Updates

Update #1: I had my first book signing at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln book store, where 10 copies of my book were graciously ordered.

book store

I had a lot of fun and talked for a couple hours to some really nice people. All three of them, though, were employees in the book store. Ah, well, I’ve often said that I would give a seminar on my science work to a single interested person. So why not a Q & A about Welcome Home, Sir?

Update #2: Well I’ve now owned my iPhone for several weeks. After a bit of a learning curve, especially regarding how the various emails link together,  and after downloading a variety of applications that were already part of my old BlackBerry—I admit that this thing is a cut above the BB. In every way except one, and that’s the ability to type quickly.

Now I admit that the iPhone does have a pretty smart auto-correct program that frequently anticipates words and can really save typing time; at the same time I found that it’s easy to get into trouble. Writing to a female researcher and saying “I’d like to see the way you work with those “THONGS” (rather than “THINGS”) and I’m up the creek without a paddle. Or I may have to use the iPhone to paddle…

So emboldened by my appreciation of the new technology, I set out to explore the famous APPs that I have been hearing so much about. In fact, I remembered some time ago on Cath’s blog, reading about various humorous applications to measure productivity, and Henry describing how he “wiped the floor” at scrabble.

Well searching for myself, I was immediately able to download a program called “Molecules,” which I believe that Stephen Curry discussed at one point. Pretty fascinating to be able to carry with me a little 3-dimensional image that can be rotated at any angle to show off the protein domain whose structure I helped solve a couple years ago.

Among these applications I came across a little program called “Cal Concentration.” In this APP, the researcher need only type in the concentration desired (for example 50 mM), the molecular weight of the solute (let’s say 121 for Tris) and the target volume (let’s say 500 ml)—and lo and behold the thing spits out the following:  Dissolve 3.025 g of solute into the solvent and make up the final volume to 500 ml. Similarly, the APP will calculate mass-volume percentages and volume-volume percentages just as easily.

Wonderful?! I suppose. Planes fly on auto-pilot and the pilots can still land on their own if necessary. At least I hope that’s true. How long will it be until such basic calculations are no longer done manually? Will this lead to advanced thinking and greater calculations? Or will students and researchers stagnate and no longer be able to function without a smart-phone in their pockets?

I’d like to be optimistic—after all, one can’t stop technology. One needs to “go with the flow.” But I think only time will tell.

About Steve Caplan

I am a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska where I mentor a group of about 10 students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers working on endocytic protein trafficking. My first lablit novel, "Matter Over Mind," is about a biomedical researcher seeking tenure and struggling to overcome the consequences of growing up with a parent suffering from bipolar disorder. Lablit novel #2, "Welcome Home, Sir," published by Anaphora Literary Press, deals with a hypochondriac principal investigator whose service in the army and post-traumatic stress disorder actually prepare him well for academic, but not personal success. Novel #3, "A Degree of Betrayal," is an academic murder mystery that is now in press! All views expressed are my own, of course--after all, I hate advertising. http://www.stevecaplan.net
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2 Responses to Updates

  1. The things/thongs story suggests that you might enjoy the Damn You Autocorrect! website (parental advisory on some of the language!)

  2. Steve Caplan says:

    Hah! I see some have shed more embarrassing thongs than me!

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