Social Media: Tips, experience and everything you would need to know

So, Let me start by saying that I have absolutely no idea about Social Media. I started by having a Facebook account for a couple of years, then discovered other social networks and this went out of control with the typical “look a new thing, I must have that too”.

At this point I have accounts in:

And now what? This is obviously a mess. No connection between them, no idea what I’m doing and no way to link them. To sort this out I did what I do best: Ask for help.

There are four people who knowingly or not gave me tons of advises on how to deal with this:

So, since this is getting long already, this is the collective knowledge that I got so far, and that I plan to use to fix my mess:

  • Think on your media image, and start publishing like that. Stop the randomness
  • Publish clean, direct and pretty. No one likes to get lost
  • Your media image has to be part of your real one, do not fake who you are
  • Connect your profiles, but choose one to be the main one. It’s easier to maintain
  • Keep working, you need to feed your readers, don’t be lazy (this one is really hard)

And above everything, LINK! Give information, cite sources and GIVE CREDIT!

I’ll start working on my social profiles, I’ll publish when I manage to clean this mess


Till the next rant!



Wear a Beard, and do it Proudly!

Beards are defined as an agglomeration of hair on a man’s face, but I think there is way more to say than that. There are many types of beards: Goatees, Van Dykes, Lemmys, Sideburns and full-grown are some of the most popular styles, but some very rare like the Fu Manchu moustache also belong to this list

In ancient times beards were considered as a sign of masculinity, wisdom and power. It’s almost impossible to imagine a greek philosopher or an persian profet clean-shaved, it’s bound to our memories this portentous full-grown beards. None the less, in modern times beards are considered as a symbol of uncleanliness or immaturity.

The fight against showing off facial hair starts in the beginning of the century in most western cultures and has seen a recent revival in some non mainstream urban tribes. The opinion about the properness of having a beard is varied. A study shows that in modern days, carrying a beard is associated with leftist ideals and greater age, but also it might make getting a job more difficult due to being associated to not following the rules. This study even shows that having a full beard is as bad as a goatee, mustache or a van dyke.

But not everyone thinks the same, another study shows that girls find more attractive guys that carry heavy stubble. The study also shows that more hair is correlated to perception of masculinity, even when a full bearded guy is as attractive as a clean-shaved guy. The perception of masculinity and attractiveness of beards is also present in men, although men consider that heavy stubble and full beards are equally attractive.

But not everything on beards is linked to perception, as this study on the ability of beards to protect from the sun shows. According to these researchers beards can provide Ultraviolet Protection Factor ranging from 2 to 21 during afternoon hours. It’s worth to notice that during midday or with short stubble protection is very low, and that longer beards provide more protection

So, am I saying that you should wear a beard? No. But I have worn a goatee and heavy stubble for years and I love it, and with the added sun protection and girl attractiveness, I think I don’t care about the hardships of finding a job.

Till the next rant

Physics and Mongolian Throat Singing

Mongolian Throat Singing, or Tuvan Singing, is a very characteristic way of singing. It is made by a technique called Overtone Singing that consist in using different parts of the respiratory tract to generate different sounds. The main principle of this is generating with the vocal chords a strong deep continuous sound, and then using the lips, nose and mouse to modulate that sound.

An example of this would be like connecting the exit of a saxophone to a flute. When the singer moves his lips and mouth, he makes a secondary resonance chamber and a new tone, or Overtone, is generated. Those tones are derivative from the main ones, made by the vocal chords. So, after this technical explanation comes what you have been waiting all along:  an example by the great singer Enkh Jargal. He uses a very traditional way of presenting the music, following the Tuvan traditions. Now you probably feel that the post reaches the destiny, I talked about physics and throat singing, but you are missing the best part: Richard Feynmann

I have a massive admiration/obsession with Richard Feynman; he was a Nobel Price winner physicist, science communicator, great lecturer, bongo player (Yes, he is the reason Sheldon Cooper plays bongos) and philanthropist. One of his most famous books was written to collect all the weird stories from his travels and experiences, one of which includes meeting Kongar-ol Ondar, a traditional Tuvan singer and recording bongos on his disk. He also took part of the expenses of production of the disk and publicity. You can hear one of the songs from the disk here and even one with Willie Nelson.

So there it goes Physics (Richard Feynman) and Mongolian Throat Singing (Kongar-ol Ondar)

Till the next Rant!

The boring side of Science

When we think about scientists, the first thing that comes to our minds is a guy or girl, on a lab coat, using some very advanced and expensive piece of equipment. Even when this actually happens, which isn’t on a regular basis, certainly not what happened to me last weekend.

Last weekend, my job was to prepare all the material for one of my biggest experiments so far. My experiment requires taking fecal samples from 16 mice every hour during 20h, and then plating that fecal pellet to analyze the number of bacteria that come out on each sample.  That means that i need  about 200 tubes pre – weighted and labeled, with 400+ tubes with water to dilute and 500+ plates to put the samples.

For those of you who have never seen a plate, this are half of the ones I used in this experiment

2013-01-12 19.28.52

They have inside agar with some supplements to allow bacterial growth. When I take the fecal pellet (yes, it’s one of those little poop balls that the mice leave everywhere) it’s weighted, dissolved in water and then, a little of it is measured on the agar. This drop is then distributed all over the plate and the plate is placed on an incubator (which is just an oven that keeps constant 37º).

After a day, colonies appear, and you can count them to see how many bacteria where originally in the sample. The idea of the experiment is to see how long does it take bacteria to do intestinal transit and to know how many of them are present at any point at some given time.

This is a very useful knowledge to plan sophisticated and complex experiments, but is not as fancy and complicated as one would expect.

So now you know…. if you think you are having a boring day, and your job does not require your whole training; keep in mind, that somewhere there is a PhD student, who probably is at that moment, waiting for poop balls from a mice, mixing them with water and painting with that little disk. Yes, it could be worse.

Till the next rant

The Microwave: Source of evil or Wonder of the future?

The microwave oven, commonly referred as microwave, is a modern kitchen appliance that heats food by using Dielectric Heating a process that uses electromagnetic forces to induce heat directly over the food and not by an external heater. This is a mayor change in home cooking since it provides a fast and easy way of heating food, that uses less electricity than stoves (electric ones) or ovens when compared to the same purpose. However this appliance is look down by many, because of the “unnatural way”, “cancer risk” or “improper flavors”.

The microwave oven gives the food different characteristics that conventional cooking one example is that chicken breast harder and dryer  if cooked on microwave oven than traditional oven, also the microwave oven does not make the “browning” effect of crisp crust that is so pleasant to taste, none the less they are perfectly cooked and apt for consumption. But there are other areas to match: roast made on microwaves set to low power have the same sensory qualities than conventional oven one, and bacon made on a microwave oven has the same sensory quality and lower levels of nitrosamines (a family of known carcinogens). Besides there are a few studies that report that even when microwave ovens do dehydrate food more than conventional methods, there is no nutritional difference between both methods, if the proper cooking techniques for both cooking approach are met.

So to obtain a proper food cooked in a microwave the thing to have in mind is that it’s not a proper substitute to conventional methods, it’s a complete different approach, just like using an oven is not a substitute to frying, boiling or stir-fry. A mayor advantage to the microwave is reheating food, since there is no need to actually cook and the physiochemical properties are barely changed.

There are mayor advantages to microwave oven in terms of microbiological safety since this method is capable of eliminating Salmonella, Campylobacter and Anisakis, three of the main food pathogens,  and in some cases even better than oven or stove methods.

So, take up the Microwave, use it, learn the best way to enjoy it, and stop worrying about the devil that it might be

Till the next rant!

Microwave Mug Brownies

I was still living in Venezuela when I saw on-line a recipe for mug cakes, and I thought: Why can’t I make Mug Brownies?

I tried many times to get that dense and characteristic brownie style, and I finally settled for this recipe:

4 Tablespoons of white sugar

2 Tablespoons of white flour

2 Tablespoons of Cocoa powder (good quality one)

2 Tablespoons of water

2.5 Tablespoons of oil (a soft flavour one)

1 Egg

A pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients in a microwave resistant mug (be sure it’s microwave resistant, trust me on this one) till homogeneous. Now the magic begins, put the mug in the microwave and set it for 35 seconds. When time is over take it out quickly, mix it all over with a spoon and get it back to the microwave for 35 more seconds.

When time is up again, take it out mix it again and let it rest for a minute.

This procedure is the trick, you have to heat it up the first time to make cooked lumps and raw goo, then you mix the lumps and repeat. After that most of the batter is cooked except for some gooey lefts on the bottom of the mug, when you mix it the last time that goo, goes in to the air spaces of the cooked batter and then cooks with the remaining heat of the hard part, leaving behind a brownie and not a cake

Be careful with the timing, and you’ll probably have to give a few shots to get the right timing for your microwave, since each one is different.

Here are some pics of the process, that might help a bit

Tell me how it went, and Good Luck !

Till the next rant!

Biologists and the computers

Biology is a fast growing and ever-changing field of science. For many years was considered a soft field of science due to the low quantity of data that was produced, the lack of irrefutable laws and the high variability of the data.  But this is now a thing of the past the Modern Biology is a full-grown independent science, well-respected and with many specialized sub fields. Inside this we can find modern ecology studies with complicated sensors and multivariate statistics,  biomedical studies with lab techniques that produce vast amounts of data requiring specialists in data mining and assembly to be able to interpret, and like this two examples all sub fields of biology require a high use of computers.

 But if the state of the art biology is so dependent of computer use and programming, why isn’t it taught at undergrad level? Biology programs should include as a basic stem subject basic programming, or at least the basics of data mining. Multivariate statistics could also be introduced at an early course, so all the basic ideas could be at hand when they actually are needed.

But the computer use deficiencies are far greater than advanced computing, since most undergrad programs don’t push students in to developing computational skills, or “Bioinformatics” a tool of great use in modern times.

Maybe one day the true bioinformatics will be born as an independent professional, and not a specialization from one of the fields, but until then the biologist and computer scientist will have to figure how to keep working together and communicate.