obese. (Here’s a BMI calculator so you can see if you qualify for a discount.)

Don’t bother with the CliffsNotes
There was no rule book, we just did what we thought was interesting and might prove fruitful. You can’t write a book on how to do that.” Dr. George Smith, 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, in “‘Masters of Light’ Get Nobel,” a wonderful article in The Wall Street Journal.

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